Aviation safety investigations & reports

Collision with terrain - De Havilland, VH-WHW, SE 11 km Toowoomba Airport, Qld, 16 January 2011

Investigation number:
Status: Completed
Investigation completed


Download Final report
[Download  PDF: 4.28MB]

On 16 January 2011, at about 1800 Eastern Standard Time, a De Havilland Aircraft DH-82A (Tiger Moth) aircraft, registered VH-WHW (WHW), departed Toowoomba, Queensland on a private local flight.

On board was the pilot in command (PIC) and a flying instructor from the local Aero Club. The PIC conducted a pre-flight inspection, which included a check of the fuel, oil and control cables. He determined that WHW was serviceable and had sufficient fuel for the flight. There were no loose items in the aircraft's storage locker or in the cockpit.

About 15 minutes after takeoff, the flying instructor, who was acting as the handling pilot at the time, initiated a left turn to return to the airport. The PIC recalled that, during the turn, WHW suddenly pitched down followed by a second, even more severe, pitch down motion. Both the PIC and the handling pilot recalled that the control stick did not move when WHW pitched down.

In response to the sudden and uncommanded nose down motion, both pilots attempted to raise the nose by applying back pressure on the control stick. Their actions had no effect and WHW continued to pitch nose down until the aircraft became inverted.

The aircraft was about 100 ft above the trees and inverted when it began to climb. Both pilots felt significant g-force followed by the collision with the trees.

The aircraft came to rest upside down on the side of Mount Davidson in bushland. Both occupants sustained serious injuries.

Download Final report
[Download  PDF: 4.28MB]
General details
Date: 16 January 2011   Investigation status: Completed  
Time: 1820 EST   Investigation level: Short - click for an explanation of investigation levels  
Location   (show map): Toowoomba Airport, SE M 11Km    
State: Queensland   Occurrence type: Loss of control  
Release date: 12 September 2011   Occurrence category: Accident  
Report status: Final   Highest injury level: Serious  

Aircraft details

Aircraft details
Aircraft manufacturer de Havilland Aircraft Pty Ltd  
Aircraft model DH-82  
Aircraft registration VH-WHW  
Serial number DX644  
Type of operation Private  
Damage to aircraft Serious  
Departure point Toowoomba, Qld  
Destination Toowoomba, Qld  
Last update 14 November 2018