'You have to get back on the horse' - 73yo North Canterbury plane crash survivor

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Alan Macdonald visited Rangiora Airfield to find his missing shoe. It was wedged under the rudder...
Alan Macdonald visited Rangiora Airfield to find his missing shoe. It was wedged under the rudder pedal. Photo: North Canterbury News
Nose-diving into a paddock in a light plane has not put North Canterbury 73-year-old Alan Macdonald off flying.

The Rangiora retiree had just started taking lessons in a bid to tick off one of the items on his bucket list - learning to fly - when the aircraft he was in crashed into a farm paddock near Glentui on Wednesday last week.

He smashed his wrist, suffered cuts, bruising, a couple of black toenails, and whiplash.

Stewart Bufton. Photo: Supplied
Stewart Bufton. Photo: Supplied
Both he and the Canterbury Recreational Aircraft Club’s chief instructor, Stewart Bufton, were taken to Christchurch Hospital, but have since been released.

"I was really lucky. I won’t be playing golf anytime soon," Macdonald said.

But he has every intention of carrying on with his lessons as soon as his body is willing.

"You have to get back on the horse again. I am not going to let it (the crash) beat me.

"It is a lovely view up there. On a fine day, it is serene. You get a view of the countryside from another perspective.

"I also want to see my farm in Sheffield, which my son has now, every now and then from the air."

The light plane crashed into a paddock. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The light plane crashed into a paddock. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Macdonald and Bufton were practising engine failure protocols when the plane clipped power wires and nose-dived, at low speed, into the paddock.

"I was under instruction when we caught some wires on the opposite side of the hedge we were climbing over," Macdonald said.

"It was a slow speed, low altitude accident. It happened in micro-seconds, so I didn’t get time to have any thoughts as we nose-dived into the paddock," Macdonald said.

He did not want to comment further about the crash until the Civil Aviation inquiry was held to establish what went wrong.

Alan Macdonald is determined to return to the air following his recent scare. Photo: North...
Alan Macdonald is determined to return to the air following his recent scare. Photo: North Canterbury News
On Tuesday, Macdonald went to the Rangiora Airfield to have a look at the plane, and search for his log book, and one of his shoes, which was found stuck under the rudder pedal.

His family had been belatedly told that Macdonald was intending to take flying lessons.

His daughter, Bridget, told him he was mad: "I said I hoped he didn’t fly away too soon. He nearly did," she said.

"They were incredibly lucky."

His wife, Christine, said it was traumatising to get a call from a policeman to tell her about her husband being involved in a plane crash.

She continues to have nightmares about what might have been.

"That’s what has been waking me in the night. The thought of them burning to death," she said.

"But we will be all right. It could have been worse.’’

She reminded her husband of their wedding vows - in sickness and in health - as she helped to shower and dress him.

 

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