‘Lucky to be alive’... Pas­sen­ger tells story

Whitsunday Times - - LOCAL NEWS - By Inge Hansen

“I’M STILL pretty up­set about it,” said Steve Bell, the pas­sen­ger aboard a Whit­sun­day Tiger Moth Ad­ven­tures plane forced to make an emer­gency landing at Fun­nel Bay on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

At 2.30pm, the 70-year-old plane en­coun­tered un­known is­sues, which forced pi­lot, Nick Rori­son to land on the shores just off Fun­nel Bay.

Mr Bell said ev­ery­thing be­fore­hand had been run­ning smoothly.

“We’d just taken off from the (Whit­sun­day) air­port and we’d done the safety check and ev­ery­thing,” he said.

“We were head­ing to about 4000 feet and Nick called the air­port and said we were com­menc­ing aer­o­bat­ics.

“He (Nick) turned (the craft) left and stalled the plane and as we were de­scend­ing, Nick started the en­gine again and there was a weird noise.”

“I knew there was some­thing amiss when we had to head back”

With­out any panic ev­i­dent, Mr Rori­son told the air­port they would be mak­ing their way back, Mr Bell said.

“I knew there was some­thing amiss when we had to head back,” he said.

“The sound of the en­gine when Nick started it the sec­ond time was dif­fer­ent to the sound it made when we first took off.”

Un­able to make it to the air­port run­way, Mr Rori­son had to make an emer­gency landing at Fun­nel Bay.

With no time to make it to the tar­mac, the craft came down on a mud flat hit­ting the sand and nearby rocks.

“We’re lucky to be alive,” Mr Bell said.

“When we hit the rocks it dam­aged the en­gine and the un­der­car­riage was to­talled.”

Chief Pi­lot of Whit­sun­day Tiger Moth Ad­ven­tures, Peter Hearn­shaw com­mended Mr Rori­son’s ef­forts.

“Nick did an ex­cel­lent job of landing and get­ting him­self and Steve safely on the ground,” he said. “Thank­fully there were no in­juries.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tions are un­der­way to find out why the craft had to make the emer­gency landing.

SAFE LANDING: The Tiger Moth plane made an emer­gency landing to the right of Fun­nel Bay af­ter en­coun­ter­ing an un­known is­sue on Satur­day af­ter­noon.

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