A PILOT, aged in his 60s, has suffered serious chest and head injuries after being forced to make an emergency crash landing in a paddock at Putty on Monday night.
An Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) spokesman told the Newcastle Herald a major search operation had been launched about 5pm after a Cessna travelling between Mudgee and Luskintyre Airfield was discovered to be overdue by more than 40 minutes.
A larger aircraft had picked up a distress signal while flying over Central West NSW and alerted AMSA.
The pilot had taken off from Ballarat, stopped for a scheduled refuelling at Mudgee before continuing on to Luskintyre, AMSA said.
But it is believed he got into trouble or ran out of fuel while flying over Putty and was forced to make an emergency landing.
The pilot, who was flying alone, suffered serious chest and head injuries in the landing and was stranded for some time until the Hunter’s Westpac Rescue Helicopter managed to home in on the emergency beacon and locate him.
The helicopter flew the man to John Hunter Hospital in a stable condition.
AMSA said as a number of aircraft were searching the flight path, they were contacted by a person on the ground who said they had found the wreckage of a plane and the injured pilot.
Community First Responder and Putty Rural Fire Service Senior Deputy Captain Ken Ferguson says two members of his brigade were the first to discover the location of the plane.
“Greg and Dianne Pierce were returning home along Box Gap Road after fighting a fire and spotted the wreckage about 100 metres from the road,” he said.
“Greg stayed at the scene with the pilot who was conscious after falling out of the plane and Dianne returned to the station to notify us. Luckily some of us were still at the station after attending a fire earlier. ”
Mr Feguson says they arrived at the crash site about 7pm and what was left of the four seater single engine aircraft was sitting precariously on a ledge and it had to be chained to tree.
“I really don’t know how he survived the plane was really knocked around, a wing was torn off and the doors.”
“He was cut up and there was a fair bit of blood but he was conscience. We place him in a neck brace as a precaution and it looked like he had a broken fibula and tibula along with some broken ribs.”
“The pilot was looking for somewhere to land after running low on fuel but in the windy conditions something must have gone amiss.”
He says they had noticed the plane circling above them about an hour earlier while fighting a fire.
- with the Singleton Argus