“IT sounded like a tree branch snapping, just a massive crack,” Keiran Cole said, describing the sound a light aircraft made as it crashed to the ground east of Gloucester last week.
The plane came down in a paddock just off Waukivory Rd about 10.30am on Wednesday morning, roughly 1.5km from the intersection with the Bucketts Way.
Mr Cole was working on a property on the other side of the Avon River when he heard the plane overhead.
“I was working with another bloke and we heard the plane come over and the engine stall,” he said.
“Every time the pilot tried to straighten out the engine would stall.”
Mr Cole said the pilot, realising he was in trouble, attempted to keep the plane in the air by circling around and around, but the stricken aircraft continued to get closer and closer to the ground.
“It was coughing and farting the whole time,” he said.
“We watched it all the way down below the tree line. I was on the phone to the police before it disappeared. We didn’t see it hit the ground but we heard the impact.”
The pilot and lone occupant of the single engine aircraft was able to walk from the crash scene. He was later taken to hospital by ambulance after complaining of back and neck pain.
One of the first on the scene was a nearby property owner.
“I didn’t hear a thing,” the man, who did not want to be named, said.
“The only thing that alerted me that something was up was the dogs started barking. The pilot was wandering about the paddock when I got over there.”
It is believed the middle-aged man was a test pilot who was putting the brand new aircraft through its paces before handing it back to the owners.
The Hornet aircraft had only completed 17.5 hours of the mandatory 25-hour pre-delivery flight time when it crashed.
One of the plane’s landing gears had been ripped off in the accident, while the left wing had buckled on impact.
The plane’s three propeller blades had also broken off.
Local emergency service crews, including the SES, police, Rural Fire Service (RFS), Fire and Rescue NSW and ambulance, arrived at the scene about 10.40am.
Crews from both Fire and Rescue NSW and the RFS had to drain about 80 litres of fuel from the plane’s wings.