Light plane death spiral
By JENNIE DELL and EVE SINTON
TUCKI Tucki farmer Alwyn Haydon was working at his dairy when he saw an ultralight aircraft crash in front of him.
"I looked up, and the next moment I saw the ultralight slowly spiralling, spinning ? it seemed very slow ? until it disappeared into the canefield and there was a 'thud' as it hit the ground," he said.
The Drifter model ultralight's sole occupant, a 53-year-old man, believed to be from Yamba, was killed when the aircraft crashed soon after take-off from Lismore airport.
Police last night had not released the man's name.
Mr Haydon rang his neighbours, the Masons, who live next door to the property where the aircraft had fallen.
Geoffrey Mason had been walking his dog when the crash happened.
"I heard a loud explosion, like the motor blew up on him," Mr Mason said.
"I looked up and saw him hurtling to the ground. He was going down at about a 45-degree angle and spiralling.
"There was a strong southerly blowing him back, so he took about five, six or seven seconds to come down.
"He almost hit the ground on our property but the wind blew him back over the fence into the cane (next door).
"I thought he might have survived the accident, but ... the plane had flipped over and crushed him."
Mr Mason's uncle Alan, his sister Lesley Briggs and neighbour Mr Haydon all called triple 0, bringing police, firefighters, SES vol- unteers, ambulance officers the Westpac Rescue Helicopter and crash investigators from Recreation Aviation Australia.
The crash, which happened about 9.45am, sparked further emergency action when police at the scene reported petrol leaking from the engine.
Fire crews moved in to contain the leak from the main fuselage, but police were forced to borrow a quad-bike from the Mason family to find wreckage scattered through the tall sugar- cane.
The Civil Aviation Authority and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau yesterday both stepped back from the crash, saying the investigation into the crash would be handled by Recreation Aviation Australia.
Emergency workers removed the pilot's body from the canefields just before midday.
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