By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on October 26, 2017
INVESTIGATORS from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau face the difficult task of piecing together the final moments before a light plane crashed 15 minutes into its flight in Mount Lindesay National Park near Redmond on Tuesday morning, killing the sole occupant, a 40-year-old Albany man.
The crash site, in the Sheepwash locality, about 40km north-east of Albany, is covered in dense bushland, making retrieval and investigation efforts difficult.
Before investigators arrived at the scene on Wednesday, authorities were required to bulldoze a 3km track from a firebreak off Centre Break Road to gain access to the site, with a spotter plane providing guidance towards the wreckage.
Local farmer Pieter Mostert witnessed the Cessna 210B spiral downwards into thick forest around 10.45am on Tuesday.
“I heard this plane in the sky and it caught our attention because it was high revving, then the revving went up a bit higher and we heard a bang and a bit of an explosion,” he said.
Mr Mostert, a Fire Control Officer for the Redmond Volunteer Bushfire Brigade, immediately contacted emergency services and provided vital map coordinates of the crash site to police.
“My co-worker stayed at the spot we saw it from to keep the bearing, and I called it in to our superiors over the fire radio,” he said.
“We saw a plume of smoke over the ridgeline, a dark black column of smoke for about 15 minutes, then it subsided to a lighter brown, indicating the bush may have caught alight.”
When police received reports the plane had crashed around 11.15am, a plane from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions flew over the area and located the wreckage.
The RAC Rescue helicopter was then used to winch paramedics down to the scene, where the sole occupant of the plane was confirmed deceased.
Great Southern District Police Inspector Derek Staats said accurate information was critical in emergency situations and was thankful for Mr Mostert’s efforts.
“Pieter’s accuracy was very beneficial for emergency services and re- sponding,” Insp Staats said.
“Thankfully, he gave really good coordinates to emergency responders and a definitive location of the crash was given.”
Police reached the crash site before sunset on Tuesday evening and recovered the pilot’s body.
They began a forensic examination of the scene once they reached the site and will prepare a report on the pilot’s death for the Coroner.
An ATSB spokesperson has confirmed a team of two investigators from Perth will prepare a preliminary report which will be released in a month’s time.
Some of the aircraft’s components may be taken back to the ATSB’s laboratories in Canberra for further examination and analysis.
A full report will be presented in 12 months.