Hamilton Branch Meeting "My Side of Erebus"

DATE: Wed 31 May 2017
TIME: 19:30 hrs / 7.30pm for our guest speaker
VENUE: Glenview Club, Peacockes Road, Glenview, Hamilton.
GUEST SPEAKER : Mr Graham Lister
SUBJECT: My Side of Erebus

AGENDA : This covers his part in the NZ Police Operation Overdue to manage the recovery of the bodies of the passengers and crew from Flight TE901 which was lost in Antarctica on 28th/Nov 1979. Graham was assigned to Operation Overdue as Air NZ Liaison, where his background in air freight and his many industry contacts proved useful. Although Graham didn't get to Antarctica himself, he was awarded the NZ Special Services Medal (Erebus) in 2007 for the part he played in NZ. In compiling his material on Erebus, Graham has formed a view on the facts and the many opinions which were written about the accident. Some of these materials were acquired from the estate of the late Ross MacPherson, the former Editor of "NZ Wings". Graham's talk will be aided by a powerpoint presentation.

Thanks to those (15) who attended last month's meeting when Neil McHugh (SAA) gave us a very informative talk on how he built his kit-set aeroplane. A Just a/c Highlander (ZK-MCQ), a fine looking a/c in a very attractive red/silver paint scheme, with a finish and detail that is a credit to his workmanship. So thanks Neil for a great talk from a first time builder, and enjoy the fruits of your labour.

Thanks also to Hugh McCarroll for his presentation on POOP IN SPACE. An informative account of the NASA competition he entered into to solve a problem of isolating human waste within a space-suit over a 6 day period. His was a single man entry where most other entries were team orientated. It was rated in the top 15 from all globel entries. Congratulations Hugh.

On Sunday 14th May (Mother's Day) Gina and I went to the SAA Fly-In at John Hansen's strip Te Awamutu,where 4 a/c plus one helicopter flew in and enjoyed a lovely sunny day over a shared lunch and a chat about who was building what and where.Two Jodel's (ZK-KSD) Gary Williams/Otorohanga,and (ZK_MMB) Murray Belfield/Tokoroa were there,along with Cessna 172M (ZK_FGV) John Lissington/Otorohanga and Zenith Zenair CH701 SP (ZK_ESY) Adrian Van der Hulst/Te Awamutu. Supporting the rotary craft was Safari 400 (ZK_HXJ) Bruce Belfield/Te Awamutu,Murray's son. And of course our host with his very own Hansen Deuce (ZK_JFH) which won John 3 prizes at a recent SAA Fly'in down in Ashburton. Your's truly kindly accepted a short flight in this a/c and was suitably impressed with the performance of this well engineered home-built, so a credit to John's build, and thank you,much appreciated my learned friend. I've conned Bruce into giving us a talk in the near future.

Last Sun/20th/May,a beautiful clear day we dropped into Te Kowhai Airfield and saw a variety of a/c in and around the circuit and the guy's doing the development were busy too, having just put up the other new hangar,so it's all going ahead and steady progress which is good for aviation in general.Noted were two Piper Cubs,(BQV& BTU), Cessna 172P-SGW, 172N-TJL, RG Cutlass-ETG, Yak-TYS, Technam P-96 Golf-TEB, P-92 Echo-Super, -PFL,Vans RV-6-VIA, and Bantam B-22-ZAF,and R-44,HRR. Two gyro's did touch and goes then departed for their homes as well.

Mark your calendars for Sunday 4th/June for the Warbirds D-Day Open Day at Ardmore,from 10am-4pm, with flying displays at 11.30am and 1.30pm. Cost $20/hd.

Rocket Lab's Electron rocket set for inaugural flight from New Zealand.

Alan's May Jottings,
With the New Zealand National Airways Corporation (NAC) 70th anniversary coming up I am reminded of the many flights I have had around NZ in DC3s and the likeable (for me at least) Friendships, with a flight also in a Viscount. It saddens me that I am also reminded of the tragic loss of DC3 Skyliner ZK-AYZ on July 3 1963 with the loss of 23 lives when the aircraft crashed in bad weather on the western side of the Kaimai range. I was at Woodbourne at the time during my first year in the RNZAF and our course was called together to be told of the tragedy.

During leave in my early RNZAF years it was a regular pastime to go tramping with my father somewhere in the Kaimai range, so during my Christmas leave in Tauranga that year my father suggested maybe we could have a go at tramping up to the site of the DC3 crash. So off we went early on Christmas eve, tramping up to the summit of Thompson's Track from the western side, then off on a side track to the top of Mt Ngatamahinirua and down to the crash site. It was a very sobering sight once we reached the crash and saw what remained of the aircraft.

We spent some time looking around the remains of the aircraft and trying to get our heads around what had happened. The fuselage was lying on its starboard side in a steep gully not far from the top of the ridge; another few hundred feet higher and the aircraft would have flown over the ridge. The remains of one wing was partly draped over the fuselage and the rear of the aircraft from the door back was relatively intact. The forward fuselage and other wing were hardly recognizable. After taking several photographs we both tramped our way back up to the mountain top in a very sombre frame of mind, then back down Thompson's Track to the car and home.

While it took a while for me to take in the tragedy and what we had seen I'm glad we did go and see for ourselves the worst air crash in New Zealand. Signs of the crash site and some wreckage is still visible from the Old Te Aroha Road if you know where to look. There is also a memorial alongside the road within sight of the crash site.

As usual,all members, guests and friends are cordially invited, and the usual refreshments will be available.

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