Forgotten plane crash site found in Wet Tropics

The lost wreckage of a plane that crashed into rugged terrain northwest of Mt Molloy half a century ago has been uncovered by the brothers of a deceased passeng­­­er.


The Bush Pilot Cessna 172 was carrying two passengers and a pilot when it crashed near Mt Fraser, about 150 kilometres from Cairns, in July 1967.


At the time, around a dozen aircraft, alongside community members, police and the army conducted an ‘intensive search’ to find the plane but failed.


The single-engine aircraft was eventually discovered by a forestry ranger near Mt Fraser in August 1968 but accurate records of its location were never kept.


In the lead up to the crash’s 50th anniversary, family members of Michael Daley, a trainee station manager who died in the accident, reached out to the Wet Tropics Management Authority for help locating the plane.


Since then historical records, newspaper clippings, maps, old photographs and family notebooks have been used to pinpoint the forgotten fuselage’s precise location.


Ultimately, a request for public assistance issued in March yielded vital clues that led to the moss-covered plane’s hidden location.  


The Authority’s Executive Director, Scott Buchanan says the discovery is welcome news.


“The crash is a sad part of our World Heritage-listed rainforest’s recent history,” Mr Buchanan says.


“It is of some comfort to know that the families now have a place to remember their loved ones.”



Kewarra Beach resident Peter Daley, whose brother died in the crash, says the community’s support has been invaluable.  


“We’ve had so many people get in touch with us. Talking to all these old rangers has really helped us track it down.” Mr Daley says.


“It was a good feeling when we found it. Relief in a way … we were very happy to find it.”


A memorial commemorating the three men who died aboard the plane may be erected in the future. 


Members of the Daley family will travel to far north Queensland this month to mark the 50th anniversary of the crash. 


Forgotten plane crash site found in Wet Tropics

Published: 06th Jun 2017

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