DH90A Dragonfly ZK-AFB Threads Aug 12, 2015 12:41:45 GMT 12
Post by grgrimmer on Aug 12, 2015 12:41:45 GMT 12
Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 7:10 pm Post subject: Searching for ZK-AFB
Gavin, I hear you are off to look for ZK-AFB on the Coast soon. Are you over there now? The Greymouth Star had a couple of write-ups. Have you seen something else on Google Earth or have you seen something interesting on one of your flights over the bush?
Operation Dragonfly is about to resume... We're heading off down to our current search area in a couple of weeks. Just the time of the year to poke around isn't it? Hehe! Laughing
Posted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 10:33 pm
Yes, I'm trying to organise a group of people to go into Jacobs River again and this time I am trying to make sure that we either find it, or eliminate the area. Whether this is physically possible, I don't know. The bush and scrub is very dense and everything is very damp and rotten. The underbush layer is pungas and ferns and you know what they do - continually drop their foliage and the ground gets a real thick layer over it which builds it up over the years and buries everything. It's a real needle in a haystick, but as always, you don't know until you try.
I had hoped to have use of either a Magnetometer or a Synthetic Aperture Radar, but alas, neither of these are readily available, so it is back to the real hard slog and do it the hard way.
Our timing to go in there is mainly geared around whether we can get a tracker dog in there with us (not to mention the weather) as this opens up another whole new realm of possibilities. The dog is trained to sniff out anything unusual like leather, and you know how a dog can cover an enormous amount of ground in a very short time.
I've also worked out that I've been searching the area wrong. The best way is to start at the bottom of the gully and work your way up. Up till now, I've just been going directly to the spot that I believe the object to be and covering that area whereas over the years of the torrential rain in this area everything of any size like a motor is likely to have moved down the steep hill into the streams. I realise this is not the case with the Bert Mercer crash site, but you are talking about a totally different bush to Jacobs River Valley. You would need to see it to understand.
Anyway, all the best with your forthcoming searches and take care - especially crossing those rivers!
Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 7:53 am Post subject: Dense Bush
HAHA! I know EXACTLY what the West Coast bush is like! IT IS DENSE to the extreme!
One thing to remember is when the bush is very thick and dense like on the Coast, it will be impossible for anything to be "washed" or moved down hill over the years... because the thick undergrowth prevents the movement.
Last year I went for an evening stroll in the bush at Reefton... at Blacks Creek. The track disappeared on me (came to an end) and I decided to take a short cut back to the highway. Not a very sensible idea on my part as it was almost dark. Lucky I had the GPS with me, but the trees over head made it hard for the GPS to get a decent signal. I was about 5 miles back in from the road and well out of radio range too. The spitty drizzle became heavy rain as night fell and I had no torch!!! Using the light from the GPS screen I slowly edged my way westwards. It is not something I ever wish to repeat. I arrived out at the road about 2 or 3 hours later very wet indeed. Gosh! I enjoyed my meal that night!!!!! Laughing So I know what its like to be caught out in the bush at night.
Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:02 am Post subject: Magnetometers
We have found magnetometers to be worthless in the bush. The trees messup the signal. The only way to search is in person. That is why we are grid searching. I think you will soon tire of climbing a hill only to drop down again and then repeat the climb!!! We find it easier on the body (and mind!) to climb to a certain level and go ROUND keeping at that height with the help of the GPS units. Whistles, radios and rifles all help to keep us together and on track.
Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:23 am
The magnetometers I'm talking about are large ones mounted under a helicopter.
I know a person that operates one and he claims that he could pick up an engine in bush flying over at 100 knots! Another local crowd that I talked to (that have a similar system - mounted in the tail of Cresco's) said that they are used to picking up minerals 100ft under the ground and wouldn't know how to detect something on the ground, although they probably could learn.
It's the thousands of dollars needed to do this that makes it impossible for me.A lot is dependent on how much iron, etc., is in the ground though, so it doesn't always work. If you spent the dollars to get them there and found it didn't work due to this, then what a waste!
My understanding of a Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) is that it works similar to putting something metal in a microwave - it sparks.
The SAR emits a beam out in front of the aircraft and if that beam hits a metal object it sends a reflection back to the receiver and with the associated software it can be shown on a screen similar to that of Google Earth in 3D. I'm told that a very basic model could cover an area up to 5 miles ahead of a moving aircraft.
The American Military have SAR's in satellites 100 miles above the earth and that is how they can detect vehicle movements even in sandstorms.
I believe there are some of these units in our SkyHawks just wasting away. Wouldn't it be great to get our hands on one of these?
In some of the bush NW of Reefton that we were in, it was so dense that it took the two of us 2 1/2 hrs to move 500 feet! Thank goodness not all the bush is like that!
In the Jacobs River site, the thick undergrowth is not very old which to me means that it grows for a while and then rots away due to the extreme dampness and lack of light. Due to the steepness in that area, I don't have any problem believing that a heavy object such as a motor could eventually end up in the gully after 46 years. I never checked further down in the gully, so this is why I'm going back in. The only way you could effectively grid search this area to the point of safely saying that you have totally eliminated this area, would mean that you would need hundreds of people within 6 ft of each other, moving down the hill, all with metal detectors. Such is the magnitude of the problem!
All we can do is try....
Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 4:49 pm Post subject: ZK-AFB family member
It is fascinating reading about your search. I am a relative of the "honeymoon couple" Valerie Gay Saville (nee Bignell) was my mother's younger sister. Valerie was one of the youngest of about 10 sisters. I remember the dissapperarance of the aircraft and have always had the desire to go and look for it but never had the time. I am now 60 and will retire in a few years and then be available to assist or help in your search. Not sure if there is anything I can do to help in the meantime as I currently live in Beijing.
Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 6:29 pm
It's great to hear from you!
Yes, Beijing is a long way away, but just hearing from you is a help on it's own. It tends to give more meaning to the the search as you know that people are relying on you to hopefully find answers. I would like to think that by the time you retire, the Dragonfly will be long found.
It's also must be a comfort to you that there are people who are doing their best to locate them, after all the aircraft is just a machine - it's people that matter.
Personally, I don't anticipate finding much left of the aircraft after all these years - it's what happened to the aircraft and its occupants is what is important!
Adam and his family, that I have been talking to in this blog are also searching for the Dragonfly, although in a different area to where I am looking. A link to their website can be found in the "LINKS" page under the "WHITE BUS FAMILY PRODUCTIONS" button.
Posted: Thu Jan 14, 2010 7:15 pm Post subject: Valerie Gay Saville
Wayne, this is surely great news! We are very happy to hear from you. Have you got any relations close to Valerie in New Zealand anywhere who would be happy to talk to us regarding family? You see, although we are searching for ZK-AFB we are also making a movie of the whole story... the searches taking place and also the history of the people aboard the flight. We have already interviewed the Rowan family... such amazing people they were too!
It would be nice to have input from families of the other folk aboard the plane if possible. The Honeymooners are a very important link in the whole story you know.
As an aside, we differ from Gavin slightly in believing it very likely that ZK-AFB will still be reasonably intact... although the wings may have shorn off in the crash... hence why there was no evidence of fire. If the wings broke off the body, the engines would be left behind... So it's possible the body of the plane is still reasonably complete. The weight of passing years will probably made it collapse and fall in more or less... but it will all be resting as it came to a stop that fateful Febuary day in 1962. An inspiring thought don't you think?
You can read all about our search on www.whitebusfamily.co.nz and Gavins search on his own website. Please feel free to contact me personally at adam_reeve (at) whitebusfamily.co.nz
WHITE BUS FAMILY PRODUCTIONS
Canterbury, New Zealand
Posted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:27 pm Post subject: Story of Search for ZK-AFB on TV ONE CLOSEUP this week
TV ONE CLOSEUP will have a story of our search for ZK-AFB on Thursday (21st Jan) or Friday (22nd Jan) evening this week. Should rather interesting!!!!
WHITE BUS FAMILY PRODUCTIONS
Posted: Tue Jan 19, 2010 11:33 pm
Good to hear from you both. I wish I could help with the search. Quite a number of Valerie's sister are still alive and one brother is still alive. I have some old photos of Valerie and a separate photo of the family group. My own mother died many years ago but I do remember Valerie as she visited us in Mt Maunganui a few times. Of course with 10 sisters and 2 brothers there is a whole heap of relatives. I do not have recent contact details for any of them but if you want names and email addresses I can get them for you. I also have some of the Newspaper clippings from when the plane went misssing.
Best to contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want any more info.
I am keen to know what you both found on your latest expeditions.
Posted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:09 am
When you say "latest", I presume you mean the searches we are about to do in the very near future?
After I have been in there, I'll be posting the results of my search on this website so you'll be able to read about it - and I'm sure Adam will be doing the same on their site also.
Feel free to contact me via email anytime (email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org). I'm suspicious that some of the emails on the inhb.co.nz account are not getting to me, so if you don't get a reply then try the other. I will be away from the computer while I'm in the bush though.
Posted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 9:22 am
Yes, I'll certainly be updating our website when we get home. But I have one more update to do to the site before we leave. I hope to do this in the next few days to a week. I want to show the finished caravan and Land Rovers... It's going to be on Closeup TV One tonight or tomorrow night. I will be putting a copy on Youtube at some stage so if you miss it you'll still get to see it!
Gavin, I get a notification each time someone writes on this message board.
When are you heading into the bush Gavin? We hope to leave by the end of the month... we have been delayed considerably in trying to get the caravan finished. We had some issues with the tow bars on the Land Rovers, but it's all finished now. Just got to tie up all the loose ends and we're off!!!! Hurrah!
WHITE BUS FAMILY PRODUCTIONS
Posted: Thu Jan 21, 2010 10:16 am
Yes, we are all waiting for the item on Close Up in eager anticipation. It should be good for the public awareness of our cause.
When the program "MISSING" did the episode on Cessna 180 ZK-BMP, the hit rate on my website went through the roof! - so anything that stirs things along is good.
I hope to go into the bush again mid-February, if I can get everyone organised. We probably won't have the luxury of a Campervan or anything like that this time. It will just be a quick trip in by helicopter, camp over night, and back out by helicopter the next evening.
Wishing you all the best with your search and take care!
Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 2:04 pm
After almost 48 years it is good to know there are people in NZ still looking. Louis [spelt this way] Rowan was my Dad's younger Brother. All the best, with the up coming search.
Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 3:57 pm
It's good to hear from you and thank you for the well wishes.
I don't know how I got your Uncle's name spelt wrong on my website as I know it is spelt the way you say....I must have been "away with the fairies" when I wrote it! I have now corrected it and thanks for pointing it out.
Hopefully, in the next few weeks, we may all have some long awaited answers.... time will tell.
Which one of the brother's is your Dad? Do you live in Australia too?
Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 5:11 pm
The Rowan's all live in Australia. Uncle Louis was from a large family and there are still 10 siblings alive, including my Dad, Frank. Thank you for posting about your search on your website.
All the best; especially with the weather
Posted: Fri Jan 22, 2010 10:55 pm Post subject: Link to Video on TVNZ website
Phew! Didn't they do us proud! Haha!
If you want a real life meeting with us, this video seems to show it all. Crumbs! They sure cut out a lot of what we thought they were going to put in, but at least the story is out there now and people can see one mad Kiwi family climbing through the high country to locate a bonny old 'plane.
Here is a link to the video... a full 5+ minutes! tvnz.co.nz/close-up/dragonfly-missing-half-century-3337685/video Enjoy! And don't get too envious....
WHITE BUS FAMILY PRODUCTIONS
Posted: Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:42 pm Post subject: 50th Anniversary News Items
News items on 50th Anniversary of disappearance of ZK-AFB held at West Melton Airfield, which aired on 12/02/2012.
TV3 video link: www.3news.co.nz/Fifty-years-since-dragonfly-disappearance/tabid/309/articleID/242601/Default.aspx
TV1 video link: tvnz.co.nz/national-news/aviation-mystery-lingers-video-4717463
Posted: Mon Aug 20, 2012 10:00 pm Post subject: Interesting article
On communications in the search for the aircraft at the time around Big Bay and the Hollyford track.
Also of interest was that in Chris' book "Missing!" he wrote (Pg 105) -
"Squadron Leader Charles Kelly, the Search Director at the Wigram Centre, recalled that one of the most important sightings at the time was made by a Mr Archibald Wilson, a fisherman who was at Big Bay on the 12 February. Wilson knew the aircraft well and his report was given a lot of credibility."
This must refer to report 46 in Lost... Without Trace. He also mentions that he "will see my mate" to discuss it. Would be great to track these two down or even Squadron Leader Charles Kelly if they are still around.
Would be interesting to find out more details of this sighting and what was described. He mentions Big Peak which I can't track down on a map, whether it is to the north or south of the bay.
My scenario I'm working on is that they did make it down there, and due to the poor weather around the divide and down to Mount Aspiring, Brian was feeling a little bit stink that there hadn't been too much of interest to show his passengers, and especially with the honeymoon couple aboard. He decided to take a detour and show some different sites that would be considered stunning like Red Hill/Mountain and Lake Alabaster, and thus passing through the back of Big Bay. How they got from the Bruce Bay area down to there without being spotted, I'm still trying to figure out. Also, were there any Rapides/Dominies based in or operating to Invercargill in the late 50's to early 60's?
Posted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:20 pm
Yes, Ian Ritchie (Ritchie Air Services) had Dominie ZK-ALB and it was flown into Milford that day.