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!
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Another thing missing from the reports is the time when the observation was recorded. This is very important as it is now a well known fact that memories fade very quickly, so the most reliable reports are the ones taken on the day, less reliable the next day, and so forth.

After a few days, many eyewitnesses get confused with which day they saw it, and so can give reports - believing them to be true - but are of a different aircraft on a different day! This can often lead searchers  (and researchers) off on totally wasted ‘wild goose chases!’

If then this plane seen diving on a steep acute angle for the ground was Piper PA38 Tomahawk  ZK-WAC then why would it do this?

There are possible explanations to explain this shown in the AD’s (Airworthiness Directives) for this particular model (Piper PA38 Tomahawk).



These AD’s are normally promulgated as a result of these faults being attributed  to previous accidents, in the hope that it never happens again!

Note the first “Effective Date” shown at the bottom of the article:12 June 1982.... six months after the disappearance of ZK-WAC. If this torque tube had broken on WAC, it possibly could have become totally uncontrollable and it would have dived into the ground! The elevator controls the ability to climb and descend and is the only control surface

that is independently critical i.e. the rudder can generally be substituted by the ailerons, and the ailerons by the rudder, whereas the elevator has no backup... unless it happens to jam in a gentle climb or near neutral position, and then climbing and descending can be controlled somewhat with power to climb, and lack of power to descend.   Here’s another couple of applicable AD’s:


All these AD’s were applicable to this aircraft and any one of them could have caused an uncontrollable dive. None of these faults were known to exist at the time of Paul Clarke’s and ZK-WAC’s disappearance, so it is very possible that any one of them could have been developing in this airframe and gone unnoticed. This aircraft had at that time flown for a total of 3114 hrs, so it is very much on the cards that one (or more) of these faults may well have caused the demise. This, once again is pure speculation, but it does give one something to think about.

To fly an aeroplane effectively is a little like driving a car. When you first start flying, you need to think about each input into the controls to make it do what you want, but after a while it becomes automatic where you no longer have to think about what to do - you just do it without thinking.

In a car you operate in effect in 2D, whereas in an aircraft you are in 3D. The extra dimension can cause your head to make you believe all kinds of things are happening, and when this happens, the only way to know for sure is to check out what is happening by the aircraft’s instruments. When a person hasn’t flown for a while, it is very easy to lose a sense of what is happening, and if unexpected things go wrong putting that person under severe stress, they can lose control very quickly.

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