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Gavin Grimmer
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I asked an IFR Aircraft Flight Instructor this very question, placing him in the same scenario that Mike was in... with only the VOR that he could rely on, and what would he do?

His reply, “I would fly back, intercept the radial, and start circling around it until I was able to work out where I was”.   This made sense as that was what I was taught in both Private and Commercial Pilot training... stop... circle around something that you could rely on, and then work out where you are, otherwise you only compounded the problem.

You will later read in this article, Mike might have intercepted this radial, but at that stage already knew where he was, so had no need to circle.

        3/ From all the calculations I’ve done to date, the 5000 ft point was east of the Barrington Tops with           about 2000 ft of clearance above the terrain. Also this position is getting very close to where the                  furthermost eastern extent of the cloud cover would be.

I now don’t believe the reported descent rate was due to being out of control, caused by icing or any of the like. I now believe the descent may have initially started due to icing taking them down to a lower altitude and then the continuation of that descent was due simply to being in the mountain wave down-draught... and due to an engine that was not performing as it should (more on that later).

The Friendship pilot that was flying overhead was able to see the fire near Cherry Tree Road, and the pilot of Cessna 402 VH-ESV circling over that area 45 minutes later reported no cloud in the area, but dark towards the Tops... “not sure if it was the Tops, or cloud that he was looking at”.

        4/ There were many sightings/hearings of a light aircraft that extended all the way from close to the              5000 ft point all the way out to the east of Craven Township, the Monkerai area and down to south of          Stroud. Many of these can be easily credited as being of VH-ESV, the NSW Police helicopter with             the Night-Lite, or the Friendship, or the Boeing 747 that descended into the area to look for any sign           of MDX.

(From NAA File)

But there are many other reports I’m not so sure of.... especially now with the one the family contacted me over!

On a recent visit into this area north of Stroud, I found there is even more eyewitnesses to the plane being in this area heading east (at very low altitude) than previously thought!

The question surely arises then.... “If they didn’t crash up in the Tops, then why are they still missing?”

To proceed further and hopefully answer this question, we now need to examine some of these eyewitness accounts.…

My main reservations of eyewitness accounts being taken many years after the event is that they can become very tainted by other accounts that the observer has read over the years, and the recorded times and other factors are generally notoriously wrong... time after time.
If the recorded account was done within 24 hours or so after the event, and written down in say a Police Report or even a Diary, then that is a different matter.
A very interesting one was collected by Jesse Miller - presumably a long time after the event:

“The Father and Son report"

Camp 32*8'45.38"S 151*47'51.09"E

Plane was first noticed coming from NNW and heading SSE. It was noticed at first as it was pointed at them with landing lights on and the plane was observed in an up and down motion. It was noted the plane would have passed over Berrico Trig from Invergordon area, the Father thought. The father also said that they watched it head towards Big Ben Mt (which is at the top of Cherry tree road) they lost sight of it and didn't take much notice of it after that. The father thought it was odd the plane had lights on as he watched many other planes pass over that night, none of which had lights on. He also said the manner in which the plane was flying was odd it looked erratic to him. The last thing he added was he was up to pee about 10 to 15 min after seeing the plane when he heard a distant thud which was pretty loud. He said that he doesn't know if the thud noise was related. He just said it was odd and thought to mention it.

Another reported by Leah Mullin that seems to link in with this one above:

“Nebo report" (SSE of the Father and Son report)

Woman saw bright light coming from the north, on the eastern side of Big Ben towards her position and disappeared before it got to her.

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MDX pg 34