Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Aeroprakt A-22 Foxbat, ZK-LFD, Auckland Flying School Limited: Accident occurred March 28, 2018 in Waihi, New Zealand

Veteran investigative journalist Rod Vaughan says a drone may have collided with the plane he was flying moments before he was forced to make a terrifying crash landing near Waihi on March 28, 2018.




Veteran investigative journalist Rod Vaughan in an ambulance after the crash.



Broadcaster Rod Vaughan says a drone may have collided with the plane he was flying moments before he was forced to make a terrifying crash landing near Waihi.

The veteran TV reporter, who lives in Katikati, told the Bay of Plenty Times he was taking his son Richard, who was visiting from Germany, on a flight over the Western Bay Wednesday afternoon.

They had set off from Thames about 2:30 PM in a small plane belonging to the Hauraki Aviation Club, of which he is a member.

They were travelling over Waihi about 3:10 PM when the windscreen of the plane "exploded", allowing a rush of air to enter the cockpit.

 "The wind coming through was so forceful that it blew my headset into the back of the plane, so I had no communications."

The strong wind travelling through the plane also smashed the side and back windows, and the noise inside the cockpit was incredibly loud.

"The only option was to get down as soon as possible," Vaughan said.

He spotted a field south of Waihi and attempted to make an emergency landing. He estimated the plane was travelling between 80 and 90kmh when it approached the field, clipping the top of a hedge. The plane landed hard, breaking the nose wheel before tipping over soon after impact.

"It all happened in about 30 seconds," Vaughan said.

Both Vaughan and his son were still strapped to their harnesses in the upside-down aircraft.

Blood was dripping down Vaughan's face from a large gash in his head; he was unable to release himself from the harness. His son managed to help him out of the plane and emergency services were alerted to the crash.

They were both taken by ambulance to Tauranga Hospital. His son had several bad contusions, and Vaughan was treated for the large gash he had sustained during the crash landing.

Although he did not see what caused the windscreen to shatter, he suspected it might have been a drone after discounting the possibility it could have been caused by a bird strike or a shot from a high-velocity rifle.

The most probable explanation is that it was a drone," he said.

Vaughan said there had been a lot of drone activity in the area and members of the Hauraki Aviation Club had expressed concern about possible collisions with aircraft.

 Vaughan, who has worked as an investigative reporter for television news and current affairs, said as far as he was aware it would be the first time a drone had caused a plane to crash if his suspicion proved correct.

Tighter rules needed to be in place regarding the use of drones, he said.

A CAA spokesperson confirmed they were investigating the crash, but would not discuss the possibility of a drone being involved.

"I'm aware of the speculation of the cause but we can't comment on that.

"One of our investigators is intending to talk to the pilot of the aircraft this afternoon to try and find out exactly what happened. He'll be talking to witnesses and others during this information-gathering stage.

"I can't say at this stage how long the investigation is expected to take."

Police have confirmed a Aeroprakt A-22 Foxbat crashed around 3:16 PM on March 28th near Ford Road, Waihi.

A spokesperson said two people sustained minor injuries, and that the investigation was now being run by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.nzherald.co.nz

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