Aviators mourn crash pilot

THE Queensland and British flying communities are mourning the loss of a friend after a plane crashed into a paddock in Gympie on Friday afternoon.

The pilot of the Spitfire replica, which crashed just a few kilometres from the Gympie Airport at Kybong, has been identified as Professor Barry Uscinski.

Gympie police are still investigating the crash and Recreational Aviation Australia has been helping with enquiries.

An RAA spokesperson said it was too early to say why the plane crashed.

He said Dr Uscinski was a member of RAA and the plane was registered with the organisation.

Dr Uscinski, an experienced pilot, was an Australian citizen but moved to the UK in his mid-20s, where he spent most of his adult life.

A spokesperson for the Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield, near the Brisbane Valley, said Dr Uscinski's family had been notified.

The spokesperson said Dr Uscinski was well known and had a lot of family living in the area.

“We just knew him as the Professor. He was always good for a chat, but he didn't speak much about himself.”

Dr Uscinski, a long-time commercial pilot, was one of a handful of pilots who competed in UK aerobatics competitions, flying Tiger Moths.

On the day of the crash Dr Uscinski – in his mid-70s – had just picked up his plane after it was serviced in Gympie.

He had grown up in Brisbane, where he was a member of the Air Training Corps in school before gaining his commercial pilots' licence, and in his 20s studied at Cambridge in the UK.

Later he stayed on at Cambridge as a researcher. Recently he had been working in ocean research.

Watts Bridge-based Australian Aerobatic Club flying captain Mal Beard, who had worked and flown with Dr Uscinski, said it was a sad loss.

“He was an extremely intelligent, genius-type bloke who was working in restricted stuff in England for the defence department,” Mr Beard said.

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