The plane crash that took the life of Australian researcher Ian Payne 39, and his New Zealand pilot Dougal Williamson, 80 kilometres south west of
Windhoek in Nambibia yesterday, remains a mystery. The Geophysicist was working for a subsidiary of GPX, a Perth Australian company who offers remote
sensing and airborne geophysics to mining and oil industrial companies. Weather conditions were ideal at the time of the crash and the plane was away
from the survey area, which meant it should have been flying high and the plane could have landed on the road if the pilots had deemed it nessessary.
According to reports in Namibia, the aircraft had taken off from Windhoek's Eros Airport about 30 minutes before the crash, and the men were
conducting an aerial survey when it crashed in an area known as Farm Goellschau.
Farm workers told media how they first saw a plume of thick black smoke on the horizon, and drove to the area to discover the burning wreckage.
They alerted staff at a nearby gamma-ray telescope, who contacted police and air safety authorities.
Mr Payne lived in Jakarta with his wife and young child, and still has relatives in Perth, while Mr Williamson lived close to family in Queensland.
Pat Cunneen, managing director of GPX airborne, said the men were highly experienced flyers and very professional, and the reasons for the crash were
still a mystery.
"There are bits of the mosaic still missing," Mr Cunneen said.
"They were away from the survey area, so should have been high, they were flying away from the sun, they were still under power and the wheels were
"They could even have landed on the road if they'd wanted, but that obviously was not on their mind.
"We are still very much in the dark."
The plane belonged to Namibian air charter company Westair Wings Charters, and was being used to perform an aerial geological survey for the Namibian
Ministry of Mines and Energy, Mr Cunneen said.
Weather conditions were said to have been ideal at the time of the crash.
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This is a strange one. If he was a microbiolgist i wouldn't bat an eye but here isan esteemed researcher mysteriously dying in a plane crash, that
by all indications should not have happened and could have easily been avoided.
Autopsies are being held on the two men in an effort to ascertain cause of death.
[edit on 23-10-2005 by Mayet]