Emergency workers at the site of the air crash in the
Ngaruroro River. A visitor from Britain and a local
instructor died in the crash. Photo / Paul Taylor
The last contact with a small plane that crashed in
Hawkes Bay yesterday, killing both men on board, suggested
nothing was wrong - but minutes later, an emergency beacon went
off when it nosedived into a riverbed.
Members of the Hawkes Bay and East Coast Aero Club took the
routine call just after 11am while the Tomahawk plane was
just over halfway through an expected 60-minute flight.
A visitor from Britain, who was fully qualified, was flying
the aircraft, and was on a training exercise before having
his pilot's licence validation exam today.
He and his experienced instructor from the club were killed
when the plane crashed into the Ngaruroro River.
A routine call back to the club was made a few minutes before
the emergency locator beacon went off, aero club president
Bruce Govenlock said. There was no indication anything was
"I understand it was routine ... that he was advising they
were going to fly lower," he told the Herald. "It was not
many minutes from the last radio transfer that we noticed the
beacon ... It doesn't appear there was any chance for a
distress call and the last radio transmission indicated there
was nothing wrong."
After the emergency beacon went off, another club plane
already in the air went to investigate.
The crash site was close to the small settlement of
Maraekakaho and State Highway 50 but was not visible from the
road and difficult to access.
Mr Govenlock said it had been a harrowing day for the small
club and its members, especially the ones who heard the
beacon go off and realised the plane with their friend on
board had crashed.
"They acted professionally and did what they needed to do ...
It would have been very hard as they all know the pilot," he
told the Herald.
Club members visited the home of the local man after the
The plane reportedly appeared to stall before it nosedived
into the river.
Alison Arthur was tending to her horses on her farm in
Crownthorpe near Hastings when she spotted the plane in the
"We see planes come up the river all the time, but I first
noticed these pop sounds before I spotted the plane.
"I've never seen one that low around here before, then it
started swerving from side to side before it tilted heavily."
Mr Govenlock said the aircraft was 30 years old and had been
Civil Aviation Authority investigators would arrive at the
scene this morning.
- Andrew Koubaridis, NZ Herald, Additional reporting: