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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On the 19th February 2010, six of us set out for the second ground search via helicopter (thanks again to James Scott) into Jacobs River to search for  ZK-AFB.

 

This was the fourth time that I had been into this site although only the second time that I had been on the ground at the actual site.

 

The first time we attempted to get in was by walking, but after 8 ½ hrs of grueling tramping with heavy packs on our backs we gave up as we estimated that there was still several hours of tramping to get to the site. With me on this first attempt was Peter Small, Mike Small and Jeffrey Rodgers.

 

The second time was in a Hiller FH1100 helicopter with the pilot/owner Phil Sowersby and Peter Walsh. On this occasion we hovered over the site but couldn’t see anything of importance.

 

On the third time I was dropped off by James Scott of Alpine Adventures in his Hughes 500 helicopter and I spent two days searching the area.

As previously mentioned, the area in the most likely spot was very steep and the whole area was covered in waist-high ferns. Ferns unfortunately shed there branches as they grow. These branches rot away on the ground and slowly bury everything.  In the damp, cold conditions in there, that the only thing that would most likely be left of a wooden aeroplane after all these years would probably only be the motors.

 

 

On this search, the intention was to search the area with a team of people, and with a trained sniffer dog that specialized in finding unusual things like leather.

Unfortunately the availability of the sniffer dog did not happen, so we tried to cover the area as best we could between the six of us. (Clive and Michelle Jenkins, Peter and Mike Small, Alec Doig and myself)

The biggest problem was that the river rapids were very noisy and along with the denseness of the bush, we very quickly lost track of each other as we were unable to be heard when calling out, which made any attempt of doing a grid search virtually impossible.

We did manage to stay most of the time in pairs and each pair had one person with a slasher to get through the under-growth. By the end of the three days you did not have to go very far before you came across a “slashed” track so it became obvious that we had covered a lot of the area fairly thoroughly.

All I can say from this search is that if there was still a complete fuselage remaining, then we would have found it, as it would have been visible above the height of the under-growth.

Read on....

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