In the above image, the sightings relating to these arrows is as follows:
Tapapakanga Beach - 1800 - Heading towards Orere Point - small white plane, possibly red stripe - 100’ to 200’
Orere Point - 1700 - Heading in direction of Ponui Island - possible yellow Cessna - below cliff height
Orere Point - 1730 - Heading in direction of Kawakawa Bay - white - very low, into shower cloud, lost sight
Orere Point - 1800 - Heading NW, parallel with beach - possibly red and white, not sure - very low, about 50’
Came out of Kawakawa Bay - 1755 - Heading to Wairoa River - Flying low - lost sight at Wairoa River
Fritzimmons Landing - 1755 - Heading to Clevedon - yellowish, small plane -30ft alt - seen to one mile past Nees Valley
Back of Clevedon - 1745? - Heading towards Thames - single engined - 2000ft - flying very slow - high cloud, but windy
The above seven sightings of an aeroplane are interesting in that they all describe an aeroplane with descriptions that point to an aircraft flying at a low altitude around the coastline until it gets to Clevedon (the last sighting in this series) where it is observed flying very slowly at an estimated 2000 ft. I believe this sudden change in altitude between the Nees Valley observation and Clevedon, perfectly describes an aeroplane approaching Ardmore and climbing to join what is known as an “Overhead Rejoin” which is in that area - 1600 ft. I can easily picture this observer glancing up and observing this plane travelling in the direction (as stated) of Thames, but had he continued to watch it, he would have see it turn towards Ardmore. I note in CAA’s brochure “In - Out - and Around Auckland” found on this link:
that the recommended procedure is: Call “Joining” at or before Clevedon, and call again passing Waterworks “Joining downwind.” If the circuit is busy, join from Clevedon and track towards Waterworks. Waterworks is in the direction of Thames. Judging by it’s description, I would place it as Victor Airtourer ZK-CGM who reported to the Tower at about 1700, (after doing a “touch and go”) that they were leaving the circuit for approximately 30 mins. Interesting, in the A/C Movements Record, it was only entered as “Circuits.” What colour was ZK-CGM? Below is a photo of it when it was based in Ardmore.
It is interesting to observe the variations in people’s observations when they have to recall something that was probably just an everyday event when they observed it, but by piecing all the information together, it is possible to build up a ‘picture’ of what most likely happened. Was ZK-CGM searching for WAC? No, because WAC was not classed as missing at that stage, although I do believe after going over these files, whatever fate befell Paul had already happened by then. CGM returned back to Ardmore at 1727, so it is interesting to note how far out the memories of these witnesses were as far as the time went. Paul Clarke though, had another obligation and that he only had the plane booked for an hour, so was bound to have the plane back by around 6.00pm in case someone else needed it.
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