Five people survive plane crash
ON approach to the Coffs Harbour Regional Airport at 4000 feet, a young pilot informed four skydivers on board, the aircraft had lost power and they should prepare for a crash landing.
Air traffic controllers could only look on as the single engine Cessna disappeared into scrub 200 metres short of the airfield at 12.15pm yesterday.
All five men on board – the pilot, two skydiving instructors and two students – braced for impact as the aircraft crashed through two-metre high Banksia bushes and coastal scrub.
Remarkably, they all walked away uninjured as a major emergency was declared.
“The aircraft made a noise at about the time the engine failed,” said Lawrence Hill, one of the lucky skydivers on board.
“Before and after this time the pilot was in full contact with the tower and everyone inside the plane was letting us know what was happening. We were all wearing parachutes and could have jumped from the aircraft after it lost power, but the decision was made to stay in the plane in the hope we’d make the runway.”
The force of the impact was so great the front wheel of the aircraft broke off.
“The pilot “Huey” made the best of the situation he was presented with. He kept the plane level so when it came down it was just as if we were landing on a runway – it was just a case of mechanical failure so yeah, absolutely he did a great job,” Mr Hill said. “We were all shaken by the crash, but it was just a case of mechanical failure.”
Mr Hill said the group had been preparing to jump from the plane, when at 10,000 feet, they were notified by the tower to hold off.