Firefighters from the Riddells Creek Fire Brigade were called to the reported plane crash near Websters Road shortly after 1.45pm today after an eyewitness reported seeing the plane plummet from around 1000ft in the air and crash into a steep gorge south of Riddell Airfield. It is believed the home-made, single-seater aircraft had just taken off from the Riddell Airfield only moments earlier.
On arrival at the airfield, emergency service personnel desperately tried to locate the scene of the crash site and before long, the wreck was located on the south side of the gorge near Palmers Road. Accessing the crash site from the north side of the gorge would prove to be difficult so in order to reach the scene as quickly as possible, the Sunbury Fire Brigade were called upon to approach the crash from the south.
Vehicle access to the crash site was also limited due to the steep, rocky terrain and the likelihood that the larger emergency vehicles could become bogged in the softer ground conditions near the bottom of the gorge. To overcome the access issues and to reduce the risk of fire, an Ultralight Tanker from the Bullengarook Fire Brigade was responded.
“This incident highlights the challenge of responding to aircraft accidents in difficult terrain. After encountering some difficulty while trying to locate the crash site, we were limited in the type of vehicles that could access the site” said Lieutenant Martin Leitch from the Riddells Creek Fire Brigade.
Emergency services personnel worked together to free the pilot from the wreckage before treating the 66 year old for head and wrist injuries. The patient was then flown to the Royal Melbourne Hospital in a serious but stable condition. Lieutenant Leitch added “This incident was a great example of how seamlessly the emergency services can work together towards achieving a common goal. In this case we had a successful result with the pilot surviving what could have been a very serious accident”.
Riddell Airfield is one of two major airfields which are located within the response area serviced by the Riddells Creek Fire Brigade. Given the high number of aircraft which fly into and out of these airfields each year, firefighters from the Riddells Creek Fire Brigade are all too familiar with responding to aircraft incidents. Over the years, there have been several serious aircraft crashes in the area and as such, a number of firefighters from the brigade received specialist “Respond to Aviation Incident” training from the CFA during 2009.
Appliances in attendance were:
Riddells Creek Pumper Tanker, Riddells Creek Car.
Bullengarook Ultralight Tanker
Operations Officer Rohan Luke
Gisborne and Sunbury SES
Cause: The cause of the crash is still under investigation .
OIC: The OIC of the incident was Lieutenant Martin Leitch from the Riddells Creek Fire Brigade
Photo courtesy of the Macedon Ranges Weekly