According to the track derived from all these Witness Reports, VH-MDX descended down
into a valley just to the east of the Faulkland Trig Station as Ms.I.Flinders saw
it flying towards her there, and Donna Krane estimated it’s height to be at around
200 meters above her when it flew in her vicinity - which was in the same area. It
puzzled me for a long time why Mike would descend into that valley, but now it becomes
The first one of these witnesses that reported something of the motor working hard was Mr Warner somewhere in Monkerai Road (“Main Road”) and as we don’t know where exactly he was, I can’t be sure, but it could have either been before it went over Faulkland Trig, or he heard it further south down towards where Ms.I.Flinders and Donna Krane saw it... but the point is it was “labouring”. On it’s own, this report of a labouring motor means nothing, but tied in with the other’s it becomes a distinct possibility.
From the track I have derived from these sightings – down to Peppers Mountain, VH-MDX had to travel another 11 nm which meant another 7 to 8 minutes flying time.
Could a motor with fluctuating oil pressure, revving over redline, last that long?
This next article seems to show this possibility, but is too long to copy in it’s entirety here:
Mike was in a terrible dilemma here... reduce the rpm to a safe rpm and descend, leave the motor over redline to maintain height and risk having it fail, or attempt to climb by increasing the rpm even more, and ensure that the motor would blow!... What a horrible position to be in!!!
Mike no doubt believing that they were still on radar would give him the illusion that there was no need for him to give a position report (if he had a chance to give one anyway) so this may explain why no more radio contact was made as I’m sure Mike had enough on his plate - and a radio call would have been the last thing on his mind. I was once in a similar situation and it wasn’t until I had completed my landing that I realised I had not once thought to use the radio!
Pilots are taught: Aviate... Navigate... and then Communicate... note communicate comes last.
If you have a lot on your plate, the radio is the last thing you think of as at the
end of the day, giving a radio call doesn’t help YOU.... the person under stress!
So here we have the first four (maybe five) sightings involving eight people reporting
a lowish (to the terrain) flying plane with it’s landing lights on... something that
was very unusual given the geographical location. Then the next three confirming
a plane (one said it was labouring), and then the eighth sighting giving a very clear
report of a plane again with it’s landing lights on at low level.... then the next
two saying they could see a red light/beacon, and these last two plus the fifth and
sixth report commenting either directly, or indirectly on how much noise it was making.
You also have Mrs Boydell and John Davis’s observations backing up the observations
of the both Father & Son’s observations – along with the two women at Nebo backing
up the continuing direction from both Father & Son’s... then Mandy Wilson and Mr
Warner backing up the Nebo sighting (and possibly Ms.I.Flinders)... then Donna Krane’s
observation confirming Ms.I.Flinders sighting... then Renae Wilkinson confirming
Donna Krane’s along with the height Donna estimated it to be... then D. Peters confirming
Donna Krane’s and Renae’s as well... and then finally, Jimmy Clair in effect confirming
D. Peter’s and Donna Krane’s direction that it was flying in. The reason the last
two witnesses at Stroud Road didn’t notice the landing lights is quite simply because
at that stage the plane was side on to them and so a light shining out the front
would not have been visible... but the bright, red flashing beacon on top of the
tail would have most definitely been.
The one main difference with Jimmy Clair’s observation was that he never heard it - supposedly due to the wind noise, and he claimed it was very low and “going down”. The fact that D. Peters heard it from over 4 kilometers away just before it was obscured from his view as it disappeared behind Peppers Mountain, and as it appeared again on the other side of Peppers Mountain to Jimmy Clair who was less than half that distance away – yet Jimmy never heard it, can only mean one thing - that it was no longer under power and was going down... exactly as claimed.
Jimmy had to call his wife outside of the caravan to have a look, whereas if it was making as much noise for all the previous observers to be able to hear it, then I’m sure he would not have had to tell her to come outside to see it... she would have been out there like a shot to see what all the noise was!
MDX pg 61