News State QLD News Record-breaking pilot in control of Tiger Moth
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Record-breaking pilot in control of Tiger Moth

ABC
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A record-breaking young pilot has been identified as the man who was flying a Tiger Moth plane which crashed near the Gold Coast on Monday, killing a 58-year-old passenger.

Ryan Campbell, from Merimbula on the NSW south coast, made aviation history in 2013 when he became the youngest person to fly solo around the world in 70 days.

On Monday, the vintage Tiger Moth flown by the 21-year-old crashed on an old airstrip near Pimpama-Jacobs Well Road at Norwell, between Brisbane and the Gold Coast.

Man dead after Tiger Moth crash

It was found upside down, with the front seat passenger already deceased when authorities arrived.

The passenger was named as Gary Turnbull, a 58-year-old man from Coutts Crossing, near Grafton in northern NSW.

His daughter was at the airfield and witnessed the crash.

Mr Campbell was just 19 when he circumnavigated the globe, writing about the feat in his memoirs.

AAP
Ryan Campbell became the youngest person to fly solo around the world in 70 days in 2013. Photo: AAP

A friend of Mr Campbell’s from Bega, Des Hefferman, praised the young pilot’s flying record.

“[Circumnavigating the globe] is a wonderful achievement – to fly that distance in a single-engine aircraft,” Mr Hefferman, who is also a pilot, told the ABC.

“[It is] not only the weather but also if you have engine problems or anything else associated with that.”

Over 10 weeks he flew about 24,000 nautical miles, spending approximately 180 hours in the air, telling the ABC in 2013 that the process aged him.

“I don’t think I’ll take anything on like that for a while,” he said.

“I was always obsessed with flying from [the age of] six.

“I was very keen and eager and driven, I went and found an after-school job. I started to pay for flying lessons, and I went solo on my 15th birthday.”

“He is an incredible young person,” Mr Heffernan said of his friend.

“You would have to be a very, very astute person. Very, very confident.”

Police said they believed the plane, which carries out joy flights, crashed shortly after take-off.

Mr Campbell, who is in a serious condition in a Brisbane hospital with his parents by his bedside, is believed to have called police from his mobile phone.

‘Absolutely beautiful people’

Meanwhile, a friend of Mr Turnbull, Des Henwood, said he was an absolute gentleman.

“He’d never say a word out of place, never indecent to anyone – just one of those families that’s pretty rare but so close,” Mr Henwood said.

“Honestly I’ve never seen anything as loving in my life, they were so close.

“Gail’s [his wife] a nurse, she does community nursing, absolutely beautiful people.”

He said Mr Turnbull’s friends had gathered at the Coutts Tavern in Coutts Crossing today to remember their friend.

“Everyone’s devastated,” Mr Henwood said.

“He did enjoy that sort of thing [flying] – I think he’s done hang-gliding and things like that and he rides motorcycles.

“The town will be empty because they’ll all go to [the funeral] – they’re highly respected.”

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