From all the research I've done (and this is only a summary), my conclusion at this point of time is that it is in the Chatterbox Creek area close to Mokihinui. Put simply, they were seen coming in off the sea at Tauranga Bay, Cape Foulwind, and then seen by various people further up the coast around the area of Ngakawau to Nikau. Some people reported hearing a crash (after seeing it fly over)and many people (especially in Mokihinui) reported seeing smoke coming out of the bush in the Chatterbox Creek area, and they believed it to be a crashed plane. They went to the authorities at the time, but were shunned off as having vivid imaginations as there were no known aircraft in the area - and hadn't been since 1921. (The next recorded aeroplane in the area was by memory 1932) As the media was obviously virtually non-existent in the area at the time, it appears no-one put 'two and two' together! Maybe they just accepted the official story that H & M had gone down out at sea and left it at that. All of this is going by my memory - and I have a lot on my mind at the moment - so please forgive me if I have my facts not precisely right. If ever I get time, I'll do an update on my website giving more details and have my facts as accurately as the evidence I have allows. H & M would have only had very basic maps (road maps) and so when they came in from the sea they would have been following the road or the railway line. The road and railway line cuts inland from Mokihinui and so I think they were simply 'cutting the corner' and due to extreme fatigue, fell asleep and crashed into the hill. They had had no sleep for something like 35 hours (recorded as 20 hrs before the flight), and you try sitting in a noisy aeroplane for 15 hours and not nod off. I've found the most likely time to fall asleep after a long trip is when you are nearing your destination and so tend to relax. They were not able to change positions in the plane and so were not able to share the flying. They were now back over terra firma... and so the pressure would have been off.... There has been a report of an aeroplane tail section being seen in Chatterbox Creek area - and the tail section is all that is generally left after a fire. There has also been a report of finding a radial engine on top of a bluff in the "Mokihinui area". Tying the two reports together, I envisage that the aircraft crashed into the area on top of a bluff, caught fire and then the tail section fell over the bluff (either then, or at a later time) and hence why the two reporters don't recall seeing the other part. My problem is that I have done so many fruitless searches for various aircraft, that I am getting too weary to do many more - not to mention the personal expense of it all, so I'm hopeful that someone else might check this particular site out. The goal is for someone to find these missing aircraft and their occupants. It doesn't matter who finds them... so come on all you enthusiasts - especially those that live in the respective areas - get your tramping boots on and get looking!
I surveyed part of Chatterbox Creek a few years ago. It's a bastard of a place: hard to get into, densely forested, heaps of creepers, steep bluffs etc. and I bet it's worse the higher you go. I could have walked within 5m of ac wreckage and seen nothing. If wreckage is found in there, it is more likely to be by chance than by anyone looking.
Wreckage has recently been unearthed on Deadwood Ridge, Akatarawa (NW of Upper Hutt). Does anyone know what it is likely to be from? I don't know much more details about the find as yet, as I'm waiting on further information about it. All I know is that it "looks like aluminium wreckage", so it could simply be from an old Fletcher crash, or the like.
Good afternoon all. The aircraft that went down on Deadwood Ridge was a Piper-PA-28-140 Reg ZK-CII. Pilot was Patrick Francis McCauley. Aged 27, from Petone. The date of this accident was the 23 July 1972. TAIC Accident Report 72-065. The pilot was on a student licence having completed 80 hours flying time in the Piper. Flight started Paraparaumu, flew to Martinborough and on returning, pilot dazed by sun glare and not able to see the instrumentation. Engine surged and pilot lost power and was forced to land on a logging track. His wings hit trees and he hit the ground rather hard. The fuel line fractured and a fire started. Pilot managed to extract himself from the aircraft. Found unconscious by rescuers next to wreckage. Serious head injuries. Airlifted by RNZAF Iroquois to Wellington Airport and then taken by ambulance to Wellington Hospital. RNZAF Iroquois piloted by Wing Commander Graham Derby from 3 Sqn, Ohakea. Pilot survived, but the only part of the plane that remained in tact was the tail of the aircraft. Several newspaper clippings in the Evening post and NZ Herald around the 24/25 July. Rescuers included civilian and police land rovers. No determined cause of accident but is stated may have been due to serious carburettor icing in the engine and also the only unusual find in the motor was deposits on the piston crowns and cylinder heads. Archives NZ, Wellington have the TAIC accident file and photos and negatives of the crash. There is still a little bit of wreckage at the scene, which I have some photos of. I am a member of a 4WD club and we do trips along that logging track and often show new club members the scene of the accident. I hope this answers many of your queries in regards to this accident.