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On 1 September 2006, at approximately 1100 Western Standard Time, the pilot of a Cessna C172L aircraft, registered VH-RIL, was conducting a private, visual flight rules (VFR) flight, and together with four passengers (two adults, one child and an infant), departed from 'Bronco', a cattle mustering area on Mt Vernon station, WA. The pilot was to fly to the homestead on the property, a flight of approximately 10 minutes duration.

At the same time, members of the pilot's family and station staff left Bronco in motor vehicles to drive the approximately 30 km journey back to the homestead. Upon their arrival, it was noted that the aircraft had failed to arrive at the homestead. After attempts to contact the pilot by radio failed, a search was conducted, during which the pilot and child passenger were found walking towards the homestead. The pilot, who was disorientated and injured, reported that the aircraft had crashed in bushland adjacent to the homestead airstrip. The child had minor injuries.

After obtaining general directions to the aircraft, the search party were able to locate the aircraft wreckage. On arrival, searchers found a female adult passenger semiconscious with extensive injuries. The male adult passenger and the infant had been fatally injured.

The pilot and female passenger reported that the aircraft had entered severe turbulence during the descent to land, which resulted in a near-vertical nose down attitude of the aircraft approximately 300 to 350 feet above the terrain.

The investigation determined that the pilot had most likely flown through a strong willy-willy and was unable to recover from the in-flight upset. The investigation also found that it was likely that inadequate restraint of some occupants increased the severity of injuries sustained.

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Download Preliminary Report
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Preliminary report released 2 November 2006

The pilot with four passengers on board, was conducting a private flight within the station property. The aircraft was later discovered destroyed after it had impacted the ground. Two of the passengers were fatally injured.

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General details
Date: 01 September 2006 Investigation status: Completed 
Time: 1245 WST  
Location   (show map):Mt Vernon Station Investigation type: Occurrence Investigation 
State: Western Australia Occurrence type: Collision with terrain 
Release date: 11 December 2007 Occurrence class: Operational 
Report status: Final Occurrence category: Accident 
 Highest injury level: Fatal 
Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer: Cessna Aircraft Company 
Aircraft model: 172 
Aircraft registration: VH-RIL 
Serial number: 17259230 
Type of operation: Private 
Damage to aircraft: Destroyed 
Departure point:Mt Vernon, Station
Destination:Mt Vernon, Station
Fatal: 0202
Serious: 0101
Minor: 1102
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Last update 18 April 2018