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Rare de Havilland spent an hour in the clouds before crash


Des Porter’s vintage de Havilland DH84 Dragon flew for an hour in low clouds in Australia last month before it crashed in rugged, wooded terrain, killing him and five passengers. The 1934 plane was returning from an airshow to its home airport near Brisbane when it flew into an overcast layer and radioed for help. For the next hour, witnesses on the ground reported seeing the distinctive red twin-engine biplane peek in and out of the low overcast as Porter tried climbing and descending to break out of the clouds, according to a preliminary investigative report. Throughout that time, Porter talked with air traffic controllers, updating them on his fuel status as they tried to dispatch rescue aircraft. Controllers lost radio contact with the plane for the last 17 minutes of its flight, but it took two days for search teams to locate the wreckage. The plane’s right fuel tank had almost 2 gallons of fuel remaining, while fuel had leaked out of the left fuel tank. The plane hit the ground in a left bank at high speed, investigators said.