Most of missing Queensland pilot Des Porter’s extended family witnessed the plane crash that killed his father and brother almost 60 years ago.


Gail Williams was at the family farm in Tingalpa in October 1954 when 11-year-old Des, his brother Keith, 13, and father James took off in a 1934 De Havilland Dragon late one afternoon.

Most of Des’s cousins, uncles, aunties and grandparents were there for a birthday party.

James Porter, Ms Williams’s uncle, had agreed to scatter the ashes of a close friend but was unexpectedly called into work and had to postpone the flight until late afternoon.

“My father tried to persuade his brother (James) not to take off, to leave it till tomorrow, saying it was too late in the afternoon, but he wouldn’t listen,” Ms Williams told 4BC

. The extended family watched Mr Porter and his sons take-off.

“He left the landing strip … we saw the plane go over in a circle, then we heard the engine roar,” she said. “We saw it disappear underneath some trees.

“And (heard) this almighty crash. “My grandmother had a heart attack on the spot.”

Ms Williams’s other uncle ran to a local shop to call police and ambulances and then rushed to the scene. When rescuers arrived the aircraft was nose down embedded in mud with the tail sticking out of a creek. James Porter and Keith both had drowned.

“When they found them, father and son had their arms around each other in the cockpit,” Ms Williams said. Des was still alive in the tail, Ms Williams said, but he was strapped in and the tide was coming in.

Rescuers had to work quickly. Water was already lapping at his chin,” she said.

“They could hear Des calling out and they hacked open the fuselage and got him.”

When Des grew up he found the wreckage and rebuilt it.

It is the same plane he was flying, along with five passengers, when it disappeared in the Sunshine Coast hinterland on Monday.