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In an email conversation with another “missing aircraft” enthusiast, David Peters, we came up with this scenario:

GG: You have got me thinking when you said in your email>

DP: “I just had a thought, Ned may have turned into wind at the last minute to land, especially as he had a tailwind heading back toward the lake.”

GG: I think you may well be right, as for Ned things would have been moving pretty fast...too fast to think clearly!  I don't know if you've ever had a forced landing? I've had five!...and believe me, things happen pretty fast. Trying to make the best decision - especially with 6 other lives on board that you are responsible for - would put a lot of pressure on a person.

It's very possible that after he flew back over Jenny and their house, that he made the decision to attempt the beach, and with the strong northerly wind blowing, it would have been very difficult at such a low altitude to successfully make that turn.

I don't know if you have ever experienced a turn into strong wind at low altitude?

Due to the 'skidding' illusion created when watching the ground when making the turn, the tendency is to want to turn tighter to compensate for the 'skid, and of course you then increase your angle of bank and your stall speed goes up. A very well known pilot died as a result of this a few years back, and this has also caught a lot of high hour'd pilots out (which I'm told he was also).

I experienced this turning onto base coming into Rangitata Island airstrip a couple of years ago (40 to 50 knot wind!), but being aware of the problem, I was careful to keep an eye on my airspeed. Even then, it was still a very strange feeling and it took a lot of convincing my brain not to pull back on the stick as it felt like we were falling out of the sky!

I asked Jenny if she felt it was possible that Ned could have crashed fairly close to their house and she not heard it?, and she said it was very possible due to the wind noise and the surf on the beach.

 

Due to this conversation/scenario, on Sunday 17th, we searched the area behind and up the beach near to where Jenny Barratt saw the aircraft fly over, and on the following day searched the area up the Moeraki River in an area we thought most likely for him to try to ‘ditch in’.

LandSar’s GPS tracks 16 February 2013

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