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!
of drift wood to enable him to get the fuel in, or as Chris Lind put in an email, “ easy to accomplish by placing a fuel container up on the rear of the engine cowling and then shinnying up the rear fuse of a tail dragger (if in desperate straits)”. I am told however, that it is possible to lift a 20 litre fuel container up onto the wing and pour it in if it is the type that has an attachable flexible pourer nozzle. Whether that type was available in 1997, I’m not sure?
Going by the calculated figures on the previous pages, I’d estimate Ryan had less than ½ hour of reserve fuel left at Franz Josef, and so just enough to make Ross if he was prepared to risk the motor stopping!
I checked with Air Safaris and they tell me that in 1997 they had only their own fuel on the field and a generator was needed to be started to obtain it. They say there is no way he could have got fuel, but there was a step ladder there. It wasn’t until 1998 that Mobil (- or BP?) installed an Avgas Pump there.
Whether he landed on the beach, or at Franz Josef, really is immaterial as all we need to know is that he was able to refuel. The question is - how much fuel did he manage to get into the tanks?
We know that he must have had between 60 to 80 litres in the 20 litre containers onboard, and unless he had a syphon hose, or the flexible pourer nozzle, he may have spilt some of it.
We also now know that he may have had enough fuel to get to Ross - but no further, so any further flight would have been using this 60 to 80 litres of fuel - so hence he had at least another hour of fuel endurance once he got to Ross.
I am told that Ryan was very fond and proud of the privilege of being able to fly ZK-FMQ, and so was known to really look after her. He had only had her back for a week as he had a bird strike on the 25th September which badly damaged a wing and the wing needed to be removed to be repaired. He was also very proud that he had almost achieved a record of going a whole whitebait season of always getting through to West Melton to deliver the whitebait on time (and the supplies back to Waitoto afterwards), - the first time anyone had achieved this, and this being his final trip for the season - would confirm this. This may have had a bearing on why he didn’t stay put to wait for the front to pass.
A heavy hail storm could have done damage to an aluminum aircraft left exposed to the elements and he may have been trying to avoid this at all costs.
I could be wrong, but I can’t think of any hangers (shelter) available up that coast, apart from at Franz Josef, but Air Safaris did no flying that day, so there probably was no room anyway as their planes could have been there?
At this point, I will reiterate what I published on 20/05/2010 on the first page of this web page subject:
The second conclusion is that he was not intending to land at any point further up from Ross due to the following reasons:
Hokitika was experiencing the odd shower coming through at about the time Ryan was in the area, and also at about that time, a twin-engined light aeroplane was observed from an observer in Hokitika coming in from the east - heading up to Greymouth at about 3000 ft. Although showers and wind are not pleasant conditions to fly in, it would still not make it too difficult to land and Hokitika was quite landable at the time, especially for a pilot with Ryan’s experience. If Ryan was as experienced as they claim he was, he would not have travelled inland looking for a place to land, but would have stayed on the Coast and landed in Hokitika.
He was observed flying north at the mouth of the Styx River, flew to about five miles north of Lake Kaniere, turned around and flew south again. This to me means that he was checking to see if the valleys were clear enough to get up to the Browning Saddle, as five miles north of Lake Kaniere would have put Ryan in a position to see if it was clear enough to get down the Arahura Valley, which it apparently was not as he headed south again. The Arahura and the Styx Valleys are the two Valleys that head up to the Browning Pass.
He was then observed flying south on the eastern side of Lake Kaniere, but was not observed on this southerly course by any of the many people who originally observed it heading north at the mouth of the Styx.
This could only mean that he cut around the corner into the Styx Valley, and on this basis I believe, going by the information I have, that he will be found somewhere between that point and the Browning Pass.
Quoting from Chris Rudge’s book “MISSING”: “Ryan was familiar with the area to the south-east of Hokitika, as he had often flown through the Browning and Whitcombe Passes”
I now believe Ryan was intending to fly back across the ranges to West Melton..
Apart from believing that he will be found somewhere between Lake Kaniere and the Browning Pass, and that his destination was West Melton, I still stand by the rest of this theory as I have found no evidence to suggest otherwise. The point where he turned and headed south again, also would have enabled him to see if the Otira Highway was clear.