Teenage Indian trainee pilot killed in Sydney mid-air crash

December 19th, 2008 - 10:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Dec 19 ((IANS) Chandrika Gaur, an 18-year-old Indian trainee pilot in Australia, and her flight instructor were killed when their Cessna collided mid-air with another light plane over suburban Sydney.Gaur, the daughter of Indian doctors, and her instructor Joanne Ethell, in her early 20s, were killed when their plane collided mid-air with a Liberty XL2. It was flown by Ken Andrews, 89, a World War II Spitfire pilot.

Gaur was unusually chirpy that fateful morning. Over a cup of coffee, she was joking about getting married and having children, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.

“She’d been depressed recently because she hasn’t been doing much flying,” said the owner of a Bankstown Airport cafe, Eddy Omeissah, who had befriended the trainee pilot. “Now look how fate treats her.”

Omeissah said Gaur was a charming young woman. “I made her a coffee this morning and joked around about getting married and having kids.” “She was 18, very pure, nice girl, very well mannered, from a privileged background,” Omeissah added.

“Both of her parents were doctors in India. She was very quiet, subdued. But she had such a pretty face she’d get away with being quiet, you know.”

“She didn’t [say] she was going to fly or not [today] … There’s a lack of aeroplanes there for the number of students, so they never knew when they were going to fly or not.”

Investigators were at the crash site looking for clues to what caused the accident.

“I looked up and … saw this aeroplane and a big section was snapped and it started falling,” said Zakaria Jida. “I thought it would fall on my house.”

Instead, the Cessna, with its tail dangling from the fuselage, nose-dived into the back of a four-bedroom house in nearby Flame Tree Street.

“I saw bodies and everything,” Jida said. “The plane [was] already completely … like a demolished house. I checked if I can help and this lady she tell me these persons [are] gone.”

The moment of collision was captured on Australia’s radar tracking system. While the Liberty continued towards Bankstown Airport, where it landed safely, the Cessna seemed to stand still before disappearing off the radar several seconds later.

The young family whose home was partly destroyed in the crash had gone out.

Ethell’s first flight instructor, Bill Kiernan, said she was the apple of her father’s eye, following in his footsteps when she learnt to fly as a teenager in Lismore. “Her grandfather was an aviator, and her dad certainly was, and she was the absolute delight of her father. I don’t know what he’s going to do,” Kiernan said from Northern Rivers Aero Club.

In September, a Sydney Flight Training Centre student, Rahul Sharma, a 20-year-old Indian, died when his Liberty XL2 single-engined aircraft crashed into farmland at Luddenham, south-west of Sydney, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

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