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Byron Shire
March 3, 2021

Investigation into training plane crash

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Staff reporters

The bodies of two men have been recovered from the site of a fatal light-aeroplane crash in a paddock near Lismore on Friday morning.

The Civil Aviation Safety Authority, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau and police from Richmond Local Area Command are investigating the cause of the accident.

About 10.15am on Friday, a Socata Trinidad crashed into a paddock near the Bruxner Highway, South Gundurimba, exploding into flames on impact and killing both occupants.

One was a 47-year-old experienced instructor working for Air Gold Coast and the other a 40-year-old trainee pilot, whose name has not been formally released by police.

The trainee pilot, also the owner of the plane, was Christopher Bowles of Currumbin, a mechanic who owned Chris Bowles Automotive and ran car sales internet site thecarnut.com.au.

The flight took off from Gold Coast Airport and, according to another flying instructor based at Lismore Airport, the plane was on a rectangular training circuit doing ‘touch and go’ landings.

The second instructor, former RAAF pilot Sam Todhunter, said he had heard conflicting messages on the radio ahead of the crash, with the trainee first saying he was going to change runways due to a crosswind.

‘A more professional sounding voice’ then came over the radio saying ‘they were going to rejoin the circuit downwind,’ Mr Todhunter told APN Media.

He said he heard no more radio transmissions and only realised there had been a crash when he saw the fire.

‘The fact that [the aircraft] is fairly intact means that it has gone down virtually like a brick,’ he said.

Air Gold Coast issued a media release late Friday afternoon committing to cooperate with the investigations and offering support and condolences to the families of the two men.

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