There’s something deeply sad but also fascinating about a plane or a boat that just straight up disappears and is never seen again. We’ve all heard about the MH370, which disappeared on March 8, 2014 while flying from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, but Australia has its very own vanishing plane: the Cessna VH-MDX.
On August 9, 1981 a single-engine Cessna 210M with the registration VH-MDX departed Queensland’s Proserpine airport bound for Bankstown airport in Sydney’s west. After a quick refuelling stop at Coolangatta airport, the plane carried on to its final destination. However, that wouldn’t be Bankstown.
Piloted by 52-year-old Michael Hutchins and carrying four mates who had been on a yachting trip to the Whitsundays — Ken Price, 54, Noel Wildash, 40, Rhett Bosler, 33, and Philip Pembroke, 43 — the plane was flying near the NSW town of Taree when it ran into trouble.
Hutchins radioed at around 7.24pm saying he’d hit turbulence, then cloud, and Sydney Air Traffic Control informed him he’d veered 45km off course, towards the vast and mountainous Barrington Tops National Park. When two of the plane’s crucial tools — the artificial horizon, which helps the pilot know whether the plane is flying level, and the direction indicator (basically the plane’s compass) — failed, Hutchins was basically flying blind.
While he attempted to fly at a higher altitude, ice accumulating on the plane’s wings meant that he actually lost altutude at an alarming rate. And at 7.39pm, Air Traffic Control lost contact with VH-MDX.
Not trace of the plane or the five people on board has ever been found.
In the latest episode of PEDESTRIAN.TV‘s unsolved mysteries podcast, All Aussie Mystery Hour, we delve deeper into the final flight of the Cessna, and look at some of the crazy theories into what happened and where this aircraft might be.