Police Charge 82yo Former Pilot Over Attempted Light Plane Hijack

Les Nixon in his younger days as a pilot. Source: outbackpatrol.com.au

NSW Police have charged an elderly former pilot and Christian missionary over an incident on Monday that forced a light plane to make an emergency landing in Oberon, 180km west of Sydney.

Les Nixon, 82, from Georges Hall, was arrested after leaving hospital this afternoon and charged with prejudicing the safe operation of an aircraft. He was bailed to appear at Parramatta Local Court on 29 September, 2014.

Nixon chartered the twin-engined light plane from Bankstown to Cowra on Monday, but is believed to have attempted to grab the controls and switch off the engines as the plane was flying over the Blue Mountains.

The pilot, James Chandler, 23, fought to restrain Nixon, who sustained head injuries, and regain control of the plane, bringing it down in a paddock on the western side of the mountains. He suffered and knee injury and shock.

Police will allege an incident occurred around 2.30pm and the pilot was forced to restrain his passenger.

Nixon founded Australia’s Outback Patrol, a service flying missionaries to 55 remote outback towns in 1961.

In a statement on the group’s website, they say he “recently voluntarily retired from flying after an exemplary 50-plus year career”.

The statement says the trip was to visit family friends and adds “Les suffered multiple injuries to his face and arms not related to the landing.

“Possibly due to the injuries he sustained during the flight, Les currently has no memory of the events immediately preceding the forced landing.”

It said Nixon’s family was awaiting the findings of police and medical investigations.

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