If you have a look at where the compass arrow is pointing to north and you will note that the track to Lake Quill is a little south of west. In my “North Island mindset”, if I was in the same situation as Cam, then I would have also thought that this would have been the direction to Lake Ronald as I would have considered that Milford Sound ran east/west. Had Cam zoomed the screen out some more, then he would have immediately seen that it wasn’t the right lake, but due to the extreme pressure he would have been under just trying to concentrate on keeping the helicopter under control, he would have easily overlooked this.
One thing that always puzzled me was that if you have Lake Ronald on the screen, seeing as the coastline is also shown and fairly close to Lake Ronald, then why didn’t he just fly out to the Coast over the sea - as the sea is always guaranteed to be the lowest point! **
This can be explained quite simply in that Cam had a mindset in that he knew that he could safely descend from around 6500ft about three miles before he got to the lake, to 3000ft, as the highest point in that area is 2552ft (as shown on the map) and then he should have been clear of the cloud as the Tower said the cloud base was “generally around about 4000ft”, hence he had no reason to look further out, as he thought he had the right lake.
The helicopter was not heard in Milford even though there were people listening out expecting to hear it passing overhead, so this means that Cam did not stay on the 272 heading for long. Based on this, we can then presume that he tracked onto the lake heading reasonably soon after his last transmission. Hence we can depict a triangular area that he would have ended up in, and as previously discussed, this most likely crash area would be in the 3 mile descent area at the point of the resulting triangle. The green line shown on the map above is the track he should have been on, and the red lines show the area that he inadvertently took and that can be backed up by the guide hearing the crash.
On the next page you will see a Google Earth image of the Lake Quill area showing where I believe the wreckage will be found. Unfortunately I believe all that will be found is lots of small debris as they would have gone in at high speed.
**Milford Tower also tried to point this out to him after his last transmission, but I believe Cam was probably out of radio contact with them by then. Technically, Cam should not have been able to contact Milford from the location he was in as there is normally no radio coverage in that area, but there is a phenomena known as “Ducting” with VHF in certain conditions, and you can read about this in more detail in my book, or simply do a Google Search of “VHF Ducting” on the Internet.
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