Cause of fatal plane crash revealed

·2-min read
Aircraft Crash
Charlie Swanson, 52, died when his microlight aircraft that crashed into a field near Koo Wee Rup. Picture: David Geraghty

Avid recreational pilot Charlie Swanson told friends he was going for a short “test flight” but was soon seen scrambling and struggling with the controls before his microlight aircraft plummeted to the ground.

The 53-year-old Victorian dad of two died on impact as the lightweight aircraft was torn apart.

Following his death, Mr Swanson was remembered as a “unique and kind-hearted” man who had “loved” flying ultralight aircraft for about 15 years.

Microlight aircraft are a light sport aircraft, consisting of a tricycle pod suspended below a fabric wing and controlled with a rear mounted propeller.

This week, a Victorian Coroner has released his findings into the death, urging the Sports Aviation Federation of Australia to remind members to only use microlight aircraft in the manufacturer’s configuration.

Coroner David Ryan found shortly after taking off at a recreational airfield at Koo Wee Rup, about 60km southeast of Melbourne, on April 4, 2021, cables from Mr Swanson’s wing had become tangled with his propeller.

Charlie Swanson was tragically killed in a light plane crash in Koo Wee Rup on Easter Sunday 2021. Picture: Supplied.
Charlie Swanson was tragically killed in a light plane crash in Koo Wee Rup on Easter Sunday 2021. Picture: Supplied.

He had taken off about 7am, reaching a height of about 40-50m before the aircraft “pitched and stalled, then dived down”, witnesses reported.

The coronial investigation heard Mr Swanson had modified his aircraft with a wing previously owned by a friend because he thought it was “better” than the one his came with.
A Sports Aviation Federation of Australia investigation noted substantial damage to the propeller was likely caused by wires from the aircraft becoming tangled.

“The evidence does not enable me to find the exact sequence of events which caused Mr Swanson’s aircraft to crash soon after takeoff,” Mr Ryan said in his findings.

“However, I am satisfied that at some stage after leaving the ground, the rear cables from the wing have come into contact with the propeller of the aircraft, which has then caused significant damage to the propeller and its hub.”

He noted the importance of complying with safety regulations and using equipment as approved by manufacturers before expressing his “sincere condolences” to Mr Swanson’s family for their loss.