A young pilot who made an emergency landing in central NSW after an elderly passenger tried to cut the light plane's engine has been praised for his quick thinking.
And audio from inside the cockpit, of the pilot struggling with his elderly passenger to get the plane down after he turned off the fuel and tried to take over the controls, has now emerged.
The twin-engined Beechcraft 76 still lies in a sheep paddock eight kilometres southeast of Oberon in NSW. Amazingly it is still undamaged after a mid-air battle in which a lone passenger allegedly went berserk.
It was a fight for life which the pilot won, while the 82-year-old passenger was airlifted to Sydney's Westmead Hospital with facial injuries.
The pilot, 22 year James Chandler, escaped unhurt.
The drama began yesterday with a routine charter from Bankstown to Cowra in the Central West.
Bravo Foxtrot Papa took off at 2.18PMfor a flight of less than one hour. But, just short of Oberon, and at 1800 metres, came an electrifying radio call.
"Pan pan, pan pan, pan pan.. Bravo Foxtrot Papa.. my passenger is trying to take over.."
The 82-year-old passenger reportedly flicked a lever to shut down the engines of the four-seater aircraft and seized the controls during the charter flight.
The pilot wrestled with the man in the cockpit and restrained him, then sent out a distress call before making the emergency landing.
The passenger was Reverend Les Nixon, an outback Christian missionary. He is a pilot himself.having flown for over 50 years.
Friends say Les is also qualified to fly the plane he was in yesterday.
"I would like to praise the actions of the pilot. He showed fantastic skill," said Basair Aviation College's managing director David Trevelyan.
It was the first time Australia By Air had conducted a flight for the elderly man.
"We know nothing about him," Mr Trevelyan said.