The pilot of a Cessna 206 aircraft, and two passengers, were returning to Weipa from Rockhampton.
They departed Rockhampton at about 1130 Eastern Standard Time on the day before the accident, and landed to refuel at Charters Towers. Witnesses reported that the pilot seemed to be in a hurry and had stated his intention to fly to Weipa that day.
The pilot subsequently encountered severe smoke haze during the flight. Reduced visibility in the smoke haze made visual navigation difficult. Shortly before last light, the pilot saw an airstrip at the pastoral property "Wrotham Park" and landed the aircraft. The pilot believed he had landed at "Bellvue" until he was informed of the correct location. The manager of "Wrotham Park" provided food and overnight accommodation for the pilot and passengers.
At first light the following morning, the pilot taxied the aircraft for takeoff from runway 24. While the aircraft was taxiing, the station manager noticed that a bag belonging to one of the aircraft occupants had been left behind. He drove out to the aircraft and handed the bag to the pilot, who had left the aircraft to collect it. Soon after, the pilot began the takeoff.
The aircraft was heard to take-off, followed by the sound of impact.
Examination of the wreckage and assessment of the flight path and impact sequence determined that shortly after lift-off the aircraft yawed and rolled to the left, and began to descend. The leading edge of the left wing struck a powerline 8 m above the ground and about 100 m south-east of the runway centreline. The aircraft then cartwheeled through the top of a building, and its right side struck the ground while travelling slowly rearwards. It came to rest on its right side, about 5 m from the building and about 130 m south-east of the runway centreline. The passengers, who occupied the right seats of rows one and two, were seriously injured. The pilot was fatally injured.
One of the passengers later recalled hearing the stall warning activate shortly after lift-off.
The right wing had been severed and the windscreen shattered; however, the cockpit and cabin were almost intact. The wreckage examination did not reveal any pre-impact technical defect that may have contributed to the accident. Tests on fuel removed from the aircraft tanks found it to be free of the contaminant ethylene diamine.
Rescuers reported that the pilot was not restrained by a seat belt when they arrived at the accident site.
Civil Aviation Safety Authority records indicated the pilot's medical certificate was current. The autopsy and toxicology analysis on the pilot did not reveal any pre-existing medical condition that may have contributed to the accident.
The airfield at Wrotham Park was unlicensed. The field was 500 ft above mean sea level, and consisted of a single runway, 915 m in length, designated 06/24. The surface was gravel and was in good condition at the time of the accident. There were no obstructions affecting the approach or departure flight paths in either direction.
The Bureau of Meteorology assessed the weather conditions at the time of the accident as fine with a light breeze of less than 5 kts from the north-north-east. Visibility was assessed as good but with a small chance of patches of fog. Visibility in fog, if present, was assessed as approximately 500 m.
The pilot had flown about 22 hours in the aircraft, having purchased it 6 weeks before the accident. He had no prior experience on the aircraft type. The runway at Wrotham Park was both the shortest, and the first gravel runway the pilot had used in this aircraft. The pilot apparently did not fasten his seatbelt after collecting the bag, indicating that he may have been under some stress, possibly because he was concerned about the delay in his return to Weipa.
Why the pilot lost control of the aircraft during the takeoff could not be determined.
|Date:||20 October 1999||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Time:||0545 hours EST|
|Location:||Wrotham Park, Aero.|
|State:||Queensland||Occurrence type:||Loss of control|
|Release date:||19 September 2000||Occurrence class:||Operational|
|Report status:||Final||Occurrence category:||Accident|
|Highest injury level:||Fatal|
|Aircraft manufacturer||Cessna Aircraft Company|
|Type of operation||Business|
|Damage to aircraft||Destroyed|
|Departure point||Wrotham Park, QLD|
|Departure time||0545 hours EST|
|Role||Class of licence||Hours on type||Hours total|