The bodies of Tim Jones and photographer Sam Langford were recovered from the waters of Storm Bay on a second attempt on Tuesday, January 6.
Inspector Ian Renshaw, Tasmania Police, told reporters that the deaths of Mr Jones and Mr Langford were now in the hands of the coroner, while the aircraft would be examined by Australian Transport Safety Bureau inspectors before being released back to the insurance company.
He added that police hoped the recovery of the bodies would help bring closure to the men’s families.
‘It would be tragic to be sitting at home wondering if police were able to complete the recovery, so we are just so glad we were,’ he said.
Tim Jones’ funeral will be held on Saturday 17, 1pm at Graham Family Funerals, 73 Risdon Road, New Town, to be followed by a gathering at The Lark Distillery in Hobart. Check PMA Facebook page for further details...
Initial inspection of the plane indicated damage to the leading edges of the Cessna’s wings, as well as the engine and nose area, which according to the head of the recovery team, indicates it most likely hit the water front-on. This accords with eye-witness accounts.
Failure of the initial recovery operation on January 1 added a cruel twist and increased the anguish of family and friends of Tim Jones and Sam Langford, who both died in an Airlines of Tasmania Cessna 172 on Monday, December 29 while photographing competitors in the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race.
The pilot and Tim Jones, sports photographer and an iconic Australian retailer, had previously worked together as an aerial photography team. Their plane hit the water in Storm Bay and sunk within 30 seconds.
The crew of Mistraal, a Tasmanian entrant, saw the plane banking at just above mast height moments before crashing nose-first into the water about 300 metres from them, according to news reports.
Having located the plane in around 90 metres of water, police came agonisingly close to recovering the bodies of the two men, but a tow line recovering the plane snapped just 15 metres from the surface.
The small remote-controlled vehicle being used for the initial recovery then had to leave the operation to fulfill contractual obligations in Bass Strait. The vehicle, equipped with a video camera, did however confirm the bodies of the two men were inside the plane. Poor weather further delayed recovery of the two men and the aircraft.
Competitors in the Sydney Hobart sail west into Storm Bay and then head north up the Derwent River to the finishing line in Hobart. It has for many years provided an accessible and picturesque setting in which to photograph the fleet, with sales of images of individual yachts in high demand by skippers and crew at Constitution Dock and in recent years, online.
In November at the PMA Conference, Tim Jones was acknowledged for (once again) being at the forefront of Australian photo retail ‘best practice’ with the expansion of his Perfect Prints event photography business.
Tim leaves behind two sons and a daughter, Rob, Will and Caitlyn.