‘Tragic loss for the aviation industry’: Pilots mourned

 

HEARTBROKEN friends and family of two pilots killed in a light plane crash at Mareeba are struggling to come to grips with their sudden loss.

Cooktown man William Scott-Bloxam, 73, was piloting Australia's only Angel Aircraft Corporation Model 44 Angel twin-engine light plane when it crashed near the Mareeba Aerodrome on Saturday.

Witnesses reported hearing the engines missing and backfiring before the aircraft fell to the earth about 11.20am.

Mr Scott-Bloxam and his passenger, 63-year-old Stuart man and fellow pilot Geoff Burry, did not survive the wreckage.

Mr Scott-Bloxam owned Cape Air Transport, the Torres Strait's longest-running air taxi service, and the Milkwood Lodge rainforest retreat in Cooktown with his wife, Vera.

He made global headlines in 2008 after piloting a flight to the Papuan town of Merauke, which led to him and four others being detained by Indonesian authorities for entering the country without a visa.

Geoff Burry has been tragically killed after the light plane he was a passenger in crashed in a cornfield near Mareeba Airport yesterday.
Geoff Burry has been tragically killed after the light plane he was a passenger in crashed in a cornfield near Mareeba Airport yesterday.

The Merauke Five, as they became known, were held in prison for several months and sentenced to two to three years' jail each. They were released after intervention from the Australian Government in June 2009.

After his return to home soil, Mr Bloxham-Scott said he felt "like a goldfish that has escaped a pool of piranhas".

Mr Burry's close friend Neil Hoffensetz said he last talked to the dedicated aviator on Friday afternoon.

"Unfortunately, he was going to fly that particular aeroplane on Saturday and he was going to turn up here yesterday but I haven't heard from him," he said.

"He was an excellent person and one hell of a friend and colleague," he said.

"It is a tragic loss for the aviation industry."

Pilot William Scott-Bloxam and his wife Vera of Cape Air Transport Torres Strait spent nine months of detention in the troubled Indonesian province of West Papua. They have just added a new Angel 44 (the only one in australia) to their fleet.
Pilot William Scott-Bloxam and his wife Vera of Cape Air Transport Torres Strait spent nine months of detention in the troubled Indonesian province of West Papua. They have just added a new Angel 44 (the only one in australia) to their fleet.

Burdekin Aero Club secretary Brian Richardson said Mr Burry had flown commercial aircraft in the United States and was known to be a skilled flyer.

"He is a competent and cautious pilot," he said.

"It is a sad loss to everyone down there. He was a really good bloke."

Cleveland Bay Aviation director Adrian Norman was shocked to hear of his colleague's death.

"I saw him a couple of weeks ago when he flew in to Townsville," he said. "Geoff was a highly-experienced and well-respected pilot."

Police and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau are investigating.


Concert to protect the plateau

premium_icon Concert to protect the plateau

CONCERT to raise funds for legal battle over controversial proposal.

Popular Lismore venue announces shock closure

premium_icon Popular Lismore venue announces shock closure

“A four-year battle got us a year and half of magic"

Army veteran wants psychedelic drugs used in PTSD treatment

premium_icon Army veteran wants psychedelic drugs used in PTSD treatment

THE former major who served in Somalia has co-founded a non-profit research...