Courier Mail, The (Brisbane), 09/04/2003, pg. 4

PILOT David Millist has regained consciousness after five weeks in a coma following a plane crash on the Darling Downs.

With burns to 80 per cent of his body, Mr Millist’s chances of survival were slim. But he raised a smile yesterday after being released from intensive care and moved to the burns unit at Royal Brisbane Hospital.

Mr Millist, 47, of Toowoomba, was making a crop spray run in his Cessna 188 when the rising sun blinded him on March 2.

The plane hit a tree, with the impact shearing off half a wing and sending the plane into cartwheels before it burst into flames 15km southeast of Dalby.

Despite his burns and a broken collarbone and broken elbow, Mr Millist climbed from the cockpit and walked about 500m to the Warrego Highway where he was picked up and taken to Dalby hospital.

Mr Millist needs a tracheotomy because of daily surgery, but his daughter Kathryn can lip-read well enough to discover her father’s memories of the accident.

“He remembers the crash and getting out of the plane,” Kathryn said yesterday.

“He remembers rolling on the ground to put the fire out and walking down the road looking for help.

“He remembers flying in the plane to Brisbane.

“He’s very tough. He’s done very well and he’s very, very lucky to be alive.

“We’re just so happy he’s so well.”

Bandages have been taken off Mr Millist’s face, fingers and toes but dressings still cover his limbs, torso and head.

Although his hair wasn’t singed, because he was wearing a helmet, his scalp has been used twice for harvesting skin grafts for other areas of his body.

Mr Millist’s family is raising funds for the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital Foundation in a Shave for Dave on May 18.

Family members will lose their locks to establish a research grant for funding of intensive-care survival and burns and skin bank research.

Donations can be sent to the Shave for Dave Appeal, PO Box 94, Herston, 4029, or by phoning foundation fundraising manager Dave Rose on 3636 7422.

Copyright 2003 / Courier Mail