Waterbombing Aircraft Crashes Into Lake In The Hunter Valley Killing Pilot

A waterbombing aircraft has plunged into a lake in the Hunter Valley today killing the pilot, now identified at 75 year old Col Pay. A man well known within the aviation industry with over 50 years flight experience.

Although the report below states that no one was able to comment on what work Mr Pay was carrying out at the time, My Life And Air Traffic Control resources confirm the aircraft was conducting practice manoeuvres in an Air Tractor 802, scooping water in preparation for the fast approaching bush fire season.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

"An agricultural pilot with more than 50 years experience is feared dead after a light aircraft crashed into a lake in the NSW Hunter region.

Without naming the pilot, police said a man aged in his seventies was missing after the plane went down at Lake Liddell, north-west of Singleton, at 9.40am (AEDT).

Scone Aero Club president Neville Partridge said the pilot of the plane was Col Pay, a water bomber pilot and crop-duster from Scone.

He had more than half a century of flying experience, Mr Partridge said.

"Without doubt, he was one of the most experienced pilots," he told AAP.

"He was flying an agricultural-type plane when it happened."

Police divers will undertake a search of the lake.

There was initial confusion over how many people were on board the plane when it crashed, with ambulance services saying earlier that two passengers had survived and managed to swim ashore.

However a spokeswoman for Pay's Air Service later said Mr Pay was the only person in the plane at the time of the crash.

She was unable to say what work Mr Pay was carrying out at the time.

An Air Services Australia (ASA) spokeswoman said the plane, a fire-bomber Air Tractor model AT 8T usually used for water bombing, was licensed to carry two people.

Pay's Air Service carries out fire spotting and bushfire water bombing operations out of Scone and Moree, according to the company website.

Chief executive of the Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia, Phil Hurst, said he understood the aircraft involved in the crash was a two-seater, but he was unsure how many people were aboard."

There is no doubt the death of Col Pay is a tragic loss to the aviation industry.