Pilot's body found in bushland near Gympie


POLICE searching bushland north-west of Gympie have found the body of Yandina pilot Rob Pavan, whose plane crashed on Saturday.

They were notified at about 9.20pm Saturday that Mr Pavan's single engine plane, a Jabiru, had failed to reach its destination at Balantree Station, west of Gladstone.

Police had been conducting a search around the Woolooga area with the assistance of other agencies for several days, a spokesman said this afternoon.

"This afternoon police recovered the 60-year-old man's body from bushland," the spokesman said.

Police will now prepare a report for the coroner.

Yandina pilot Rob Pavan. Photo: Nine News
Yandina pilot Rob Pavan. Photo: Nine News

EARLIER: Police restart search to find remains of Gympie pilot

POLICE have resumed their search for the body of Yandina pilot Rob Pavan, whose Jabiru aircraft crashed on Saturday with an impact they say no-one could have survived.

Mr Pavan had left Gympie's Kybong  aerodrome only minutes before the aircraft crashed in rugged mountain country near Woolooga.

Wreckage of his plane was found on Monday when a farmer accidentally found items that appeared to be wreckage on a remote part of his parent's property.

Gympie inspector Jon Lewis told reporters today the wreckage was "spread over quite a large area with quite dense bushland and steep slopes nearby.

Police managed to gain early access to the site, but the track they needed to use was not easily traversable or even safe.

The police disaster unit was resuming their attempts to find a better access to the site and the Special Emergency Response team would continue their search for "the deceased."

This would involve specially trained police with experience in rope work.

The Forensic Crash Unit would conduct continuing investigations on the site.

Reports from helicopter crew members were that the wreckage was strewn over quite a wide range, indicating a high impact crash.


A second chopper would also assist in an aerial search today.

"Our priority now is to gain access to the site and to locate and recover the deceased," Insp Lewis said outside Gympie Police Headquarters today.

"Investigators will then try to locate any pertinent parts of the aircraft, which may be able to be used to assist in determining the cause of the crash.

"The engine and relevant instruments will be examined to see if there is a fault that can be identified.

"But because of the high speed impact it will be hard to locate parts and to check them for evidence.

"I anticipate the search for the deceased (and the on-site investigation) will take a number of days.

"Our Search and Rescue Co-ordinator will be on site and will make a plan for the search.

"I feel very deeply for the family," he said.

"They have lost a much loved family member. "They are a close family.

"I understand the crash was not survivable.

"Our current commitment is to find and bring their loved one back to them," he said.

Mayor Mick Curran extended the Gympie Region's sympathies to Mr Pavan's family and to his colleagues in the Gympie Aero Club.

"The airport is a council supervised facility and they are a very tight-knit group at the aero club.

"We are offering what support we can to club members and Mr Pavan's friends in our region," he said.


Plane search ends in tragic find on Woolooga farm

WOOLOOGA farmer Murray Gear could not immediately identify the wreckage he stumbled across on his parents' farm.

But his find was quickly confirmed as the Jabiru aircraft that disappeared on Saturday morning.

It was a tragic end to the three-day wait for family and friends of Yandina pilot Rob Pavan, 60 (pictured).

Mr Pavan had taken off from Gympie's Kybong aerodrome on his way to a friend's birthday party about 87km west of Gladstone.

Mr Gear was searching by trail bike for a lost hub cap in a remote and mountainous part of the property.

A search helicopter tried unsuccessfully to winch a crew member down to the plateau.

Ultimately, police had to travel by 4WD to the scene, where they confirmed it was the wreckage of a plane.

A search will begin today for Mr Pavan, but authorities ruled out any chance that he would have survived the "high impact crash".

The Gears' property runs into the mountains from about 6km north-west of Woolooga.

"He had only travelled about 39km, so it was very early in his flight," Australian Maritime Safety Authority spokeswoman Andrea Hayward-Maher said at Kybong yesterday.

"We couldn't winch anyone in the conditions and terrain," she said.

Missing plane found on mountain top after high speed crash

"I don't know how they'll get it down in this weather," she said.

"We didn't hear any noise of impact or a plane on Saturday. It was just luck that our son was up there today."

Ms Hayward-Maher said the wreckage had been found within the search area established over the weekend.

"There was no mayday call,'' she said.

"The plane had a personal locator beacon, but it wasn't activated."

Five fixed-wing aircraft and 12 helicopters joined the search yesterday.

With the weather worsening, search authorities were in the process of organising nine extra choppers to replace the aeroplanes.


Missing plane found on mountain top after high speed crash

THE three-day search for missing Gympie-based pilot Rob Pavan ended sadly for his family and friends on Monday afternoon, when searchers announced they had found the wreckage of his Jabiru aircraft, 39km north-west of Gympie.

The Yandina resident, who built his plane in his parent's shed at nearby Bridges, was highly regarded as an accomplished flyer and aircraft builder.

Mr Pavan did not get far on his planned journey from Kybong aerodrome near Gympie to Dixalea, a farming community near the Burnett Hwy, west of Gladstone.

He was on his way to a friend's birthday party.

"He was the kind of bloke who liked to turn the key and go, maybe to Broome, or Birdsville.

"He had friends all over Australia, anywhere with an airstrip.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, which co-ordinated search efforts, said the plane was found on a plateau in mountainous but cleared country about 3km north-west of Woolooga.

AMSA media co-ordinator Andrea Hayward-Maher said it was "a high impact crash and the pilot did not survive."

A landowner had contacted police late yesterday morning to report that objects found on a mountain plateau on his property could be related to an aircraft.

"The objects were confirmed to be the wreckage of the overdue light aircraft at about 3.15pm.

"The wreckage was located within the southern part of the search area about 6km northwest of Woolooga," she said.  

4:00 PM UPDATE: THE SEARCH for missing Gympie-based pilot Rob Pavan has been called off due to bad weather.

1.30PM UPDATE:  RELATIVES of missing Gympie-based pilot Rob Pavan are clinging to hope this afternoon, as searchers resume efforts to find some sign of him or his Jabiru aircraft.

"Weather is an issue," search official Glenn Columbine said at Gympie's Kybong aerodrome.

"We're getting another nine helicopters this afternoon," he said.

Low cloud and high mountains would cause problems for fixed wing aircraft initially involved in the search effort, chopper pilot John McDermott, of Cooroy firm McDermott Aviation, said.

"The country is not suitable for low level aeroplane searches," he said.

"The clouds are at 2000 to 3000 feet.

"And there are mountains up to 2000 feet."

Mr McDermott expressed his appreciation for the volunteers who had helped with early search efforts.

"When the call came through on Saturday, we had to ring people at home and ask them to help. It was very much a volunteer effort.

"But now we have the firies," he said of Queensland Fire and Emergency Service members who are working as spotters on the search aircraft.

MONDAY UPDATE 9AM:  SOME 17  aircraft have resumed the search for a single-engine Jabiru 250 plane which vanished without a trace after leaving Gympie on Saturday to travel to near Gladstone.

Aviation officials said on Monday morning that a text message is the last communication they have with the plane's pilot who also used an app to allow people to track his progress.

The search is concentrated in an area north-west of Gympie and south-west of Monto.

The area is mountainous and the search could be affected by cloud cover as the day progresses.

Pilot Rob Pavan left Gympie airfield about 9:30am on Saturday in his Jabiru 250, travelling to Dixalea, about 80 kilometres west of Gladstone.

"It is understood the pilot sent a text message while he was on his way to Dixalea,'' an Australian Maritime Safety Authority said.

"We have been able to work with the phone provider to work out where that message was sent from.''

The Jabiru is a popular light recreational kit-form aircraft manufactured at Bundaberg.

Late last year the Civil Aviation and Safety Authority placed flying limitations on planes with Jabiru engines because of a claimed "heightened risk" of engine failure.

Gympie Aero Club president Gary Haynes said Mr Pavan was an experienced aircraft builder and pilot.

Mr Pavan took off from Gympie's Kybong airport on his way to a birthday party west of Gladstone and Mt Larcom.

Mr Pavan, was an experienced pilot and aircraft builder and was flying a Jabiru aircraft, one of several he had built and which he is believed to have kept and maintained at Kybong.

He was last seen in the plane on Saturday morning and was travelling to a friend's 60th birthday party at Dixalea, a farming community near the Burnett Hwy, 87km west of Gladstone.

Mr Pavan had been due to arrive at Dixalea about 11.30am.

AMSA Search and Rescue said they had tasked a total of five fixed wing aircraft and 12 helicopters to assist in search activities today.

The aircraft are from locations across south east Queensland, and includes two of AMSA's dedicated search and rescue Dornier fixed wing aircraft.

Today's search area is 6200 square kilometres in size (1800 square nautical miles).

On Sunday, the  the aircraft searched a cumulative area of more than 13,700 square kilometres (4000 square nautical miles).

Anyone who observed a light plane operating to the north west of Gympie approximately between
9.30am and 11.20am (AEST) on Saturday, 18 April is requested to contact AMSA Search and Rescue
on 1800 815 257.

SEARCH CONTINUES: AMSA has focussed their search for the missing light plane today between Gympie and Monto.
SEARCH CONTINUES: AMSA has focussed their search for the missing light plane today between Gympie and Monto. Contributed

Search uses thermal imaging on Saturday night

Search aircraft with thermal imaging and night vision equipment performed searches of the area overnight on Saturday.

The Gympie airport where Mr Pavan left from has been a staging point for the 13 helicopters helping in the wide-ranging search.

"The search will be concentrated again in an area between Gympie and Monto and we will have a number of fixed-wing aircraft as well as helicopters assisting in the search," AMSA spokeswoman Lisa Martin told the ABC.

Authorities said he may have landed in a remote area where there was no radio communication.

Satellites had recorded no evidence of a personal locator device on the plane being set off.

No signs of the missing Jabiru 250 aircraft have been found after the second day of the search.

On Sunday efforts focused on an inland area north west of Gympie and south east of Monto, a total area of more than 13,700 sq km.

Some areas of the mountainous terrain were searched multiple times by the 13 helicopters and five fixed-wing aircraft involved.

The overdue single engine plane departed from Gympie on Saturday morning about 9.30am for an airstrip near Dixalea, about 87km west of Gladstone.

AMSA Search and Rescue was alerted that the pilot had not arrived in Dixalea and a search began about 4.15pm on Saturday.

Anyone who observed a light plane operating to the north west of Gympie between about 9.30am and 11.20am on Saturday should phone AMSA Search and Rescue on 1800 815 257.

UPDATE 3.26PM: THE search area is now 5740 sq km in size.

There are also five winged aircraft involved in the search as well as the 13 helicopters.

AMSA will continue the search into the afternoon.

UPDATE 1PM: AT Rocky Ck, near Biggenden, Peter Cross has been hearing planes searching for the missing Jabiru 250 all morning.

He first heard helicopters late on Saturday afternoon around Mt Walsh National Park and immediately thought someone must have been lost.

"There was another at 11pm and they started up again this morning," he said.

"I watched one come from the Dudcot area to Rocky Ck Bridge, turned and went back in a grid pattern.

"Another did a similar pattern at the Bluff."

AMSA continues to search for the light plan that disappeared between Gympie and Dixalea, west of Gladstone, on Saturday.

One of two helicopters seen in the Coalstoun Lakes area this afternoon searching for the missing plane.
One of two helicopters seen in the Coalstoun Lakes area this afternoon searching for the missing plane. Erica Murree

UPDATE 12.38PM: THE plane AMSA are searching for is a Jabiru 250 built in Bundaberg.

We understand the recreational pilot keeps his plane in the Gympie airport hangars.

UPDATE 11.13AM: THREE more helicopters have joined the search for the missing plane.

Those 13 and four planes are searching a 3400 sq km area between Gladstone and Gympie.

A spokeswoman from AMSA said weather conditions were good, but the terrain was mostly mountainous forested areas.

10.04AM: A PILOT and light plane are missing after taking off from Gympie on Saturday morning and failing to arrive at the destination.

Ten helicopters and four planes are searching a 3400 sq km area between Gympie and Gladstone, including the North Burnett.

Anyone who observed a light plane operating to the north west of Gympie between about 9.30am and 11.20am on Saturday, April 18 is requested to contact AMSA Search and Rescue on 1800 815 257.

The plane departed Gympie on Saturday morning at about 9.30am for an airstrip in the vicinity of the small town of Dixalea, a bout 87km west of Gladstone.

AMSA Search and Rescue was alerted the pilot had fail ed to arrive and a search began about 4.15pm on Saturday.

Search aircraft with thermal imaging and night vision equipment undertook searches of the area overnight and a widespread search involving multiple aircraft started from first light this morning.

Topics:  amsa biggenden editors picks light plane missing north burnett search and rescue

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