Light plane crashes near Feilding

CHRIS HYDE AND KELSEY FLETCHER
Last updated 10:33 10/04/2014
Plane crash near Taonui Airfield, Manawatu
WARWICK SMITH/ Fairfax NZ

CRASH SITE: Two people were in the plane when it hit a digger and crashed near the airfield.

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LATEST: Investigators will today interview the people involved in a light aeroplane crash near Feilding which has left two people seriously injured.

The Cessna plane, believed to be a two-seater, was understood to have collided with a truck towing a digger on Taonui Rd about 5pm yesterday as it approached the Taonui Aerodrome runway to land.

The Cessna was on a Flight Training Manawatu flight.

"It was a high vehicle and they've just clipped it as they've come in to land," Flight Training Manawatu chief executive officer Michael Bryant said.

The pilot, a woman in her early 20s, was in a stable condition in a Palmerston North Hospital ward this morning.
The passenger, a man in his early 20s, was in intensive care in a serious but stable condition.

Neither of them had life-threatening injuries, police said.

Bryant said the instructor was flying the plane as it came in to land. The training school would be assisting with formal investigations as well as carrying out its own internal investigation, he said.

Taonui Rd was closed for several hours last night while emergency services conducted a scene examination of the wreckage, which remained in pieces in a creek across the road and crumpled on the runway.

Witness Bridgette Blumenthal was first on the scene after the plane clipped the digger and broke apart.

"I heard a horrific bang and everything went everywhere," she said. "I went running out there and saw half the plane here and half the plane there.

"It was horrendous, I can't believe it. And the bloke in the truck, I don't think he could believe what happened."
Blumenthal said a Higgins truck was transporting the digger past the airfield towards Campbell Rd when the cabin of the digger was clipped.

"There were two people in the plane," Blumenthal said. "I came and got blankets for them. The pilot was a woman who seemed OK and there was a man in shock."

CIB Detective Sergeant Ashley Gurney said it was understood that the plane clipped the digger while coming in to land.

"In daylight we can assess the damage to other vehicles that may have been involved because it appears there may have been more than one," he said.

The wreckage was secured overnight.

Gurney said the Civil Aviation Authority was aware of the incident and and an investigator was being sent up from Wellington in the morning.

"They will start a scene examination and, with police assistance, conduct witness interviews," he said.
The road was be reopened last night.

In 2010 Jessica Neeson and student pilot Patricia Smallman were killed when their plane was involved in a mid-air collision above Taonui Aerodrome.

The air space above it does not come under air-traffic control. Instead, pilots have to communicate with each other via radio.

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- The Manawatu Standard

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