SYNOPSIS: An R-double-A-F Neptune bomber crashed near Richmond, West of Sydney today, killing the eight members of the crew.
SYNOPSIS: An R-double-A-F Neptune bomber crashed near Richmond, West of Sydney today, killing the eight members of the crew. It was the R-double-A-F's worst air crash since World War Two, and came only six days after an Australian Navy pilot was killed when a Gannet fighter exploded in mid-air near Sydney. The names of the eight men killed in today's accident have not yet been released by the Air Force. The Neptune was on a test flight when one of its engines caught fire, and it quickly lost height, crashing near the Hawkesbury River in a great eruption of blazing debris.
A crumpled wing tank was wrenched off near the point of impact, while the rest of the plane was scattered over a paddock for hundreds of yards. The Neptune rammed this river bank while the pilot fought desperately to hold the plane aloft for a crash landing on the adjoining paddock.
Eye-witnesses said the plane bounced back into the air, hurtled in a spinning mass of wreckage across the paddock, and disintegrated with a mighty blast that shook homes for miles around. Electricity Commission gangs were called but urgently to restore power lines which had been torn apart by flying debris. Moments before the crash, the pilot had radioed that the plane was dropping fast. A parachute, partly burst from its packing, lay among the fragments of the smouldering remains.
Part of the wreck crashed on top of a tractor, whose driver, Mr. P. SACCHETTI, of Windsor, escaped serious injury by racing for cover seconds earlier. Another heavy piece of the blazing fuselage hurtled down on this utility truck, which was parked at the roadside. The driver also ran for his life as he saw the crash, and he suffered only slight burns.
Parts of the Neptune strewn over a wide area burned and smoked for hours after the crash. Air Force Fire tenders and civil fire units were able to do nothing, and the area was cordoned off.