By STEPHANIE ELIZAH
|Above and below: The doomed Cessna 210 aircraft that crash-landed into Lelegwagwa waters, about 50m offshore. All five Australians on board escaped unhurt but were shaken and happy to be alive. – Pictures by RANDAL GANISI|
FIVE Australians escaped unhurt when the Cessna 210 light aircraft they were travelling in ditched 50m offshore on the coast of Lelegwagwa village, East Cape, Milne Bay, on Sunday morning, The National reports.
Alotau’s Chief Sgt Gowa Mang said yesterday three of the passengers were women while he named the pilot as Gregory Brown, 50, of Hamilton, Victoria, who was also the owner of the Australian-based UH Ltd aircraft.
“They were on the last part of their journey around the Pacific, visiting diving resorts, when the accident happened,” he said.
Brown told police he experienced problems with the engine and propeller so he had to a make a quick decision to ditch the plane in the sea.
“They crash-landed on shallow waters at Lelegwagwa with minimum damage to the plane. No one was hurt, but they were shaken by the experience,” Mang said.
He added that it was a first-time visit for the Australians to PNG after having been to Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.
“From Victoria, they travelled to the other two Pacific Islands before visiting Rabaul, Kavieng and Tufi. They were on their way to Australia via Gurney Airport.”
Brown, a former police sergeant, had remained in Alotau while his four passengers were transitting through Port Moresby yesterday on their way home.
He was expected to assist with Civil Aviation Authority investigations underway at the scene of the accident.
On Aug 31, three Australians and a New Zealander died when their charter plane skidded off the runway in poor conditions on Misima Island, Milne Bay.
They included the pilot-owner of the airline which chartered the jet aircraft, Les Wright.
The New Zealand co-pilot was the only survivor.