Tell-tale sound warning of crash

Crash landing: The pilot of this single-engine aircraft was taken to Waikato Hospital with moderate injuries yesterday.
Crash landing: The pilot of this single-engine aircraft was taken to Waikato Hospital with moderate injuries yesterday.

An experienced pilot knew something was wrong when he heard a plane "coughing" and "spluttering" over his Cambridge house just minutes before it hit the ground and flipped in a nearby paddock yesterday.

Air New Zealand pilot Tony Paine, 47, has been flying for 30 years and a qualified instructor for 25, so when he heard the tell-tale sound of a single-engine aircraft in trouble he knew something was wrong.

"The aeroplane didn't sound well. I looked up and watched this thing, listening to the motor and I thought this doesn't sound like a normal exercise," he told the Waikato Times last night.

"It first sounded like it was a forced landing but then the engine would cough into life and splutter and I thought that this isn't right."

From his garden Mr Paine watched as the aeroplane, which seemed to be in trouble with mechanical issues at 800 to 1000 feet, flew off into the distance.

A short time later he noticed a Cessna 172 circling a short distance away and then saw emergency services heading towards the area and figured the plane had crashed.

It came to rest in a paddock at Windsor Park Stud, about 100 metres from Kaipaki Rd, about 4.20pm.

The pilot of the Crew Training Centre single-engine aircraft, understood to be in his 20s, managed to free himself from the upturned plane, but was taken to Waikato Hospital with moderate injuries.

Windsor Park Stud manager and part-owner Rodney Schick confirmed that all horses were safe at the stud farm and no property had been damaged.

Last night a tarpaulin was partially covering the upturned plane, which appeared to have slid about about 12 metres before coming to rest about 50 metres from a house.

A trail of debris could be seen along the ground where the plane had slid to a halt.

CTC acting managing director Julian So said an investigation was launched immediately and all single-engine training flights were suspended following the incident.

He said the aircraft experienced engine failure and emergency landing procedures were initiated by the pilot.

"Our top priority at the moment is the wellbeing of the pilot involved in this incident," he said.

All emergency services were called to the scene and Hamilton Fire senior station officer Alban Osborne said an aircraft technician was sent to the scene to cut power to the aircraft.

A recent Times investigation found that there were 11 aborted takeoffs and landings at Hamilton International Airport in the 12 months to May 1, eight of those by small aircraft which were on training flights.

Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) records also reported one near miss over Hamilton skies in the year to May 1.

The incident involved two small commercial aircraft on training flights.

Waikato Times