The scene of a plane crash at South Gundurimba near Lismore in 2012.
The scene of a plane crash at South Gundurimba near Lismore in 2012. The Northern Star

FIVE YEARS ON: Plane crash victims remembered

JUST after 10am on November 9, 2012, mechanic and trainee pilot Christopher Bowles and his flight instructor, Michael Allan, took off from the Gold Coast airport in Mr Bowles' Socata Trinidad four-seater plane.

They were on a training flight circuit and were heading to Murwillumbah via Lismore.

Mr Bowles had recently bought the plane and was learning to fly it.

But on their fifth circuit, the angle of the plane's wing became too steep, causing an aerodynamic stall, and the plane plummeted to the ground.

It crashed, exploding into a fireball on impact, in a paddock at South Gundurimba, about 3km south of the Lismore airport.

Emergency services rushed to the scene and investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau were called up from Canberra to assess the situation.

Sam Todhunter, a flying instructor based at Lismore Airport, told The Northern Star at the time that he was also flying training circuits when the crash happened.

"We did the touch and go landing and took off and I saw the smoke and thought it was a grass fire," he said at the time.

"Then I realised there had been no further radio transmissions from the plane so it all must of happened pretty quickly.

"I flew over the smoke and there it was, right at the base turning point of the circuit.

"The fact that it's fairly intact means that it has gone down virtually like a brick."

After a 14-month investigation, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau released its findings in March 2014, saying an aerodynamic stall caused the fatal crash.

"The instructor was unable to prevent the stall from occurring due to either insufficient warning or available time to react," the ATSB report stated.

"Although it appeared that a stall recovery was commenced, the aircraft stalled at an altitude from which they were unable to fully recover.

"Both occupants received fatal injuries and the aircraft was destroyed by the impact and an intense fuel-fed, post-impact fire."

The bureau also found that incorrect engine bolts could have contributed to the plane's engine being unreliable.