An unlucky Auckland pilot had his fair share of problems
today after not only making an emergency landing on a crowded
beach, but then crashing into the surf when he tried to
Hundreds of people were on the beach at the time, but the
fact that nobody, including the two onboard the aircraft were
injured, has the Civil Aviation Authority impressed with his
The drama unfolded at Martins Bay beach, near Warkworth, when
engine trouble hit the single-engine microlight about 3km
A group of about 500 people had gathered on the beach for a
sandcastle-making competition before the aircraft skimmed
over their heads and landed further along the shore.
Martins Bay Holiday Park manager Linda Brickland ran to the
pilot, Dennis Horn and co-pilot Manfred Scherbius to check on
The timing of the landing "couldn't have been more perfect",
because the crowd of beachgoers were gathered at one end for
the sandcastle competition instead of spread along the beach.
Police arrived and cleared the beach so the pair could
attempt a take-off.
"The take-off failed. He hit water and a bit of soft sand and
went sideways, causing the propeller to break and a wing to
"He won't be able to fly off now."
The Jabiru J200 microlight was on its first flight, from
Ardmore to Whangarei, since a new engine was installed, One
Mr Horn told One News that hearing the engine stop was the
last thing a pilot would want to hear, "especially when he's
only got one engine".
"We actually landed on some rocks which was a bit rough but
it only damaged the aircraft slightly."
CAA spokesman Mike Richards said it was not illegal to land
on a beach in an emergency and it appeared the men made the
best of a bad situation.
"The key is that the pilot was able to land successfully and
walk away from it.
"In the circumstances the pilot's done a commendable job
getting down without any injury."
It was an "amazing story", Mr Richards said.
There was bad luck in the take-off though, he said, with the
aircraft "ending up in the drink".
Police did the right thing in clearing the beach and giving
the pilot a chance to move the plane from the area.
An investigation would be conducted into the cause of the
crash, Mr Richards said.
- Rebecca Quilliam of APNZ