Air investigators search the scene at South Gundarimba, near the Coraki turnoff, where a light aircraft from the Gold Goast crashed.
Air investigators search the scene at South Gundarimba, near the Coraki turnoff, where a light aircraft from the Gold Goast crashed. Marc Stapelberg

Renowned flight instructor and trainee killed in crash

THE bodies of two men who died in a plane crash on Friday near Lismore have been taken away for a post mortem.

A NSW Police spokesman said the bodies of the two men, a trainee pilot, 40, and an instructor, 47, were removed from the wreckage on Saturday afternoon and will be examined to confirm how they died.

The bodies had to be left in the wreckage overnight on Friday until investigators could attend the scene on Saturday.

The plane crashed in a paddock at South Gunderimba, 2km south of Lismore, and burst into flames at approximately 10.15am on Friday.

It had taken off from Gold Coast Airport bound for Murwillumbah Airport an hour and 45 minutes earlier.

The pilot was believed to be practising touch-and-go landings at Lismore Airport before crashing.

While the names of the two men have not been formally released by police, media has reported that the trainee pilot, also the owner of the plane, was Christopher Bowles of Currumbin.

Mr Bowles was a mechanic who owned Chris Bowles Automotive and ran car sales internet site thecarnut.com.au.

The second man was a renowned flight instructor at Air Gold Coast flight school, based in Bilinga.

On Friday night, two Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigators from Brisbane landed on the Northern Rivers and two additional investigators from Canberra joined them on Saturday morning.

"Their expertise covers piloting skills, maintenance engineering and aircraft design engineering," an ATSB spokesman said.

"The key with this is to look at any damage that may have been incurred before the aircraft hit the ground.

"It's early days so (the investigators) will mainly be gathering data. There's no point trying to work out what happened without all the data."

Investigators liaised with local police on Saturday before attending the accident site to secure "perishable evidence", including the pattern of the wreckage, marks from impact and other elements that could change easily.

The aircraft's flight path, radio transmissions and weather conditions will also be assessed to help try to determine the cause of the crash.

The ATSB spokesman said the investigation could take a year to complete, with preliminary findings to be published within 30 days.

Investigators will leave the Northern Rivers tonight or tomorrow.



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