Terrifying last moments of an elderly couple killed in a Snowy Mountains helicopter crash

Terrifying last moments of prominent businessman and his partner who died when their helicopter plunged two KILOMETRES after battling poor weather

  • New report details final moments of elderly couple stuck in a falling helicopter  
  • The helicopter fell from the sky and smashed into the side of a Kosciusko hill
  • The north Sydney couple died in the Snowy Mountains on impact in April

A high-profile businessman and his passenger plummeted more than 2000 metres to their death when their helicopter smashed into a Snowy Mountains hillside, a preliminary report has found.

Barbecues Galore co-founder Peter Woodland, 75, was piloting the bright red Bell LongRanger chopper with his un-named passenger, 64, who was believed to be his partner.

Investigators found Mr Woodland had flown on in poor weather before the aircraft crashed on the afternoon of April 3 in the remote Kiandra Flats area of Kosciuszko National Park in NSW.

The crash inquiry found the helicopter made a series of ascents and descents on the final flight before losing control in a sweeping turn.

The helicopter plunged towards the ground at a speed of 19 metres per second.

The couple did not survive the impact and were said to be almost unidentifiable amid the twisted wreckage. 

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s preliminary report, released on Friday, revealed the chilling details of the couple’s final minutes.

Barbeques Galore founder Peter Woodland (above), 74, and his partner, 64, were killed in a Snowy Mountains helicopter crash in April

Barbeques Galore founder Peter Woodland (above), 74, and his partner, 64, were killed in a Snowy Mountains helicopter crash in April

A new report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau reveals the final details of why this helicopter ¿ a red and white Bell 206 Jet Ranger (above) ¿fell out the sky

A new report from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau reveals the final details of why this helicopter – a red and white Bell 206 Jet Ranger (above) –fell out the sky

The businessman and avid pilot had a helipad and hanger at his Terrey Hills home in Sydney’s northern beaches to allow him to fly off on regular jaunts.

Mr Woodland had departed the Canberra suburb of Majura as part of a flying tour of seven helicopters of the Riverina and New South Wales’ south.

The pair battled on through poor weather despite six of the other helicopters landing at a property at Wee Jasper to the northeast of Canberra while Mr Wooldland carried on and landed further south,

When the Mr Woodland’s helicopter failed to arrive at Wee Jasper, the other pilots contacted authorities who began a search, however this was called off when the pilot reached mobile reception.

The helicopter was found crashed 200m east of the NSW Snowy Mountains at Kiandra Flats in April

The helicopter was found crashed 200m east of the NSW Snowy Mountains at Kiandra Flats in April

Close to four hours after landing at Long Plain Road just before 3pm, the Mr Woodland’s helicopter took off again, according to recorded flight tracker data.

Police officers sent to look for the helicopter saw the ruby-red craft flying low to the south through rainy, overcast conditions, the bureau’s director of transport safety Stuart Macleod said.

Tracking data showed the helicopter followed geographical features along the lower lying terrain, flying less than 150m above ground level.

Mr Woodland was educated as a geophysicist. 

About ten minutes into their second flight, the chopper turned towards Tumut, which was their refuelling site.

The report shows the helicopter then began to climb for about six minutes, reaching about 2134m above sea level, before it descended to 2073m, then climbed again, to a height of 2255m.

‘After climbing to (2255m) the helicopter commenced the steep turn,’ Mr Macleod said.

‘Its ground speed increased to (246 km/h), and its descent rate exceeded (1158m) per minute,’ Mr Macleod said.

Emergency services were called to Kiandra Flats in April after a request from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority rescue centre

Emergency services were called to Kiandra Flats in April after a request from the Australian Maritime Safety Authority rescue centre

The helicopter hit the ground at 3.36pm, in an area covered in grass and bare rocks.

Investigators from the ATSB found evidence the helicopter’s engine was providing power to the rotors at the time of impact. 

A search began the following morning after Mr Woodland and his partner failed to meet with their tour group.

Their helicopter, crinkled and broken up, was located at the accident site that evening.

The ATSB said they have not found evidence of defects with the helicopter’s drive train or flight controls, nor any suggestion of an in-flight break-up.

Further investigation will analyse the pilot’s maintenance, witness information and pieces of the helicopter recovered from the site.

A final report will be published at the end of the investigation.

Source

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