An aviation “legend”, a world champion and a “fantastic teacher” are among the four people killed in a mid-air plane collision in regional Victoria.
Chris Gobel, 79, died alongside a 27-year-old West Melbourne woman when their plane collided with another soon after they took off from Mangalore Airport, about 120 kilometres north of Melbourne, about 11.30am on Wednesday.
Ido Segev, 30, and Peter Phillips, 47, were in the second plane. They also died in the crash, after flying from Tyabb.
The two training flights hit midair near Mangalore Airport. Authorities found the planes a few kilometres from each other, with the bodies of the victims inside.
Peninsula Aero Club president Jack Vevers paid tribute to the highly-experienced men who died. He said he was yet to learn more about the woman.
“Chris is a legend in aviation. His loss is just immense,” he said of the Bendigo native.
Bendigo Flying Club paid tribute to Mr Gobel, who ran Bendigo Aviation Services.
“Chris Gobel, a key aviation figure in Bendigo, was in one of the aircraft in his role as pilot examiner for Moorabbin Aviation Services,” the post on Thursday says.
“Chris was about to retire after a long aviation career with airline captain, flying school, charter and pilot examiner roles.”
Vale Chris GobelWe have had some sad news, connected to the crash that occurred at Mangalore on Wednesday this week,…
Mr Phillips was the lead instructor at Peninsula Aero Club, after a career as a pilot and having grown up at the club.
“He was a very talented man, a fantastic teacher and well-loved by all of us,” Mr Vevers said.
“He has left behind a young a family.”
Mr Phillips was in a privately-owned Beechcraft Travel Air D95A, operated by the Peninsula Aero Club at Tyabb, with Mr Segev.
The pair were qualified instructors on a training flight, Mr Vevers said.
Mr Segev had been connected to the Peninsula Aero Club for years and Mr Vevers said he was a “wonderful person” with proven skill.
“Ido [was] another highly-talented guy, world champion in flying radio control aircraft and drones. Also a flying instructor himself, aerobatic pilot, a display pilot for air shows,” Mr Vevers said.
The Peninsula Aero Club has suspended all flights to let pilots grieve.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement to local media that among the dead was an Israeli national.
“We are working with the family during this difficult time, and we are helping them with everything related to bringing the deceased back to Israel for burial,” the ministry said.
The Israeli Embassy has been contacted for comment.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority said the other plane was a Piper Seminole twin-engine registered to Moorabbin Aviation Services, also on a training flight.
Mitchell Local Area Commander Inspector Peter Koger said witnesses saw the planes collide and one aircraft coming down.
CASA and the Australian Transport Safety Bureau are investigating.
ATSB investigators from Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane will look at the wreckage and surrounding area.