Sixty year old Yandina pilot, Rob Pavan, left Gympie Airfield on Saturday morning, the 18th of April 2015, around 9:30am heading for a friend’s 60th birthday party in Dixalea (about 87km west of Gladstone). Shortly into what should have been a straightforward two hour flight, he texted a friend to say he was in the air. This became his last contact. It appears that he only made it 39km north-west of Gympie before crashing into a mountain plateau.

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) were alerted when Mr. Pavan failed to arrive at his destination and they launched a search about 4:15pm on Saturday, with the Gympie Airport the staging point for all aircraft and personnel involved in the search.

The Gympie RRT approached AMSA on Sunday and offered their assistance, providing meals to the search crew. They accepted the offer, requesting breakfast and lunch on Monday. A hearty breakfast of bacon and egg muffins was served to approximately thirty personnel including ground staff, search pilots, AMSA and QFES team members. At lunch, approximately 52 people were served sausages and onion in bread rolls for lunch, plus a delicious chocolate cake dessert. As well as providing the two meals, the team did up snack packs for the pilots to take with them during ‘flying time.’

12 helicopters and 5 fixed wing aircraft were involved in the search and covered an area of approx. 5200 sq. km in their search for signs of the missing plane. Joel Gordon from the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services said that “the experienced team were finding it tough going,” with mountainous and heavily forested terrain making the search difficult. Poor weather also hampered the crews with a number of helicopters abandoning the search for a few hours on Monday because of heavy cloud and rain.

Around mid-day on Monday the scattered debris of an aircraft was discovered by a farmer in rugged terrain, near the town of Woolooga. AMSA confirmed the wreckage as Mr. Pavan’s Jabiru aircraft about 3:15pm on Monday and the search mission was called off. Unfortunately Mr. Pavan lost his life in the accident.

AMSA thanked all personnel and agencies involved in the three day search for their assistance. The Gympie RRT was thanked for their service with one of the search and rescue pilots commenting that, “when we were flying in, I could see the RRT and thought yes, Rapid Refreshment Team.”

The Gympie RRT expresses their condolences to the family and associates of the pilot and commends all the emergency personnel to dedicating their time and resources to this search.

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