THE 20-year-old pilot of a RAAF Sabre jet fighter was the only person killed when his aircraft crashed into the densely populated suburb of The Junction on Tuesday, August 16, 1966.
Pilot Officer Warren William Goddard was on a night training exercise out of RAAF Williamtown about 6pm when his plane dipped low and appeared to be in trouble.
The plane was at an altitude of about 90 metres when it suddenly exploded in a ball of flame that the Newcastle Herald reported lit up the city.
Police said it was a miracle nobody else was killed.
As the wreckage scattered over the suburb, homes were damaged and small fires broke out. Several people were treated for injuries and shock.
The body of the pilot was found in a home at on Glebe Road.
Some parts of the plane were handed in while others were souvenired.
In 2007 a plaque was unveiled at The Junction in honor of the pilot.
On August 9, 1981, a Cessna 210 with registration VH-MDX began a three-hour flight from Coolangatta to Bankstown Airport.
The plane never arrived at its destination and despite numerous searches of the rugged Barrington Tops area its fate remains a mystery after 33 years.
The green and cream single engine six-seater aircraft was last heard from when it struck bad weather over the Barrington Tops, north of Newcastle.
The bodies of the pilot and four passengers have never been recovered, nor has any trace of the wreckage been found.
It was bitterly cold and miserable on the Barrington Tops the Sunday night that the Cessna crashed.
The plane had taken off from Coolangatta at 5.02pm and pilot Michael Hutchins, 52, was confident he would have his four passengers back at Bankstown in a little over three hours.
The four passengers, all from Sydney, were NSW Police Superintendent Ken Price, 54, Rhett Bosler, 33, Noel Wildash, 42, and Phillip Pembroke, 43.
According to VH-MDX researcher Don Readford, who was at VH-MDX's home airfield of Bankstown Royal Aero Club on the night it crashed, the meteorological conditions over the Barrington Tops that night were considered some of the worst ever recorded.
“Low cloud with associated icing conditions at altitudes above 5000 feet (1500m) combined with strong winds in the order of 60 knots (96km/h) at 8000 feet (2400m) increasing to around 120km/h at around 14,000 feet (4300m),” Mr Readford said.
At 7.10pm a Gresford woman, travelling between Stroud and Gloucester on the Bucketts Way, spotted a low-flying aircraft to the west of Craven.
According to flight data, a call was made from air traffic control: “Mike Delta X-ray, Sydney. The lights are on at Maitland if you wish to divert and make a landing there.”
Five fixed-wing aircraft, including one from Maitland, and three helicopters were involved in the search in the days after the plane went missing.
Many searches have been held in the three decades since the crash - the most recent involving 150 emergency services personnel combing the rugged mountain bushland in October last year - but the final resting place of VH-MDX remains a mystery.
Australian Army pilot Corporal Mark Nolan, who has been involved in searches to find VH-MDX, said the Cessna’s disappearance was Australia’s biggest aviation mystery; it remains the only aircraft to have crashed on mainland Australia and never been found.
IN 1963 a RAAF sabre jet fighter crashed into a home on Sunnyside St, Mayfield.
It was November 12 when 65-year-old widow Edith Verleigh- Tillitzeki was enjoying a cup of tea after getting home from a trip to town.
"I was walking to the front of the house and was just near the front door when I heard a terrible noise," Mrs Tillitzeki told the Newcastle Herald at the time of the crash.
"A great current of air almost knocked me down and all the glass in the front door shattered.
"I didn't look around. I walked straight out the front door and down the street to a friend's home."
Mrs Tillitzeki's flat, which she had lived in for 43 years, was completely demolished.
Pilot Officer Ronald Alexander Slater, 22, baled out of the plane at 3600m. He had been flying in a section of eight planes from RAAF Williamtown when his aircraft went into a spin.
"Normal and emergency procedures for recovering proved ineffective..." he said, shortly after the crash.
"I advised my leader and he advised me during the spin, but I still couldn't control the plane
"He told me to eject if I couldn't get out of the spin.
"I knew I was over a built up area but could do nothing about it. I didn't know where I was in relation to the various suburbs. But I knew I was near the Hunter River.
"When my parachute opened, I watched the plane going down, but lost sight of it when it got a long way below me.
"When I got to about 1500 feet (500m) I could see thick smoke rising and hear sirens.
"My biggest worry was that somebody might have got hurt."
Pilot Officer Slater landed near the corner of Crescent Road, Waratah, about 1.5km from the crash site, his parachute became entangled in power lines.
His ejector seat landed near Waratah rail station.
It was considered a miracle at the time that no one was killed when a Mirage jet fighter crash landed just 30 metres from homes at Tanilba Bay on May 2, 1980.
Pilot Officer Graham Butterworth, 25, ejected because of a malfunction in the aircraft's undercarriage that had prevented him from landing at Williamtown airport.
His Mirage - a sleek delta-wing interceptor able pierce the air at more than twice the speed of sound - had been critically short of fuel.
After the pilot ejected the plane slammed into the beach near Peace Parade, Tanilba Bay, narrowly missing houses.
At the time the RAAF was criticised because there had been a number of Mirages out of Williamtown crashing in the preceding years.
A YOUNG airman was left dangling from a tree in freezing conditions after his RAAF Machi MB-326H jet trainer crashed in the snow covered Barrington Tops on August 3, 1987.
Thirty-year-old Flight Lieutenant Dennis Hume's parachute became caught in branches 12m above ground after he and fellow officer, Brendan Heslin, 25, ejected over the mountains about 10.45am.
They took the decision to ditch after their aircraft suffered engine trouble on a flight between RAAF Amberley in southern Queensland and RAAF Williamtown.
Snow, wind and low clouds hampered the rescue operation.
On May 13, 1951 two pilots were killed in separate aircraft within minutes of one another at Karuah.
The pilots of the RAAF Vampire jets piloted by Flying-Officer Bruce Wilson, of Potts Point, and Sergeant I.J. Booth, of Nelson Bay. They had been flying in formation over Limeburners Creek about 11am.
The first plane nose-dived into Karuah River. The second aircraft, which hit a mudbank shortly after, is understood to have exploded.
Mr K Sceats of Merewether witnessed the crash.
"We were watching two planes fairly high up, one apparently following the other. The one in front suddenly seemed to make a power dive and without deviating in any way, nose-dived into the river," Mr Skeats told the Herald on the day of the crash.
Mr Skeats, a former ground sergeant in the RAAF, was fishing on the river at the time. He said he believed the first pilot had a blackout because he made no effort to straighten out.
The second pilot, apparently, did not realise what was happening till a few seconds before the crash.
"I could see him trying to flatten out when he realised his position, and he crashed around a bend on the river, about a quarter of a mile away," Mr Skeats said.
"If he had had another 1000 feet he would probably have saved his machine and his life.
"When the first plane hit the water it disappeared in a flash, throwing up columns of mud and water."