View Full Version : C172 crash near Queenstown

6th Dec 2003, 04:30
Dec 06, 2003

Civil Aviation Authority investigators are in Queenstown investigating Friday night's light plane crash in which one person died.

Queenstown police say the survivor of the crash, who is in a serious condition in Dunedin Hospital's intensive care unit, was found a short distance from the wreckage and the deceased person was found in the plane.

Investigators will start piecing together the journey of the Cessna 172, which crashed around 5.30pm in the 25 Mile Creek watershed, north-west of Queenstown.

The plane was on routine mountain flying training when it is thought to have come down in heavy rain and strong winds.

When the plane failed to return, two aircraft from the local aero club joined a National Search and Rescue-chartered helicopter in the search for the wreckage, which was located about two hours later.

The wreckage was found in steep and mountainous terrain.

Click here to get the latest ONE News and more sent straight to your inbox

ONE News sourced from TVNZ, RNZ, Reuters and AAP

They're a good bunch at Wakatipu, sorry to hear that this has happened.

On Track
6th Dec 2003, 06:52
Being a Wakatipu Aero Club member and having flown through that valley a number of times, I am saddened by this news.

I would be grateful if anyone who has any more details could post them here in due course.

My thoughts are with all the club staff and members.

On Track
6th Dec 2003, 12:36
Since my last post, I have found out what I didn't really want to know (from the New Zealand Herald website).

The deceased person is flying instructor, Neil Turner.

I had the pleasure of flying with Neil on four occasions earlier this year - including my first flights through Milford Sound and around Mount Aspiring.

On my last flight with him we called in to Wanaka for a quick look at the museum before returning to Queenstown, where he also organised a visit to the control tower.

Neil was a fine young man, and I can imagine the shock that you must be feeling across the Tasman.

Neil did me the honour of taking some photos for me while I was flying in that amazing part of the world.

I will now treasure them all the more.

I don't know the student who was on yesterday's flight, but my thoughts are with him too.

8th Dec 2003, 12:09
My condolences to the family, friends and Wakatipu Aero Club, that mountain flying course is a popular option for all of us here at IAANZ so this news has come as a great shock. All the best for a full recovery Andy, we hope to hear you on the airwaves again soon.

Kaiapoi survivor of crash recovering
08 December 2003

The Kaiapoi father of two, Andrew Glen Wilce, who survived a light plane crash near Queenstown is in a serious but stable condition in Dunedin Hospital after shoulder surgery.
Mr Wilce, 32, who had recently completed his commercial pilot's licence, was having a mountain flying lesson with Wakatipu Aero Club instructor Neil Turner, 28, when their Cessna 172 crashed in rugged mountain terrain 12km from Queenstown, late on Friday afternoon.
Friday's flight was Mr Wilce's fifth training session in Queenstown.
Mr Wilce's mother-in-law, who did not want to be named, told The Press her son-in-law had shoulder surgery and was due to have back surgery tomorrow.
Her daughter, Susan, was at her husband's bedside at Dunedin Hospital last night.
Asked if Mr Wilce would make a full recovery she said: "We hope so, we are just so grateful he is alive."
She expressed her sadness at Mr Turner's death.
Wakatipu Aero Club manager Carlton Campbell said staff and members were "absolutely devastated".
Members of the Queenstown Airport-based club had been at a Christmas barbecue when they heard Mr Turner had been killed.
Mr Campbell said the two pilots had taken advantage of an approaching weather front to train.
Training in "pre-front weather conditions was an important component of mountain training," Mr Campbell said.
Pilots were taught to guide the plane to minimise discomfort and the difficulties of turbulent air.
Mr Turner came to the club two years ago from his home town of Paraparaumu to extend his alpine aviation skills and stayed on to work as an instructor. "He was very neat, meticulous, cautious, quiet, friendly, and gentle," Mr Campbell said. "He was one of those over-all good people."
Tragedy could stop those left behind from talking about the negative sides to a person's personality, but there was nothing about Mr Turner to leave out. Respected as a pilot, Mr Turner was no cowboy, Mr Campbell said.
"He was not a person to take risks with anything like this," he said.
"That is why the eventuality is quite bewildering he is not someone you would expect to be in these circumstances."
A memorial service for Mr Turner will be held in Queenstown today.
A helicopter and two other small planes had searched along the plane's likely route in the mountainous region east of Lake Wakatipu. The wreckage was spotted about 7.35pm.
A rescue helicopter battled strong winds and poor visibility to lift Mr Wilce off the mountain and rush him to Dunedin Hospital.
The cause of the crash is unknown.
Civil Aviation Authority safety investigator Tom McCready said a mechanical defect was unlikely to have caused the crash.
Mr McCready and a small team that included two local pilots spent more than 12 hours closely examining the wrecked plane and the crash site.
"The aircraft was tidy and very well maintained," he said.
Mr McCready said it appeared the plane had hit a jagged piece of land or rock before "sort of half flying and bouncing" sharply down into a stand of trees.
Mr Wilce was saved because the wing on his side had broken off, tearing one side off the fuselage and allowing him to be thrown clear.
"There were lots of us there today saying he's just lucky ... It could have been a double fatality," he said.
The plane was equipped with dual controls which allows either the instructor or student to fly.
The plane will be lifted out later today and interviews will be conducted over the next few days.
Mr Wilce will be interviewed when he had sufficiently recovered, Mr McCready said.

8th Dec 2003, 18:31
Seems an awfully courageous and obviously risky policy to deliberately charge into heavy frontal weather just for practice.

There is a limit to realism and I am surprised that the operator would authorise such a dangerous practice.