On 15 October 2010, the pilot of a Gippsland Aeronautics GA-8 Airvan, registered VH-DQP, was conducting a charter flight from Lady Barron, Flinders Island to Bridport, Tasmania with six passengers on board. The aircraft departed Lady Barron Aerodrome at about 1700 Australian Eastern Daylight-saving Time and entered instrument meteorological conditions (IMC) several minutes afterwards while climbing to the intended cruising altitude of about 1,500 ft. The pilot did not hold a command instrument rating and the aircraft was not equipped for flight in IMC. He attempted to turn the aircraft to return to Lady Barron Aerodrome but became lost, steering instead towards high ground in the Strzelecki National Park in the south-east of Flinders Island.
At about 1715, the aircraft exited cloud in the Strzelecki National Park, very close to the ground. The pilot turned to the left, entering a small valley in which he could neither turn the aircraft nor out climb the terrain. He elected to slow the aircraft to its stalling speed for a forced landing and, moments later, it impacted the tree tops and then the ground. The first passenger to exit the aircraft used the aircraft fire extinguisher to put out a small fire that had begun beneath the engine. The other passengers and the pilot then exited the aircraft safely. One passenger was slightly injured during the impact; the pilot and other passengers were uninjured.
During the night, all of the occupants of the aircraft were rescued by helicopter and taken to the hospital in Whitemark, Flinders Island.
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|Date:||15 October 2010||Investigation status:||Completed|
|Time:||1710 ESuT||Investigation level:||Complex - click for an explanation of investigation levels|
|State:||Tasmania||Occurrence type:||Collision with terrain|
|Release date:||12 May 2011||Occurrence category:||Accident|
|Report status:||Final||Highest injury level:||Minor|
|Aircraft manufacturer||Gippsland Aeronautics Pty Ltd|
|Type of operation||Charter|
|Departure point||Lady Barron, Flinders Island, Tas.|