Steep climb led to Lismore plane crash, report finds

MYSTERY CLIMB: Wayne Fisher from Spectrum Aviation. INSET: The wreckage of the Van’s Aircraft V-12 plane that crashed at Lismore Airport killing Mr Fisher.
MYSTERY CLIMB: Wayne Fisher from Spectrum Aviation. INSET: The wreckage of the Van’s Aircraft V-12 plane that crashed at Lismore Airport killing Mr Fisher. The Northern Star Archives

MOMENTS before a plane crash that killed a veteran pilot at Lismore earlier this year, the aircraft's nose pitched vertically upwards, causing a fatal stall.

A stall is when an aircraft loses lift and begins to fall from the sky. It has nothing to do with the stalling of an engine.

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau final report into the March 24 death used data from the plane's flight recorder to help establish the cause of the crash.

The crash killed local pilot and aero entrepreneur Wayne Fisher who was taking a popular kit-built Van's Aircraft V-12 plane on its first flight while the plane's owner looked on.

Mr Fisher was a well-respected pilot and founded Spectrum Aviation in 1989, a local business that constructed experimental-class hobby planes and instructed amateur pilots. He was qualified to test kit-built planes for their first 25 hours of flight.

Bill Kiernan, chief flying instructor at the Northern Rivers Aero Club said the plane's fate was sealed when it nosed up from a normal 10-15 degree take-off angle to around 65 degrees.

"The attitude (angle) it reached would have caused the stall. All of a sudden it would have pitched up; to someone on the ground it would have looked vertical," Mr Kiernan said.

With the light aircraft unable to maintain lift at that incline, it would have nose-dived and rolled "quite violently", he said.

But Mr Kiernan said while the ATSB report shed light on what happened in the seconds before the tragic accident, what exactly caused the steep climb would remain a mystery.

"I watched this aeroplane being built and everything was done exactly as per the instructions," he said.

"The plane took around a year to put together, I'd say a minimum 1000 hours."

Mr Kiernan said what was defined as "experimental" kit planes were very popular, with a good safety record.

"They're not plunging from the sky every week."

Topics:  accident investigation plane

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