This Day in History: 1980-02-28

Cessna 421B Golden Eagle VH-EGT operated by Codds Air Service crashed at Dysart, Queensland on 26 February 1980. After starting the engines, the pilot taxied the aircraft along the centre section of the strip towards the northwest end prior to taking off towards the southeast. As the aircraft neared the northwest end of the strip, the pilot turned left onto the grassed loam and then commenced a right turn, with the intention of lining up on the centre section for take-off. During the right turn, all three wheels partially sank into a soft, lightly grassed area and the aircraft came to a halt. The pilot applied substantial engine power, but the aircraft did not move. Both engines were left idling and the two occupants left the aircraft. After the pilot removed soil from the front of the nosewheel, he boarded the aircraft again, applied substantial power to both engines, and the aircraft moved forward and lined up on the centre section of the strip. The pilot left his seat and opened the rear cabin door for the passenger to re-board the aircraft. He then secured the door and returned to his seat. The passenger occupied the seat adjacent to the pilot. Engine power was applied and the take-off commenced. Initially, the aircraft turned fairly sharply to the left but the pilot straightened it and it remained on the centre section of the strip during the take-off run. The engines appeared to develop normal take-off power, but the rate of acceleration was considerably less than would normally be expected for an aircraft of this type. As it approached the end of the strip, and was still on the ground, the pilot rotated the aircraft into a marked nose-up attitude. It became airborne some 18 metres before the end of the strip but did not climb away. The main landing gear struck the boundary fence situated some 40 metres beyond the end of the strip and, about this time, the pilot closed both engine throttles. The aircraft struck another fence, ran across the road, struck a third fence and rolled down a gully. During this time the left wing was damaged, a fuel cell was ruptured and the fuel ignited, and the main landing gear was torn off. The main wreckage came to rest on the upslope of the gully some 233 metres beyond the end of the strip and fire rapidly developed. Both occupants were seriously injured and the passenger made unsuccessful attempts to extricate the pilot from the burning aircraft. The passenger was unable to open the emergency exit on the right side of the cabin but was able to open the main cabin door on the left side and leave the aircraft at this point. Bystanders were quickly at the scene and unsuccessfully attempted to control the fire with portable extinguishers. Attempts to enter the aircraft to assist the pilot were frustrated by intense heat. Sources: ATSB website and website