Polo Flat Air CrashPrint Page Print this page

The relocated memorial cross and steel plaque are dedicated to the victims of the Polo Flat Aerodrome crash in 1976. 

20 May 1976
The aircraft departed Polo Flat at 0750 hours on a planned flight to Khancoban, Talbingo and return. There was dense fog at Polo Flat at this time and the aircraft took off and climbed through fog until it was in clear conditions above. At Cooma Aerodrome, fog which had existed earlier dissipated about 0715 hours and the weather at that location then remained clear.

When the aircraft returned to the Polo Flat area shortly after 0930 hours, fog was still present but it was commencing to break with patches of blue sky visible from time to time. Information regarding the weather conditions was communicated to the, pilot who had established radio contact with the base operations officer, Robert Starkey, at Polo Flat.

Shortly after the aircraft arrived in the area it was observed to make what appeared to be a landing approach into the north but when it had descended to a height of 10 to 15 feet the approach was discontinued and it climbed away.The operations officer, Robert Starkey, made numerous attempts to convince the pilot that he should land at Cooma Aerodrome, as it was "sunbaking" rather that fog bound like Polo Flat. The pilot remained at Polo Flat attempting a landing. After flying for some time above the fog at a height of about 500 feet the aircraft was heard approaching from the south and the operations officer heard the pilot transmit the words 'hit the...'. It was approximately 1002hrs.

Shortly afterwards the sound of an impact was heard. The port wing of the aircraft had struck the radio transmitter mast 32 feet from the top and the aircraft crashed to the ground in a steep nose-down attitude some 146 metres north of the mast. A fierce fire developed shortly after impact. Robert Starkey tried in vain to fight the fire, emptying two large extinguishers on the fire in an attempt to rescue the occupants form the plane wreckage. The fire was too fierce, the occupants dying at the scene.

The four persons on board who were killed were:
John HOWARD (pilot, aged 57)
Evelyn Anne HARVEY (passenger)
Patricia Joy HARVEY (passenger)
Rosemary Hellmers (passenger)

ATSB Conclusion: The probable cause of the accident was that the aircraft was operated at an unsafe height in weather conditions in which the pilot was not able to maintain the visual reference necessary to ensure adequate clearance from obstructions.



Address:Sharp & Creek Streets, Southern Cloud Park, Cooma, 2630
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -36.237648
Long: 149.119274
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Disaster
Actual Event Start Date:20-May-1976
Actual Event End Date:20-May-1976


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Friday 20th May, 2022
Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au