Australia

Seaplane passenger claims his aircraft fell from the sky

  • British expat claims he had a near-death experience on a Sydney Seaplane flight
  • Adrian Wakelin was on-board a seaplane when he claims it dropped 500 metres
  • He claims a pilot told passengers seaplanes were known to suffer engine issues
  • A Sydney Seaplane's aircraft crashed on New Year's Eve killing all six on-board
  • British family-of-five and an experienced pilot were the passengers on seaplane

By Josh Hanrahan For Daily Mail Australia

Published: 03:16 EST, 2 January 2018 | Updated: 04:36 EST, 2 January 2018

A British expat claims he thought he was going to die when the seaplane he was on allegedly began to fall from the sky during a scenic flight over Sydney.

Adrian Wakelin was on a flight operated by Sydney Seaplanes – the same company at the centre of the New Year's Eve tragedy which killed six people – when its propellers suddenly stopped.

The 43-year-old from Nottingham, in England's midlands, was enjoying a lavish wine and dine package with wife Louise in February, when he claims the aircraft plunged some 500 metres towards the ocean.

Speaking out in the wake of Sunday afternoon's tragedy, Mr Wakelin claims he then overheard the pilot tell another passenger the planes were known to suffer engine problems in rough or windy weather.

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Adrian Wakelin claims he was on a flight operated by Sydney Seaplanes, the same company at the centre of the New Year's Eve tragedy which killed six people, earlier this year when it began to fall from the sky

Adrian Wakelin claims he was on a flight operated by Sydney Seaplanes, the same company at the centre of the New Year's Eve tragedy which killed six people, earlier this year when it began to fall from the sky

The 43-year-old British expat who was enjoying the flight with his wife Louise (pictured) said he saw his life flash before his eyes as the plane suddenly dropped close to 500 metres The 43-year-old British expat who was enjoying the flight with his wife Louise (pictured) said he saw his life flash before his eyes as the plane suddenly dropped close to 500 metres 

The 43-year-old British expat who was enjoying the flight with his wife Louise (pictured) said he saw his life flash before his eyes as the plane suddenly dropped close to 500 metres

The sales rep who has lived in Sydney for 18 years, alleges the plane he was in was at the time was almost identical to the one which crashed on the weekend, killing all on board.

A spokesman for Sydney Seaplanes confirmed 'significant turbulence' was logged in relation to Mr Wakelin's flight on February 12, but said no technical difficulties had been reported.

'We travelled to Hawkesbury on a similar 'fly and dine' experience and the plane we flew in was a beautiful Cessna one, but the one they brought to bring us back in was much smaller and older,'Mr Wakelin said.

'I knew the weather was changing – it was rainy and windy – so I had thought they would send a car to bring us back instead and couldn't believe it when I heard a sea plane coming back instead.

'On the flight, it was so rough two people in front of us started throwing up.

'Suddenly the engine started making funny noises, and then the plane's propellers stopped and the plane started plummeting towards the sea.

'The pilot was frantically pushing buttons and pulling levers, just going crazy. He somehow managed to start the engine again.

Mr Wakelin said the pilot told passengers seaplanes could encounter engine problems in bad weather. Sydney Seaplanes confirmed the aircraft had experienced rough conditions that dayMr Wakelin said the pilot told passengers seaplanes could encounter engine problems in bad weather. Sydney Seaplanes confirmed the aircraft had experienced rough conditions that day

Mr Wakelin said the pilot told passengers seaplanes could encounter engine problems in bad weather. Sydney Seaplanes confirmed the aircraft had experienced rough conditions that day

Police remove the body of one of six people killed when a Sydney Seaplanes aircraft crashed into the water on New Year's EvePolice remove the body of one of six people killed when a Sydney Seaplanes aircraft crashed into the water on New Year's Eve

Police remove the body of one of six people killed when a Sydney Seaplanes aircraft crashed into the water on New Year's Eve

A New South Wales policewoman is seen holding a piece of debris from the seaplane which crashed in the Hawkesbury RiverA New South Wales policewoman is seen holding a piece of debris from the seaplane which crashed in the Hawkesbury River

A New South Wales policewoman is seen holding a piece of debris from the seaplane which crashed in the Hawkesbury River

'We had been level with another plane before, and when I looked up the other plane was far above us – we had been flying at about 1,000m and we dropped 500m.

'The pilot didn't say anything, but it was so surreal – we were dropping so quickly towards the ocean.

'It was certainly a near death experience, your life flashing before your eyes kind of thing.

'If it wasn't for the pilot, every passenger would have suffered a similar fate to yesterday's crash.'

Sydney Seaplanes said they were unable to confirm whether the plane Adrian flew in was the same plane which crashed.

Emma Bowden, 48, and her daughter Heather, 11, died in the horror New Year's Eve seaplane crash in the Hawkesbury River, north of SydneyEmma Bowden, 48, and her daughter Heather, 11, died in the horror New Year's Eve seaplane crash in the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney

Emma Bowden, 48, and her daughter Heather, 11, died in the horror New Year's Eve seaplane crash in the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney

Richard Cousins (right) - a millionaire CEO in charge of British catering company Compass - was on board the plane with his fiancee Ms Bowden, her daughter and his two sonsRichard Cousins (right) - a millionaire CEO in charge of British catering company Compass - was on board the plane with his fiancee Ms Bowden, her daughter and his two sons

Richard Cousins (right) – a millionaire CEO in charge of British catering company Compass – was on board the plane with his fiancee Ms Bowden, her daughter and his two sons

Mr Cousins' sons Edward, 23 (left) and William, 25 (right) were also killed when their seaplane plunged into the Hawkesbury River

A British family-of-five and their experienced pilot were killed when their seaplane plunged into the Hawkesbury River north of Sydney on Monday.

While the weather was calm during the weekend's tragedy, Mr Wakelin said after his horror flight the pilot had told passengers encountering trouble was common.

'As I got off the plane I heard one of the other guests ask the pilot what happened,' he said.

'He said the float in the plane's carburetor can get stuck in rough weather, starving the engine of fuel.

'I feel so guilty now that I never raised a formal complaint with the company. I just wish I had said something because I knew it was an accident waiting to happen.'

Experienced Australian pilot Gareth Morgan, 44, (pictured) was flying the plane at the time of the crashExperienced Australian pilot Gareth Morgan, 44, (pictured) was flying the plane at the time of the crash

Experienced Australian pilot Gareth Morgan, 44, (pictured) was flying the plane at the time of the crash

New South Wales Police and investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau pictured on a police launch at the site where a seaplane crashed on New Year's EveNew South Wales Police and investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau pictured on a police launch at the site where a seaplane crashed on New Year's Eve

New South Wales Police and investigators from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau pictured on a police launch at the site where a seaplane crashed on New Year's Eve

A spokesman for Sydney Seaplanes said the safety of its people and passengers were its 'unwavering priority'.

'We require our team to report all potential safety issues. We have checked the flight manifest [for Mr Wakelin's flight] and there is a reference to significant turbulence but no reference to any technical difficulties,'a spokesperson said.

'The authorities will investigate these claims to the extent they are relevant to this week's tragedy and we will continue to fully cooperate as they do.'

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