Flames destroy plane

INCINERATED: Flames engulf the plane at Wangaratta airport. Picture: ADRIAN VAUGHAN

INCINERATED: Flames engulf the plane at Wangaratta airport. Picture: ADRIAN VAUGHAN

TWO people have walked away uninjured from a fiery plane crash at Wangaratta.

Emergency services rushed to the city’s airport about 10.30am on Sunday.

The plane had been taking off during an open day at the site when it crashed.

The left wing appeared to have clipped the ground after encountering problems at 10 feet in altitude, causing the light aircraft to crash into a nearby ditch.

The pilot, aged 74 and his passenger, 50, freed themselves from the wreckage as the plane became engulfed in flames.

It had recently been refuelled with 80 litres of unleaded.

Acting Sergeant Cohan Newton said it had been a very lucky escape for both men.

“It could have been a lot worse,” he said.

“The pilot and passenger were both able to get out of the aeroplane before it was engulfed in flames.

“Neither of those males have injuries but the plane is destroyed.”

A piece of the propeller was embedded in the ground, the landing gear was broken off and other parts of the plane were scattered nearby.

Acting Sergeant Newton said such incidents were rare.

“It doesn’t happen very often,” he said.

“There’s an open flying day here at the airport.

“There are a lot more aircraft in.

“It’s just very unlucky, and very fortunate no-one got hurt.”

Firefighter Dean Opie spoke to the pair when he arrived at the scene.

“I checked on their condition,” he said.

“They were both shaken but they assured me they were in good condition.”

Mr Opie said the weather was good at the time of the crash with light winds and clear visibility.

DAMAGE: The plane came to rest in a ditch after spinning out of control. Emergency service workers were amazed no-one was injured.

DAMAGE: The plane came to rest in a ditch after spinning out of control. Emergency service workers were amazed no-one was injured.

The pilot was taken to Wangaratta hospital with concerns for an irregular heartbeat but was otherwise uninjured.

Mr Opie said firefighters had arrived about seven minutes after being called and quickly extinguished the blaze using foam.

Wangaratta Aero Club member Geoff Wood said there were 67 planes at the event, which had only just started before the crash.

“We probably had 400-plus people attend,” he said. 

“I'm glad they escaped uninjured.”

He hopes to grow the club and increase the number of attendees at such events. 

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