Merimbula pilot critical after crash

Emergency services work to free a person trapped in the wreckage of a light plane crash on the Gold Coast. Picture: Nine News

Emergency services work to free a person trapped in the wreckage of a light plane crash on the Gold Coast. Picture: Nine News

The pilot who survived a Tiger Moth on the Gold Coast on Monday morning was once the youngest person to fly a plane solo around the world.

Ryan Campbell was taken to Princess Alexandra Hospital in a critical condition after being trapped by the legs in the wreckage of the bi-plane at Norwell, near Pimpama on the northern Gold Coast.

The 21-year-old Merimbula man was semi-conscious when authorities arrived, police said.

Pilot Ryan Campbell is in a critical condition after the Tiger Moth he was flying crashed on the Gold Coast. Picture: SUPPLIED

Pilot Ryan Campbell is in a critical condition after the Tiger Moth he was flying crashed on the Gold Coast. Picture: SUPPLIED

It is understood Mr Campbell alerted emergency services to the crash.

The 58-year-old male passenger died at the scene.

At 19, Mr Campbell became the youngest person to fly solo around the world after 70 days piloting a specially-modified single-engine Cirrus SR22, named 'The Spirit of the Sapphire Coast'.

Ryan Campbell at Albion Park airport in June 2013. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Ryan Campbell at Albion Park airport in June 2013. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

From the age of six he was determined to become a pilot, and could fly a plane before he could drive a car. He had his first flying lesson at 14, made his first solo flight at 15, got his private pilot's licence at 17 and his commercial licence at 18.

Senior Sergeant Greg Brakes told ABC News at the airfield the plane was believed to have crashed shortly after it took off from an airstrip at Norwell just before 9.30am.

"I know that the plane does some joy flights - I'm not sure if this was a paid-for joy flight or something else," he told the broadcaster.

Pilot Ryan Campbell at Albion Park airport in June 2013. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

Pilot Ryan Campbell at Albion Park airport in June 2013. Picture: SYLVIA LIBER

A Wollongong friend of Mr Campbell said he planned to visit the young pilot who has spinal, head and face injuries as soon as he can.

Rotary Club of Illawarra Sunrise member Tony McAdam described Mr Campbell as "truly inspirational".

“I am shocked,” Mr McAdam said. “He is such an experienced pilot. I am glad Ryan is okay. But this is a real shock. I am concerned for him and I am devastated for the family of the person who...died in the accident.”

Mr McAdam first met Mr Campbell when he came to speak at Sunrise Rotary in Wollongong as part of fundraising for his round the world flight.

“He was just such an enthusiastic young guy who set out to achieve something...to fly around the world...in a single engine aircraft,” he said.

“He planned it for two years. He was full of enthusiasm and was such a mature young man for his age. To do what he did was just simply remarkable. The very first time I met him at our Swing Into Wings Rotary function I thought 'wow, this is a guy to look out for'. He was just so confident.”

Mr McAdam said Mr Campbell had a maturity beyond his years.

“To do what he did at 19 years of age was just staggering,” he said. “But also he is just a really, really nice guy. And he has a wonderful family as well. I look forward to catching up with him...and making sure he is okay.”

Mr McAdam was so impressed with the young man he followed his journey step-by-step, went to his book launch at Merimbula and arranged for him to come and speak at an Illawarra Connection dinner in October, 2014.

“I encouraged him to come and tell us about his round the world adventure which was a fantastic story to tell,” he said.

Mr McAdam has stayed in touch with the family and spoke to Ryan again just before Christmas.

Mr McAdam understands Ryan only recently started working as a pilot for the Gold Coast operation.

It is not the first time tragedy has befallen the Pimpama company.

In December 2013, a vintage wooden plane belonging to the company plunged into the ocean near Couran Cove Resort on South Stradbroke Island, killing French national Taissia Umenc, 21, and pilot Alexander "Jimmy" Rae, 26.

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