ACT News


Tributes flow for flying instructor killed in plane crash

The flying instructor killed in a light plane crash near Batemans Bay on Sunday has been remembered as a popular "gentleman" and dedicated pilot who devoted his life to flying.

Moruya is in mourning following the death of Graham White, believed to be in his 60s. A search for his flying companion Ralph Buchanan, who remains missing at sea is expected to resume at "first opportunity" on Tuesday. 

Police spent Monday searching the area where the plane crashed into the ocean off Barlings Beach, 18 kilometres south of Batemans Bay, at about 12.30pm on Sunday. 

Mr White was found floating in the water. He could not be revived.

Detective Inspector Kevin McNeil from the Far South Coast Local Area Command said a small amount of debris had been recovered but a full-day search had failed to find the second man. 

Friends of Mr White have expressed their sorrow on online tribute pages. 


"Graham's loss will be felt for years to come, there are very few of his kind left," one person posted on a tribute page.

"A humble, quietly spoken, gentleman instructor."

Others remembered him as a "lovely bloke" who was a professional and talented instructor. 

Another said: "I feel so lucky to have been trained by him and he will be missed by so many."

Friend Mark Boller said Mr White was a "good generous bloke willing to give his time for anybody that was interested".

"He was a very dedicated pilot who devoted his whole life to flying," Mr Boller said.

"He's generous, very knowledgeable, very dedicated and a general good knockaround bloke who never thought too much of himself."

Mr Boller said he had done a lot of training and a few air shows with Mr White and his death was a devastating loss for the community.

"It's a great loss, especially with pilots because they always realise the risk's there, but it's not until you lose a friend and a good bloke that you actually realise that it's real," he said.

People watched the search from the shore at Tomakin. 

A SkyDive Oz member, who did not wish to be named, said Mr White was a delightful man and she was "absolutely shocked" by his death. "We are just stunned," she said. 

Inspector McNeil said police would continue investigating the cause of the plane crash with Recreational Aviation Australia. 

A Moruya Aero Club spokesman said Mr White, whose body was retrieved by the Westpac Lifesaver Helicopter, was a flying instructor at the club with close to 20,000 hours of experience. 

He said Mr White had been based in the Batemans Bay area for many years and was well known in the community and close with all at the Moruya Aero Club. His family had been informed by the police, the spokesman said.

Westpac Life Saver Rescue Helicopters chief executive Stephen Leahy said police divers and detectives were assisting with the search.

"We've provided police with a GPS location of where we found the wreckage on Sunday," he said.

Mr Leahy said the rescue staff knew both the men.

Inspector McNeil said police held "grave fears" for the second man, Ralph Buchanan, who was believed to be travelling in the plane. 

He said divers began searching the crash area to depths of 20 metres on Monday.

"It's a tight-knit community and a local community and they are devastated by this," he said.

With the Bay Post.