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The aircraft was conducting a scenic flight over an area of Lake Eyre North, where the surface of the lake is 30-40 feet below sea level. Weather conditions were fine. High cloud and calm conditions resulted in a glassy lake surface with diminished horizon definition. Passengers on the flight reported that the pilot had mentioned the possibility of flying below sea level, and later when approaching the lake he remarked that it would be "tricky" without an horizon. He gave no indication that the aircraft was experiencing any difficulties which would affect its ability to maintain flight. The aircraft contacted the lake in a near level attitude, and in cruise configuration. The nearest landfall was twelve kilometres distant, and after several hours the passengers were reached and assisted by a rescue party. Rescue attempts by helicopters were abandoned when unable to safely hover due to the illusory effects created by the glassy surface. The passengers had not been provided with the required flotation safety equipment for this particular flight.

Download Final Report
[ Download PDF: 23KB]
General details
Date: 29 July 1990 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1050  
Location   (show map):Lake Eyre North, 53 km north-west Muloorina station Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: South Australia Occurrence type: Collision with terrain 
Release date: 17 September 1991 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: None 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Cessna Aircraft Company 
Aircraft model: 210 
Aircraft registration: VH-XAG 
Serial number: 21063456 
Type of operation: Charter 
Damage to aircraft: Substantial 
Departure point:Innamincka SA
Departure time:0908
Destination:William Creek SA
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