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!
I can understand the way Father Crosbie was thinking when it came to the weather when he sought local knowledge from Ronald Hunter ( a pilot also and part of his statement above) and after being there myself and seeing the area, I would say that Ronald had given him good advice - and I'm sure Father Crosbie realised this.
I find it hard to believe that he would ignore Ron’s advice and attempt to fly into the Hollyford again (according to the common belief in the search records), seeing as he had tried that way earlier and found it to be blocked.
The simple answer is that he didn't! - Everyone just presumed that he had due to the two reports of a plane at Jamestown and Lake Alabaster.
Apart from these two reports, there is no reason to believe he did, in fact if you take these two reports away leaving only the report of him heading south past Long Reef Point (taking into account Ronald Hunter saying that Father Crosbie's intention was to make radio contact with Milford to obtain the weather), then I'm sure the search would have been concentrated further south.
From personal experience, you can only make contact with Milford when you are directly out from the mouth of the Sound – unless you are at a very high altitude.
Ronald Hunter advised Crosbie that he fly south (as the weather was clearing there) and try to get a weather forecast from Milford, but unfortunately Milford went off duty at 5.00pm - a few minutes before BMP would have been in VHF radio range, so we will never know if he did try to contact them, although I believe he would have.
The last sighting we know for sure, was when they disappeared from view heading south around Long Reef Point.
The safest thing to do was to either return to Big Bay, or land at Milford, but we know he was determined to get back to Riversdale.
Putting myself in the same situation, I would not go and land at Milford as there was even less chance of getting over the high mountain ranges to the east, due to the cloud base.
I would continue onto the low lying route across the divide - Wilmot Pass - the highest point being 2300 feet and only 73 n.miles away (33 minutes flight time from Milford Entrance).
If you got down to Wilmot Pass and found that the route was blocked by cloud, it would have taken 37 minutes to get back to Milford. (Note: These calculated times do not take into account head and tail winds, but they cancel each other out if the course is flown there and back
i.e. tailwind there, headwind back)
They would have flown about 11 minutes from Big Bay to Milford, 33 to Wilmot Pass, and 37 back to Milford = 1 hour 21 minutes, which meant they still would have had at least 1/2 hr of fuel endurance left (if he had the two hours of fuel he believed he had) so it would have made perfect sense to attempt to get through flying this course.....a far better option than trying another attempt at getting through the Hollyford.
To most people – especially non-flying people, it would seem ludicrous to even think of traveling that far off course just to get home, but what most people don’t realise is, because you are traveling so fast in an aeroplane, that the extra distance it would have taken Father Crosbie to fly this route is only a little over 50 n.miles, which sounds a lot but in reality it would only taken them an extra 24 minutes than going the normal route.