'Hero' pilot admits flying unsafe planes

ROUGH END:  The Britten Norman Islander aircraft, piloted by Paul Ensor, which crash landed on mud flats in Tauranga last December.
ROUGH END: The Britten Norman Islander aircraft, piloted by Paul Ensor, which crash landed on mud flats in Tauranga last December.

A Tauranga pilot has admitted risking the lives of his passengers by flying on several occasions when his plane was not permitted to fly by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Paul Ensor, 40, owner of Island Air Charters in Mt Maunganui, crash landed his plane in Te Puna estuary at Omokoroa near Tauranga last December.

He escaped injury and was initially hailed a hero, but the next day the CAA grounded the airline and Ensor amid allegations of unauthorised maintenance and previous forced landings.

LIFT-OFF: The Britten Norman Islander aircraft, weighing 2.3 tonnes, being airlifted off mud flats after it crash landed in Tauranga last December.
LIFT-OFF: The Britten Norman Islander aircraft, weighing 2.3 tonnes, being airlifted off mud flats after it crash landed in Tauranga last December.

Ensor faced 15 breaches of CAA regulations and had planned to defend the charges next week, but in Tauranga District Court his week he changed his pleas.

Ensor admitted seven charges and eight others were withdrawn.

He will be sentenced on November 14.

RECOVERY MISSION: A Mill 8 Russian helicopter  lifting the 2.3 tonne aircraft off the mud flats.
RECOVERY MISSION: A Mill 8 Russian helicopter lifting the 2.3 tonne aircraft off the mud flats.

- NZPA