A light plane crashed into a Ferris wheel at the Old Bar Festival in eastern Australia on Saturday, trapping four people. The pilot says he simply did not see the giant wheel.
Early visitors to the festival near the city of Taree were stunned to see a Cheetah S200 plane fly into the Ferris wheel and get jammed in its metalwork. Beside the two people in the plane, the crash caught two children sitting in a basket at the top of the wheel.
Fears were high that the wheel would topple due to the hit, or that the plane would catch on fire.
Police and emergency services rushed to the spot, eventually bringing in an industrial crane to take down the trapped people. A 9-year-old boy and his 13-year-old sister spent some 90 minutes at the top of the wheel, but in the end got down to the ground unharmed.
“I was so scared and [my brother] Jesse was screaming,” recalled the girl after being rescued. Still, many eyewitnesses declared that the children took their misadventure calm enough.
The pilot and his passenger, Paul Cox and his son in law, were taken out of the wrecked plane over an hour later. The crash resulted in no injuries.
The pilot says he had failed his first landing attempt at a grass airstrip nearby. He had just turned the plane around when it hit the wheel, which was full of children minutes before the crash.
“The next thing I knew, I was stopped inside the Ferris wheel,” said Cox. “I had no idea [what happened] for a few minutes, and I was just hoping no one got hurt.“
An eyewitness told ABC television that the plane seemed to clip the Ferris wheel as it tried to land.
“It’s pretty bizarre,” he said. “I guess Ferris wheels are stronger than they look. It must have been a low-speed collision.”
An investigation into the accident is now underway.