Crash flight may be last take off for historic plane
A SECOND World War bi-plane with a lengthy Darling Downs history may not fly again after crashing at the hands of one of the state's top barristers.
Former Solicitor-General of Queensland Walter Sofronoff walked away from the wreckage of the 1939 De Havilland Tiger Moth after crashing through a fence beside the Warrego Hwy.
He was attempting to take off from Toowoomba Airport about midday on Saturday.
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Mr Sofronoff resigned from his state role in March this year after a public stoush with Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie.
Witnesses to the crash reported seeing the plane being pushed across the runway by gusting cross-winds before it crashed through a fence and spun around into a tree on the side of Bridge St.
The aircraft's owner Al McVinish, who is the director of Aviation Specialists at Toowoomba Airport, said the plane was part of a Royal Air Force squadron which was shipped from Britain to Australia in December 1939.
He said the aircraft was used for pilot training by the Royal Australian Air Force but maintained its British designation during that time.
His understanding of the plane's history was that it was retired from service in 1952 to be purchased by St George aircraft engineer Cliff Parsons.
It remained in his family, going to his son Allen, a Crows Nest aircraft engineer.
About 10 years ago the plane was sold to pilot Shane Winter, who was well known and liked in Toowoomba's aviation community.
Mr Winter was in the process of restoring the aircraft when he was tragically killed in a glider crash at Toogoolawah in 2008.
Mr McVinish bought the plane from Mr Winter's widow, who wanted the aircraft to stay in the Darling Downs region.
He completed the restoration.
His friend Mr Sofronoff had the plane at his Brisbane hangar for the past 18 months.
"Even though the plane belongs to me it lives in Walter's hangar," Mr McVinish said.
The damage bill from Saturday's crash is expected to top $100,000.
Insurance assessors are due to inspect the plane today.
"The engine was overhauled earlier this year.
"It is as good as you get for a Tiger Moth."
He said the aircraft's fate would partly depend on the insurance outcome.
"It will get put in the corner.
"To be honest, there is no plan."
He said his friend had done well to survive the crash.
"There is no such thing as a good accident and I think under the circumstances; Walter did a very good job."