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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Cessna 180 ZK-FMQ
Missing: Ryan Michael Moynihan - age 23
This aircraft was owned by Cascade Whitebait Ltd and had that morning been flown by Ryan from the Cascade River airstrip, to Waitoto, and then on to West Melton with a load of whitebait.
No one knows for sure, but according to radar tapes an aircraft left West Melton at 11.46
and it last appeared on the tape on track for Waitoto 73 - 76 miles south-west of Christchurch.
From about 2.00pm onwards, there was several observations of an aeroplane matching the
description flying south from Haast to Jacksons Bay, where it was seen to turn and fly north
again. It was seen north of Haast, flying north, at about 2.30, and at 3.00 was seen flying up
the beach at Bruce Bay in terrible weather. From there it gets strange as all the times of the
sightings were suddenly much too late in the afternoon to be able to be explained as being
that of  ZK-FMQ, unless he had landed, maybe on an isolated beach, and then continued on
an hour or so later - but this theory, creates more questions than answers! The belief is that when he arrived back at Waitoto there was a squall going through with 40 knot winds - so strong that cars were being sandblasted by the sand being blown about and so being unable to land he had headed north staying between two fronts looking for a safe place to put down.
When he got as far as Ross, he headed inland trying to find a suitable strip as he knew this area well and somewhere within a 30 km radius of Hokitika he disappeared.  
8 November 1997

As of 20th May 2010  I’ve recently had time to start checking out in a little more detail this mystery.

I have been rather startled by what I have found!

It can be taken that most, if not all,of the observations north of Haast were of ZK-FMQ as these observations have never been disputed as belonging to any other aircraft.

The first major conclusion that I’ve come to is that Ryan had to have landed, probably on a private strip, somewhere between Fox Glacier up to Ross, and this is due to him taking 1 ¾ hrs +  to do the trip from Haast to Ross when it should have only taken him ¾ hr at the most taking into account the strong tailwind reported. I simply do not accept that it would have taken another 1 hour + due to bad weather.  

The second conclusion is that he was not intending to land at any point further up from Ross due to the following reasons:

Hokitika was experiencing the odd shower coming through at about the time Ryan was in the area, and also at about that time, a twin-engined light aeroplane was observed from an observer in Hokitika coming in from the east - heading up to Greymouth at about 3000 ft. Although showers and wind are not pleasant conditions to fly in, it would still not make it too difficult to land and Hokitika was quite landable at the time, especially for a pilot with Ryan’s experience. If  Ryan was as experienced as they claim he was, he would not have travelled inland looking for a place to land, but would have stayed on the Coast and landed in Hokitika.

He was observed flying north at the mouth of the Styx River, flew to about five miles north of Lake Kaniere, turned around and flew south again. This to me means that he was checking to see if the valleys were clear enough to get up to the Browning Saddle, as five miles north of Lake Kaniere would have put Ryan in a position to see if it was clear enough to get down the Arahura Valley, which it apparently was not as he headed south again. The Arahura and the Styx Valleys are the two Valleys that head up to the Browning Pass.

He was then observed flying south on the eastern side of Lake Kaniere, but was not observed on this southerly course by any of the many people who originally observed it heading north at the mouth of the Styx.

This could only mean that he cut around the corner into the Styx Valley, and on this basis I believe, going by the information I have, that he will be found somewhere between that point and the Browning Pass.

Quoting from Chris Rudge’s book “MISSING”: “Ryan was familiar with the area to the south-east of Hokitika, as he had often flown through the Browning and Whitcombe Passes”

I now believe Ryan was intending to fly  across the ranges to West Melton..

Update August 2011 - Next Page >>>

Next page. Next page.

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As at November 2012, I have so much on my plate researching these missing aircraft, that I run the danger of not doing any of these missing aircraft justice. So to avoid this, I am directing various aircraft reports to different people so that they can concentrate collating all the information on a particular one.

However, you can still contact me if you wish, but I will only be mainly working as a ‘go between’.

The person to contact on this one is Darryl Sherwin  027689-7853 or