Lismore adventurer dies over Sydney
ON THURSDAY at 11.30am, Joanne Ethell, who was born and grew up in Lismore, died doing what she loved.
Ms Ethell, 20, pictured, was giving a flying lesson to 18-year-old Chandrika Gaur in a 152 Cessna aircraft above Sydney when tragedy struck.
On their approach to Bankstown Airport their plane collided in mid-air with a single-engine Liberty, in which 89-year-old Ken Andrews was instructing a 25-year-old man. Mr Andrews and his student were able to land safely.
However, the young women's plane spiralled to the ground, smashing into a home in the suburb of Casula. Both women were killed instantly.
Speaking from the Lismore Heights home of her parents, Gryff and Kay, Ms Ethell's uncle, Brett Ethell, said he received the tragic news on Thursday night.
“You always hear about those calls, but you never expect to get one,” he said.
Yesterday, Brett Ethell and other family members were at the family home with Ms Ethell's 18-year-old brother, Michael, while her parents were on their way to Sydney to identify her body.
Ms Ethell had wanted to become a pilot since she was in grade six and obtained her pilot's licence at 16, Brett Ethell said.
“Her father was very proud that she could fly before she could drive,” he said.
Aviation is a family passion. Her father is a pilot, and her grandfather, former Byron Bay doctor Guy Ethell, helped establish Tyagarah Airport.
Ms Ethell graduated from St John's College Woodlawn in 2006.
Principal Glenn Roff remembered her as someone who was 'seriously adventurous'.
He said that during a school hiking trip to Cradle Mountain in Tasmania, Ms Ethell sprained her ankle on the first day of the hike. However, she refused to turn back. Determined to finish, and with a limp, she used a walking stick to complete the four-day trek.
“She had a big heart,” Mr Roff said.
Ms Ethell also travelled to northern India with the school and went on a south passage voyage on the tall ships.
After finishing the HSC, she moved to Cessnock to do further aviation training. It was in Cessnock she met her boyfriend, Daniel Rodger, while he was training her to become an instructor.
Last month, Ms Ethell was presented with the gold Duke of Edinburgh Award by NSW Governor Marie Bashir.
Ms Ethell had been working as an instructor for Basair Aviation College for six months at the time of the accident.
It was her ambition to work for the Royal Flying Doctor Service.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating the cause of the crash.
Details of her funeral are not yet known.