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Opposition leader Peter Dutton has revealed his family’s friendship with a ‘generous’ father and ‘intelligent’ son who were killed in a minor plane crash on Monday.
Millionaire agribusiness leader Tom Strachan, 49, and his 20-year-old son Noah died in the Brisbane Valley crash, along with veteran pilot Gary Liehm.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) has dispatched a team to the crash site to collect components and material for analysis.
Mr Dutton, whose children, like the Strachan family, attend Brisbane Grammar School, expressed shock at the tragedy.
He posted a heartfelt tribute to the family on social media, saying: “Like many friends of Tom Strachan and his 20-year-old son Noah Strachan, our family is devastated by their loss.”
Liberal leader Peter Dutton (center right) is pictured with his wife Kirilly (center left). Mr Dutton said his family was ‘devastated’ by the death of their friends Tom Strachan and his son Noah in a minor plane crash
The Liberal leader said Mr Strachan senior ‘was a larger-than-life character, a strong and principled man with a generous heart and a wonderful father and husband’.
“He was a man whose word you could trust, and he supported many philanthropic causes,” added Mr Dutton.
He also wrote about Noah, saying ‘the apple didn’t fall far from the tree’.
“He was an intelligent, polite and diligent young man in the prime of his life. They leave behind a beautiful family.’
Mr Dutton said that although he did not know the pilot, Mr Liehm, well, he had “the pleasure of meeting him” and that he was “an exceptionally talented pilot” who had worked with the Queensland emergency services.
He expressed his condolences to Mr Liehm’s “bewildered family and friends.”
The Cessna plane crashed Monday in remote bushland near Lowood, an hour west of Brisbane, killing all three on board.
The plane was bound for Archerfield Airport in southern Brisbane from Dalby on the Darling Downs.
The tragic deaths of Tom Strachan (pictured) and his son sparked a deluge of tributes
Tom Strachan’s son of business analyst, 20-year-old Noah (pictured), also died in the crash
No emergency calls were sent and the alarm was not raised until four hours after the flight disappeared.
The plane was found split in two, with parts of the wreckage 50 meters apart.
Police officers retrieved the bodies of the men on Tuesday afternoon and expect to remain at the scene for most of Wednesday.
Queensland Farmers’ Federation CEO Jo Sheppard said the accident would affect regional communities in the state, where the three men were active in business.
Our condolences to the families. Our thoughts are with them at this terrible time,” she said.
The plane was not reported missing to authorities until four hours after the crash
Bad weather is being investigated as a possible cause of light plane crash in remote bushland (photo, police on scene outside Lowood)
ATSB Chief of Police Angus Mitchell said the agency was looking at several… factors, ‘of the aircraft itself and of the pilot, but also the weather conditions’.
“All of those things will be part of the investigation as we try to get a sense of what the circumstances were like at the time and what might have gone wrong.”
Noah’s sister Bella posted a photo of her brother, father and herself online, captioned with a heart emoji.
“Three beautiful souls,” one person wrote, while another said they “sent lots of hugs and love.”
Gary Liehm (pictured right with celebrity client Chris Hemsworth) was an accomplished pilot
Strachan family friend Pip Murphy remembered Noah as the “special young man” who left a great impression on her family and “brought us so much joy.”
“That infectious cheeky grin, the giggles we shared… I’ll always be so grateful for your time with us, dear boy… Forever an Angel,” she said.
Tom Strachan founded the mining, construction and agricultural company AWX in 2000, which sold for a reported $25 million in 2016.
According to his LinkedIn profile, he was an executive director at investment company Packhorse.
Pilot Gary Liehm (pictured) was the chief executive officer of Executive Helicopters
In 2021, he donated $500,000 to his former school, Brisbane Grammar, to support regional and Indigenous students.
‘We have to be a school that attracts children from all walks of life. The possibility of education can push them to become leaders and give back to society.
“That’s why I think scholarships are so important,” Strachan wrote on LinkedIn at the time.
His son Noah was an analyst at Brisbane real estate and investment company Benstead Holdaway.
Emergency services were called just outside Lowood near Fernvale, north-west of Ipswich in south-east Queensland on Monday afternoon.
Mr. Liehm was the CEO of Executive Helicopters and had flown for both SeaWorld and the Queensland emergency services.
He also flew many famous clients, including actor Chris Hemsworth.
An online poster said he knows Mr Liehm very well. ‘He was a real gentleman and a real character. Always joking, but so serious when it came to flying.
“I had flown for many hours with Gary next to him in his Euro Helicopters, and always felt extremely safe.
“He was an exceptional pilot and can only think that the plane he flew in failed him.”