NSW bushfires: pilot killed in fire-fighting crash, Defence apology over Lithgow fire

NSW bushfires: pilot killed in fire-fighting crash, Defence apology over Lithgow fire

24 October 2013

published by www.abc.net.au

Australia — David Black, 43, died when his Dromader aircraft crashed while fighting a fire at Wirritin in Budawang National Park, 40 kilometres west of Ulladulla, around 10:00am.

Reports say one of the plane’s wings fell off before the aircraft plummeted to the ground.

RFS commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons described the death of the pilot as a “huge tragedy”.

“It’s a tragedy for the fire-fighting community, of course, but first and foremost we’re acutely aware that it’s a tragedy for this young man’s family,” he said.

“He’s a husband with young children and we are all acutely aware that there’s a family suffering tonight or today because their dad hasn’t come home,” he said.

Fires burned near the wreckage throughout the day, and water-bombing aircraft were forced to fly sorties to keep the fires at bay as teams attempted to reach Mr Black’s body.

Late on Thursday afternoon local police superintendent Joe Cassar said high winds had made it too difficult to retrieve the body.

“At the moment, we are continuing to try to get the helicopters in there but where we find ourselves at the moment is, it is far too dangerous to send any personnel down there to retrieve the pilot,” he said.

Meanwhile another pilot whose plane crashed while carrying helicopter spare parts for use in the campaign against the bushfires has also been confirmed dead.

Earlier today, rescuers found the wreckage of a single-engine Cessna that went missing on a flight between Moruya in New South Wales to Mangalore in Victoria yesterday.

The pilot died at the scene.

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