A DAD and his young son and daughter were killed alongside his millionaire pilot boss on a "joy flight" when their small plane crashed and flipped in the sea.
The family of tycoon Roy Watterson, 67, were waiting for him to land at a local aerodrome during a Christmas outing near Brisbane, Australia.
But his four-seater plane hit the water – killing him and his three passengers.
The other victims were Chris Mocanu, 41, who worked for Roy's company, his ten-year-old daughter Lavina and son Lucas, nine.
The kids' mum was wrapping Christmas presents when she was told of the crash, reports the Courier-Mail.
They were on a pre-arranged pleasure flight around Queensland's Moreton Bay when they were killed around 9am on Sunday.
Chris reportedly asked his boss to take them up as a surprise for his son's birthday.
Aerial pictures showed Roy's 44-year-old Rockwell Commander 114 flipped on its roof as rescuers worked to salvage the wreckage.
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Police divers recovered the four bodies around midday.
It emerged Roy's family were told his plane had gone down while waiting for his return at nearby Redcliffe aerodrome.
“There were a number of family members of the pilot who were at the air ground at the time of the accident,” Police Inspector Craig White told reporters.
“The families became aware when they knew that the aircraft hadn’t returned on site and also they began looking at social media posts.
“The family are deeply traumatised as you would expect."
Describing it as a "tragic accident" so close to Christmas, he said: "This is the last thing that any family need to go through this time of the year."
Flight tracker data showed a search helicopter circling over the sea where it is believed the plane went down near a swamp nature reserve.
It reportedly suffered engine trouble soon after takeoff and flipped as Roy tried to turn back to land.
Insp White said the aircraft was seen to disappear behind two mangroves, where the wreck was spotted by another plane soon after.
Roy founded family-run business the Lincom Group, supplying the quarry, mining and forestry industries, and had recently handed the reigns to his son Stephen.
Chris was an employee of the company.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Roy Watterson, our chairman and founder, along with Chris Mocanu, our National Hire Fleet Coordinator and his two children,” the firm said.
“The loss has been deeply felt across the entire Lincom team.
“We were very privileged to work with both Roy and Chris, and we will miss them dearly.”
Pals paid tribute to Roy as an “extremely generous man” who was “respected well beyond the borders of Australia.”
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is investigating what went wrong.
"Our Brisbane team is already on the site to gather evidence and we have another team of investigators coming up from Canberra on Monday morning," ATSB Chief Commissioner Angus Mitchell said.
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