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1983 Fletcher's Awl Cessna 310 air crash

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Date24 October 1983 (1983-10-24)
SummaryCollision with terrain; Cause undetermined.
SiteFletcher's Awl, Gemini Mountains, Queensland
Aircraft typeCessna 310
Flight originRockhampton Airport, Rockhampton, Queensland
Destination"Kenlogan", Gemini Mountains, Queensland

The 1983 Fletcher's Awl Cessna 310 air crash occurred on 24 October 1983 when a Cessna 310 crashed at Fletcher's Awl in the locality of Gemini Mountains, 40 kilometres north-east of Clermont in Central Queensland.[1]

A crew of four Rockhampton-based ABC staff members were killed in the crash.[2][3]

Those killed in the crash were Regional Program Manager and the plane's pilot Ralph Elphinstone, ABC Rural Reporter Bruce Anning, Senior Cameraman Joe Mooney and Sound Technician Bill Fryer.[4][5][6][7]

The four men had been on assignment, intending to record footage and interviews for the ABC's rural affairs program Countryman.[8]

The crew were expected back in Rockhampton the same day with Anning due on air that evening to present the weather on the ABC's local television news.[8]

A group of ABC staff, including graphics designer Gary Johnson, had attempted the same journey one week earlier, but the plane wasn't cleared for take-off from Rockhampton due to bad weather, so the trip was postponed until 24 October 1983.[8]

The intended destination was "Kenlogan Station", but the Australian Transport Safety Bureau concluded Elphinstone encountered difficulty locating the remote airstrip so had decided to divert to another airstrip at Fletcher's Awl (previously Cumberland Downs). Witnesses saw the plane arrive at that airstrip before completing three circuits of the airstrip, with the landing gear observed to be extended during the third circuit. Witnesses said that the plane then passed over some high ground before they saw smoke. The plane had crashed in a paddock 600 metres from the airstrip, bursting into flames on impact.[1]

The cause of the accident remains undetermined.[1]

Four funerals were all held on the same day, on the Friday following the accident.[3][8]

A plaque was erected in the ABC Capricornia and ABC Brisbane offices in remembrance of the four staff who were killed in the accident.[9][3]

The burnt out wreckage of the plane continues to remain largely untouched at the location of the crash.[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Aviation safety investigations & reports - Investigation number: 198300066, Australian Transport Safety Bureau, released 5 March 1985. Accessed 18 March 2018.
  2. Four ABC men killed in Queensland air crash, The Canberra Times, 25 October 1983. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Jeanes, Stephanie (24 October 2013) ABC Air Disaster - 30 Years On, Seven News. Accessed 18 March 2018.
  4. Ralph Elphinstone (1939-1983), ABC Memorial. Accessed 18 March 2018
  5. Bruce Anning (1955-1983), ABC Memorial. Accessed 18 March 2018
  6. Joe Mooney (1928-1983), ABC Memorial. Accessed 18 March 2018
  7. Bill Fryer (1949-1983), ABC Memorial. Accessed 18 March 2018.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Johnson, Gary (1 December 2008) Rockhampton air crash - 25 years on, ABC Access. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  9. Roberts, Alice; Mackay, Jacquie (24 October 2013) The ABC remembers staff killed in plane crash, ABC Capricornia. Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  10. Buchanon, Kallee (28 October 2013) Paddock holds lasting memory of ABC tragedy, ABC Capricornia. Retrieved 18 March 2018.

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