On 15 December 2012, four DH-82A (Tiger Moth) aircraft departed runway 12 at Luskintyre airport, NSW, for a practice formation flight. The pilot flying VH-DDA (DDA), the formation lead aircraft, applied full power for take-off. Passing through about 50 ft above ground level, the pilot flying noted that the aircraft was not climbing as expected and, realising that full power was not selected, applied full power by moving the throttle fully forward and lowered the nose of the aircraft slightly to gain speed.
As there was insufficient distance remaining to land on the runway, and it had become evident that a forced landing was imminent, the instructing pilot input a slight left bank so that the left wing of DDA took the main force of the impact. The aircraft landed and struck a tree before coming to rest. Both pilots were able to undo their four-point harnesses and exit the aircraft without assistance, although the pilot flying received serious facial injuries.
While both pilots reported that they had not reduced engine power after take-off, the accident was a result of decreasing airspeed and the aircraft being unable to recover following the reapplication of full power. The ATSB could not resolve this ambiguity.
The positive aspects of wearing full restraint harnesses, evacuating the aircraft quickly and extinguishing the fire ensured neither pilot experienced further injuries.
Comprehensive pre-flight briefings are important for all flights to ensure each crew member is aware of their respective roles as well as normal and non-normal operations.