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!
Gavin Grimmer
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Update  24 December 2020

 

I started this article in August 2020 and here I am still working on it in December! It’s been a very busy year....

Since my last article, we managed to eliminated the “Jimmy Clair Stroud sighting” as to just being MDX flying to the north of his position, giving the illusion that it was “going down” - an illusion caused as a plane flies towards the horizon and disappearing. Thanks to one of our team, we not only covered a lot of the ground on foot, but we covered hundreds of acres by use of his drone using a very high resolution camera being flown in grid patterns.  It’s not entirely a full proof method as there are often areas that the undergrowth is too dense to see down through, but an excellent way to cover a large area non-the-less. So where to from here?

As time has passed, more information has come forward... information that has been there all the time - just we (or at least I) had either not heard of it or not taken enough notice of it as it didn’t fit ‘the picture’.

Much of my previous report was based on a theory that MDX had engine problems, but from what I am about to tell you, this appears to not be the case. The “very noisy motor” can still be explained as Mike having slowed the plane down in the rough air to give more reaction time if an obstacle suddenly appeared out of the darkness in front of them, and to give a smoother ride! Part of this process is to fine the prop up and use a higher power setting to overcome the extra drag caused by the higher wing angle of attack – especially if some flap is extended to make it more controllable at the lower speed, and so hence the “noisy” motor.
 

This latest scenario has been based on reports with a common denominator... a low flying aeroplane, flying at a time in the dark when no-one with a choice would have been flying – of reports that are so bizarre that they showed signs of being unbelievable, and as such bring ridicule on the observers. But still they chose to speak out as they believed it to be the truth. On their own, many of these reports sound ridiculous, but collectively they tell a different story! As you will see, what I have done is collect these reports from various sources and just joined the dots together (so to speak!). One thing is certain, Cessna 210 VH-MDX cannot be physically at 5000 – 8500 ft, and flying at a low level at the same time!!!

 

To explain it all in detail would take possibly several books to explain it all and I am not prepared to do that. So I’m sorry, but I will just give an overview of what I now believe quite likely happened and will have to leave it to you the reader to do the research for yourselves.  Most of you can probably find what you need on the web somewhere if you put the time in.

 

As you will read, the story becomes more and more ‘wacky to the point of bizarre, but I think Mike Hutchins was as the saying goes, “Between a rock and a hard place!” He needed a runway equipped with runway lighting, but his options were very limited... if not reduced to zero!

 

Much of the following is often from memory as it would take me weeks to track down all the records and communications I have had over the last few years, so it will be up to you the reader to double check what I am saying, but if you bare with me, I’m sure you will find merit in what I am saying....
My previous system of recording information was mainly via email and the system I devised was easily collated so as to be able to find the info easily. Now-a-days, most people wish to communicate via Facebook Messenger and I find it rather difficult and extremely time consuming to find anything!

 

The first was of a sighting of a very low flying plane seen coming from the west (with landing lights on) by people driving north on Wootton Way (now Pacific Highway) towards Coolongolook. From just before Curreeki Creek it came across the road so low that the woman screamed believing it was low enough to hit a house, and from there it turned roughly south-east - as observed by her husband who had by then stopped the car as a result of this. The time of the sighting was around 8:00 pm. Next morning there was observed a fire roughly 3 1/2 miles SE of where they saw it. It is not known if this fire was checked out at the time, but the area has been thoroughly searched since then.

Another person (now deceased) observed a low flying plane come around the northern end of Cabbage Tree Mountain heading east and this tends to confirm the above sighting as being the same plane.

Why turn SE you might ask?
When the plane was observed at Weismantels by Donna Krane, she saw it turn and follow the road (Bucketts Way) for a short while.... and turning in the direction of SE after flying over Wootton Way (as per the report above) suggests following that road also, hence it is reasonable to presume the pilot was checking out the possibility of the road as a place to land... especially as they were at low level.

MDX pg 63

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