Microlight 'banked' before fatal crash: witness
UPDATE: TRIBUTES have begun flowing for Ray Jackson, the pilot of the microlight plane which crashed near Tyagarah Airport yesterday morning.
Saint Stephen's College at Upper Coomera, where Mr Jackson worked, and the Great Eastern Fly In have posted tributes on Facebook.
INITIAL REPORT: A GOLD Coast pilot aged in his 50s has died following a microlight plane crash near the Tyagarah Airport north of Byron Bay.
A witness phoned 000 about 8am after he saw the microlight do an "almighty bank" close to the ground before disappearing behind trees yesterday morning.
The witness said he heard a "definite crumple" shortly after.
The crash was located on the western side of the Pacific Hwy near the Tyagarah airstrip.
Emergency services spent two hours trying to simultaneously extricate and treat the pilot trapped in the wreckage and suffering injuries to his chest and lower limbs.
He was then airlifted to the Gold Coast University Hospital.
Despite initial reports suggesting the man was in a stable condition, he died a short time later.
Police are yet to formally identify the man.
Tweed Byron police said they would be working with investigators from Recreational Aviation Australia and the NSW Police Force's Aviation Support Branch to determine the cause of the crash.
Microlights are small, powered aircrafts with wings that look similar to hang gliders and a three-wheel undercarriage often referred to as a "trike".
Police are urging anyone with information related to this incident to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or use the Crime Stoppers online reporting page.
Witness recalls take-off
A GOLD Coast man described seeing the microlight aircraft do an "almighty bank" before crashing behind trees near the Tyagarah airstrip.
Doug Thomas said he was at Skydive Byron Bay at Tyagarah Airport for his son's 12th birthday when he saw the microlight take off.
"As he took off he was swinging a bit like a pendulum," he said.
"And then he got above the trees and a bit of a gust of wind came in and he did an almighty bank as if he was trying to do a trick really low to the ground.
"He almost went upside down. I thought he was going to do some sort of loop and I thought 'That's just too close to the ground' - that's how steep the bank was.
"And then he rectified, went the other way, and then we lost him behind the trees.
"Then we were listening to see if he pulled out and then we heard it.
"It wasn't a massive crash, because it was only a small aircraft, but there was a definite crumple."