A 50-year-old pilot was killed when his plane crashed through powerlines on to a suburban Melbourne street, bursting into flames and sending a ‘channel’ of fuel flowing down the road in front of terrified residents.
The pilot, who’s name has not been released at the request of his family, was flying a single-engine Cessna 172 when he crashed into Scarlet Street, Mordialloc, near Moorabbin Airport, just after 5pm on Friday.
Residents have told how the plane burst into flames and some initially tried to extinguish it with garden hoses. Locals also said that planes regularly flew “really, really low” over their homes and some had feared a tragedy of this kind.
Vlad Wassilieff was at home with his 11-month-old baby, wife and mother-in-law when the crash occurred outside their front gate. The plane hit the back of Wassilieff’s car.
* Algerian military plane crashes, killing all 257 people on board
* Don’t drink or sleep on flights, says plane crash survivor
* Dozens dead after passenger plane crashes, catches fire at Kathmandu airport
* The brace position saved me, Colombian plane crash survivor says
“I ran straight out,” he said. “We were all in the back of the house, it sounded like a bomb, all the neighbours ran out, it looked like the plane had stopped up against the back of my car, just parked there and the flames started straight away.
“The person inside never had a chance. It was just flames straight away. I got up on my fence with a hose and I was trying to put it out and the neighbour across the road got his hose and police came and said ‘get back, it could blow’. So we just stood back and they took over.”
Wassilieff said he was feeling ok but was concerned for his mother-in-law. “And the wife is saying we are going to move, we are going to move.”
— Simone Fox Koob (@SimoneFoxKoob)
June 8, 2018
Peter Hausler, 48, said he heard a “big crash”. When he came out people were screaming and running up and down the street calling triple zero.
“It was just mayhem. Terrifying. Missed the house by a few metres.
“People tried to get close but it was too late. The flames were massive…first I thought the power lines had just come down, I couldn’t make it out. Then someone said, it’s a plane. It didn’t look like a plane it was all crushed up.”
Hausler said the fuel was running down the street like a water channel. “It was just unbelievable when the flames came down towards the houses,” he said. “It’s pretty scary stuff really. I’m not sure whether the pilot was avoiding the houses, the buildings and landed where he could.”
One resident told Fairfax Media they heard a loud noise and ran out to see what had happened.
“The flames were small to begin with, only five metres at the start, then they got bigger as it went on, but it got to about 20 metres high. Then the smoke was higher.”
“We’ve been here 20 years and planes are always really, really low, but we’ve never thought twice about it,” she said.
“Everyone in the street said it would happen at some point.”
A former resident of Scarlet St said it was “only a matter of time” before a plane crash happened near Moorabin Airport.
“They used to fly so low it was ridiculous. The planes would take off and be so low it was just unbelievable. You could see them nearly touch the gum trees at the back of the house,” he said.
The site is also close to Parkdale Secondary College and a childcare centre, which was understood to have been evacuated.
Firefighters put out the blaze. No one else was injured.
The aircraft bears the words Oxford Aviation Academy. When The Age called the academy, based at Moorabbin Airport, it said it did not wish to comment.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said four investigators would begin collecting evidence at the scene on Saturday morning.
In 2014, a pilot was killed when his light plane crashed into a house in nearby Chelsea. The home-built single engine aircraft had taken off from Moorabbin airport.
In that case, the pilot, aged in his 70s, managed to avoid the powerlines but crashed into the home of a 74-year-old woman, who was treated for shock but was otherwise uninjured.
In 2010, a light plane’s engine failed before it reached Moorabbin Airport, hit the roof of a house and crashed near the home’s swimming pool.
– The Age