Posted: Thu Apr 16, 2009 6:35 pm Post subject: Corsair NZ5517
As I stated in the General Forum, that I would contact some of the people that had written to me with information to see whether they were happy for me to publish their letters in these Forums for all to see, and here is the first one that I've received permission for.
Have studied your website with much interest as a group of friends and I have found three local historic crashed aircraft ,an Auster near Mount Duppa ,the Electra on Mount Fell,and the Dragon at Kawitiri..
I have heard very recently that a elderly possum hunter is convinced that he found the lost Corsair in the top of the Mohikinui some years ago which is also the area I believe somebody claimed to have seen Moncrieff's downed aircraft.Will let you know when I hear more.
Regards Terry Coleman
Posted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 1:48 pm Post subject: Reply with quote
Here's another letter:
Found your website after googling for any info on the missing corsair, good to find it.
I was today at the Murchison Area School 125 reunion and got talking to a fellow who reckons his father heard this plane at his somewhat isolated farm in the mid Maruia Valley just North of Mt Rutland. He said his father paid attention to it because he was worried it was a Japanese attack! The sound of the planes engine(s) suddenly grew much louder and then it ceased. He reckoned his father had not told anyone at the time, and he, the son, had only mentioned it to a couple of other people before. His theory is that the plane flew south down the Deepdale Valley and then came over low saddle into the Maruia.
I wondered whether aerial photos of this area exist and whether it has been considered before.
Posted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:08 pm
Many thanks for passing on this information.
I would totally agree with this information as on the stated heading of 120 degrees magnetic from Westport, that the leader (Bob Reynolds) said that they were flying on, and they were flying in a cruise climb for about 10 minutes - would place the Corsairs at around 30 nautical miles away from Westport, which would be exactly in the area that this fellow's father heard it!
Bob Reynolds at the time calculated the position to be 3 - 4 miles west of Inangahua Landing, and all I can say to this is that he wasn't very good at maths.
The sound of the planes engine getting louder and then ceasing can be explained in many different scenarios, the easiest being that it simply was coming closer to the observers spot and then flying over a range. Personally, I think Brian Barstow was quite likely in a steep dive (probably uncontrolled in cloud) and then pulled the power off to reduce the speed and may well have been well over the ranges before he applied more power. - I say this based on my findings of what I have on a 1947 aerial photo in the Paparoa Ranges.
Have you read the "News April 2009" pages on my website? I have included the aerial photo, with an explanation to it there.
Posted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:09 pm
Thanks for your reply Gavin
I have had another look at your site and this time managed to find the aerial photo - pretty impressive! But is that the location west of Inangahua Landing?
Are you able to give me NZMS 260 grid references for the site in photo?
I take it that Bob Reynolds saying they turned back to Westport when they 30 nautical miles away from WEstport? At 55.56km and a bearing of 142 degress true north that would put them over the Victoria Range in the vicinity of Mt Victoria, which is remarkably close to where Len's father lived. The question now is did he hear one plane or more?
I live close to the confluence of the Maruia and Buller Rivers and get out into the bush quite a bit, and with an interest in local history. I was not previously aware of this missing plane in our local area.
Posted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:10 pm
The location of the photo is up in the head waters of the Blackwater River in a place known as King Solomon Stream. There is no point in giving you grid references as it is no longer there in the spot that is shown in the photo, however it maybe broken up and further down the river due to heavy snow falls in the area or even buried due to the 1969 earthquake. Hopefully, Geoff Collis and his team will find the remains of it next summer when they go in and do a thorough search - I may go in with them, but I'll have to wait and see. Maybe you might be interested in going in with them?
The story about the disappearance of this Corsair can be found in Chris Rudge's Book "MISSING" and you can find a link to be able to buy it by 'clicking' on the picture of his book on the 'HOME' page in my website, or you can quite often find it on Trademe as Chris sells it direct also from there - just type "missing" in Trademe's search box.
Bob Reynolds calculated that they were 16 miles away from Westport. The Corsair cruised at 180 knots which is 3 nautical miles per minute. He said that they had been flying for about 10 mins since leaving Westport so using simple maths 10 mins @ 3 nautical miles per min = 30 nautical miles. They were in a cruise climb of 800'/min (8000' in 10 mins) so the speed would have been a little less than 180kts, so to keep it simple = 30 statute miles - So you see, that for Reynolds to say they had only travelled 16 miles (3-4 miles west of Inangahua Landing) was bizzare to say the least!
They were somewhere in the region of Mt Victoria at 9000', quite likely further north as the Corsair was seen at low level heading up New Creek Valley and he was quite likely very disorientated and lost. Now using your information, it appears that he may have flown out of there and flown down the Deepdale Valley, climbing over the range at the headwaters of that valley just east of Mt Pelion and then followed the Awarau River coming out just north of Reefton. (he was seen flying over the Reefton area) By the time he got there, he should have been able to get his "bearings" back again and set course for Westport. King Solomon Stream, where I believe he ended up, is in a direct line between Reefton and Westport!
When he flew over the range just east of Mt Pelion, would be the point that Len's father thought the motor, or at least the noise from it had ceased. This would have been because he would have descended into the Awarau (otherwise known as Larry River) River Valley.
This obviously is only a possible scenario that I have dreamed up trying to fit all the pieces together. There is nothing like having local knowledge, as you would have, so what is your opinion on this scenario?
Posted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:14 pm
THanks for this email Gavin and for your previous one with so much more information that was of course all new to me. Yes, by all means use my letter to encurage discussion.
If a single plane was lost in the New Creek area I doubt it would then find its way up the Deepdale as the mouth of the Deepdale Valley is pretty narrow. It's more likely to follow the Buller to Inangahua Junction and then the Inangahua valley to Reefton.
There are so many questions about the episode that keep coming to mind, I don't know how many you would have answers to. I am away from home at a conference in Chch, so will reply more fully when I get home.
Posted: Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:19 pm
Many thanks Roger,
I look forward to your many questions as it is this sort of discussion that makes a person think it through very thoroughly - and something that I thrive on!
It also helps a person (meaning me) to keep an open mind!
Posted: Tue May 12, 2009 12:28 am
I've been reading Bryan Cox's book "Too Young To Die" which talks of his experiences during the 2nd World War flying Corsairs (and others) and from information that I found in there, I've come to realise that I could have made an error in my calculations. The distance travelled by the Corsairs that I used was based on a cruise climb (180 mph) rate of 800 ft/min whereas in Bryan's book it appears as though it was more like anything up to 2000 ft/min!
By using the position that Bob Reynold's said that they turned back shows that he had calculated it at a rate of 1600 ft/min - and only he would know at what rate they climbed at that day.
This puts the position that they turned back obviously where he said it was - 3 to 4 miles west of Inangahua Landing using that climb rate.
However there is another difficulty in that he said that they arrived over Westport at 10.40 am, circled the town for 5 minutes (10.45) and at 9000' he decided to turn back (at 10.55 am). Now if they had climbed at 1600'/min for 10 minutes then that would have put them at 17000' - working on the assumption that they were over Westport at 1000' when they left and that they had held a constant 1600'/min climb rate.
If the position that they turned back was where Reynolds calculated it to be, then it would appear that they turned back at 10.50 and not 10.55 - either that, or they were a further 15 miles further east than his calculation.
This does point out the difficulties that there is trying to work things out with only the availability of conflicting information, and although I've had "egg on my face" a couple of times now, I suppose at least, hopefully, we get there in the end!
Posted: Wed Mar 10, 2010 11:13 pm
From your sightings page:
4/ There is a rumour of an elderly possum hunter who was convinced that he had found Corsair NZ5517 in the headwaters of the Mohikinui / New Creek area some years ago. This is also the area somebody claimed to have seen the Moncrieff / Hood Ryan G-AUNZ aircraft.
I have scoured some maps and it found that New Creek is NNE of Inangahua and Mokihinui River is even further North.
Ohikanui River is just East of King Solomon Stream.
I wonder if Chinese Whispers have led to Ohikanui becoming "Mohikinui"?
But then New Creek is nowhere near Ohikanui.... Confused
Posted: Thu Mar 11, 2010 11:31 am
Yes I agree, going by some of the reports that I've had, that there appears to be some confusion with Mokihinui and Ohikanui Rivers getting mixed up.
If said quickly, they almost sound the same.
The Mokihinui River starts at the coast and carries all the way down, on what is quoted on the map I use, as the "Mokihinui River (South Branch)."
If you go one ridge over to the west of the headwaters of this river, you have the headwaters of New Creek.
Interestingly, I now have a copy of a map sent to me from Brian Gough showing a position marked on an old 1943 map, in Slate Creek, of where a gold prospector claimed he had found the Corsair.
Slate Creek is at the headwaters of the Mokihinui.
If you or anyone is interested in going in there and checking it out, then let me know and I'll give you all the help I can - on the condition that you let me know so that it can be documented to save someone else looking in the same place again in the future!
Note: This map and others can be seen on my website: www.findlostaircraft.co.nz/nz5517.html