Authorities probe ferris wheel crash


A pilot attempting to land at an airstrip near a NSW fairground clipped a tree before slamming into a ferris wheel, a witness says.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) and Recreational Aviation Australia are conducting separate investigations into the ultra-light accident on Saturday morning at the fairground at the township of Old Bar, near Taree.

The two men in the ultralight, aged 53 and 32, and a 9-year-old boy and 13-year-old girl on the ferris wheel all survived the crash uninjured.

The president of the Old Bar Beach Festival, Cozette Leonard, said the pilot attempted a landing that was too short of the nearby airstrip before the plane clipped a tree and hit the ferris wheel shortly before 10am (AEST).

“(The pilot) landed too short, he hit a tree, wobbled, pulled out to sea and that’s when he crashed into the ferris wheel,” Ms Leonard told AAP on Sunday.

“It’s just a miracle, it could’ve been worse.”

The Cheetah S200 flew into the ride and became entangled in its metal arms more than 10 metres off the ground.

Ms Leonard said more children could have been on the ride if it wasn’t about to rain shortly before the crash.

“We’re calling it a miracle – I’m going to change the name of the festival to the Miracle Kombi Festival,” she said.

“It’s just a thought. We’re very blessed.”

The gathering of Kombi vans, which is part of the festival, was not in the direct path of the landing strip, Ms Leonard said.

The plane was performing a fly-in to mark the 80th anniversary of the Old Bar landing strip near the beach.

An ATSB spokesman said its safety investigators and those from Recreational Aviation Australia, which represents flying clubs, would be conducting separate probes into the crash.

“They will probably be doing their own investigation and assisting us with ours as well,” he told AAP.

“Normally, our investigations are completed within 12 months.”

The ferris wheel was closed on Saturday and was in the process of being dismantled on Sunday morning, Ms Leonard said.

WorkCover sent an inspector to the site.

The fair was moved indoors to Club Old Bar on Sunday because of the rain.

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