NSW ferris wheel crash pilot 'did not see' ride

MILES GODFREY
Last updated 20:39 02/10/2011
Ferris Wheel
Reuters
NEARLY THERE: Emergency personnel rescue the pilot of a plane that crashed into a ferris wheel.

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The pilot of a light plane that crashed into a ferris wheel on NSW's mid-north coast says he didn't see the fairground ride before his aircraft slammed into it.

''I just went to take off, do a go-around and I didn't even see  the ferris wheel there,'' pilot Paul Cox said.

''Nose up and straight into, and next thing I know I was stuck inside the ferris wheel.''

The aircraft became stuck on the ride, 10 metres in the air, for about 90 minutes.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and Recreational  Aviation Australia are conducting separate investigations into the  accident, which happened on Saturday morning at a fairground at the  township of Old Bar, near Taree.

Amazingly neither Cox, his 32-year-old male passenger, nor  any of the children on the ferris wheel were hurt.
Amber Arndell was among those on the ride.

''When I turned around there was just this big plane right behind  me,'' the 13-year-old said.

''I was so scared.''

The president of the Old Bar Beach Festival, Cozette Leonard,  said the pilot clipped a tree before hitting the ferris wheel.

''He hit a tree, wobbled, pulled out to sea and that's when he crashed into the ferris wheel,'' Leonard told AAP on Sunday.

''It's just a miracle, it could've been worse.''

Leonard said more children could have been on the ride if it  wasn't for the rain in the area at the time.

An ATSB spokesman said its safety investigators and those from  Recreational Aviation Australia, which represents flying clubs,  would conduct separate probes into the crash.

''They will probably be doing their own investigation and  assisting us with ours as well,'' he told AAP.

''Normally, our investigations are completed within 12 months.''

The ferris wheel was closed on Saturday and was in the process  of being dismantled on Sunday morning, Ms Leonard said.

WorkCover sent an inspector to the site, but a spokeswoman said  the siting of the ferris wheel would not form part of its  investigation.

The fair was moved indoors to Club Old Bar on Sunday because of  the rain.

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