Note also the whole area is land-locked making it extremely difficult to walk out from… if you were in a fit state to walk! - Lake McKerrow / Hollyford River to the North / East, the ocean to the West / NW, Milford Sound to the SW, and the mountains to the SE. Even a person uninjured in the light clothing they were wearing would have had only a slim chance of survival.
A heavy laden aircraft full of passengers such as the Dragonfly would have needed quite a long runway so the only sensible way to land in that area would have been to land using the longest “clear of bush” clearing as possible. Obviously the chances were you would wipe the undercarriage off, but at least it would be survivable… not to mention the crashed aircraft would be visible for a searching aircraft…
The time I calculated AFB would have been in this area using the scenario presented
above is shortly after 1.00 pm (1.08).
Chances are that any survivors would have been unconscious, or at the least in a very bad state of shock for quite a while afterwards especially if badly injured. As the afternoon progressed with no sign of rescue, the obvious thing would have been to attempt to draw attention to themselves by starting a fire. It would have been quite a mission getting a fire going knowing the dampness of the bush in that rain forest, however they had fuel from the plane that they could have used as an accelerant... but that all takes time.
Rex Dovey flew through that area looking for amongst other things, signs of a fire,
but that would have been a lot earlier in the afternoon, but the sound of his plane
and others, flying over may have spurred them into this action. Unfortunately, by
“later in the afternoon” when the smoke was seen by the Miss Geraldine, all the tourist
flights would have returned to their bases. As the afternoon drew towards darkness,
the only hope left would have been to get the aircraft radio going in the hope of
attracting attention that way, and this has been shown as not only possible, but
did obviously happen as per the Mayday call heard in Epsom, Auckland that evening.
On pages 48 to 55 in my book “TRACED ... yet still missing” (downloadable free if
you click here) I go into great detail of how this can happen through a phenomena
known as “Ducting” which allows VHF signals to travel very long distances if the
conditions are correct, and all the conditions were there that night at the time
the Mayday was heard. I also have visual illustrations of ducting on this page: ZK-CSS
Not only that, between the position of this hill and Epsom there is no valid obstacles between them such as mountain ranges as most of the distance is over the sea.
An approach from the North with a twin engined aeroplane with a dead engine is fraught
with danger in that it has three potential problems that I can envisage. To approach
that field and utilise the maximum length of it would need a pretty low approach
over that hill to enable a touch down as close to the start of the clearing as possible.
It would have required a descent rate of at least 2500 ft/min allowing for 200 ft
clearance over the lowest part of the range on top of that hill... a very steep approach,
and so he wouldn’t have come in much higher than that.
Another problem is when in a turn the stall speed increases and made even worse with 5 people onboard plus fuel (heavy).
But the worst problem is the asymmetrical thrust of one engine that needs to be offset with lots of rudder. For the rudder to have enough effect to offset that thrust and keep the plane straight on it’s course, it needs lots of airflow over it, and with the dead motor not providing any prop wash on that side, the only way you can get the airflow is airspeed... and if the airspeed gets too low the rudder becomes ineffective. If the power on the good engine is then increased in an attempt to gain more speed, it increases the lift on the good engine side and will roll the aircraft over, and if close to the ground you will crash. This is why there have been cases of twin engined flying many hundreds of miles on one engine, only to crash just short of the runway.... and that is normally on a straight in approach!!! In this case it needed a curved approach which would have increased the chances of a disaster many times.
With Chadwick approaching this strip from the north and having to do a right hand turn onto final approach to the strip, trying to juggle keeping the airspeed up, keep the height up (but as low as possible over that hill) and I suspect a dead left