A PILOT who crashed his Cessna 172 in the Upper Hunter, killing his brother-in-law, failed to turn away from a storm before becoming lost in thick cloud, Newcastle Local Court heard yesterday.
Sydney auctioneer Scott Kennedy-Green was stranded upside-down for about 18 hours while his brother-in-law, Matthew Green, died beside him in the Coolah Tops National Park on Christmas Eve 2008.
Kennedy-Green had completed his biannual flight review the day before, a statement of facts said.
He and Mr Green flew from Glen Innes to Mudgee, where they worked, on the morning of December 24 and had lunch before the return flight to Glen Innes, magistrate Mark Buscombe said.
Kennedy-Green, 42, owns properties near Mudgee and Glen Innes, the statement said.
He checked the weather before they left Mudgee, but clouds came in from the west as they flew north of the Golden Highway near Cassilis, Mr Buscombe said.
Instead of turning around immediately, Kennedy-Green tried to fly out of the cloud before deciding to turn back.
He lost sight of the horizon in the cloud cover and crashed.
He was not licensed to fly in such difficult conditions, the court heard.
Kennedy-Green was initially charged with manslaughter, but he pleaded guilty yesterday to flying an aircraft recklessly to the safety of others.
Mr Buscombe convicted and fined him $2000.
Kennedy-Green was trapped upside-down in the plane until about 10am on Christmas Day when the plane’s wreckage was found.
He managed to raise the alarm by talking to a truck driver over a UHF frequency while others also heard the pleas for help, the statement said.
Kennedy-Green’s barrister, Peter Hamill SC, said Kennedy-Green was an award-winning auctioneer who had donated his services to about 150 charity auctions over the past 15 years.
Kennedy-Green suffered serious injuries and was hospitalised for four days after the crash.