Memorial to mark 75-year anniversary of plane crash

A MEMORIAL to mark a plane crash that took the lives of 10 passengers will be unveiled in Spring Plains on the event’s 75th anniversary.

Spring Plains is located between Tooborac and Redesdale, south of Heathcote.

In 1945, two pilots and eight passengers were flying from Essendon to Broken Hill in a Stinson aircraft when a fatigue crack in the plane’s left wing caused it to separate from the aircraft’s body.

The plane ‘Tokana Vhuyy’ was only 21 minutes into its journey and was flying at 1000 feet, 304 metres, before a sharp crack was reportedly heard from witnesses on the ground.

The aircraft broke apart and spun violently to the ground before crashing, causing an explosion of flames.

Pilots Alan Murn and Orville Openshaw were flung out of the cockpit during the plane’s descent, their bodies were found unburnt and close to the wreckage.

The wreck was scattered along Spring Plains Station where the Stinson Memorial Unveiling will take place on January 31.

Event organiser Robert Chapman said the idea to mark the crash site had been a long time coming.

“We initially had support from the Federal Government for the memorial, but that was dropped,” Mr Chapman said.

“The community have completely funded this project.”

Mr Chapman said the crash was a tragedy for the area, with some of the community drawing links to World War Two sabotage.

“Because it was war time, a lot of people thought there was a disquiet about it,” he said.

“Some thought it was mishap and some thought it was sabotage.”

Mr Chapman said the Tokana Vhuyy was one of four Stinsons imported in 1936 by Airlines of Australia, and it was the third Stinson to crash and the fourth ‘Vhuyy Binana’ had its certificate of airworthiness suspended.

Mr Chapman made contact with witnesses and the victim’s relatives, some of whom were expected to attend the memorial.

The Stinson Memorial Unveiling will begin at 9.30am, Friday January 31 at the Burke and Wills Track, Spring Plains – Mia Mia, next to the Duigan Flight Monument.

Members of the Kyneton Aeroclub will conduct a fly over at 9.50am.


  1. I would like to commend Mr Chapman & colleagues for their efforts to memorialise an aircraft accident of significance. However, the comments regarding sabotage are unfounded as the accident was thoroughly investigated by (the then) ARL in Melbourne. The casual factor was metal fatigue of the lower spar boom due to poor welding.
    Loris Molent AM

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