Mareeba farmer Brad Maisel who vanished after his helicopter crashed off Cape Tribulation.
Mareeba farmer Brad Maisel who vanished after his helicopter crashed off Cape Tribulation.

Pilot not qualified for night flying

A MAREEBA man who disappeared after his helicopter crashed off Cape Tribulation last year was not qualified to fly at night when the incident occurred.

Cane farmer Brad Maisel, 50, had been on a day fishing trip with Port Douglas man Daniel Gray and another helicopter with two other men on April 7 last year.

They were on the last leg of their trip back from Cooktown to Mossman when the Robinson R22 which Mr Maisel was flying crashed into the ocean in darkness and poor weather.

Tableland cane farmer and father of three Brad Maisel. PICTURE: SUPPLIED
Tableland cane farmer and father of three Brad Maisel. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

Mr Gray miraculously survived the crash and managed to swim 800m to shore, but Mr Maisel's body was never found despite an extensive search.

The chopper was located about 400m offshore in 10m of water two days later.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau released its findings into the crash yesterday, saying Mr Maisel was only qualified to operate in day conditions.

Brad Maisel's Robinson R22 helicopter which crashed off Cape Tribulation in April 2016.
Brad Maisel's Robinson R22 helicopter which crashed off Cape Tribulation in April 2016.

The report said other contributing factors included the exceedence of weight and balance limitations of the helicopter, the fact they weren't carrying life jackets, incomplete operational information and that the helicopter was overdue for calibration checks on its pitot-static system and altimeter.

"To avoid the usually fatal consequences of losing visual reference, day-VFR pilots need to plan to arrive at their destination at least 10 minutes before last light and to have a realistic 'plan B' to use when it becomes apparent that the intended flight cannot be completed in daylight," the report said as part of its safety message.

Brad Maisel's Robinson R22 helicopter which crashed off Cape Tribulation in April 2016.
Brad Maisel's Robinson R22 helicopter which crashed off Cape Tribulation in April 2016.

"A further consideration for pilot decision-making about flying conditions is the degree to which passengers are also exposed to risk."



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