Pair unscathed after Auckland helicopter crash
SARAH HARVEY AND AMY MAAS
A pilot and passenger rescued unharmed after their helicopter crashed in Auckland's harbour today think it may be a good idea to pick up a Lotto ticket on the way home.
Peter Maloney and crew member Nina Heatley said they were shaken following the crash at 11.17am.
The pair had taken the helicopter - the first carbon fibre one of its kind - out over the East Coast Bays along the water to take aerial photography when the helicopter lost power.
"As we were flying I did observe a turbine warning light and then heard an audible warning and then I declared a mayday and made an emergency auto rotation," he said.
Maloney said he and Heatley were in the water for three to five minutes before being rescued.
"We are both able to swim. At first we floated with the aircraft and as it began to sink we moved away so nothing could get snagged," he said.
The helicopter was designed and built by Maloney's company Composite Helicopters Ltd.
It was due to be promoted at an air show in Russia next week.
FEARED THE WORST
A paramedic described the moment he saw the helicopter crash into the Waitemata Harbour, saying he feared the worst and can't believe the two occupants walked away uninjured.
Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter chief paramedic Barry Watkin said he, along with others, was involved in training at the rescue helicopter base at Mechanics Bay, on Auckland's waterfront, when he looked up to see an "almighty splash" and a helicopter disappearing into the water.
He immediately feared the worst so the crew grabbed their gear and headed out in the rescue helicopter.
Watkin went with the harbour master and said by the time they reached the site, Maloney and Heatley had been rescued by the navy.
Watkin assessed the pair to see whether they were ok.
"The navy had dried them off and given them clothes to wear and they were perfectly capable of walking and actually, uninjured.
"They had got themselves out within seconds of going into the water.
"They were quite low level. He said it pitched onto its side broke the props off and both of them got out quite easily, due to their underwater escape training.
"They popped out of the water just as the navy boat came round the corner and asked them if they would like a lift."
He said there had been a backup helicopter with rescue gear on board monitoring the flight.