Aviation safety investigations & reports

Piper PA24-260 Comanche, VH-GWE, Wurdee Boluc Reservoir, Vic, 30 April 1971

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


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The pilot obtained a meteorological forecast which indicated that conditions generally would be suitable for visual flight, but that until 0900 hours there would be areas of drizzle and reduced visibility. He submitted a flight plan which indicated that his route to Warrnambool would be via Sorrento and Colac. The flight proceeded normally to 1,500 feet or about 10 miles west of Torquay, where the aircraft encountered an area of low cloud and drizzle. The pilot descended to remain clear of cloud and when the aircraft had reached the vicinity of the Wurdee Boluc Reservoir he was compelled to fly at an extremely low level to maintain visual contact with the ground. He circled in this area, unable to proceed or to turn back because of the low cloud and reduced visibility in all directions. While flying along the southern edge of the reservoir he observed a line of tall pine trees looming ahead and to avoid them he made a left hand turn over the reservoir. During the turn the port wing tip contacted the surface and the aircraft cartwheeled into the water. There were no witnesses to the accident and one of the four surviving occupants swam a considerable distance to the shore for assistance whilst the other three surviving persons remained standing on the aircraft wreckage which had settled in some 10 feet of water. The fourth passenger had released his seat belt during the flight and was apparently thrown from the aircraft on impact with the water.
Download Final Report
[Download  PDF: 164KB]
General details
Date: 30 April 1971   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 0748 EST    
Location: Wurdee Boluc Reservoir    
State: Victoria   Occurrence type: Collision with terrain  
Release date: 05 November 1971   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Fatal  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer Piper Aircraft Corp  
Aircraft model PA-24  
Aircraft registration VH-GWE  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Destroyed  
Departure point Moorabbin  
Departure time 0703  
Destination Warrnambool  
Last update 13 May 2014