This Site is dedicated to all those families of the people that have tragically disappeared on flights in and around New Zealand. I  only hope that from all the effort in building this site and from all the effort of those taking part in this venture, that it will bear fruit in bringing ‘closure’ to their memories!
Gavin Grimmer
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Friday 11th December 2009 saw me take off in my heavily laden aeroplane bound for the South Island with the main objective of the trip to attend the  Celebrations of the 75th Anniversary of  the first commercial airline in New Zealand - Bert Mercer’s Air Travel (NZ) Ltd.

This was mainly to be held in Haast on the 18th of December, although there was some celebrations and joy rides in Hokitika the day before in some of the old aircraft. The first original aircraft DH83 Fox Moth ZK-ADI was in attendance and was also taking joyrides!!!

The weather had been very unsettled for a few weeks, and as I had been apportioned some time to give a presentation on “What happened to DH90 Dragonfly ZK-AFB?” (Air Travel (NZ) Ltd’s first twin aeroplane) on the Friday night in Haast, experience has taught me that if you have to be there and you wish to fly there VFR, then it is prudent to leave several days prior so that there is a good chance you will make it!

The first stage of the trip was to Picton where I had an appointment to peruse some files, but the weather was not what was forecast. After quite a few terrifying moments in turbulence caused by high winds and a rain band south of Masterton, I decided to land in Masterton and sit it out. It was an easy decision as both of my daughters and my two grand-children live there.

My appointment in Picton was on the Monday, and by Saturday night there was no sign in the weather forecast of a reduction of the high winds (40 knots +) until at least Monday afternoon, so I figured the only way I was to get there was to attempt the continuation of the flight at the crack of dawn on the Sunday morning.

5.50 am I was airborne again, and to make a long story short - boy, did I take a beating!!!

Anyway I made it to Omaka (Blenheim) after a long, slow hair-raising flight and Paul Beauchamp Legg very kindly picked me up from there.  I stayed at Paul’s place  in Picton for two days.

Paul and I had intended to fly over the Mount Stokes area where he has over the years carried out many ground searches for Hood and Monteith’s Ryan G-AUNZ (An account of some of these searches are in his “My Masterton Flying Years” book - Click on the “GREAT BOOKS” button above) but when we got back to the airfield, there were thunderstorms looming over the ranges!

I left Omaka and flew through and around several rain showers before I got to Nelson, but at least there was no high winds.

After staying with Graeme and Pam McConnell for the night, I was again airborne bound for Reefton, this time with 30 - 40 knots on the nose!

Nelson Tower asked me to report when I was clear of their zone 20 nm to the south and about ½ an hour later I eventually called!

I landed on an old airstrip in Reefton and later in the day flew over an area at the headwaters of the McMurrays Creek and took photos of the bush so as to assist Geoff Collis  in being able to plan his future search in this area for an aircraft that may well turn out to be the Harvard NZ964 (judging by accounts of sightings of aircraft wreckage seen in this area over the years).

Mid Thursday morning saw me airborne again and I arrived in Hokitika at around 11.30 am.

Early that afternoon  Stan and Gilly Smith’s  DH84 Dragon ZK-AXI and their recently rebuilt DH83 Fox Moth ZK-APT arrived and later on the DH90 Dragonfly ZK-AYR and the DH83 Fox Moth ZK-ADI  from Manderville.

One of my highlights for the trip was finally meeting and spending time with John Rowan, the brother of Louis Rowan that vanished along with Dragonfly ZK-AFB in 1962.

John Rowan

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