Air force's air drop goes AWOL

19:29, May 22 2014
Military exercise near Hastings
HEAVENS ABOVE: The air drop begins as part of a major military exercise near Hastings on Thursday.

An air drop designed to showcase the skills of the Royal New Zealand Air Force went awry when five huge pallets overshot their target and landed in a vineyard, narrowly missing a car and a workers' shed.

The plan was for a Hercules C130 to drop a supply load at a military rifle range outside Hastings yesterday.

But the loads, which included diesel and army rations, overshot their mark by more than 100 metres.

Air drop
OFF TARGET: Soldiers remove parachutes from a Hawke's Bay vineyard after the supply drop overshot its target.

One of the pallets landed two metres short of a silver Subaru in the Trinity Hill vineyard, while another just missed a machinery shed, used by workers for smoko breaks.

Military staff were left to untangle a mess of chutes and cords draped over the vines. The only casualties were a couple of vineyard posts.

Trinity Hill chief executive Michael Henley, who is in China, said there were vineyard workers in the area, and he was relieved no-one was hurt.

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"Our vineyard manager's not too happy, but everyone is OK. At the end of the day, we are next to a military area and these things happen."

He planned to approach the Defence Force to pay for any damage.

A Defence Force spokeswoman said the incident would be investigated. Air drops were a difficult challenge for crews, she said. "It takes some skill."

The month-long joint military exercise, codenamed Exercise Alam Halfa, has involved the New Zealand Army and Royal New Zealand Air Force, as well as the United States Army and Marine Corps. It will wrap up on Sunday.

The Dominion Post