A lucky pilot of a privately owned single seater microlight walked away unharmed after his engine failed above Motueka.
Bernrd Kudrass was approaching Motueka Aerodrome about 10.30am yesterday to land when his single engine failed at the end of a 45-minute training flight. Doubting he could make it to the aerodrome and seeing houses below him, he aimed for a nearby paddock.
When he realised he was going too fast to set the plane down there, he picked another paddock surrounded by houses and managed to turn the aircraft 180 degrees to aim for it.
"The engine stopped when I was in the approach to land and in order to avoid crashing into an area with no chance to make an emergency landing, I decided to do it in the paddock," Mr Kudrass said.
He brought the plane down over a shelter break of trees, clipping the tops and snapping a few branches, which were scattered in the paddock.
The plane bounced twice and came to rest with its nose down in the paddock, said Sergeant Grant Heney, of Motueka.
The paddock is bordered by houses which are across Grey St from Motueka High School.
He said his left wing and horizontal stabiliser were damaged by the trees but the rear elevator was undamaged and he was able to glide a little to touch down safely.
He said he was too focused on trying to get down safely to have time to be scared.
"I was relatively cool; I was concentrating on making the best of it," he said of his ordeal.
Mr Kudrass, an engineer from Orinoco, near the Motueka Valley, has been flying for three years and has owned the microlight for two years. He said he did not know why the engine had failed. He said he had enough fuel and oil and the ignition was working.
He said he was very thankful to the staff of the emergency services who responded quickly as well as people from the aerodrome who "popped up immediately and looked after me".
Joelle Dadson saw the plane bouncing in the paddock out of the corner of her eye from a back bedroom of her Grey St house and said had the plane not been bright yellow, she doubted she would have seen it.
"Am I really seeing what I'm seeing?" she wondered.
The forced landing has been referred to the Civil Aviation Authority for follow-up.
- © Fairfax NZ News
What do you think about the planned 'boulevard' development for Rocks Rd ?Related story: (See story)