Plane crash kills two
SYDNEY (AAP.) ? David Knight was no stranger to the skies ? or to the potentially disastrous consequences of his passion for flying.
He died alongside his wife Jill when their plane went down near Tenterfield on Wednesday, but it was not the first time the pilot of 45 years had been involved in a plane crash.
The remnants of the single engine Beech 36 were found about 10am yesterday in rugged terrain about 37km south-east of Tenterfield. It was reported missing after the couple, believed to be aged in their 70s, failed to return home to Coonabarabran on Saturday after taking off from Murwillumbah.
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which has responsibility for land and air search and rescues, yesterday confirmed the aircraft had crashed and the two on board had perished.
The plane appeared to have been on course from Murwillumbah to Coonabarabran when it went down, a spokesman for the authority said.
The mayor of Warrumbungle Shire, Peter Shinton, said it was not the first time Mr Knight, a long-time Coonabarabran resident, had experienced the dangers of air travel.
"When he first crashed his plane many years ago it was actually his wife who pulled him out of the wreckage," Mr Shinton said.
"He took off from Coonabarabran ... and crashed. (Mrs Knight) got to the plane, pulled him out and pulled the three other people out of the plane just before it erupted in flames.
"She's always flown in the back seat of the plane since then ? she reads a book or does some knitting."
Norma Knight ? no relation ? who lived next door to Jill Knight when she was growing up, said she had known Jill and David since they were schoolchildren.
"I got the cold shivers when I heard about (the crash)," she said.
"They were a wonderful couple ... everybody loved them. I knew them when they were going to school; they were young lovers and then they got married."
She said Mr Knight was such an experienced pilot that "I would have put my life in his hands".
It is understood the couple had two children and that their forebears were the original settlers in the Coonabarabran area.
Mr Shinton described the couple as pillars of the local community who were well known through their activities in business, clubs and community organisations.
"When I moved into town in 1979 (Mr Knight) was here running a business, the local abattoir, which turned out to be very successful," he said.
He said the couple flew to Murwillumbah every four to six weeks either to see a family member or to check on a business.