Police investigate fatal glider crash
By Peter Foley
A VICTORIAN RAAF officer and a policeman who used to work in the TV industry were killed yesterday when the glider they were in nose-dived just short of the runway at Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield at Toogoolawah.
Police said the wife of policeman Shane Winter, 49, was in the airfield's clubhouse as the glider crashed and she was one of the first on the scene.
The RAAF officer, believed to 50, who was flying the glider, was from Sale in Victoria. He had flown to Toogoolawah for the Festival of Flight at the weekend.
Mr Winter is the president of the Queensland Vintage Aeroplane Group (QVAG), which organised the festival at Watts Bridge Airfield.
Police and aircraft investigators immediately started examining the cause of yesterday's crash but an explanation is not expected for some time.
IPSWICH Inspector Kev Keillor said the Moser Folk glider the two men were in crashed about 10am yesterday.
Insp Keillor said the powered glider, which uses an engine to become airborne before gliding to the ground, suddenly nose-dived just short of the grass runway.
The pilot was taking Mr Winter for a morning flight when it hit the ground after crossing a bitumen road.
Insp Keillor said the pilot had been up yesterday morning before the fatal flight but it was not clear how many times he flew.
"The glider suddenly nose-dived into the ground and then continued on for some distance," Insp Keillor said.
"The passenger was ejected from the glider and the pilot remained inside. Both died."
State Emergency Services volunteers who had been at the Festival of Flight were first on the scene along with Mrs Winter, but there was little they could do.
Counselling has been provided to the volunteers.
Fire and rescue officers had to cut the pilot free from the wreckage.
One of Mr Winter's friends also ran to the scene from the clubhouse after hearing the glider come down.
"There were numerous witnesses. They came up to respond to the scene," Insp Keillor said.
"The passenger's wife was one of the people in the first group.
"We're trying to talk to her. Understandably she's very upset."
Mr Winter worked in TV, including producing children's show Totally Wild for Channel Ten.
Insp Keillor said Mr Winter had worked for the Queensland Police for the past 12 months.
"He was a tech officer responsible for editing our film and audio from security footage and other surveillance footage," he said.
Watts Bridge Memorial Airfield was originally built in 1942 as part of the Australian World War II defence program.
At the end of the war, it returned to farmland but the in the early 1980s a small group of recreational pilots resurrected the runways and rebuilt infrastructure.