Aircraft Impacted Dam, Two Survivors
A skydiving expedition turned tragic Monday after a single
engine Cessna carrying a pilot and six skydivers clipped a tree and
impacted a dam outside Brisbane, Queensland, Australia. Five
onboard the aircraft perished.
Two survivors -- including the owner of Brisbane Skydiving
Centre, Brian Scoffell -- escaped the sinking wreckage.
Witness reports indicate the Cessna U206 (file photo,
below) failed to gain altitude after takeoff -- possibly due
to an engine problem.
"There was smoke coming from the engine and it was going blurp,
blurp, blurp," as the plane idled just before takeoff, said Debbie
Comollatti to the Melbourne Herald Sun. Her husband was waiting to
jump on the next flight.
"Dad's a pilot and he said it sounded like a spark plug was
playing up," added Comollatti. "It took off and hit a tree, and
then flipped over about 200m (656 feet) from the end of the
Other witnesses told the Herald Sun the plane was trailing a
plume of smoke as it went down.
"It laboured a bit. It certainly wasn't a normal takeoff," said
Fred van Bockel, whose sons were also waiting to go up. "It lost
height quickly and did a slight right turn before the wing flipped.
It hit a tree and landed in the dam upside down."
It is believed some members of the skydiving group were tethered
together in pairs -- for tandem jumps -- possibly hindering escape
efforts. The male pilot also died in the accident.
Scoffell was found by rescuers clinging to the airplane's tail,
holding onto one of the deceased victims.
"He (Scoffell) kept
asking how everyone was, and that his skin was burning," said
Trevor Davis, a local tow truck operator who was one of the first
to respond to the accident scene. Davis helped pull Scoffell
(right) to safety.
The second survivor, a 27-year-old woman, was found wandering
disoriented in a paddock near the Willowbrook aerodrome.
"There was a lady walking across the paddock. I stopped, she
came over to me across the paddock and said she'd come out of the
plane," saidfirefighter Kerry Sbeghen. "She just asked for help.
She had blood and said it was from the plane."
Both survivors were taken to the hospital, and were listed in
Investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATBS)
were on scene Monday night, although it could be some time before a
cause of the accident is determined.
"I have told the ATSB investigators that if we get any
preliminary indications of mechanical problems with the aircraft to
let us know, to ensure this doesn't happen to another Cessna 206,"
said Civil Aviation Safety Authority spokesman Peter Gibson.
Brisbane Skydiving Centre's began operating in 1982, according
to the company's website. The company had been operating two
aircraft, the U206 and a Cessna 182.