The parents of a Waikato pilot missing since his
helicopter crashed in Fiordland nearly nine years ago have made
the trek south to take home their son's remains.
Waikato farmer Campbell Montgomerie (27) and English tourist
Hannah Timings (28) disappeared in January 2004 when a Hughes
500 369HS helicopter crashed in the Hollyford Valley.
The wreckage was finally located on Wednesday evening near
Humboldt Creek when a pilot on a commercial flight "spotted
something out of place".
The remains are yet to be formally identified, which police
said would be by DNA analysis.
Mr Montgomerie's parents, Ian and Elizabeth, arrived in Te
Anau from Auckland yesterday after being notified by police.
They declined to talk to media.
Last night, the Otago Daily Times tried to contact Ms
Timings' father, Phil, in Cheltenham, England. A family
friend said Mr Timings was out, but would be unlikely to
Mr Montgomerie and Ms Timings were flying from the Routeburn
Track to Milford Sound on January 4, 2004, when radio contact
with the Milford radio tower was lost. The helicopter had
plunged into inaccessible terrain in the Humboldt Mountains.
Despite a six-day search, their bodies and the aircraft were
Glacier Southern Lakes Helicopters chief executive and pilot
Pat West was one of four who visited the site on Wednesday
after a company pilot, Brendan Hiatt, discovered the wreckage
while on a commercial flight between Fiordland and
"He was on his way back from Milford Sound on a commercial
job and spotted something out of place," Mr West said.
Mr Hiatt hovered above the wreckage to identify what he had
initially thought was crash wreckage and he identified the
tail section of the Hughes 369 HS.
The pilot flew his four passengers back to Queenstown, then
returned to the crash site with Mr West and two Queenstown
Vegetation in the area was thick and the wreckage was lying
on the south side of a rock face, which would have made it
nearly impossible for the initial searchers to locate the
helicopter, Mr West said.
"Because the helicopter is a dark green, it is hard to see
through the alpine scrub.
"We were [just] at the right altitude, at the right place at
the right time [to spot a reflection]."
The wreckage covered a sizeable area, with parts of the
aircraft scattered across the rock.
"It will hopefully give the families some closure and put the
mystery to bed."
The 2004 police search covered the various routes the
helicopter might have taken from Lake Howden to Milford Sound
and included more than 200 flying hours and 2500 people
In a statement yesterday, police said the wreckage was found
at the extremities of the original search area, which
comprised extraordinarily difficult and complex terrain.
In August 2004, coroner John Donaldson said the crash was
likely to be the result of an error of judgement by Mr
Montgomerie, who was unfamiliar with the area and conditions.
Seven specialist police staff and two alpine cliff rescue
team members were flown to the area yesterday to examine the