Distracted pilot left fuel cap off
PILOT Graeme Toft made a simple yet potentially fatal error before taking off in his light sports aircraft on Monday morning ? he left the fuel cap off.
"The plane didn't let me down, I let myself and my sister-in-law down ... I still feel really bad about it,'' he said.
The cap was left off the 50litre-tank in the plane's left wing and wind pressure sucked the tank dry after take-off.
It also prevented the fuel pump from drawing fuel from a second tank located above the right wing. The plane crashlanded in shallow water just off the beach near Stockyard Point and flipped on to its roof.
Both Mr Toft and his sisterin-law, Desma Van Rosendal, were transported to Rockhampton Hospital by helicopter but were released later that day.
Mr Toft said he always carried out a pre-flight inspection of the plane, but on this occasion became distracted and neglected to check the fuel cap.
"I can't put my finger on what it was but something distracted me from my normal routine.''
But he was angered by TV news reports which labelled him as a thrill seeker and his plane as an ultra-light aircraft.
"It's not an ultra-light plane ... it's a light sports aircraft, we are governed by the same rules as general aviation but with a few less restrictions.
"The error was made by me, it wasn't the result of a lack of supervision or rules or anything like that.