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17-year-old pilot survives Zodiac CH 601 kit plane crash into trees

written by Adam Thorn | June 16, 2020
Zenith Aircraft Zodiac CH 601 HD
A Zenith Aircraft Zodiac CH 601 HD, the same model which crashed into trees in Victoria (

A 17-year-old pilot and his grandfather miraculously survived when their Zenith Zodiac CH 601 HD crashed in the Gippsland region of Victoria – with their kit plane left dangling precariously in trees.

The accident took place on Saturday evening but little was known about the incident until the man who discovered the pair was tracked down by the ABC on Monday.

Ryan Collins told the broadcaster, “The old bloke was trying to find his glasses and I think the young kid was trying to find his phone.”


The pair were thought to be flying from Traralgon, east of the Latrobe Valley, to Yarram in the East Gippsland region of Victoria.

The teenager was reported to have suffered only minor scratches while the passenger, in his 70s, was flown to Alfred Hospital in a serious condition.

“I was just out cutting a bit of wood, looked up and saw this plane with a bit of smoke coming out of it and slowly going down,” Collins said.

“I heard a big bang and thought ‘Jesus, a bloody plane’s crashed’. So I flew over there in my ute and there it was.


“I said ‘You’ve just survived a plane crash, you don’t want to drop dead from having a plane fall on your head.’”

According to Zenith’s website, the CH 601 HD was designed by Chris Heintz as a low-cost primary trainer aircraft. It adds: “New improvements to this model include a wider 44-inch cabin and a larger rear baggage compartment. Standard equipment in the kit includes wing baggage lockers, hydraulic disk brakes, electric trim tab, tinted canopy, and much more.

“Designed to meet the requirements of the demanding sport pilot, the aircraft offers great performance and capabilities, and is easy-to-fly with pilot-friendly characteristics, including a low landing (stall) speed. The aircraft has excellent cross-country flying capability as well as short-field performance of well under a thousand feet.”

Last week, Australian Aviation reported on an ATSB preliminary investigation into a crash involving a Cessna 404 Titan that killed five people.

A social media post and text message sent by a passenger onboard revealed that the first attempt at landing was aborted because heavy rain made it impossible to see the runway.

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17-year-old pilot survives Zodiac CH 601 kit plane crash into trees Comment

  • Yep, the C404 Titan was a commercial charter operating under IFR, whereas the Zenith sounds like a forced landing carried out following an engine failure, during a strictly private flight. Good report.

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