The Guimbal Cabri helicopter crashed in a paddock north of
the Waimakariri River near Christchurch yesterday. Photo /
Two pilots had a lucky escape yesterday (Thur) when their
helicopter crashed during a training flight near the
Waimakariri River in Canterbury.
The Guimbal Cabri helicopter came down in an open field used
as a major low-flying training area at the south end of Two
Chain Rd, near Swannanoa, around 4.20pm.
The pair had been practising low-flying manoeuvres when the
two-seater aircraft "hit the ground heavily," police said.
The small white chopper suffered damage to its left side,
wrecking the left skid. Its rotors still appeared functional.
The qualified pilot, who was undertaking instructor training,
suffered moderate spinal injuries, police said.
He was flown to hospital by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter,
which was diverted to the scene while en route to a less
serious callout in the Hundalee valley, far north Canterbury.
The second person aboard, an instructor, suffered only minor
injuries and remained at the scene until his wife came and
picked him up, said the local landowner, Wanaka Helicopters'
pilot and instructor Simon Spencer-Bower QSM.
A local helicopter pilot said the helicopter was owned by
Pacific Helicopter Training.
A spokesman for the company said he couldn't talk about the
crash, citing Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) laws.
Mr Spencer-Bower, who's racked up thousands of hours' flying
time himself, doubted the CAA - who have not yet been
available for comment - would get involved.
The 65-year-old believed it was a minor incident.
"These things (Guimbal Cabri) are pretty good these days," he
said at the scene - a field which forms part of the sprawling
estate which has been in his family's hands for decades.
He lets all helicopter and small fixed winged aircraft
training operators based at Christchurch Airport - a short
flight south over the Waimakariri River - use his property
for low-flying, under 500-feet training.
"The nice thing about New Zealand is that you can perform
these manoeuvres - practising approaches to land and take
off," he said.
Asked if the pilots had been lucky to escape more serious
injuries, he said: "People get over-excited because it's a
helicopter crash. If it was a car crash, and there's a
logical reason for it, no one would be bothered."
Police and ambulance services also attended the crash, with a
large cordon initially surrounding the crash scene which
borders the 7,000-acre Eyrewell Forest.
Weather conditions at the time of the crash were clear and
Just before dusk, a piece of heavy logging machinery was
brought into the field to help lift the crippled wreck onto a
truck to be transported away.
- Kurt Bayer & Brendan Manning of APNZ