Lucky escape for Nelson pilots

TRACY NEAL
Last updated 16:47 29/06/2013
Nelson plane

SAFELY DOWN: Checking out the damage to the plane after it crashed at Lake Station.

Nelson plane
DAMAGED: The plane's undercarriage was destroyed in the crash.

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Two Nelson pilots were left ''astonished'' but unharmed after their light aircraft crashed during takeoff at an event at Lake Station, St Arnaud near Nelson on Saturday.

Student pilot Peter Willis and co-pilot Ken Millward were taking part in a Nelson Aero Club event at the alpine airstrip when the engine failed on their microlight aircraft as it was climbing out of a low level pass.

The engine on the Coyote II completely failed at about 750 feet at which point Mr Millward took control of the aircraft and turned it back to airstrip, but noticed another light plane had taken off.

He chose to land the aircraft in the best available space but was faced with a crosswind and their plane crashed.  

The impact completely destroyed the undercarriage.

Witnesses saw the place ''bounce'' heavily after it hit the ground then bury its nose as the undercarriage broke.

Club members have hailed the pilot's skills in preventing a worse accident.

''We're both astonished but we just have to deal with ,'' said Mr Millward who issued two mayday calls as events unfolded.

''I said a few choice words when I saw the other plane was taking off.''

Light air craft from around the country have gathered at Lake Station for the aero club's annual Brass Monkey fly in.

It is the 24th year the event has been held, club vice president Kevin Allport said.

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- The Nelson Mail

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