On the recent Brisbane show holiday, twelve of us met at Samford for the ride to the start of the walk at Tennison Woods, Mt Glorious. We set off on the Lepidozamia Track, 5.5km north of the Maiala picnic ground.
The 7.2 kilometre track starts on the right side of the dirt Lepidozamia Track only about 40-50 metres from the gate. We followed an old logging road for approximately 3 kilometres and then descended quite steeply for about 500 metres to the crash site. The track was fairly overgrown and we had to climb over and under lots of trees, trying to avoid the Wait a While and watching out for Gympie Stinging trees.
Eventually, we came to a small pile of rocks and markings on a tree, which is the area where we had to turn left and climb down to the wreck. We had some discussion about the tree markings and whether they depicted angel wings or plane wings.
There were pink ribbons on the trees showing the way down to the plane, although you cannot rely on these always being there, so it is good to have navigation skills. I have heard some people remove them.
We were lucky because it was very dry when we did the walk. Some others in the group had done it previously in wet weather and said the steep rocky track was very slippery and muddy after rain. They also found leeches in awkward places after they got home.
I had seen many photos of the plane wreck, but seeing it in real life was a bit sad. Realising a pilot had died there in the middle of the forest and wasn't found for four days after his plane went missing. It was sobering reading the accident report. The crash occurred on 2nd March, 1977. The 57-year-old pilot had colour blindness and was limited to flying during daylight. He left Archerfield airport to fly to Bundaberg. After he left to return, there were heavy showers and low cloud. He landed at Maroochydore about 3pm to go to Redcliffe where he was going to review the situation.
At 18.15 hours, he telephoned the Archerfield Briefing Office and once more asked concerning a Special Visual Flight Rules (VFR) clearance. The cloud base at Archerfield Airport was then 1000 feet, the rain had eased and the visibility was such that Mount Cootha, south of the mid-point along the Lane of Entry, was visible. The pilot was advised that a Special VFR clearance would be granted for flight in the Archerfield Control Zone if entered via the Lane of Entry.
The aircraft took-off into the north and turned westward, possibly to avoid a rain shower to the southwest: the northern entrance to the Lane of Entry is to the southwest of Harrison's Pocket and the Lane is aligned 153 degrees (M). The pilot transmitted the departure time as 1822 hours; the route was stated as the Lane of Entry, and the estimated time of arrival as 1835 hours. Official last light was 1843 hours.
The pilot was advised that a Special VFR clearance for flight in the Archerfield Control Zone would be available on reaching Mount Cootha; the acknowledgement was the last communication received. The aircraft was observed flying in drizzle proceeding in a direction of about 210 degrees (M) at a low level beneath low cloud along South Kobble valley some 9 km west of the Lane of Entry. It was then observed to climb and disappear into the clouds.
The wreckage of VH-GAS was located on 6 March some 400 feet below the summit of Mount D'Aguilar at the head of South Kobble valley. The aircraft had struck a tree in line with the last observed track of the aircraft, then crashed inverted.
The cause of the accident, according to the reportwas that the pilot persisted with the flight at low level towards rising terrain and conditions of weather and light, which inhibited visual navigation.
There were two ex pilots on our walk. They explained to us how difficult it was to fly using instruments.
After having lunch, we headed back up the steep track and back to the cars. There were lots of low hanging tree branches and one tall man knocked his head on one and had a large lump on the top of his head.
Great article, Roz. I’m surprised that the wreck is still there after all this time. I would have expected members of the public to walk off with bits and pieces of it, or parts to get moved and destroyed by the elements.
Very interesting article Roz. As a 14 year old many years ago I was in a light aircraft that ran into a storm. Torrential rain, no visibility and water pouring in around a ill fitting door. We survived but the same aircraft and pilot crashed three months later killing all aboard after flying into a cloud covered hill. Neil.
I thought it was 1977. Thanks for clearing that up. I went there 5 years after the crash and found the wreckage. Took all day and lots of slashing through undergrowth. I have taken about 8 groups there since, and we usually proceed on to the summit of Mt D'Aguilar. Getting to the wreck now is pretty clear, but Mt D'Aguilar is a testing experience.