Mystery surrounds fatal plane crash at Matamata airport

Dominico Zapata Fairfax Media NZ

Morrinsville man John Shuttleworth died when his plane crashed at Matamata's airfield.

John Shuttleworth loved flying.

It was such a passion that he had a picture of the other love of his life, wife Nadia, emblazoned on the side of his scale-model warbird plane like a fighter pilot of yesteryear.

Mystery surrounds the cause of the crash that left the Morrinsville man dead at the controls of his three-quarter scale P-51 model in the grass of the Matamata Aerodrome runway on Tuesday and the aviation community mourning his loss.

The aircraft which crashed at the Matamata airstrip, killing the pilot, was a warbird scale model.
DOMINICO ZAPATA/FAIRFAX NZ

The aircraft which crashed at the Matamata airstrip, killing the pilot, was a warbird scale model.

Shuttleworth's friend Mike Crene, who builds similar aircraft at his aerodrome-based business, Kiwi Mustangs, arrived at the chaotic scene just after 11.30am.

The airport manager informed him the aircraft had crashed on takeoff, killing Shuttleworth.

Rescuers performed CPR on Shuttleworth but it was unsuccessful.

The aircraft lies on the airstrip where it came down.
DOMINICO ZAPATA/FAIRFAX NZ

The aircraft lies on the airstrip where it came down.

"I have lost a really good mate," Crene said.

Crene had known Shuttleworth, who regularly flew his homebuilt Mustang out of Matamata, for the last 10 years.

"He was always a very positive, enthusiastic guy – enthusiastic about aeroplanes and has been flying for years."

The crash happened shortly after 11am on Tuesday.
REXINE HAWES/FAIRFAX NZ

The crash happened shortly after 11am on Tuesday.

Mustangs were Shuttleworth's passion, Crene said, so much so he painted his aircraft in the same colours as the original No 3 Territorial Air Force Squadron he had seen flying overhead in his student days at Lincoln University in the 1950s.

Ad Feedback

In another nod to the famous WWII-era American fighter aircraft he loved, Shuttleworth named his plane Miss Dixon after his future wife, complete with a 1950s stencil of her.

Crene said Shuttleworth, an experienced pilot, had built the T-51D aircraft, produced by US-based Titan Aircraft, himself with help from an engineer.

Emergency services at the scene of a plane crash near Matamata.
REXINE HAWES/FAIRFAX NZ

Emergency services at the scene of a plane crash near Matamata.

"He loved his aeroplanes, loved flying and loved tinkering with aviation."

Before retiring, Shuttleworth had been a commercial pilot, helped teach trainees at flying school and flown gliders, since he was young.

He maintained his ties with the gliding world and was a member of the Piako Gliding Club.

Crene believed Shuttleworth was just up for a flight on the clear sunny day over the town bordering the Kaimai Ranges.

It was too early to say what exactly had unfolded in the aircraft, he said.

"I don't understand it. There's a whole bunch of things that could have gone on."

A medical event was a possibility, said Crene.

New Zealand Aviation chief executive and Morrinsville man Mitchell Coombe said Shuttleworth's death had shaken the community, which had lost a valued member.

"He built the aircraft in his hangar. He was an aeroplane man through and through.

"He's the sort of person you would stop and waste an hour talking absolute crap with and love it."

Many who used the airfield at Matamata were retired and very close, so the incident had hit really hard, Coombe said.

 - Stuff

Ad Feedback
special offers
Auckland

Horse rescued from crashed float

The "horrible" crash occurred on the southern motorway near Pukukohe.

Jaws of life were used to free a trapped horse after "horrible" accident south of Auckland.

Along came a little lump

Dylan Bowman, 21, wants to try motivational speaking, to share his story and his outlook on life.

It all started with a few clumsy stumbles in the kitchen. Now, chef Dylan Bowman has a "nasty tumour".

Truckie thrown from vehicle

Westpac Rescue Helicopter is airlifting the truckie to hospital.

Man seriously injured after crash near Wellsford in Northland shuts section of SH1.

$500k crashed super car driver charged

The rare and exclusive McLaren super car line is named after New Zealand motorsport legend Bruce McLaren.

His rare and exclusive super car flipped on an Auckland motorway.

Wellington

Gunner Billy's high-seas adventure

Cigarette-card portrait of World War I hero William 'Gunner Billy' Sanders.

The VC winner lived and died in a boy's own dream.

NZ seeks military craft

The Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol planes will replace a fleet of retiring P-3K planes.

Four airplanes from US would replace a retiring fleet of P-3K maritime patrols.

Woman hit by car dies

Churchill Dr, Crofton Downs, was closed for a while after the collision on Saturday morning.

Fatality in Gisborne while nasty crash in Wellington closes road temporarily.

Perils of duck hunting

Forty-one per cent of injuries associated with game-bird hunting occur during the opening weekend of duck hunting season.

Almost half of game bird hunting injuries happen during the opening weekend of the season.

Canterbury

Theatrical climate change march

The People's Climate Parade march towards the Avon River.

Key messages were expressed on stage in a "family-friendly" protest.

Small town Chinese garden scandal

The West Coast town of Kumara has a population of about 300.

Westland council allows tiny town's "nest egg" to be used for a garden many don't want.

Used office furniture glut hits Chch

Faced with four floors of surplus furniture to dispose of, Canterbury District Health Board services manager Pauline ...

Christchurch is the place for a bargain as tenants in new office buildings get rid of cast offs.

Deadly love triangle

Those on the outside described the McLeans as a "role model family".

Invercargill rocked to core after a love triangle turned fatal. Where did it all go wrong?

Waikato

Architectural wonders revealed

The new law and management building at Waikato University was designed by Opus Architecture.

A lot of well known Waikato and Bay of Plenty buildings - and spaces - have earned accolades.

It's our turn to fix this

A medical school backed by Waikato Hospital, pictured, and Waikato University  seeks to train GPs to fill a critical ...

OPINION: The old boys have failed to fix New Zealand's doctor shortage, now it's our turn.

Join the fight for our med school

Waikato University vice-chancellor Professor Neil Quigley and Waikato District Health Board chief executive Dr Nigel Murray.

A proposed medical school in the Waikato has the Government interested.

Ref raids accounts

050711 NEWS. Robert Charles/Taranaki Daily News. Cheque/ cheque book. Money. Bank.

Colleagues blew the whistle on referee who swiped $13K and a video camera.

Taranaki

Faith in the future

Taranaki Cathedral of St Mary's, Bishop Philip Richardson, centre, blesses Dean of St Mary's Very Reverend Peter Beck as ...

New Zealand's oldest church is being strengthened and it's about more than bricks and mortar.

Mystery is solved 

An unusual search and rescue mission was launched on Mt Taranaki, after a backpack was left behind at Holly Hut.

Backpack sparked search and rescue mission after being left behind in mountain hut.

Campbell Lane opens

South Taranaki District mayor Ross Dunlop officiated at the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

New development in Hawera gets the thumbs-up from residents.

To Hollywood by motorbike

Todd Holland's work appears on motorbikes in Hollywood movie Ghost in the Shell.

A small-town car painting shop has made it big, with its work featuring in Ghost in the Shell.

Manawatu

Tourism tips in the 1920s

Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles' wedding day.

Memory Lane: How to attract more tourists? The Standard had the answer 95 years ago.

13 reasons to watch

"13 Reasons Why" Star Gets A Tweet From Her Idol Lady Gaga!

Come on kids, time to watch controversial show dealing with suicide.

New act counters cyberbullying

The Harmful Digitial Communications Act was passed in July 2015.

Act helps as more than 20 people prosecuted for posting harmful content online.

NZDF civilians take strike action

Civilian employees of NZDF are on strike about pay.

Union accuses Defence Force of intimidation.

Nelson

Not a house, it's a croquet shelter

Athol Turner has a few home comforts at the Hinemoa Croquet Club shelter, including coffee and a biography of Alec Guiness.

As the Nelson City Council looks to implement a new law banning sleeping in the city we meet a man who has made a croquet club his home.

Housing crisis help?

David Barnes, right, with his son Samuel Barnes who needs medical care, pictured with the dwelling David built for him ...

A Nelson man built a home on his property for his mentally-ill son. Could this solve our housing issues?

Guilty of murder

Philip Quayle died after being attacked on a street in Cairns, Australia, about 100 metres from home.

A man who choked a Nelson man to death during a random street attack in Cairns has been found guilty of murder.

Taking a leaf out of the future video

Nelson Mail Journalist Tim O'Connell with the Nissan Leaf electric vehicle(EV) that the Nelson Mail has had on loan from ...

Tim O'Connell shares the thrills, trials and tribulations of driving an electric vehicle.

Marlborough

Ophthalmology waiting list halved

The ophthalmology service at Nelson Marlborough Health has been remodelled which has cut the waiting list for those ...

The health board has remodelled its ophthalmology service and cut the waiting list for those needing follow-up.

Pokies accused 'collateral damage'

The Department of Internal Affairs said Mike O'Brien was "unsuitable" to be involved in the pokie gambling business.

Inquiry into who was behind pokie machine operations was flawed, says lawyer.

Old dog with new tricks

Vincent the retired guide dog plays Sandy in the new production of Annie.

A retired guide dog is treading the boards as the furry star of Marlborough's newest musical.

It's the climb

Blenheim cyclist Andrew Bidwell, 16, is aiming for a podium finish at the upcoming Age Group Road National Championships ...

When another cyclist said he was going to make Andrew's race hell, he laughed it off and smashed the pack by five minutes.

South Canterbury

Parents remember 'talented' son

Rowan Yeager died following a crash near Lake Ohau on Anzac Day. This photo, supplied by friend Andrew Weatherall, shows ...

Man killed in crash near Lake Ohau was just a week off moving into house he built by hand.

Cleverley 'exonerated'

Former South Canterbury District Health Board chair Murray Cleverley has spoken out for the first time about his ...

Former SCDHB chair Murray Cleverley says decision to resign as chair was tough.

'We have got a lot of work to do'

SCDHB chief executive Nigel Trainor says the DHB is going try and improve low rates of HPV vaccination by providing more ...

SC has a 'poor' HPV vaccination rate, prompting the DHB to turn to social media.

Strong winds lash SC

Police were called to the scene of a camper van crash on Friday afternoon, thought to be caused by the wind.

Tourists escape with minor injuries after two campers blown off road south of Tekapo.

Southland

'They thought it was a dolphin' video

The French tourist arrives at Dunedin Hospital by helicopter after she was attacked by a shark while bodyboarding in ...

A French tourist who survived a shark attack wrenched its jaws from her legs, a local surfer says.

Deadly love triangle

Those on the outside described the McLeans as a "role model family".

A city's been rocked after a broken marriage ended in death. Where'd it all go wrong?

Ocean swimming 'sharks' territory'

Lydia Ward holds her wetsuit with tooth holes and the boogie board she used to fend off a 1.5m shark that bit her on the ...

A former shark attack victim has urged a tourist bitten by a shark to stay true to her passions - including ocean swimming.

Rugby's presidential change

Outgoing Rugby Southland president Donald Hay.

One Eastern Southland rugby stalwart goes, another one replaces him.

Ad Feedback