This Day in History: 1970-04-25

Piper PA-24-260B Comanche VH-WBI operated by Alkira Aero Group Ltd crashed at Tierawoomba Homestead, QLD on 25 April 1970. The airstrip at Tierawoomba is aligned east-west, with a prepared length of 2,480 feet and it slopes up at the eastern end towards trees which limit the effective length for a landing to the west. A gully 30 feet deep crosses the western end of the strip but this is not visible from an aircraft on the ground beyond about 200 feet from the gully. There is no ground marking to delineate the limits of the strip. The pilot had sought information concerning the strip but had been given only approximate dimensions and advised that aircraft similar to the PA24 had operated from the strip. The pilot had some difficulty in locating Tierawoomba and the aircraft arrived over the homestead some 22 minutes before last light. Notwithstanding that the flight had occupied some 52 minutes longer than was planned, the aircraft was still above the maximum gross weight permitted for landing. The weather was fine and overcast, with no wind and the pilot circled the airstrip and elected to land into the west. After approaching, the aircraft appeared to float for some distance before touching down in a position from which at least 900 feet remained in which to stop the aircraft before the gully was reached. To stop the aircraft from touchdown at the correct speed of 61.5 knots, and using maximum braking in the existing conditions, would have required 830 feet. Ground marks indicated that heavy braking commenced some 150 feet from the gully, but the pilot was unable to stop the aircraft before it plunged into the gully and struck the nearly vertical western wall. There was 1 fatality. Sources: ATSB; website