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Gavin Grimmer
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It seems that everyone that I talk to that live in the Ross/Lake Kaniere area that was home that afternoon on that day, all heard this plane flying over, and they all remembered it because they did not consider it flying weather. Once again, this does not mean that it was not flyable.

This photo, taken many years ago by Paul Legg, illustrates exactly why.....

To the people living under this cloud in the valley, it seems that the weather was unsuitable for flying, whereas to the pilot above this cloud, it is a beautiful day. I don’t for one minute think that the conditions Ryan was flying in when he was in the Ross/Kaniere area was like this, as there would have been a lot of high vertical developed cloud around - hence the hail.

From Ross, going by these observations, we know that he would have flown something similar to this course, obviously (to me) checking out the availability of the entrances to Whitcombe Pass, the Styx and Arahua Valleys (to the Browning Pass), and  the possibility of getting up the Otira Highway to Arthurs Pass.
It is where he went from here that had me puzzled for a long time.
Chris Rudge in “MISSING” recorded that a couple of trampers had seen red wreckage in the Styx River on Boxing day 1997, but it was not until 10 January that it was searched for - and nothing was found.
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