There may have been quite a lot of witnesses that came forward saying they had seen it flying over (or near) Queenstown, but I could easily envisage these accounts being discounted as absurd... after all, if it was there, surely it would have landed? With the benefit of hindsight, us being in a position of knowing they were going to go missing, we would have expected Chadwick to land at Queenstown, but he didn’t know that. To him it was just continuing on... business as usual....
Why no radio calls? For a starter, there was no ground station in Queenstown (“LOST” page 162) but there’s also another possible reason…
As many of you will know, there was a Mayday call heard in Epsom, Auckland in between changing of the film on TV Channel “AKTV2” - 12 Feb 1962, by a young Ross McDermott and his mother. (Page 142 “LOST” & Page 49 “TRACED”)
Ross later in life became a Telecommunications Engineer and found that the Murphy MR60 Aviation Radio Transceiver was very unstable of a “Crystal oscillator” type – an old glass valve radio (common in those days) and it only needed a bit of a jolt and it would knock it off frequency.
We established that on that evening 12-2-62 (in the “No Signal” break period common in those days due to having to manually change the film at 7.30, or possibly 8.00 pm) for it to be heard on AKTV2, then it would need to be transmitting on 127.55 and certain atmospheric conditions would be required to allow a phenomenon known as “Ducting” to occur … and those conditions were present at 7:30 & 8:00. The frequency logged in his Flight Plan that he would transmit on was 118.1 & 118.5
We had presumed that it had gone off frequency at the time of the crash, but then it occurred to me that maybe that had happened earlier?
I contacted Ross and put this question to him... “Absolutely” was his reply. ”When we used to test these units, we used a little rubber mallet to test them, and I don’t mean just tapping the actual radio, but just tapping the bench the radio was sitting on could throw them off frequency! All that was needed would have been a good jolt due to turbulence and that had the potential to throw it off”. Hence it was quite possible Chadwick may have been transmitting calls but never realised it was falling on deaf ears due to the wrong frequency!
Of note, this MR60 radio had been fitted 27 October 1961 to replace a troublesome Airmite VHF Radio so it had only been in AFB for just over 3 months. Maybe this radio was just as troublesome?
Another statement from Chadwick’s itinery (top large box in slide below)
But there is yet another possibility put to me by James Scott, a well know West Coast Helicopter pilot /operator who has flown the West Coast all his life and has helped us out tremendously over the years. He has a wealth of local knowledge of the West Coast and I have found him hardly ever wrong! He has proven me to be wrong many a time LOL!!!
James suggested that this smoke may well have come from the crash site of the Dragonfly ZK-AFB, so I revisited this sighting looking at it with a ‘fresh set of eyes’ - so to speak, especially as we can now place the Dragonfly ZK-AFB in this area.