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Summary

Summary

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.

 
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