PHOTOS: Rookie pilot in mid-air drama

A STUDENT pilot and an instructor have avoided a potentially fatal disaster after their plane malfunctioned in mid-air near Gunnedah yesterday.

The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) pair were on board a CT/4B Airtrainer over the Breeza Plains when they issued a mayday call about 9.20am.

The call sparked a rolling chain of events from local authorities who flocked to the Gunnedah airport before the plane made an emergency landing in a paddock off the Pullaming Stock Route near Curlewis.

“The aircraft experienced a flight control restriction and an emergency was declared,” Gunnedah Inspector Paul Johnson said yesterday.

“RAAF, AusSar, NSW police, Fire and Rescue NSW, the Westpac Rescue Helicopter, the RFS and the Ambulance Service were informed.”

Luckily, the trainee pilot and instructor managed to walk free from the aircraft unscathed while emergency services liaised with air traffic controllers to determine the plane’s last coordinates and exactly where it had landed. It’s understood the plane’s steering malfunctioned, prompting the emergency alert. 

“The reason for it to land rectified upon landing, and it became functional again,” Inspector Johnson said.

“It is believed no damage was occasioned to the aircraft upon landing in the field.

“AusSar has assumed control of the investigation and mechanics are on route to assess the aircraft in order for it to be recovered.”

The Westpac Rescue Helicopter collected the crew and airlifted them back to Tamworth airport as investigations began into what triggered the malfunction.

The pilot officer and flight lieutenant took off from Tamworth airport on a training flight across the region at about 8.45am yesterday.

The aircraft had been flying for less than an hour before something went wrong.

The Department of Defence released a statement confirming the crew were safe and well after landing in a field.

“The Royal Australian Air Force  has commenced an investigation after a CT/4B basic training aircraft from Tamworth conducted a precautionary landing near Gunnedah, NSW,” it said.

“RAAF is making plans to recover the aircraft to support the investigation.”