News

Pilot dies in Christmas party crash in front of kids

The wreckage of the Cessna 182 was an inferno by the time bystanders reached it.
The wreckage of the Cessna 182 was an inferno by the time bystanders reached it. Alistair Brightman

CHILDREN as young as two watched in horror as a light plane clipped powerlines above their heads moments before it crashed, killing the pilot, during a Christmas party near Burrum Heads on Monday.

Gympie pilot Mike Oulton, 59, died trying to land his Cessna 182 on an airstrip adjoining the Flame Lily Adventures tourist park on Burrum Heads Rd.

Flame Lily owner Jimmy Swan said a group of seven children, aged between two and five, were standing underneath the powerlines when the single-engine Cessna came in to land at 10.06am.

"We got them down to the ground when the wires were flying around," Mr Swan said.

"He (Mr Oulton) was coming over the top of the property to give us a wave.

"He caught the top of the powerlines with his wheel."

Mr Swan said fuel began leaking from the plane, which avoided crashing onto Burrum Heads Rd, and then two explosions rang out.

When he reached the wreckage, in a nearby paddock, it was an inferno.

"It was just one big fire," he said.

"The metal was already twisted. There was just nothing left."

The plane lost a wing, which came to rest about 50m from the wreckage.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau will spend the next three days investigating the crash site and interviewing witnesses.

Flame Lily was hosting a Christmas party for Skydive Hervey Bay, which had been scheduled to do some skydiving in front of the children.

A second light plane had taken off with Santa onboard, and he was going to parachute down to the party to deliver presents.

The wrecked plane is believed to have belonged to Mr Oulton, who was attending the party after departing his private airstrip at Gympie earlier that day.

Mr Swan said he met Mr Oulton, an experienced pilot and skydiver, through Skydive Hervey Bay.

"I hope that he didn't suffer," he said.

The scale of destruction made it hard for investigating police, who had some difficulty in determining whether Mr Oulton was the only occupant.

"This at any time of the year is terrible, let alone a week before Christmas," said Maryborough District acting Inspector Troy Pukallus.

About 1600 homes and businesses in Burrum Heads, Howard and Pacific Haven were without power for two hours after the crash.

Topics:  burrum heads, fatal crash, flame lily adventure park, plane crash




Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Both men’s and women’s United battle for second

United's Brad Mitchell. United Warriors v KSS Jets in their eighth round Wide Bay League at Hervey Bay Sports Club.Photo Matthew McInerney  / Fraser Coast Chronicle

UNITED Warriors will keep the heat on the Wide Bay League leaders.

Jets launch second program to help develop juniors

BMee's Lars Olsen (right) leads the SportFirst Extension program.Photo Contributed / Charlie B Photography

KSS Jets launch their second junior Extension program.

Hervey Bay Seagulls emerging squad to take flight

Broncos game development manager Paul Dyer with Fraser Coast league hopefuls (bottom L to R) Jorden Tyssen, Riley Rehren, Tyson Roberts, Daniel Foxwell, (top L to R) Braden Whittaker and Kurt Lee. Photo Griffith Thomas / Fraser Coast Chronicle

Hervey Bay Seagulls' emerging squad will take flight next week.

Latest deals and offers

Own Sunshine Coast property? You’re about to make money

UP AND UP: Property owners are likely to win from rent and price increases but tenants and first home buyers might not be so happy. Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily

Good new for property owners, not so good for buyers and tenants.

Sale nears on last large block of land in Coolum

The 43.37ha property on South Coolum Rd has sold.

South Coolum Rd property to be land banked