'Trauma': Fear stops pilot from flying after fatal plane crash

IT was once a hobby and business he loved, but a plane crash that killed a woman and left three others injured has made it too traumatic for Bruce Rhoades to continue flying.

The owner of 1770 Castaway said the business would move to using boats instead of small planes to transport backpackers to their popular survivors tour on Middle Island off Agnes Water.

Mr Rhoades made the decision after he was still reeling from the moment his mate and employee Les 'Woody' Woodall crashed his plane with three tourists on board.

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Now Mr Rhoades is unsure if he'll ever fly again.

"Woody and I are suffering ... due to the trauma from the day," Mr Rhoades said.

"We're re-living it."

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Woody is in Bundaberg doing rehabilitation for his injuries.

Meanwhile the Australian Transport Safety Board is continuing its investigation into what caused the plane to crash into the sand on Middle Island on January 10.

Gladstone Police Criminal Investigation Branch acting officer in charge Detective Senior Sergeant Chris Lindsay, who is assisting the investigation, said Mr Rhoades was issued a notice to ground, meaning he can't fly until further notice.

 

The plane crash at Middle Island.
The plane crash at Middle Island. RACQ Capricorn Helicopter Rescue

But Mr Rhoades claims it was a suspension notice. A suspension notice would allow him to fly for personal use, but not charter.

Mr Rhoades said regardless of the notice, it would be too traumatic to fly.

The crash killed a UK tourist and left three others injured, including the pilot Woody, a 13-year-old boy and a 21-year-old Irish woman.

"Woody and I don't have the heart for commercial flying any more," Mr Rhoades said.

The small plane's engine is now with the ATSB.

In its most recent update, on January 13, the board stated it would gather evidence, including pilot maintenance documentation and witness statements.

On January 27, Mr Rhoades cancelled all tours.

He said with several approvals, including from the department of national parks, still to get, it could take three months for the business to reopen for boat tours.

He's hoping to use a high-speed rubber inflatable boat, similar to the Water Police.



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