Hope still for plane to be found

A DISCUSSION with the man tasked with the original search for the lost Cessna aircraft VH-MDX has Gloucester man Don Readford convinced he was spot on in his assessment of where the plane crashed.

Mr Readford, the co-author of ‘Operation Phoenix: The theoretical search for the crash site of the Cessna 210’, said a recent interview with Ross Warwick, the senior investigator with the Department of Civil Aviation at the time of the crash, had convinced him his document provided an accurate version of the plane’s final moments and probable crash site.

VH-MDX went missing shortly before 8pm on August 9, 1981, somewhere over the Barrington Tops.

No trace of the plane or the five men on board has ever been found. 

To this day it is the only unsolved aviation disaster to have occurred on mainland Australia.

Late last year members of the Australian Defence Force, NSW Police Rescue and other agencies conducted a large-scale search for the plane, focusing their efforts on the headwaters of the Williams River.

But Mr Readford said he believes the search was focused in the wrong location.

He said his subsequent discussion with Mr Warwick had confirmed that belief.

“Just before Christmas (Operation Phoenix co-author) Gary Donovan contacted me and said he had made arrangements for an interview with Ross Warwick,” he said.

“Mr Warwick confirmed that the area we said the aircraft had come down was absolutely correct. 

“He also confirmed that other investigators with the then Department of Civil Aviation had come to much the same conclusion.”

The location Mr Readford and Mr Donovan believed the aircraft landed was a small area on Scattered Top.

Despite the last search returning empty handed, Mr Readford said he maintained hope that the aircraft would be found.

He said Mr Donovan, a solicitor, had been working hard to build the case for another search focused on the region pinpointed in Operation Phoenix.

“I think a search of the area we believe the aircraft to be has a chance of a more favourable outcome,” he said.

“There’s no doubt the support of the various agencies would be appreciated and my challenge to them is to give it a go. There’s really nothing to lose, but they might have a lot to gain.”

Don Readford

Don Readford