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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There was an ELT (Emergency Locator Transmitter) fitted to EBU, but according to the Archive files, there was confusion as to whether the “ON” position on the remote switch, meant that it would start transmitting, or if it meant that it was “ARMED” - ready to go off automatically in the event of a crash... so it appears it was normally just left turned off!

Now days, there is a dedicated radio tuned to the emergency frequency of 121.5 Mhz in virtually all airliners and if Ned had known of this, he could have managed to call an airliner using that frequency, but not many pilots know of this. Seeing as ELT’s were in their infancy in 1978, there is the possibility that airliners didn’t have the dedicated radios then anyway.

For ZK-EBU to have been seen at the mouth of the Moeraki River (also known as the Blue River) at about 5.45 pm, and seeing as the Nickelspoon Mining Company  Airstrip is 55 nm SW of that position, would mean that at 120 knots, Ned and Co. had taken off again at around 5.15pm.

Why they were seen at the mouth of the Moeraki River, and why they came out from inland (higher ground) puzzled me for quite a while. Surely it was more likely that they would have been seen heading into the river and then come out again? I thought the only explanation was that they had come up the coast, gone inland at the Whakapohai River (also known as Little River), found the cloud too low and so headed out the Moeraki.... But then to fly back in???


cooling at a slower rate than the surrounding landmass, hence having a hotter air mass above them producing an updraft.

With this in mind, it becomes apparent that Ned was still above a solid lower level of cloud until he came across a hole above Lake Moeraki, descended down through it and out to the coast in the belief that he could proceed under that layer to either Haast, or north to Hokitika.

On discovering that the weather was absolutely shocking, cloud being down to 100 ft and almost no visibility in the rain, and darkness due to the layers of cloud above, Ned headed back inland to try to get up through the hole in the cloud again, or in desperation attempt to follow the road north.


After a lot of thought, I noticed that Lake Moeraki is the first substantial lake (depth of 140 ft) north from the Nickelspoon Mining Company airstrip, (apart from Lake Ellery which is just 17 nm north of the strip) and as you’ll know from my article on ZK-CSS on this web site, lakes are known to produce holes in the clouds above them due to their mass of water

NZ Aerial Mapping 1984 Aerial Photograph overlaid on Google Earth


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