Another tragedy for Mungarannie

Submitted: Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 19:56
ThreadID: 105213 Views:6719 Replies:5 FollowUps:3
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Link to article.
In the late 1980's we travelled down the Birdsville track and our friend's trailer had busted leaf springs.... Grant Oldfield came to the rescue when we reached Mungarannie - and sold my mate a set of leaf springs from his horsefloat.
In 1994, Grant died in a plane crash, leaving his wife Sharon to carry on the running of the station and to raise their 3 children. Link Here.

3 days ago, the Mungarannie station manager, Luke Betts, died - also in a plane crash while mustering - also a father of 3 children.

I find this very tragic. Can only feel for the families involved.
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Reply By: Member - Brenton H (SA) - Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 20:20

Thursday, Nov 21, 2013 at 20:20
Been up that way many times and I don't know Luke personally but my deepest commiserations go to his wife and family in this time of grief.

Brenton Hancock.
AnswerID: 521855

Reply By: allein m - Friday, Nov 22, 2013 at 18:30

Friday, Nov 22, 2013 at 18:30
Not a good way to enter into the Christmas season it makes you think what time you have in life is so important

I just did a search luke was only 33 far too young

my condolences to the familiy

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Follow Up By: Quickboats - Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013 at 18:11

Tuesday, Nov 26, 2013 at 18:11
Couldn't agree with you mate. Can feel how painful it is for the family.
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Reply By: Member - Outback Gazz - Friday, Nov 22, 2013 at 19:56

Friday, Nov 22, 2013 at 19:56
G'day Phil

The Oldfield family/families have copped a fair bit of tragedy over the years - plane crashes, car crashes and helicopter crashes. I spent a night at the Mungerannie Hotel quite a few years ago with Wendy oldfield and to hear all the sad and bad luck stories from her made me think about how lucky most people are and don't realise it !

And by chance - mid last year I met her father in law, Kevin Oldfield in a shop at Kapunda. Thoroughly enjoyed talking to him for the half hour I was there, think he said he was 85. I asked him "do you still have any land up there ? " His reply "I gave most of it away to family and relatives but I kept a small paddock for myself "
I then asked "how big is the paddock ? " Kevin's reply "2000 square kilometres"

Love it !!

It's a tough life where these people live and work - more city people should head there to see what hardships they have to deal with in everyday life while back in the city most people's biggest problem is when the batteries go flat in the remote for their 55 inch big screen tv !



AnswerID: 521930

Reply By: Ron N - Friday, Nov 22, 2013 at 20:30

Friday, Nov 22, 2013 at 20:30
Far be it from me to speak ill of the dead - but SD had dealings with this gent in a professional capacity at Moomba, just a couple of days before he killed himself, and her opinion of him is extremely low.
She's not one to speak badly of people, but he upset her in a fashion I haven't seen anyone upset her for a long time.
Maybe he was under great stress from the drought, maybe he had other pressing problems - but maybe he was just a right ******, too. He was abusive and throwing his weight around, and acting most unprofessionally for a station manager.

I do feel for his wife and young family, though - that is certainly very tragic, losing both husband and father at that young age.
However, mustering is dangerous work - at low levels and low airspeeds, even the slightest miscalculation will kill you in milliseconds, and there's little chance of recovery at low height.
I have seen no reports on the accident, nor does it appear the ATSB has even opened a case on it, thus making it appear that the aircraft may have been an ultralight.

There's talk on the aviation forums of Luke Betts having purchased an ultralight STOL, 2-seater ICP Savannah. These are Rotax powered, and ultralights are controlled by the Recreational Aviation Association of Australia (RAA-Aus).
The RAA-Aus investigate and report on any ultralight crashes, and their accident report database is confidential, which I believe is wrong.
All General Aviation (known as GA - or aircraft with "VH" registrations) crashes are investigated by the ATSB - and all ATSB reports are public.
There have been way too many ultralight crashes this year, but little seems to be done to improve their safety record - and with RAA-Aus sitting on confidential reports, that means little knowledge is being disseminated on what has caused ultralight crashes.

There have been 3 air crashes on Mungerannie Station in the last 21 years. Kevin Oldfield was killed in his Cessna 172 in 1992 while checking stock tanks, and then in 1994, his cousin Grant Oldfield of Cowarie station was killed whilst aerial baiting.

On a lighter note, if you are registered with FarceBook, there's a number of stunning photos of the area, and photos of Luke and his family, under the "OBE Organic" page.
Just search "OBE Organic Mungerannie Facebook" and the webpages will come up.
You have to log in to see all the pics. There's aerial photos of Cooper Creek in flood in 2010 and 2011, with one tagged as "taken from Lukes plane" - but the wing in the photo is a wing of a Cessna.
AnswerID: 521934

Follow Up By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Friday, Nov 22, 2013 at 23:16

Friday, Nov 22, 2013 at 23:16
Thanks Ron for the details of the other accidents. I got it a bit wrong - it was Kevin Oldfield who sold my mate the leaf springs. I hadn't realised that there were two deaths so close together.

The SA Police report has a photo of the crashed plane:
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 00:23

Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 00:23
G'day Phil - Thanks for that pic, it's the only one I've seen so far. Certainly not a survivable crash.

Not the best shot for ID, but I'd say the aircraft almost certainly is an ICP Savannah, because of the rectangular tailplane.

It looks like a classic stall crash to me - steep bank, left wingtip low, left wingtip hit the ground first, then the aircraft pivoted around the left wingtip, and went nose-first into the ground.

It could have been caused by engine failure at a low level, or perhaps he just banked too hard and let his airspeed decay.

It's surprising in some ways, that this accident occurred, because these little planes have a very low stall speed, about 26 knots (49kmh) with full flaps.

However, he wouldn't have been using the flaps under normal flying conditions, so his stall speed would be much higher, probably around 40 knots.

Of course, once you get to stall (inadequate airflow across the wing), the plane just drops like a stone - and if you don't have enough height to pick up decent speed again, and get the airflow back up above stall speed, then you just hit the ground like a falling rock.

The Rotax engines are not as reliable as they should be, and there are a fair number of reported Rotax engine failures.
However, at the end of the day, ultralights are classed as "experimental", and they're not required to meet the more stringent GA specifications.

Cheers, Ron.
FollowupID: 802821

Reply By: allein m - Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 16:30

Saturday, Nov 23, 2013 at 16:30
They had a good write up of the accident in the local broken hill news paper today

life on the land is hard and they do not get paid enough for the hard work these guys and women do

AnswerID: 521980

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