A Merimbula pilot has come out of surgery and is doing well after a devastating Tiger Moth crash on the Gold Coast on Monday.
Ryan Campbell, who was once the youngest person to fly a plane solo around the world, was taken to Princess Alexandra Hospital in a critical condition after being trapped by the legs in the wreckage of the bi-plane at Norwell, near Pimpama on the northern Gold Coast.
The 21-year-old Merimbula man was semi-conscious when authorities arrived, police said.
Mr Campbell’s uncle Andy Campbell said Ryan’s parents and brothers all flew up to be by his side while he is in hospital.
“They were understandably very shocked when they found out what happened and they are still a bit emotional,” Andy Campbell said.
“Ryan is going to be okay, he has sustained injuries but it could have been a lot worse.”
Andy Campbell said Ryan will have to remain in hospital for a number of weeks while they treat his injuries.
It is understood Ryan Campbell alerted emergency services to the crash which he believed was caused by an engine failure or partial engine failure.
“It was just after take off and the aircraft hadn’t reached any great altitude,” said Andy Campbell who is also an experienced pilot and the owner of Merimbula Air Services.
“If the aircraft suffers loss of power at low altitude and you’re forced to land the plane the window of opportunity you have to make decisions is extremely limited.
“He would have had very limited time to work out where he was going to land the plane.
Emergency services work to free a person trapped in the wreckage of a light plane crash on the Gold Coast.
“The area they were in had long grass and they weren’t the best conditions for landing,” he said.
“During his training on this aircraft, he did do a lot of forced landings so he was well versed and current on such situations, but in these circumstances there wasn’t a lot of choice.”
The 58-year-old male passenger died at the scene.
At 19, Mr Campbell became the youngest person to fly solo around the world after 70 days piloting a specially-modified single-engine Cirrus SR22, named 'The Spirit of the Sapphire Coast'.
From the age of six he was determined to become a pilot, and could fly a plane before he could drive a car. He had his first flying lesson at 14, made his first solo flight at 15, got his private pilot's licence at 17 and his commercial licence at 18.
His record breaking flight around the world started and finished at Illawarra Regional Airport at Albion Park.
Shellharbour mayor Marianne Saliba said he was a great young role model.
Mr Campbell impressed many during and after his record breaking round the world flight that started and finished at Albion Park in 2013.
Cr Saliba was at the Airport Park with his parents Lindsay and Joanne Campbell when he landed to become the youngest person to ever do it in a single engine aircraft.
“There were a lot of people there the day he returned. He is a terrific young man. He was very engaging and became a great role model for young people. There were a lot of young families and children at the airport. He took the time to talk to them and have his photograph taken with them,” she said.
Cr Saliba also met a lady who was so impressed by the 19 year old from the Sapphire Coast when she met him at an airport in Scotland, half way through his epic journey, that she decided she wanted to be at Albion Park for the completion.
Rotary Club of Illawarra Sunrise member Tony McAdam described the Merimbula pilot as an impressive young man. They first met when he spoke at Rotary while fundraising for the world record. “He was just such an enthusiastic young guy. He planned it for two years. What he did was just simply remarkable. He is a really nice guy. And he has a wonderful family as well.”
Mr McAdam plans to visit Mr Campbell as soon as he can.
“I am shocked,” Mr McAdam said.
“He is such an experienced pilot. I am glad Ryan is okay. But this is a real shock. I am concerned for him and I am devastated for the family of the person who...died in the accident.”
Mr McAdam first met Mr Campbell at Sunrise Rotary in Wollongong.
“He was full of enthusiasm and was such a mature young man for his age. The very first time I met him at our Swing Into Wings Rotary function I thought 'wow, this is a guy to look out for'. He was just so confident. To do what he did at 19 years of age was just staggering. I look forward to catching up with him...and making sure he is okay.”
Mr McAdam was so impressed with the young man he followed his journey step-by-step, went to his book launch at Merimbula and arranged for him to come and speak at an Illawarra Connection dinner in October, 2014.
“I encouraged him to come and tell us about his round the world adventure which was a fantastic story to tell,” he said.
Mr McAdam has stayed in touch with the family and spoke to Mr Campbell again just before Christmas to tell him he was being featured in Weekender http://www.illawarramercury.com.au/story/3602999/ryan-campbell-was-born-to-fly-and-now-he-is-inspiring-others/.
Mr McAdam understands Mr Campbell only recently started working as a pilot for the Gold Coast operation.
The story South Coast pilot critical after crash first appeared on Canberra Times.