1993: Essendon plane crash / Residents' anger grows

Essendon plane crash 1993 - 20th anniversary special

Twenty years ago a de Havilland Dove plane crashed into houses in Gilbertson Street, Essendon. Check out links to our full coverage below.

December 7 1993, page 1 report

By Community News editor Dwight Smith

In what has been described by all as a miracle, a 46-year-old de Havilland Dove with 10 people on board crashed into five houses in Gilbertson Street, Essendon, on Friday night without the loss of life.

The accident has led to renewed calls to close Essendon Airport from which the plane had just taken off.

Despite clipping the power lines as it went down and spilling aviation fuel, a disaster was averted when the plane failed to burst into flames.

Fire and emergency services personnel were quickly on to the scene, spraying foam near the aircraft and tending to the injured.

Ambulances arrived at the scene within five minutes of the crash which occurred at 8.34pm.

Cool, drizzly conditions probably helped to prevent a fire.

The plane had just taken off and was heading south when it suddenly lost altitude and first clipped a power pole before slicing into four houses and then flipping over and coming to rest in front of the home of Mrs Ivy Knell at 16 Gilbertson Street.

The injured, 10 on board the aircraft and one on the footpath at the time of the crash, were taken to five hospitals.

None was seriously injured, but three required intravenous treatment.

By Sunday, all but four were released from hospital.

Among the first on the scene were Scott Jones and Joe Laroca who helped to pull people from the crash.

As soon as he heard the plane crash, Mr Laroca called the police on his mobile telephone.

Mr Jones said he pulled two people from the back of the plane.

Sandra Boscarino, the manager of the Shell service station on the corner of Gilbertson Street and Keilor Road, said she looked out of the window as she heard the plane go past.

She said there was nothing unusual about the sound of the plane except it seemed to be a bit louder than normal.

She saw it clip the power pole and the first houses, but did not see its final impact.

The crash knocked out electricity in a wide area of Essendon, causing many businesses in the Essendon, Essendon North and Niddrie areas to close early.

Police quickly closed off the scene, keeping curious onlookers behind barriers.

Within an hour of the crash, members of the media were also removed from the immediate scene.

Shortly after the crash, Essendon mayor Barry Gough, deputy mayor Kevin Carlin and several other Essendon councillors arrived at Gilbertson Street.

Councillors had been having Christmas celebrations when news of the crash was heard.

Keilor mayor Ciro Lombardi arrived about the same time.

An emotional Cr Gough said the airport should be closed immediately pending an inquiry.

When he sighted airport manager Graeme Owen on the scene, he said: "I am going to demand Graeme Owen closes this f...ing airport."

He unsuccessfully attempted to enter the van set up at the scene by the Federal Airports Corporation which has responsibility for the airport.

Cr Gough shouted to Mr Owen: "I hope your hand shakes when you receive your pay this week".

The Member for Pascoe Vale, Kelvin Thomson, arrived with the Essendon councillors as he had been at the Essendon function.

He, too, called for the airport's immediate closure, saying it should be relocated to Tullamarine and Point Cook and the government should get on with the construction of a new airport at Cranbourne.

Cr Lombardi, whose council recently released a plan for further development of the airport, said people had to be rational about the airport's future.

"Let's not play with emotions," he said.

"Yes it is a tragedy and yes, it is a miracle that nobody was killed," he said.

"About 11pm, the Premier, Mr Kennett, arrived on the scene and was taken through police lines to the crash site.

After a brief inspection, he said, "On the road or in the air there are no guarantees anywhere.

"After a bus accident, you do not stop using roads."

His remarks were loudly heckled by mainly younger members of the crowd who called on him to close the airport.

The airport is a Federal and not a State responsibility.



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Essendon plane crash 1993: Front page

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Essendon plane crash 1993: Page 29

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