THE family of two men who died in a plane crash involving a Wittman Tailwind amateur-built, two-seat light aircraft claimed said both were experienced pilots who were passionate about aviation.
The alarm was raised Sunday afternoon after the light aircraft took off from Casino headed for Boonah and failed to arrive.
Owen Stanley Dull from Roadvale and his brother Robert Dull from Toowoomba lost their lives when their plane went down over Tooloom National Park 20km from the border town of Urbenville, NSW.
"Robert Bryan Dull, 68, of Toowoomba and Owen Stanley Dull, 61, of Roadvale, were flying from Casino to Boonah on Sunday, January 12," the families' statement said.
"Robert had built the plane as a labour of love over the past few years. It was awarded the "John Liddell Award, Best Hybrid Experimental Amateur Built Aircraft 2019" by the Sport Aircraft Association in October 2019 and it had met all regulatory requirements.
"Both men had flown light aircraft for more than 30 years."
The Australian Maritime Safety Authority began the search on Sunday but failed to find the plane.
A spokesman for AMSA said the single-engine aircraft had left Casino Airport about 2pm NSW time, and was due to arrive in Boonah about 3pm.
"The plane was reported overdue to authorities when it failed to arrive and the pilot was unable to be contacted," he said.
"AMSA tasked two rescue helicopters and the Challenger search and rescue jet to search the plane's last-known location over Tooloom National Park in NSW, but were unable to locate the aircraft."
The spokesman said the search resumed at first light Monday, with a Westpac helicopter crew finding the crash site about 9.45am.
The Dull family said Robert was survived by his wife, three adult sons, their spouses and four grandchildren. Owen is survived by his wife.
"We would like to thank all of those involved in the search and recovery efforts for Robert and Owen in difficult conditions," they said.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau said it would investigate the crash.
An ATSB spokesperson said the plane crashed in steep and rugged terrain at Tooloom National Park, both occupants were fatally injured in the accident, and the aircraft was destroyed.
"Access permitting, the ATSB will examine the wreckage and site surrounds," the spokesperson said. "The ATSB will also analyse available recorded data, review weather information, and interview any witnesses.
"A report will be released at the end of the investigation."