The following is the last communications that Campbell had with Milford Flight Service:
Tower: Roger that. Can I have an update on your position? Are you still on the Pass or are you tracking overhead now?
HNW: No, we’re still 9 miles out, umm, just in really thick fog, ahh, I’ll try again. Ah, 8,500 feet, ah, tracking off to… heading of 272 for the field.
Tower: Roger. So say again your present level?
HNW: Closer to eight six hundred feet….. turning onto 272
It is now obvious (wasn’t at the time) that the “9 miles out” was only an approximate position given as he was obviously under a lot of pressure trying to concentrate at the time, and you’ll note the “tracking off to (a) heading of 272 for the field.” This was a very strange statement as you don’t track to a heading....you turn onto a heading. This has been a bone of contention through out the whole investigation - this ‘tracking’ to a heading?
Between us all, there have been many hours spent pondering over what this could possibly mean?
Then Sunday morning (26 Nov. 2012), like a bolt of lightning, it occurred to me that we are all focusing on Milford in relation to a heading of 272, and so I quickly got onto Google Earth and extended this 272°T line to Milford backwards to see where it came from...and I was absolutely stunned to see that it went through dead center of Wanaka Aerodrome... where they were a couple of days previously!!!
This all then makes sense. Cam had programmed his GPS when he was in Wanaka, either on that visit, or the earlier visit a few days prior (On that occasion he also flew to Milford), to fly direct to Milford, which then gave him a track that could be easily bought up on the screen. Then all he would have to do was to follow this track into Milford to enable him to be directly overhead, an ideal position for a position report. ( Note below, that he said in his transmission that he intended to be overhead). Then it was only a matter of flying out to Lake Ronald (which is virtually on the coast ) as it could be ‘seen’ on the GPS, and descend there, as per what he says here:
HNW: Yep, um, umm, approach the field overhead, um, and makin’ a descent out the coast and descending on a lake, um, have GPS on board, so pretty good location of that.
Tower: OK, so understand you are going to track overhead and , ah, descend out on the coast and return up the Sound. Is that your plan?
HNW: Ah, negative, that was descend from the airfield out towards the coast, ah, just cos I’m coming from that direction.
Note that he wasn’t saying negative to “tracking overhead”, nor to “returning up the Sound.” It was only negative to the “descending out on the coast”. From these sorts of statements, you can tell that he was under a lot of pressure, as if he was relaxed, he would have explained himself better. From this you get the impression that his mind was elsewhere trying to concentrate on his flying and keep the helicopter stable.
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