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Plane crashes into Auckland vines

A light aeroplane crash-landed in an Auckland vineyard last weekend, destroying several rows of vines before overturning.

The pilot escaped with cuts and bruises and the passengers – six skydivers who all baled out at 2000ft (609m) – were unhurt.

‘We landed in a paddock behind a tavern which was nicely done, but we overcame the desire to go inside,’ skydiver Bruce Thompson said.

The Cessna, owned by Whenuapai’s Aviation Sports Club, crashed into Kumeu River Vineyards’ Chardonnay vines on 4 November, clipping about ten rows before ploughing into the vines, overturning and coming to rest.

Michael Brajkovich, winemaker at the premium New Zealand estate, said, ‘The pilot had less than a minute to decide where to land, and he ended up in our Chardonnay vineyard in Waitakere Road [very close to houses].

‘We have a lot of broken wire and posts, but fortunately not that many vines

that were totally broken. It won’t cause any significant disruption.’

He added that engine failure caused the crash. ‘One of the con-rods had let go at the big end, and then gone straight through the top of the engine housing, causing complete shutdown.

‘It made for an interesting Saturday afternoon.’

The skydiving team was practising for a local fireworks display on Saturday night. Despite the fact their plane was upside down in a vineyard, Thompson was confident they would be airborne soon.

‘It has slowed our day down but we’ll carry on as soon as we get an aircraft arranged again,’ Thompson says.

The Civil Aviation Authority is investigating the crash.


Written by Adam Lechmere

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