A pilot who was the first to spot the small plane crashed near Hastings killing two has described finding the wreckage nose-down in a remote river.
Pilot Jeremy Bruce of the Lowe Corporation rescue helicopter flew to the scene of the crash this morning after the downed Tomahawk's emergency locator signal alerted rescuers to its position.
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Mr Bruce said he spotted the plane nose-down with its tail sticking out of a deep channel. It was difficult to reach as it crashed in a section of braided river streams about 400m wide.
However he managed to hover the helicopter about 10 metres from the scene and the onboard paramedics confirmed the two aboard the plane, which was largely still in one piece, were dead.
Where the plane had come down near Maraekakaho was a desgnated low-flying area used for training, he confirmed.
Mr Bruce said today's crash was another blow only days after the death of Donald Carlton Kain, 53, in a helicopter crash in Gisborne on Thursday. Mr Bruce knew the pilot who was hospitalised after the chopper crash and said it was heartbreaking to see today's wreck.
"I guess it hits home that it's a risky business."
Sombre-looking club members stood around the Bridge Pa aerodrome this afternoon and the car-park quickly filled up as news spread through the club community.
Members remained tight-lipped saying they did not want to talk about the incident.
The Civil Aviation Authority has been notified and is on its way.
Police said the victims found in the crashed plane thought to have been owned by the Bridge Pa Aero Club were yet to be identified.
The crash scene is difficult to access, and police say the Civil Aviation Authority remains at the scene this afternoon investigating the wreckage, which is currently sitting in about 1 metre of water.
Police had an idea of who the deceased pair were but said as formal identification was still underway family had not yet been notified, Eastern District police communications Kris McGehan said.
EYE WITNESS TO THE CRASH
An eye witness has described watching a small plane in Hastings this morning appear to stall in a mid-air climb then nose dive with a "bang" in a devastating impact that killed two this morning.
Matapiro resident Alison Arthur was outdoors feeding horses
"It was a little, tiny plane and it made a strange noise and it rolled a little bit too I think about a 45 degree angle in the water's direction as it was going up, then it nose-dived I heard this 'bang' and that was it. It was all gone."
The noise of the impact was so loud it spooked the four horses she was feeding and one bolted, clearing a fence, Ms Arthur said.
She stood in shock unable to see where the plane had landed as she was on low-laying land shielded from the river by trees.
Ms Arthur said she did not know until she saw the news that it was a fatal crash.
"It was a bit spooky," she said.
- The Dominion Post
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