wished to search and not long before we were due to beach we noticed some white objects up on the side of the mountain that appeared to be man-made objects. We beached the boat there and climbed up 400 feet, only to find the
objects were just white rocks.
We continued on and searched up the northern valley at the base of the mountain in the hope that something had washed down after all these years.
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The Martins Bay whitebaiter’s airstrip is in the murk at the top of this photograph.
The next morning, the weather was much clearer so we flew down again and this time landed with no problems.
We launched the 8 foot inflatable boat that we had with us, and chugged up the river at only about 1 to 2 knots fighting against the flow.
After roughly 4 hours, we
eventually made it to the base of the mountain we
24th January 2011, A person who we will call ‘Fred’ as he wishes to remain anonymous ,and a companion were dropped off on top of Skippers Range in probably the same place I was, a couple of years ago. They climbed down to the plateau shown on the photo and did a search but couldn’t find anything. They then proceeded down to the bottom of the mountain to the pre-determined spot and were picked up by Doug Maxwell, the helicopter pilot. On return home, Fred sent me their GPS tracks and unfortunately they had searched the same area I had previously searched! However, their descent down the mountain was on a completely different track to what I took, which was very important as one theory I have is that maybe ZK-BMP was blown across the top of the tree canopy in one of the horrendous winds that they get down there, and ended up further down the side of the mountain.
On the 3rd February 2011, Les O’Shea and I set off in my Maranda homebuilt aeroplane for the South Island and after staying at Mike and Sharyn’s place in Christchurch for the night, we flew down to the homebuilder’s Flyin at Ashburton.
We pitched the tent in the camping site there only to find out later that the tent next to ours was none other than Paul Beauchamp Legg himself!
I thought to ask Paul as to who he reported the sighting of the aeroplane in the bush to in 1980, and he said it was reported to Air Department (now CAA).
I’m presently making enquiries to see if there is any files still in existence of this sighting in an attempt to find out what went wrong. If the eye witness had been interviewed at the time, then I doubt whether we would still be needing to look for this long overdue aircraft and it’s occupants!
Sunday late morning, the wind built up to the point that there were the odd dust storm across the runways, so we only flew down to Russell and Lynda Brodie’s airstrip at Rangitata Island - about ½ an hours flight in the very hot (40 odd degrees celsius) strong NW winds. Fortunately the wind was straight down his strip and much less of it on the ground than there was up top.
We stayed there two days waiting for the weather to come right to cross the mountain ranges.
On Thursday the 10th, we finally managed to get down the coast (at low level due to the cloud base) only to get around the southern point of Big Bay to find it was raining in Martins Bay.
I flew down the strip several times trying to evaluate if it was safe to land there but eventually decided to return to Haast as it appeared in the reduced visibility that there were high trees at the end of the strip that we could run into if we needed to go around.