The instructor in yesterday's
helicopter training crash has been praised for his quick
actions in averting a double fatality.
The Guimbal Cabri helicopter with two people aboard came down
in an open field used as a major low-flying training area at
the south end of Two Chain Rd, near the Waimakariri River in
Canterbury, 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 and
was discharged this morning, a hospital spokeswoman
The second person aboard, an instructor, suffered only minor
injuries and remained at the scene yesterday until his wife
came and picked him up, said the local landowner, Wanaka
Helicopters' pilot and instructor Simon Spencer-Bower QSM.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has spoken to the pilot
and understands that the student pilot had initiated a
manoeuvre and was "in difficulty when the instructor took
"This quick action likely prevented a more serious accident,"
a CAA spokesman said.
The CAA is having the wreckage removed to a secure lock-up
location today and will then determine what type of
investigation to undertake.
"The CAA will be looking to see if there may have been any
mechanical or other possible cause of the accident," the
A local helicopter pilot last night said the helicopter was
owned by Pacific Helicopter Training.
A spokesman for the company said he couldn't talk about the
crash, citing CAA laws.
Mr Spencer-Bower, who's racked up thousands of hours' flying
time himself, believed it was a minor incident.
"These things (Guimbal Cabri) are pretty good these days,"
the 65-year-old said at the scene - a field which forms part
of the sprawling estate which has been in his family's hands
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 7000-acre Eyrewell Forest.
Weather conditions at the time of the crash were clear and