I’m a regular visitor to Great Barrier Island and yesterday afternoon booked tickets with Great Barrier Airlines for my next visit.
Then a few hours later, I see on the TV news that GBA had one of its planes crash after takeoff, and I get a degree of nervousness – especially just a few months after a propeller fell off another GBA plane. Now this may just be “bad luck” as I understand these are the first incidents for many many years – maybe even decades.
The Herald reports:
The 50-year-old was one of four passengers in the Piper Cherokee, which plunged into a swamp at the end of the Claris Airport runaway on Great Barrier Island about 1pm.
That swamp may have saved lives!
Great Barrier police officer Kylie Robbins – who is also an ambulance driver, volunteer firefighter and rescue-boat skipper – said she and a doctor and nurse from the Aotea Health medical centre waded through the waist-deep waters of the swamp to reach the trapped and injured passenger.
Heh that is very Barrier. The police officer quadruples as the ambulance driver, firefighter and rescue skipper!
She was taken to the island’s medical centre in Ms Robbins’ four-wheel-drive police car, which doubles as an ambulance.
And also leads the Christmas Parade every year!
The damage to the plane could be seen from the air, he said.
“It looked like a wing was buried or broken off. The other wing was sticking up.”
The craft seemed “fairly intact”.
“They are very lucky to have walked away from that. When I called up the hospital, they said [the patients] seemed only moderately injured.
The planes used are tiny. There is no centre aisle – you get in over the wings and even short arses like myself have our heads almost touching the roof when seated. Stuff which makes a crash more likely to be fatal.
Apart from the swamp, what may have saved them is they were taking off, so fell from a relatively low level.
Great Barrier Airlines deputy operation manager Mike Maguire said the plane “failed to sustain a climb after take-off due to unknown causes and descended into a swamp”.
There is speculation that a very strong wind gust tipped the plane onto its side. If that is correct (and there will be a full TAIC) investigation that concerns me even more than a mechanical failure. You can fix mechanical failures but you can’t fix the wind!Tags: Great Barrier Airlines, Great Barrier Island