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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 18297
Last updated: 14 June 2020
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Date:03-OCT-1970
Time:18:00 CST
Type:Silhouette image of generic J1 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Auster J/1N Alpha
Owner/operator:Private
Registration: VH-BTK
C/n / msn: 3364
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Category:Accident
Location:Devon Downs, Blackhill, South Australia -   Australia
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Nature:Demo/Airshow/Display
Departure airport:Scrubby Flat, SA
Destination airport:Devon Downs, SA
Investigating agency: BASI
Narrative:
On 3 October 1970, the pilot, an enthusiastic light aircraft owner, had organised a weekend "fly in" to his airstrip at Devon Downs, which was attended by light aircraft pilots and parachutists together with their families and friends.

During the day a programme of general flying was carried out and late in the afternoon the pilot flew to nearby Scrubby Flat with the two passengers to pick up some sleeping bags. The passenger in the right hand front seat was also a qualified pilot but the right hand control column had been removed earlier in the day to permit parachute dropping and had not been replaced.

The people assembled at the airstrip at Devon Downs first sighted the aircraft on its return as it climbed up from the nearby Murray River valley which, in this area, is bordered by 200 feet high cliffs. The aircraft then made a shallow descent and flew along the strip on a heading of about 250 degrees, at a very low height.

At the western end of the strip the aircraft pulled up steeply to between 200 and 300 feet above the ground and began a "wingover" turn manoeuvre to the left. As the turn progressed to the point at which the wings were steeply banked and the fuselage approximately horizontal, the spectators saw the aircraft falter, then the nose dropped and the aircraft dived into the ground at a very steep angle.

A fierce fire broke out immediately on impact and the aircraft was completely destroyed. The three persons on board that were killed were:

John Sibley CHRISTIAN (aged 36, pilot)
Robert James KING (passenger)
Robert Francis KING (passenger)

ATSB Conclusion: The cause of the accident was that the pilot attempted an acrobatic manoeuvre at an unsafe height.

Sources:

1. http://www.edcoatescollection.com/ac1/austb/VH-BTK.html
2. http://www.atsb.gov.au/publications/investigation_reports/1970/aair/aair197003835.aspx
3. http://austerhg.org/prod_list/pages.php?page=3249
4. http://www.atsb.gov.au/media/24660/197003835.pdf

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: BASI
Status: Investigation completed
Duration:
Download report: Final report


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
17-May-2008 11:10 ASN archive Added
14-Apr-2014 00:58 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]

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