Then it spiralled back behind the trees, like a falling leaf, which it had closely resembled on its upwards trajectory.
I knew then that a super. spreading aeroplane I had seen descend behind the trees moments before, had come to grief. I had followed its progress as it came towards the car I was a passenger in, turned left opposite us then turned left again to descend behind the trees.
I was working for Stock and Land newspaper, had been attending a cattle sale near Ouse, north west of Hobart and was returning to the state capital with two stock and station agents who had given me a lift.
As soon as I saw the freed wing, I said to my companions what I thought had happened and that we must try and render assistance.
I was amazed that initially they just wanted to drive on, but I convinced them we had to do something, although I was anxious about the catastrophe we were about to confront.
So we drove a short distance into the nearby paddock and immediately saw the remains of the aeroplane and despite it being winter and the grass green, it was burning because of the spilled petrol.
Some dozen or so metres from the bulk of the wreckage, the pilot, just alive and badly burned, was still in his seat on the ground.
He died as I stood there wondering what I could do. But my journalist’s instincts came out and I took a couple of pictures of the wreckage, but not of course of the pilot.
The Mercury published my picture and others the following day, with the story that the pilot had been in the magistrate’s court the day of the accident, to answer a charge of buzzing the Bruny Island ferry in an aeroplane. I never discovered if he was found guilty.
Then with what remained of the day he decided to spread super. on a farm he knew.
What had brought him unstuck though, was that a new powerline had been installed, since he had last done a job there.
Many months later, I was called from Melbourne to give evidence to a magistrate’s hearing, I think in Hamilton. There I discovered there had been a second fatality in the accident: the pilot had installed his girl friend in the fertiliser hopper, as was the way in those pre occupational health and safety days. But I had no inkling at the time that she had suffered too. In fact when I think about it, I can’t recall seeing the hopper at all.