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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Mt Corhanwarrabul Summit

The 1938 Kyeema crash occurred near the summit of Mt Corhanwarrabul, on the western face of Mount Dandenong, Victoria, Australia. On October 25, 1938, eighteen people were killed when the Kyeema, an Australian National Airways DC-2, VH-UYC crashed. The aircraft was in route to Melbourne from Adelaide.

The disaster is blamed on a combination of the presence of a heavy fog and the use of an outdated navigational practice which relied solely on landmarks to determine position. During the ensuing investigation, it was decided that the pilot believed he was descending for a landing at Essendon but was grossly off course causing him to crash into the mountain. While not the first fatal accident in Australian aviation history it was unique because it was the first aircraft in radio communication up to the time of impact.

Those killed in the tragedy included a parliamentarian, a party of barristers and solicitors, a group of wine industry executives, and a young couple on their honeymoon.

By Public demand a Royal Commission into the cause of the disaster was established, the Federal Government appointed an Air Accident Investigation Committee under the Chairmanship of Colonel T. Murdoch DSO, VCE with the public equiry commencing on October 30th, 1938.

ecause of the crash, regulations were passed which require Flight Checking Officers to monitor the flights of airplanes and advise on such things as position, weather, and alternate landing options.

lso implementation of a 33MHz radio range system was recommended to provide pilots with accurate information on their course.

It was not until forty years after the crash, in 1978, that a memorial to the Kyeema and its eighteen passengers was created at the crash site.

I visted the crash site on December 31, 2007, which is marked with a badly weathered sign just down from the Cairn - no trace of the wreckage remains. The site is near the TV towers at the summit of Mt Corhanwarrabul, 628 m above sea level, next to Mt Dandenong.

A graphic account of the crash disaster was published in Flight Safety magazine, which may be viewed at

See the full set of pictures of my trip.

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