Light plane makes emergency landing
Two Muriwai women playing a quick round of golf ducked and ran away when a light plane made an emergency landing at Muriwai Golf Course on Monday night.
Friends Maxine Barrett and Helen Bowen had teed off on the third hole when they saw the lights of an aircraft heading straight towards them about 5.30pm.
The plane flew over their heads just clearing powerlines.
"The lines were probably not even 30 metres above," Barrett said.
"It was just coming over the driving range and the hole that we were playing.
"We ducked then I said, ‘let's run to the left'!"
The plane landed safely 400 metres behind them after it ran out of fuel.
"It was just totally bizarre," keen golfer Barrett said.
"I don't think they've ever had something like that on the golf course."
The two male passengers were flying from Woodburn in the South Island to the North Shore airfield in Auckland when the engine faltered after a suspected fuel blockage.
They considered landing at Muriwai Beach but it was full tide so they chose the golf green and came to rest in the middle of the sixth fairway.
Residents reported hearing the plane spluttering near Muriwai minutes before the emergency landing on the sand based course.
Barrett said the engine had cut out and she did not hear the plane's approach.
"I was too busy concentrating on my game of golf."
The women had spent their afternoon off boogie boarding at the beach before a spur of the moment decision to have a quick practice.
Golfing newcomer Bowen looked up, saw the low-flying plane and warned her friend.
"A bizarre bird comes in to visit Muriwai," Barrett said.
Barrett, an Ironman title holder, ran to the aircraft to check on the passengers.
Both men escaped unscathed.
"At the time you don't think of the danger running towards a plane that has just crash landed," Barrett said.
"The main thing is that the guys were OK.
"When we got to the plane another guy came running from the beach huffing and puffing.
"He'd seen the plane coughing and spluttering."
Emergency crews including three fire appliances rushed to the accident site.
It was nearly dark so there were only a few keen golfers left.
The pilot was lucky he did not have to land a day earlier when the club hosted a major golf tournament, Barrett said.
"That scenario is a bit scary because there would have been too many people around and no room for him.
"There would have been people on every hole on every fairway."
Barrett said the sand-based course drains well and would have provided a smooth surface for the stricken plane.
"It was an A grade landing."
Muriwai Golf Club general manager Ray Barnett said the men went home with police that night and returned on Tuesday morning armed with cans of fuel.
"I cleared the course of people and we refuelled the plane."
It took off safely from the fairway. One man flew and the other drove to lighten the load because of low fuel, Barnett said.