Aero club reels at pilot deaths

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PENINSULA Aero Club members were in shock last week following the tragic deaths during a training flight of respected members Peter Phillips, 47, and Ido Segev, 30.

The men died when their Beechcraft Travel Air collided with another plane over Mangalore airfield, 11.25am, Wednesday 19 February.

Their plane had left Tyabb airfield at 10.55am and was descending over Mangalore at about 4000 feet when the other plane, a Piper Seminole with two people on board, was about three minutes into its ascent.

Cloud banks may have prevented the pilots seeing each other before impact, with both planes plummeting to the ground and disintegrating. The four bodies were found inside the wreckage.

The occupants of the other plane were experienced pilot Christiaan Gobel, 79, of Maiden Gully, near Bendigo, and a 27-year-old woman from West Melbourne, believed to be originally from Thailand.

Mr Phillips, of Seaford, was chief flying instructor at the Peninsula Aero Club as well as a “highly qualified, well regarded person”, club president Jack Vevers said.

“Peter was a former airline pilot taking time out for parenting duties,” he said. “He joined us in his 20s and then took time out to develop his career before coming back to us two years ago.

“He was very experienced. Everyone loved him; he was part of the culture, the fabric of the place.”

Mr Segev, of Cheltenham, was a world champion in remote control and drone aircraft flying. He was also an aerobatic display pilot and qualified instructor preparing to perform at the Tyabb Air Show next month.

“Ido was a wonderful young man, a very accomplished pilot and well-loved. Everyone was attracted to him.”

Mr Vevers said a mid-air crash between two planes was an “incredibly rare event”.

“It’s hard to imagine how you could ever hit another plane, the sky’s so big.”

Air crash investigators from Victoria, Queensland and the ACT arrived at the rural airfield 130-kilometres north of Melbourne on Thursday to determine the cause of the crash – Australia’s first mid-air collision in more than a decade.

The planes were reportedly fitted with automatic dependent surveillance broadcast equipment which would allow the investigators to monitor their fateful movements.

Peninsula Aero Club was closed on Wednesday in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Mr Vevers on social media said the club was shocked. “This is a devastating event for us all,” he said. “Our hearts go out to the families of the four pilots who have tragically lost their lives.”

He said the families were grateful for the “outpouring of support and love” shown by fellow members.

Mr Vevers said he had suspended air operations to allow staff a break from their flying duties.

Members were planning to meet last Saturday where counselling would be offered to those in need and a lunch provided.

First published in the Southern Peninsula News – 25 February 2020

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