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!
I take it that this turn was out to sea as a Cessna 180 pilot at Neils Beach heard what he believed to be FMQ fly past south but didn’t hear him fly north (according to the information I have), but this plane was seen flying north up the coast past Waitoto and was then seen by three people 200 meters north of Mussel Point airstrip. They saw it flying very low north up the beach and shortly after, come back south.
At the same time Mr & Mrs McGregor, also in the same area, saw it flying south very low and thought it was going to land on the airstrip. These five people were the five that reported it as a “red and white” plane.
Why Ryan didn’t land, we will probably never know, but according to the people I have spoken to, the weather was so severe that Ryan obviously didn’t feel comfortable enough to attempt a landing. If the hail storm was still approaching that area, maybe he was concerned that as there was nowhere to shelter the plane at the airstrip, that it could be damaged by the hail storm that reportedly was dropping hail the size of thumbnails!
A simple answer is that the visibility due to heavy rain/hail may have been so poor that it made it too dangerous to land. One of the local theories in that area by the locals is that Ryan then flew out to sea to get outside the storm and wait for it to pass, and while he was out there, something happened and he was forced to ditch in the sea. This theory may be true - who knows?
But there is more....but first we must backtrack as I’m getting ahead of myself.
Using all this information, we can now plot the path Ryan took from West Melton to Haast and it calculates to a distance of 220 n.miles. The red lines are the transmission lines, and the green lines are the plotted track.
The advertised cruise speed of this 1955 model Cessna 180 is 135 knots, whereas in reality a safer speed to go on would be 130 knots. Some owner’s of that model claim as low as 120 knots.
The average ground speed attainable to the weather that day is obviously unknown, so my calculations will be based on several speeds.