A FLIGHT instructor and his student have died after the light aircraft they were flying smashed nose-first into a North Bundaberg cane field on Monday afternoon.
Well-known Bundaberg man Hugh Kay, 71, and his 57-year-old student Keven Dickenson, from Gladstone, failed to return from a training flight on Monday afternoon, prompting an air search.
The AGL Action Rescue helicopter and several fixed-wing aircraft began a search taking in Burrum Heads, Burnett Heads, Childers, Moore Park Beach and North Bundaberg, but were forced to call off the search when night fell.
The helicopter resumed the search about 6am yesterday and, after about 10 minutes in the air, located the ultralight Piper Sport aircraft in a cane field a short distance from Fairymead Mill.
Mr Kay was a flight instructor for the Hinkler Flying School and had been for about four years.
Flight school owner Max Jackson said Mr Kay and Mr Dickenson had done a lesson in the morning before returning for a pre-flight briefing and flying out to do a second exercise.
"They left roughly about 11.30am and were due back around 12.30pm-1pm," Mr Jackson said.
It is believed the pair had planned to fly to the Burrum River before returning to the Bundaberg Airport via Childers and Gin Gin.
"When they didn't arrive back by about 3.30pm, I activated search and rescue," Mr Jackson said.
Mr Jackson said both of the men were keen pilots.
"Our deepest condolences to our student, Keven Dickenson," he said.
"He had only done about six or seven lessons. He used to travel here from Gladstone - that's how passionate he was."
It is believed Mr Dickinson was married with children and ran a consulting business in Gladstone.
The cause of the crash is a mystery, with no witnesses or radio calls from the pilots.
Bundaberg Police Inspector Kev Guteridge said Scenes of Crime and the Wide Bay Forensics Crash Unit were investigating.
Insp Guteridge said the Australian Transport Safety Bureau had been advised of the crash.
But a spokesman for the organisation said they would not be investigating. Instead, Recreational Aviation Australia would investigate the incident along with police.
The plane appears to have landed on its nose and left wing, with the right wing and tail almost unscathed.
The wet, muddy cane paddock made the investigation difficult, with a fire-fighter having to cut a path through to the scene with a machete to allow emergency services access.
Wide Bay Forensics Crash Unit officer in charge Sergeant Steve Webb said it was unknown when the results of the investigation would be available.
"The investigation will be ongoing," he said.
Contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
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