A grandfather and his three grandchildren died after the light plane they were travelling in plummeted to the ground minutes after take off and exploded at Lake George near Canberra in Australia.
Peter Nally, the 65-year-old pilot, his 11-year-old grandson Raphael and two granddaughters, nine-year-old Evita and six-year-old Philomena, were killed when the five-seater Cirrus SR22 registration VH-MSF burst into flames after plunging 9,000ft on Friday afternoon, Oct. 6.
Mr Nally was a highly experienced pilot and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) said on Saturday, Oct. 7, that teams were already examining the crash site in a paddock at Gundaroo, north of Queanbeyan, to determine what had happened.
‘This will be a difficult undertaking given how burnt the wreckage is,’ the ATSB’s Colin McNamara said.
‘But over the coming days, I am fully confident that the investigators will gather as much information and evidence as they can from the accident site.’
Mr McNamara said ATSB crews will monitor for spilled chemicals, burnt carbon fibre and possible explosive materials.
Investigators are reportedly focusing on why a special parachute, that is a standard safety feature on the aircraft, did not appear to deploy.
The plane had taken off from Canberra on a 750km trip to Armidale in northern NSW.
Mr Nally is from Bunya in Brisbane and has hundreds of hours of flying experience, while his grandchildren are reportedly from NSW.
The aircraft was registered to Up N Up Aviation, owned by Mike Cahill who is president of Redcliffe Aero Club in Brisbane.
It’s not clear who was at the controls of the 21-year-old plane when it fell from the sky. It crashed minutes after takeoff, after climbing to 9,000ft before it quickly lost altitude and smashed into the ground where it burst into flames.
The Redcliffe Aero Club released a statement on Saturday following the crash.
‘The Redcliffe Aero Club expresses its deepest condolences to the family of the pilot and passengers who were tragically killed on Friday the 6th October 2023,’ the organisation said.
‘The pilot was active in the social side of the Club with many hours of flying experience.’
It’s understood the plane vanished from radar screens 16 minutes after taking off on Friday.
The area was still alight when emergency crews arrived and firefighters worked quickly to extinguish the blaze. Unfortunately there are no survivors.