LUCKY: Air Fraser Island pilot Gerry Geltch is a master of lucky escapes, having survived multiple light plane crashes.
LUCKY: Air Fraser Island pilot Gerry Geltch is a master of lucky escapes, having survived multiple light plane crashes.

GERRY CAN: Fraser pilot a master of cheating death

THE pilot of an Air Fraser light plane which crashed into the ocean this week cheated death in a plane crash at Maroochydore almost 20 years ago.

Air Fraser owner and pilot Gerry Geltch had been the passenger in a twin-engine Cessna piloted by Dr Richard Heath in 2001 when it crashed 80m short of the runway at Sunshine Coast Airport moments after takeoff.

The crash left Mr Geltch and Dr Heath with serious injuries.

Mr Geltch told the Daily his injuries from Wednesday's crash, in which Mr Geltch said he was forced to ditch in the ocean after a mechanical failure, were just a "couple of lumps and bumps and a couple of stitches".

PILOT: Air Fraser owner and pilot Gerry Geltch, front, with some of the team.
PILOT: Air Fraser owner and pilot Gerry Geltch, front, with some of the team.

'It's nothing worse than a Saturday afternoon football game," Mr Geltch said.

The 61-year-old veteran pilot said the Cessna 206 plane involved in Wednesday's crash was a "recent addition to the fleet" which he'd bought a couple of weeks ago.

He said one mechanical failure led to another and he was forced to put it down in the ocean, with only about 30 seconds to make the decision.

"The rest is history," he said.

Paramedics swam out to Mr Geltch and a trainee pilot on board, after the plane ditched about 150m from the Happy Valley Ambulance Station on Fraser Island.

Emergency services inspect the wreckage of the aircraft crash at Sunshine Coast Airport. Dr Richard Heath and Gerry Geltch were in the plane, in 2001.
Emergency services inspect the wreckage of the aircraft crash at Sunshine Coast Airport. Dr Richard Heath and Gerry Geltch were in the plane, in 2001.

Mr Geltch said about 15 years ago he struck a hidden log on takeoff which sunk another plane.

"It's all par for the course," Mr Geltch said.

He said reports his fleet had been grounded by the authorities were not true.

"It's business as usual," Mr Geltch said, as he busily tried to sort out new ID and bank cards, which were lost in the crash.

The Air Fraser plane that crashed into the ocean on Wednesday has washed ashore
The Air Fraser plane that crashed into the ocean on Wednesday has washed ashore

Australian Transport Safety Bureau investigators were understood to be gathering information before deciding whether or not to launch a full investigation.

Gerry Geltch leaves court during the case after the 2001 plane crash at Sunshine Coast Airport.
Gerry Geltch leaves court during the case after the 2001 plane crash at Sunshine Coast Airport.


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