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!
Where the public got the idea that the Ryan arrived over the Wellington area several hours later (in the dark) had to be born out of the helplessness of the situation.
Using these timings and by putting one self in Hood and Moncreiff’s position, you can build a very interesting scenario:
Here you are, 100 miles away from facing a huge crowd, fighting off extreme fatigue, no doubt badly needing to use the “bathroom” and knowing that you will be unable to “go” for a while (due to the crowds waiting to greet you in Trentham). You are flying over a beautiful, secluded beach and once you have over-flown and left this beach area behind, there is possibly no further suitable secluded area that could provide you with this opportunity of a “comfort stop”. Would you (if you were in their position) not attempt to land there?
What I think happened, was that they attempted to land, but due to the extreme tiredness, the blind high nose attitude of the Ryan in the landing configuration, and with possible long shadows created by the surrounding hills, they either clipped a ridge or landed and couldn’t stop the machine before running over a bank.
Either way, I believe the aeroplane then caught fire and burnt.
This belief is born out of the rumoured report of a person whose first impression when he saw this apparent wreckage, was that it was the framework of an old windmill, and didn’t even consider that it was wreckage until he got closer and found that there were instruments in amongst the framework. Unfortunately, he then just thought that it was an old top-dressing aeroplane wreck and forgot about it for many years.
After reading more old newspaper articles, I then realized that in 1928, the construction methods of airplanes, was basically unknown by most people, and so anyone looking out for a crashed airplane expected to see much more. Even today, the majority of non-aviators are shocked to see that what appears to be a solid fuselage on my Maranda airplane, is just a a painted fabric material wrapped around a wooden skeleton. The Ryan’s fuselage was constructed basically from a steel tube skeleton frame wrapped in fabric. As far as I can tell, the wings and other flying surfaces on it were made of wood wrapped in fabric, and of course in a fire this would all burn away to nothing - especially when fueled with all the petrol that was still onboard!