A 79-year-old 737 pilot described as a pillar of the aviation community has been named among four people killed in Wednesday’s collision between a Piper PA44 Seminole and Beechcraft D95A.
Chris Gobel died alongside an unnamed 27-year-old Melbourne West woman shortly after take-off at Victoria’s Mangalore Airport, when their plane collided with an aircraft containing renowned air show pilot Ido Segev, 30, and flying instructor Peter Phillips, 47, at around 11:30am.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau’s Nat Nagy said a full sequence of events had yet to be established, but believed the crash happened at around 4,000 feet.
Gobel was a flight instructor for Bendigo Flying Club with roughly 60 years experience, including spells as a training captain on Boeing 737 planes.
Yesterday, Bendigo Flying Club vice president Grant Welling paid tribute to his friend, who he described as a “pillar of our community in the aviation industry”.
“You could understand why many of us either who worked for him or were students of him or were associated with him through the flying club really looked up to his mentoring and experience,” Welling said.
“He was a true gentleman and professionally he was second to none.”
Meanwhile, both Segev and Phillips were members of Peninsula Aero Club.
Vice president Jack Vevers said, “Everyone’s really shocked — all the members and the colleagues that work with these guys and also the community at large, because a lot of people knew them.
“Both of them were highly respected pilots. Extremely competent and had high qualifications. Both of them had instructor ratings and had many hours of experience between them.
“The IFR rules allow for you to fly in poor visibility or sometimes no visibility and you rely on the instruments to navigate.
“So there’s a huge community out there who know these guys and everyone will be keen to know what happened to these guys, so we can all learn from it and hopefully make ourselves safer and at least their loss will have not been for nothing.”
Vevers said of Phillips, “We have all flown with Peter at some stage in our own careers to polish up on our flying skills, which we have to complete every two years.
“We all have a lot of respect for Peter and his love of flying and his ability to teach.
“They did know each other very well, and Peter was being his mentor in training him up in higher skills.”
Six ATSB investigators are using ground and aerial mapping and debris analysis from the two separate crash sites to determine the cause of the collision.
After the collision, Victoria Police Inspector Peter Koger added that the incident was “devastating” for both victims and first responders.