This Site is dedicated to all those families of the people that have tragically disappeared on flights in and around New Zealand. I only hope that from all the effort in building this site and from all the effort of those taking part in this venture, that it will bear fruit in bringing ‘closure’ to their memories!
Around about July 2007 my mother-in-law came across a book in a garage sale “TURBULENT YEARS – A COMMERCIAL PILOTS STORY” (by Brian Waugh – edited by Richard Waugh) and knowing that I was into aviation thought I might like to read it.
Every time I saw her after that she kept asking if I had read it yet and as I was too busy at the time, (and not really one that can sit down and read books) I had to keep making excuses.
I had booked in for the Aircraft Maintenance Approval Course (for Homebuilders) in Ashburton in October 2007 and ended up being down that way for a week (staying at Mike and Sharyn Fleming’s place) waiting for the weather to become fine enough to fly home again. I had fortunately packed the book in question so was able to read it while I was there.
Imagine my surprise when I read in it that Brian Waugh, (Richard Waugh’s father) a close friend of the missing Brian Chadwick, had flown over the Welcome Flat area in 1967, after a report of hunters seeing supposed aircraft wreckage, and although he never saw any wreckage, two of his male passengers approached him, after they had landed back in Hokitika, to ask him if he had seen the crashed aeroplane with one of the wings off!
When asked why they had never said anything at the time they replied,“that they didn’t want to alarm the female passengers!”
Brian Waugh contacted Search and Rescue and to his annoyance (because he thought that he would have been the obvious choice) they sent a Mount Cook Skiplane to investigate – needless to say, they found nothing and called the search off.
Brian later raised funds to fly in and conduct his own search but also found nothing.
I, like many other people, have been fascinated with using Google Earth, so I thought, “Maybe I might be able to find it using Google Earth” so I then spent many hours going over nearly every square inch of the Welcome Flat area, placing a marker on everything that looked out of the ordinary. I then found out where I could obtain a copy of Richard’s book “LOST…without trace?” and when it arrived I read it from cover to cover very intensively so as to be able to absorb every little detail in case that “little detail” may mean something very important in the future.
Once again, I used Google Earth in the 3D terrain mode to “fly” around all the areas that there were sightings of the Dragonfly on the day it went missing, and by using my own experiences of bad weather flying, managed to work out the most likely course that he had flown to see whether it was possible that he could have in fact made it to the area in question and to sum up my findings – yes, he could have!
Google Earth Image taken off satellite photo dated 16 January 2004
From there I went back to all the markers I had placed on the Google Earth overlay and examined each finding much more closely. You can only imagine my excitement when I observed that one of the objects actually looked like the shape of the right hand top wing and with a mangled shape that looked like a badly damaged bottom wing lying on top of it at right angles to it! Seeing as the two wings of a biplane are tied together with guy wires, then it would be reasonable to expect the two wings to remain together. On Google Earth there is also a tool that you can measure with and when I used this on the object the “top wing” measured about 19 feet – the length of the Dragonfly wing
From there I was so “hypo”, that I had a lot of trouble sleeping and spent many an hour behind the computer researching whatever I could.
On page 156 in “Lost…without Trace” there is a photo of a newspaper clip dated 27 Feb 1967 that says the wreckage that was seen was about the 4000ft level in the area of the Copeland River and on Google Earth the object is at 4861ft on the foothills of Mount Sefton, above the Copeland River.
On page 138 in “Turbulent Years” Brian Waugh records that a gold prospector, who reputedly had the “powers” to trace and pinpoint accident scenes by using an ancient whalebone, apparently pinpointed a