Two survive ocean crash
YEPPOON pilot Graeme Toft didn't have time to think about dying as he crash-landed his small plane off the Capricorn Coast yesterday.
Last night the shaken 53-yearold said he and passenger Desma Van Rosendal were lucky to be alive after their light sports aircraft lost power at low altitude near Five Rocks Beach about 7.30am. "You just pinch yourself to prove you are alive,'' he said.
Mr Toft, who has been flying for 13 years, said he was taking Ms Van Rosendal, who is his sister-in-law, for a scenic flight when the plane's engine failed.
But he said he did not panic, instead taking his mind back to the crash landing training he had received.
"I tried to restart the engine but it wouldn't work so I chose to land the plane in the water because I thought it would be a softer landing,'' he said.
"You can't afford to think you're going to die, you don't have a chance to think about anything ... your training just kicks in.''
The plane landed in two metres of water and flipped over but both Mr Toft and Ms Van Rosendal were able to get out without assistance.
Startled holidaymakers in the area 40km north of Yeppoon im- mediately raced into the surf to assist Mr Toft and Ms Van Rosendal as the shaken pair emerged from the damaged plane and attempted to salvage it.
The group managed to flip the plane and push it back to shore as more people arrived on scene.
Later, the pair was airlifted by the RACQ-CQ Rescue helicopter to Rockhampton Hospital for treat-ment.
Both suffered back and abdominal injuries and were released from Rockhampton Hospital yesterday afternoon after treatment and observation.
Mr Toft thanked emergency services and the members of the public who had come to his aid.
"Everyone was just great, I can't speak highly enough of them.''
And he said it was likely he would fly again one day.
"I'll look at it down the track but I'd probably say I will.