Julian Dean Kramer (52), also known as Julianne, or JK, was
the Wakatipu Aero Club's chief flying instructor.
Flying a ''technically not airworthy'' helicopter at high
airspeed to reach Wanaka before nightfall were causes in the
crash which killed an Arrowtown pilot.
Julian Dean Kramer (52), also known as Julianne, or ''JK'',
was the Wakatipu Aero Club's chief flying instructor and
mentor to many aviators in New Zealand and overseas.
The pilot of 30 years experience in aeroplanes flew solo a
privately owned Robinson R22 helicopter, registration ZK-HCG,
between Wanaka and Queenstown aerodromes, via the Cardrona
Valley, Wanaka, on November 8, 2012.
About 8.35pm, a witness on the ground saw the helicopter
approach and then looked away.
Hearing an ''unusual'' noise the witness looked back and saw
the machine was descending at a high rate with the main rotor
He watched it descend and strike the ground, although fire
did not ignite.
Emergency services were immediately notified and the first
responders to the accident site found the pilot dead of
multiple traumatic injuries. The aircraft was destroyed,
including its emergency locater beacon.
Most of the wreckage was found 5m downhill from the impact
Parts of the passenger door were located about 200m from the
site indicating ''significant damage'' happened at altitude
before ground impact, safety investigator Colin Grounsell
''As a result of a loss of main rotor control, the main rotor
blades diverged from the normal plane of rotation initially
striking the tail boom, Once this had occurred, recovery of
the situation by the pilot was impossible.
''The helicopter had been severely disrupted due to the
severity of the impact, the pilot had been thrown clear and
was found 2m to the front left-hand side of the helicopter.''
There were no signs of any pre-existing medical condition
which could have affected the pilot and no alcohol or drugs
present in the pilot's blood.
A Robinson Helicopter Company technical investigator viewed
the wreckage and found no evidence which would indicate the
helicopter was not in a serviceable condition before the
There were no defects found which may have prevented the
engine from providing full power.
However, during the safety investigation, the helicopter was
found to be 25 hours overdue for its 50-hour scheduled
inspection, which mainly focuses on engine maintenance.
''The helicopter was technically not airworthy, which placed
both the pilot and the owner in non-compliance with the
CARs'' (Civil Aviation rules),'' Mr Grounsell reported.
A large bird's nest was found to be completely covering the
engine's left-hand cylinders.
However, there was no evidence the nest had a detrimental
effect on engine operation and the cowling made it
''extremely difficult'' for any pilot to visually inspect the
engine before flight.
The authority's Safety Promotion Unit was made aware of the
difficulties in conducting an effective bird nest check on
the Robinson R22 helicopter engine.
A Vector magazine article will be published highlighting the
difficulty to pilots and how to avoid the hazards of low-G
flight in the Robinson R22.
Low-G flight is a condition when the helicopter becomes
temporarily weightless, and can be catastrophic.
In some instances, it causes the rotor to flap beyond its
limits and cause structural damage to the aircraft.