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!
It seemed too much of a co-incidence that this smoke direction could actually cross the point of where the hearing observation was, as it didn’t seem to fit the bill. If the motor stopped due to fuel exhaustion, then it would most likely crash miles away from where it stopped as it would have been able to glide for quite a long way. After a lot of discussion with other pilots and aircraft engineers, I came to the conclusion that the only possible way a C180 would stop and start three times would be if it was in turbulence and the unusable fuel in the tanks was splashing across to the fuel lines, - generally they just STOP. The motor/propeller of course still continues to rotate, so as more fuel enters the carburetor, it starts up again.
I did some calculations on how high the smoke would have had to have been if it’s source was on top of the range close to Mt Olympus, (inside the yellow shaded area) and the smoke would have had to be 2240 ft above Mt Enys before it even started to appear to the observer in Oxford. Some big bush fires may put smoke up higher than this, but I very much doubt that a burning plane would?
From this, all I could deduce was that the fire had to be on the back side of Mt Torlesse, which is where the observer thought it was.
A fire in this area would be very unusual, as looking at the area on Google Earth, there doesn’t appear to be any high country farmland there that could explain it being a ‘burn-off’ by a farmer.
Anyway, I’m getting ahead of myself again.....
I had telephoned Jackie Gurdan last year to find out more about what she observed when she was jogging down the east side of Lake Kaniere, but she confessed that after all these years her memory was getting rather vague.
It turns out that Chris Lind had spent quite some time talking to her many years ago when her memory was still ‘fresh’ and the following is an extract from his email talking of this conversation: “It then started to rain quite heavy and then started to hail, hence she took cover under the trees at about the same time she heard and partially saw the a/c pass over her above the trees moving quite slow. She informed me that it was heading south above her location on the eastern side of Lake Kaniere but more up on the range itself than closer to the lake. I asked her if she heard it for quite a while after it passed over (ie circling the lake) to which she replied no, it faded quite quickly as if it was turning left and up over the Dorothy Falls”
If you look at the next GE image, you will see that a direct course to Glenthorne Station (shown as red line) from the northern end of Lake Kaniere, would place the plane in the vicinity of exactly as she described it.