Seaplane pilot 'turned to waterfall' before fatal collision
EXCLUSIVE: The family of a Sydney man who died in a mid-air seaplane collision in Alaska want all aspects of the crash investigated - including whether the surviving pilot was distracted - after a report revealed he was manoeuvring his aircraft so his passengers could see a waterfall.
Tempe father and successful business strategist Simon Bodie, 56, was one of six people who were killed when a De Havilland Beaver collided with a De Havilland Otter near the popular tourist city Ketchikan when they were carrying holiday-makers on sightseeing trips on May 13.
US federal agency the National Transportation Safety Bureau stated in a preliminary report into the incident that the pilot of the bigger Otter seaplane was descending to show his passengers the waterfall when suddenly "he saw a flash from his left side, and experienced a large, loud impact".
Mr Bodie's brother-in-law, James Gwynne, told The Daily Telegraph on Monday that he hoped the investigation would be an "open book" and encompass "all angles and possibilities".
"I would have expected, as a non-pilot, that your major concern is the safety of the plane and passengers versus trying to position yourself to get a better view, even when you're in charge of a motor vehicle, you're not looking at what's out the window - you should be looking at what's on the road, or in this case, the air'," he said.
"He might not have had his mind on the game."
The surviving pilot later told investigators that he had not seen any other "conflicting" aircraft on his flight display before the two seaplanes collided.
Mr Bodie was on the smaller Beaver plane, which broke up mid-air, and was killed along with three other passengers and the pilot.
One passenger died on the bigger Otter plane and nine others suffered serious injuries after the surviving pilot "was able to maintain some control" and land on water.
Mr Gwynne said the family was told the crash happened within a "matter of seconds"
"It's our understanding that the larger plane had come down on the smaller plane," he said.
"The smaller plane was heavily damaged - they just fell from the sky … the time frame was a matter of seconds."
Mr Bodie, a father of two, was on a cruise ship holiday with his wife Stephanie and had elected to sit in the front seat of the Beaver because he had a passion for flying.
Mrs Bodie had stayed back on a cruise ship at the time of the crash at a nearby port.
Mr Gwynne said Mr Bodie's death had sent shockwaves through the family.
"The harsh realities are really coming home," he said.
"You're waiting for that knock on the door.
"Our main concern and focus is to ensure that Stephanie, her family and our extended family and friends are able to process (this) as best we can … we have faith that the authorities will make a thoughtful and meticulous account of the incident so there is closure for all."