Australian plane crash victims were united by their love of flying
Four friends whose love of flying brought them together were heading to King Island, Australia, when their plane inexplicably plunged into the ocean on Friday.
The search continued on Saturday for one body and the wreckage of the small plane, which crashed two kilometres off Collendina Beach, between Barwon Heads and Point Lonsdale, about 12.30pm Friday local time.
Three bodies were found on Friday, but have not been identified, and police believe a fourth body is still inside the wreck of the plane.
All four victims were active members of the close-knit flying community.
Daniel Flinn, 55 of Mordialloc, and 68-year-old Donald Hateley, from Noble Park, were described as close friends who had been on dozens of light plane flights together around Victoria over the years.
"He was an avid pilot, and that was his passion," Daniel's brother Tom said.
The pair were members of the Royal Victorian Aero Club and regulars at the club's bar at Moorabbin Airport.
They were flying with Dianne Bradley and Ian Chamberlain, both in their 60s and from Black Rock.
The four friends were flying in Chamberlain's four-seater Piper PA-28 Cherokee, which he first registered seven years ago.
It's not know who was flying on Friday, but Mr Hateley — an experienced pilot — sometimes flew hamberlain's plane, according to those who knew him.
Victoria Police Inspector Graham Banks said police had a "very good idea" of where the plane was and hoped to locate it soon.
He said the four were heading to King Island.
"I don't want to give too much detail, but suffice to say there were a number of families involved," Inspector Banks said.
"Obviously they are in shock and they're trying to process what has occurred."
Victoria Police and the State Emergency Service are conducting a land search along the coast near the crash site, where debris has started to wash ashore, while the Volunteer Coast Guard boats are assisting the search in water near the HMAS Canberra dive site.
A fisherman saw the plane go down and alerted emergency services, Geelong Inspector Graham Banks said on Friday.
"He was in a boat and he went out and observed that clearly a plane had impacted the water and dispersed over a wide area and there were three persons that were clearly deceased at that time," Inspector Banks said.
The witness, who was within a kilometre of the crash, heard the roar of the plane's engine before seeing it plunge sideways into the water.
Another fisherman described following an oil slick in the ocean before locating the wreckage, which had sunk to the bottom. He, and others, volunteered to help with grid searches to locate parts of the wreckage.
There was no distress call made by the aircraft, which was built in 1967 and first registered in Australia a year later.
The current owner first registered the plane seven years ago.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating the cause of the crash.
- The Age, AAP