Nelson Aviation College Operate Planes Over Tasman! … Residents ask: “will the next accident involve me, my family or friends?”

‘You and other residents are not “in mortal danger” from our activity.’ (Giles Witney, Nelson Aviation College, Motueka Aerodrome)

The featured picture is one of a number of plane crashes over Motueka.

Serious or Fatal Aircraft Accidents Across New Zealand (Source CAA Website). On average, there are approx FIVE aircraft accidents (as classified by CAA) EVERY, SINGLE month:

  • Scroll down for significant accidents

Small aircraft are used for recreation and in work that underpins the New Zealand economy. Yet they are particularly accident-prone. A 2004 study of accidents between 1990 and 2002 found that New Zealand had five times the rate of small aircraft crashes than the US, and four times that of the UK. Source:

Two die in plane crash in Raglan Dec 2018

Raglan resident Monica Schischka said the plane was flying erratically and went into a “death barrel roll” that was a “full 90 degrees”.’

“We saw it coming down, heading straight down, like it had fully nose-dived and it didn’t pull up or anything, and then we heard the thud.

“At first I thought they were doing a trick. But they were getting so close to the ground and then you just heard it. It wasn’t a trick. We were pretty sick[ened] because we kind of knew that someone’s just died for sure.” (Source: Stuff)

According to Mark Johannsen, (Tasman Council) rate payers subsidise the Motueka Aerodrome operation and Council plan to invest more contributions into expansion in an attempt to make it profitable … and in my opinion, exposing us all to an exponentially higher threat.

“as a chartered yacht skipper I traveled the globe”

I spent endless, memorable times in the most amazing destinations. So I can say with authority that the Top of The South, the Tasman region, is probably the best place on the planet to call home.

Even though I was seduced I was still very careful where I chose to finally settle the family.

You see, way, way back, my first home was on a busy main road and it wasn’t until I’d lived there a time that I discovered just how disruptive to health, body and spirit, relentless traffic can be. When I sold, I vowed never to buy near a main road again.

So, before setting out my stall in the heart of the region I went through a process of due diligence. We rented our current property for six months before finally signing on the dotted line. I checked the sun’s path, I checked the wind, I checked for industrial noise from the nearby orchards and vineyards, I checked the noise from the highway, I even checked for barking dogs!

All points got a big green tick.

I often tell people “I’ll be buried here!” Our home in glorious Tasman and we love it … or more accurately, I should say, ‘loved it’

We’re lucky enough to have pool and last summer I was nursing a hangover when I was slowly brought back to consciousness. A deep, guttural, mechanical grind fading in and out over a period of hours.

I’d never really noticed anything like this before other than the odd mower or chainsaw. It turned out to be a pilot in a small aircraft having a bit of a jolly (or so I thought). I determined to give it not a second thought, zoned out and faded back into my thoughts.

Light aircraft regularly break CAA law by flying low over Tasman

Later that week I was working on my computer from the office which is also on my property when again, I began to find it hard to concentrate. I kept noticing the drone of a plane. Although a distraction, I managed to bring my focus back on track.

Then it happened again and again.

“a pair of light aircraft playing silly buggers, having a dog fight over the entire neighbourhood”

A couple of weeks had gone by when, at 8.00 am Sunday morning I was abruptly awoken by the most dreadful din. When I spread the curtains to check it out, discovered it was a pair of light aircraft playing silly buggers, having a dog fight over the entire neighborhood. Now this wasn’t just a fly by, it was like something you see in those WW1 movies, this was a couple of ignorant retards skimming the tree tops, stooping and diving at each other … in the middle of town, over our homes.

I was pretty dammed peeved (putting it politely) and managed to grab some of it on my phone as I was sure no one would believe it.

Now I’d become conscious of these planes, I became increasingly aware that the activity was not just occasional, this was not the odd plane passing over (which no one minds), but a sustained increase in small, single engined planes using the airspace above our homes as their own playground.

“This is either joyriders or people training to be joyriders!”

Earlier I’d talked about the due diligence process I’d gone through when buying this house. One very important consideration was the proximity of Nelson Airport and any commercial flight paths … that one got a big, green tick too!

The increase in air traffic is not down to a new commercial flight path. These are small, single engined planes leaving their nest like wasps, fanning out across the entire Tasman district each day. Yet, unlike wasps that are considered pests and are being dealt with, this activity is actively encouraged and supported be the very organisation tasked with developing the region and keeping us safe.

It got worse, it’s is getting worse and if Mark Johannsen and his team have their way, life in Tasman will become exponentially more disturbed and dangerous … all paid for by residents!

When the planes come in and do their thing over my home or office I try to zone out but that in itself makes the very thing you’re trying to ignore, more invasive.

It it my understanding that planes aren’t required to have exhaust mufflers because the ‘Propeller Slap’, the prop cutting through the air, is far louder making them irrelevant.

After a few months of this and endless arguments with the missus, who incidentally thinks I’m a grumpy old fool, I began to think I was going slightly nuts, a maniac running round his land … “the planes, the planes…”

So, I made a post on a popular NZ social network site … Jeez! did that open a can of worms!

The comments were rich and varied to say the least.

A number of people suggested I chill out, others cited that they enjoyed the planes and others described the value the commercial benefits the aerodrome brought to the area.

Others suggested that the aerodrome had been there since the thirties and if I didn’t like it, well, then “I should go elsewhere”.

Yet others got really nasty!

“F**k off back to where you came from”

One guy suggested that “you are like that guy that moved next to the gun range in Nelson, then got is shut down due to the noise”.

And then there were more heartfelt posts from people who were adversely affected, ranging from those who felt slight irritation, to those that feel so harassed that they actually took the advice of the aggressors and left the area.

Then this:

I know I have had my say above but perhaps just a few more thoughts may help. In the past I was employed by various local authorities around the country as a health inspector or environmental health officer as it is now known. Public health was a passion and I quickly became involved in noise nuisance issues. I learned at an early stage that people suffered extreme anxiety due to noise intrusion in their lives. While many authorities quoted noise loudness/intensity rules and whether or not a complaint could be upheld; that approach did not accord with reality.

Most people I met were concerned:
1. about how often the noise occurred
2. about the character of the noise in an otherwise quiet environment and
3. the inability to do anything about it i.e turn it down or off.

Decibels levels often mattered not a jot to a complainant. ( a woman crying to me about low level boiler noise from the factory nearby and more recently a friend complaining about the incessant drone of an acrobat plane over the Motueka sand spit).

Unfortunately the law focuses on volume or sound level intensity (although not entirely) and far too many complaints to councils have ended up in a holding pattern going nowhere because of the debate over volume or the inability to accurately measure the noise due to a raft of staffing and environmental issues. ( staff on holiday ; too windy etc).

In fact an acquaintance who was one of the nations top noise experts told me what i already knew and that was; 90% of noise issues that were unresolved were so because of the intransigence of council officers and their reluctance to properly follow the law. In other words the lack of empathy and only focusing on one aspect of the law.

Everyone has a braking point.

Noise is insidious and is very difficult to avoid. The stress of feeling your voice is not being heard at a council meeting attended by laypersons no different from you or I; the loss of property value and the criticism from people not anywhere near exposed to the noise source as you are all amplify the stress and health risks.

For those of you who have focused only on the economic benefit ask yourself the following questions. How would you feel if you lived under the flight path when the “touch and go” training seemed to go on all day.

If your children were in the Motueka High School trying to focus on study on a hot day when the noise prevented windows from being opened.

If you were sick and trying to rest or if you were on night shift and trying to sleep. Yes the airport has been there for a while and activities have slowly increased. (In the late 90s I was advised by Nelson Airport that Motueka had more aircraft movements than Nelson).

BUT that does not mean there should not be a platform for ongoing communication, debate, monitoring and control over the activities.

Why not choose to be more understanding of people who are stressed by noise. If you allow them the space to feel less isolated you will find the problem will be much more rationally managed and tolerated.

If however your response is only – “they were there first”, “we need industry” and “get a life”…. we’ve all lost and we can no longer call ourselves “community”

So this is nothing new. There have been issues for many years.

Now I’m thinking, “how can this be?” How can an entire district be FORCED to endure this?

I decided that I’d look into it further and ‘hopefully’, as is the Kiwi way, get this done.

As these planes appeared to be coming from Motueka (but not always so) and then they would participate in what appeared to be training manoeuvres,circles, stalls, spins and the like, it stood to reason that they were from the flying school.

So I wrote to them in the most civil and amenable way. I pointed out that there was an increasing issue and was there anything that could be done?

I asked some questions about the activity and made some suggestions that not only would mitigate the intrusion but also the danger it poses.

Initially, I was simply fobbed off and told that ‘it was some other operator’, so I wrote again, pressing my point…

I was ignored!

I was ignored again…


Then finally, a reply! (edited)

Thank you for taking the time to email the College. I note that this is your third email to our organisation.

Nelson Aviation College takes all complaints seriously. We recognise that our legitimate business does have an impact on the wider community, and we do educate staff and students about flying in a neighbourly manner.

Secondly, I would like to reassure you that stalling is not a dangerous manoeuvre, but can involve some height loss. We never start a stalling exercise below 3000 ft above mean sea level (AMSL), and we recover from the stall no later than 2500 ft AMSL i.e. a maximum of 500 ft height loss, but normally no more than 150 – 300 ft. This air exercise is not initiated over a town or city i.e. a built-up area, and numerous aircraft checks must be completed prior to initiating each and every stall.

In short, you and other residents are not “in mortal danger” from our activity.

College management is very interested in low flying, “dog fights” or any illegal (low level) aerobatic manoeuvres. Video footage would be of interest to both myself, and to the Civil Aviation Authority. Can you please send this footage to CAA in the first instance, and they will investigate your aviation concerns, as will NAC after they contact us.

I would like to conclude with a clear statement from me that Nelson Aviation College does not condone unlawful flying at any time and if backed-up by valid evidence, swift action will be taken against the offending pilot(s).

Kind Regards
Giles Witney, Nelson Aviation College, Motueka Aerodrome

There appeared to be genuine concern from Mr Witney but as you’ll read, this was simply a good and proper fobbing off!

So I did as instructed, I wrote to the CAA and sent the footage, but was ignored again.

More correspondence followed that went nowhere, so I moved up the hierarchy.

One of the criticisms I’d received on my earlier post to social media was I was simply ‘ranting’, that I needed to go and ‘do my homework’. So I set about learning more about the operation.

As far as I can determine, Motuekea airport is owned by Tasman Council and the operations are funded by ratepayers. Here is the relevant web page regarding the airport.

So, armed with my very relevant questions and footage, I honestly thought that if I go and have a chat with Mr Johanssen at Tasman Council he’d realise that this was not cool and all would be well.

How wrong could I be!

I arranged a meeting.

I voiced the concerns again!

“a Harley-Davidson, easily the loudest machine on our roads, doesn’t come close to the noise permitted by small, single engined planes!”

“Why are a small number of people allowed to joyride throughout Tasman (probably the most beautiful place on Earth) generating enormous noise pollution and affecting thousands upon thousands of people?”

Planes can be heard up to 5km away creating a noise pollution footprint on the ground unlike any other source

“Amazingly, a light aircraft has a noise footprint of over 7000ha yet they are the ONLY machine or noise emitting thing not covered by strict noise pollution laws … and the council plan to grow this activity.”

I’m then told that there is actually a Memorandum of Understanding which covers many of the issues raised but it’s voluntary and self policed … and no one signs up to it!

Furthermore, the airport is unmanned by any council representative and there is no accountability.

“CAA rules state that aircraft are not allowed to fly below 1,000 feet over residential areas. We live on the ridge and because pilots do not increase their altitude as they pass over, inevitably breach that limit. We are told to report these craft but as the registration numbers are not legible from the ground that can’t happen.”

Mr Johannsen sat and listened to my concerns with all will he could muster. It felt like it was all I could to to stop him falling asleep.

It soon became apparent that there was nothing new in what I was saying and that I was little more than a pest.

With a parting look down his nose and a thoroughly unenthusiastic parting handshake, he said he’d get back to any questions I put to him in due course.

“there are strict rules and regulations in New Zealand covering ALL noise … planes are exempt!

Now up until this point I’d been focusing on the noise pollution.

I love motorbikes, I have a small track on my land. There are rules and limitations set out by council in order to mitigate any activity, which I’ve never exceeded. I only ride on occasion, just for practice and never for more than an hour or so.

As I understand it, if I we’re to ride and cause nuisance, the council have the right to confiscate my vehicle.

In fact, the council has the right to confiscate anything that emits noise nuisance. So with this in mind I was sure the council would understand the detrimental effect plane noise pollution had on people’s well being and would be keen to sort it.

After all … Don’t they owe a duty of care to ratepayers?

Well, that’s what I thought!

After our positively nonconstructive meeting I followed up with yet another letter:

Hi Mike,

Plane noise is pollution, fact and has been an ongoing issue for many years; it’s also something that really hasn’t bothered me … until recently. Over the last 6/8 months the noise from recreational and training planes seems to have significantly risen with circling and stall maneuvers an almost daily intrusion into my home and workplace.

I had scheduled this conversation later in the year but am prompted to write today as Tuesday morning at approx 9.45am a light aircraft passed over my property which is in the middle of Ruby Bay, at what appeared to be way under 500 limit.
Many of my immediate neighbours had expressed annoyance also so I made a post to I was surprised at the engagement it garnered. The post was centered on the school which seems to be responsible for most of the activity but when I wrote to them for comment they blamed other operators.

When we purchased our property we went to considerable effort to ensure we were not affected by vehicle or industrial noise which is why I find it so invasive when plane noise pollution seeks us out.

As you are clearly aware, plane noise is the most intrusive of all, penetrating to the very heart of the home despite extensive insulation. On a calm, clear day (when they are most active!!!), a plane can be heard from more than FIVE km away.

This gives a constantly moving footprint of of 7,000ha affecting thousands of people in residential areas at any time.

NOTHING puts out more noise pollution in this area than these recreational and training planes.

The discussion on neighborly was interesting. There were those who were angry and others that had been so affected that they left the area. The general consensus was that the noise was here to stay, it’s exempt and that the best solution was to try and ignore it. I personally find that very difficult as I wake to it most mornings now and as I work on the computer, endure the drone as it breaks my concentration. I am clearly not alone.

Is this fair and reasonable? One single commercial operation that adversely affects so many people. Tasman Council have gone to extraordinary lengths to site the new Kohatu race park at Tapawera due to noise, yet run their own operation that is far more intrusive.

I believe there to be many thousands of residents in the area who want this intrusion mitigated. Many, many people have complained over the years and the ones I’ve spoken with generally feel ignored. They feel that there is clearly a conflict of interest within the council who not only own it but are tasked with policing it.

Many aircraft are recreational, a couple of people taking in the magnificent scenery, out for a joy ride if you will. Yet they affect literally tens of thousand of residents on the ground. Then there is the school. Why is it that a student is asked to perform stall maneuvers and circles over residential areas? I recently had two directly above my property for over an hour. I gave up counting after thirty circles. On another day the training (I presume) started at 8.45 and continued all day.

This is clearly unacceptable when it happens almost on a daily basis.

Having listened to the grievances of neighbors and those affected it appears that most, including myself, are not against the Aerodrome and that we can live together with a little more consideration and effort from the Aerodrome operators.

I was pleased to read that many of the points contained in the Memorandum of Understanding would mitigate the impact are covered but am disappointed that they clearly are not being adhered to.

I said at the beginning I would like to open dialogue at this stage and there follows a number of points for discussion.

  • What research has the council undertaken to assess the impact of the operations of the Aerodrome upon residents? IE how many people are adversely affected and how?
  • Have the health issues caused by the noise (especially mental) been fully assessed?
  • What accountability is there for pilots breaching Civil Aviation and Memorandum of Understanding. I see there is a complaints procedure but how do the public identify the culprit? What penalties are in place for those breaching the MoU
  • What systems are in place to monitor compliance of the Memorandum of Understanding? It appears that it is entirely incumbent upon the pilot to set flight paths etc?
  • How is the Aerodrome funded? Rates vs commercial income
  • Why are training planes allowed to do loops and stall training over residential areas at all? Surely this is not only creating unnecessary noise pollution but putting residents below at increased risk.Would the following be amendments tighten up the Memorandum of Understanding?

Points to consider

  • All flight plans to avoid residential areas wherever possible
  • No recreational/training flights over residential areas outside of the hours of 9am-5pm weekdays only and not on public holidays
  • No loop or stall training over or within 3 miles of residential areas


Over the following weeks I pushed and pushed for answers. Mr johannsen generally replied only after asking the same question numerous times and with absolutely nothing constructive. This continued until he simply gave up answering at all.

I made the following submissions over and over, I was ignored and fobbed off, over and over:

  • I am concerned that there is a duty of care to ratepayers that far outweighs any commercial benefit gained by generating more activity.
  • I am concerned that there is no investigation or consultation as to how these aircraft affect residents.
  • I am concerned that any plans for expansion are being progressed under the radar
  • I am concerned that learner pilots are allowed to practise over residential areas
  • I am concerned that the Memorandum of understanding is not policed and there is no accountability.
  • And I am most concerned that my rates are being used without my permission and against my will to support a small number of businesses that generate more noise pollution and intrusion than any other in the entire district

“I feel under siege, targeted and ignored”

During this time the plane activity intensified to the point where I began to feel that my property was now being targeted. Every day, privileged, antisocial pilots would fly in and engage in their manoeuvres. They would hug the treetops, they would stoop and dive, spin and turn, they would literally send me giddy watching as they went round and round in circles.

Now remember, like almost every resident that is affected, we didn’t choose to live near an aerodrome. In fact, this was a key point during my due diligence … is this property in any commercial flight path … No!

These craft seek us out, they fly many kilometers from their base, hugging the ridge for the updrafts, just a few hundred feet over our homes … and well below the legal limit.

It’s become apparent that most of these planes belong to the flying school and when driving past their base, it appears there are more and more planes parked on the apron. With only so much airspace in the region I’m assuming it’s been sliced and diced with training/joyriding  rotating through all sectors.

I suffer from depression and deal with it through a technique now being introduced across New Zealand schools and institutions called Mindfulness.

It’s actually a fancy name for sitting somewhere quite and peaceful and going to a ‘happy place’ in your head for 5 mins. Bit if meditation if you like.

It works!

It doesn’t work however, when your happy thoughts are drilled into by the now ubiquitous, all-invasive growl created by those that treat us with contempt.

I used to enjoy time in the garden. Can’t do that now as I’m harassed indoors. But even that gives no respite as the din permeates to the very foundations.

And this gets me down … very, very down.

We’ve even considered moving as some suggested. We spent the last ten months looking at property but no sooner had we arrived on site then a plane’s noise would drive it’s way through the real estate agent’s sales pitch.

“the skies are blighted”

There’s no other way to describe this. No matter where you go, no matter how you try and escape in the region, the plane noise is ever-present.

We recently went to Kaiterriterri for a short getaway. For long periods of time I struggled to hear the guy sat right next to me courtesy of the guy in the sky enjoying his day.

Now I have to admit, my depression probably doesn’t help as it does make me more sensitive to this kind of thing but I began to take it personally. I felt that because I’d dared to complain, that I was now been targeted.

Granted, planes fly into my property and play their games all day, every day now but after watching them, I now realise the pilots are just probably ignorant. Ignorant of the misery they’re reaping. And now I’m in this situation, talking with others, I find that it’s not just me.

Almost every person I speak with on the subject feels targeted, they feel helpless, alone and are thoroughly sick and fed up with it all.

People have moved away, but I suspect that if they didn’t move far enough, the planes have now reached their new homes. Animals are affected, especially horses when these pilots stall and dive.

Others say they just have to zone out as there’s nothing they can do.

“low flying, tight circling, spins and stalling … is it 100% GUARANTEED safe?”

The noise, regularly exceeding 100db is bad enough!

stalls are dangereous

Then one particular pilot flew in whilst I was in the barn and began his (or her) games directly above my head, my home and my family. They would fly in tight circles over and over and over then, like a stunt pilot, would drop into a long, deep fall only pulling up some few hundred feet above the ground.

They would do this over and over … right  in the center of town!

I literally began to fear that he would dive straight into my property killing us all. Then, I began to realise there was something far more serious than the noise at play here.

Now remember, according to Giles Witney and Mark Johensson, this does not happen yet I have hours of footage showing that it does.

Remember the dogfight I spoke about earlier?

Not only was it highly disturbing, in my opinion it was highly dangerous too!

A couple of days later another plane appeared over head and I was drawn outside to investigate. I counted thirty tight loops. The the aircraft would float away and go silent. It would then go into a dive generating the most invasive, guttural drone. It turns out that this is called a ‘stall maneuver’ but more about that later.

As I was watching, my attention was drawn to a second craft, this time a helicopter making its way across the sky.  As I watched it became apparent that it was on course for the flight path of the plane. As a yacht skipper I know all about collision courses and I became more apprehensive because this looked like it wasn’t going to end well.

The plane continued its loops, the helicopter heading straight for it with no deviation. Luckily, they passed each other.  Now I don’t know what the CAA consider to be a close call for small aircraft, but this looked pretty, damn close to me!

So in the space of a couple of days I’d endured two pretty disturbing incidents.

“two manoeuvres are particularly worrying”

In one, the pilots do multiple low-level turns. The second is the stall.

Now as far as I can determine a stall requires that a pilot fly their plane in such a way that it completely loses control. It is a state of flight where the craft is no longer supported by the air and begins to drop to Earth like a stone.

If the pilot did nothing, the plane WILL crash to the ground as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow.

It’s the pilots job to ‘recover’ the fall and ‘hopefully’ bring the plane under control. The increased noise is the engine straining under the pressures.

And this is going on all day, every day over our homes!

‘as I’ve written in my complaints, it’s not if, but when a tragedy occurs”

Planes fall from the sky all the time (just read the CAA list of accidents), so why is it that our lives are constantly put at risk so that a very privileged few can enjoy their pastime or career choice?

I can think of no other instance where this happens.

Would authorities allow learner truck drivers to practice emergency manoeuvres whilst driving straight at your home?

A stall maneuver is no different from a logging truck steered directly at your home, the driver letting go of the wheel, taking their feet from the brake, putting it completely out of control and then ‘hoping’ they have the skill to recover it.

How, in all that is reasonable, can this be allowed to continue?

“many have tried to resolve this over many years, I’ve tried everything I can, were at an impasse”

Initially, I approached Nelson School who seem to be the main culprit to be told ‘it wasn’t them’. Then I went to the operators, Tasman Council and Mark Johansson to be’ fobbed off’ and then ignored.

Getting more frustrated I started climbing the ladder corresponding with the CAA and latterly the Director of the CAA, Graeme Harris.

I am ignored.

I believe that I’m ignored because of a clear an obvious conflict of interest. The people charged with policing this operation have a vested interest in seeing it thrive.

Then I copied in the transport minster Phil Tyford and his deputy Shane Harris

I am ignored.

I then added in other interested parties including our very own Jassenda Arden Prime Minister.

I am ignored.

“I was warned not to put my head above the trench and now I can see why!”

When I made my first post on social media I was shocked at the level of aggression but that’s something I can easily deal with. What’s more upsetting is being treated with contempt,

being considered worthless and being totally and utterly ignored.

I’ve put forward a legitimate concern, I made some perfectly sensible recommendations that would benefit us all, I’ve been polite and courteous at all times and yet all I get in reply is essentially a great big, fat middle finger.

plane crash

As these pilots regularly break the aerodrome Memorandum of Understanding and CAA law, I gathered evidence through phone footage.

Mistakenly thinking that the ‘Powers That Be’ would be concerned and keen to sort the matter, I sent it to them. Not only was I ignored by Nelson Flying School and Tasman Council but the footage was fully dismissed by CAA.

Remember when Phil Tywford was accused of using his phone whilst on the standing. Well CAA launched an investigation. I provide evidence that aircraft are putting every single home in an entire district in ‘mortal danger’ and I’m ignored. Not once, but over and over and over.

The CAA have an address where you can report low planes flying  etc. BUT as the registration number cannot be read from the ground, how the hell are you supposed to identify the culprit?

The CAA said there was nothing in the footage I sent (there most certainly was!!!) and as it was simply shot on my phone I could see their point. All you see is a small, very noisy plane, flying around. Although it captures circle after circle, It doesn’t really capture how low these guys are and how close they are coming to ending up in a heap in the Four Square.

Police dispatched to warn concerned resident about flying drones to collect evidence of activity ‘they’ say does not exist

So I thought I’d help clarify matters and get some drone footage. Some concrete evidence of these guys registration, height and what they’re playing at.

You’d think that kind of evidence would be welcome … wouldn’t you?

I happened to mention this is correspondence and received my first reply from Peter Canton, a council representative and something to do with the aerodrome I believe.

On 13/07/18 7:18 PM, Peter Canton wrote:

I would like to inform that it is an offence to fly a drone in a manner that would endanger aircraft and I hope this is not the underlying insinuation of your email.

So that went well!!!

Then, more recently I was returning home one Sunday when I received a distressed call from my wife.

“the police have been at the door”


So when I returned I called the number on the card he’d left only to speak with a constable who was utterly bewildered as to why he’d been ‘sent to our home by his sergeant’.

He summarised by saying ‘he wanted to ensure I understood the laws ref drones’ but didn’t really know what they were.

He quickly became the recipient of a 30 minute tirade whilst I ‘explained’ the situation … poor bloke!

It ended by my asking ‘why this was police matter’ to which he replied, ‘it wasn’t’.

I then asked ‘if a plane were to cause an accident in the district, would that be a police matter’ to which he replied … ‘it most certainly would!’

So here we are, a plane grinding away over head as I write.

And as Giles Whitney, Mark Johansson and the CAA will say, ‘There’s zero chance of it crashing.’


People get sick, planes malfunction, pilots make mistakes, plane dive into the ground … FACTS!

List of significant disasters or crashes which have claimed five or more lives include:

  • Sept, 1942 – Hudson bomber crashes near Tasman Bay, six dead.recent
  • 1942 – Liberator bomber crashes near Whenuapai, 14 dead.
  • Aug 21, 1944 – Two Hudson bombers disappear, 14 dead.
  • Oct 23, 1948 – NAC Electra crashes on Mt Ruapehu, 13 dead.
  • Mar 18, 1949 – NAC Lodestar crashes on approach to Paraparaumu, 15 dead
  • Nov 21, 1961 – Aero Commander crashes into Mt Ruapehu, six dead.
  • Feb 12, 1962 – Dragonfly crashes in Fiordland, five dead.
  • July 3, 1963 – NAC DC3 crashes in the Kaimai Ranges, 25 dead.
  • Mar 19, 1979 – Cessna crashes near Turangi, six dead.
  • Dec 9, 1982 – Helicopter crashes at Turoa skifield, Mt Ruapehu, five dead.
  • Jan 2, 1986 – Cessna crashes on takeoff near Picton, seven dead.
  • Oct 4, 1986 – Cessna hits powerlines and crashes into sea in Tory Channel, eight dead.
  • May 12, 1988 – Piper crashes into hills near Wanganui, nine dead.
  • Feb 14, 1989 – Helicopter hits power lines over Shotover River and crashes, five dead.
  • Aug 8, 1989 – Britten-Normander Islander crashes between Milford Sound and Wanaka, 10 dead.
  • Dec 39, 1989 – Two Cessnas collide over Milford Sound, one crashes, seven dead.
  • Oct 25, 1993 – Nomad 23 crashes near Franz Josef Glacier, nine dead.
  • Oct 29, 1994 – Helicopter crashes near Fox Glacier, seven dead.
  • Mar 29, 1995 – Beechcraft crashes near Hamilton, six dead.
  • Jun 9, 1995 – Ansett New Zealand Dash 8 crashes near Palmerston North, four dead.
  • Jan 29, 1996 Cessna Caravan crashes near Picton, five dead.
  • Jan 3, 1997 – Cessna crashes near Queenstown, six dead.
  • Aug 19, 1998 – Cessna 402 crashes in Foveaux Strait, five dead.
  • Apr 12, 1999 – Helicopter crashes at Lake Poteriteri, five dead.
  • Apr 18, 1999 – Cessna floatplane crashes in Fiordland, five dead.
  • Mar 8, 2000 – Helicopter crashes at Manapouri, six dead.
  • Jan 19, 2001 – Cessna 207 crashes in Fiordland, six dead.
  • Jun 6, 2003 – Piper Chieftain crashes near Christchurch Airport, eight dead.
  • Source

This blog has been published as a matter of record so that WHEN something terrible happens such the heartbreaking incidents in Wanaka, Christchurch and Fox, that those who choose to ignore and intimidate are held accountable.

I was told about those Wanaka crashes. The father crashed 11 times and now both sons are no longer with us and I’m really sorry for that. It does however, graphically illustrate just how dangerous flying can be.

Why do planes crash?

There are many reasons why planes crash. The people who build, maintain or fly aircraft can make mistakes or wrong decisions. Also, weather conditions such as fog and strong winds can make flying unsafe.

In New Zealand there are dozens of air crashes each year, mostly small planes, although only some of them have been serious enough to kill people and hundreds of incidents affecting safety, including near-accidents.

Small aircraft are used for recreation and in work that underpins the New Zealand economy. Yet they are particularly accident-prone. A 2004 study of accidents between 1990 and 2002 found that New Zealand had five times the rate of small aircraft crashes than the US, and four times that of the UK.

The accident rate was similar to Australia’s, but New Zealand crashes killed twice as many people. These grim statistics are partly explained by the profusion of light aircraft in New Zealand. From the 1950s they became more affordable to small airlines, aero clubs and private owners, and numbers soared.


What Can I Do?

Tragedy is coming … it’s just a matter of when.

Tragedy is coming … it’s just a matter of when.

Unintended stalls still put dozens of airplanes into the ground every year. Is it possible that stall training as currently practiced isn’t as effective as it might be?

In 2017, AOPA’s Air Safety Institute (ASI) published an analysis of more than 2000 accidents over 15 years that involved unintended stalls. Nearly half were fatal, about three times higher than in accidents without stalls.

Stupid, Or Just Sloppy?

In “Safety Second” (1932), humorist Robert Benchley listed “being just a plain damned fool” as one of three major accident causes. (“Daydreaming” and “worry” were the others.) An AOPA ASI analysis suggests foolishness plays a significant role in unintended stalls. Most result either from pilots not knowing how to handle their aircraft or succumbing to the temptation to try things they probably knew they shouldn’t.

The second group isn’t limited to “Hold my beer—watch this!” episodes, but they make a healthy contribution. At the top of the list are buzz jobs and their first cousins, low-altitude high-speed pull-ups. Yanking steep turns into steep climbs is best learned at altitude in aerobatic airplanes with adequate thrust. And the outcome of attempting tight circles at low altitude and airspeed—moose or no moose!—is a lesson that should be taught during primary instruction.

Source: Aviation Safety magazine.

To me it’s insane! Within a relatively short time, with a modicum of training, I could be playing silly buggers above high density, residential zones across the district.

I watched an idiot for over an hour the other day doing their thing just a couple of hundred feet above my home, my animals and most importantly, my family. I thought to myself, “if anything, anything at all happens to you or that plane, when the hell are you going to go?”

Tasman council take money from my bank each and every month under duress and threat of imprisonment should I not comply. They then treat it as their own and spend a portion of it on an activity such as this.

“I am being extorted in order to put my life in danger!!!”

This cannot go on.

I have tried to reason but am easily dealt with … because I’m on my own. “Just ignore him and he’ll go away”

The same tactic that has worked for years.

Giles Whitney – Mark Johansson and the wider organisation pull up the shutters and get on with it and to hell with anyone who doesn’t like it.

“they can ignore me, but they can’t ignore us all”

In the past people have felt helpless, others have been bullied into quietness. Until know those affected have had no voice.

Now it’s time for a change.

Yes, the aerodrome has been here for years but the environment has changed significantly. Council have allowed and promoted high density living. The aerodrome is no longer in a suitable area.

“Joyriding and training aircraft MUST be stopped from flying over residential areas”

plane crash help

How that is put into practice has yet to be determined but the sword of Damocles must be removed from our heads.

United we have a voice.

Affected, worried, helpless?

Your voice can now be heard and it’s time for things to change.

Yes, we need influencers and Health and Safety Lawyers but for now, our first task is to  get the word out with regard to this blog, our point of communication and reference.

Over the coming weeks we plan to leaflet drop the entire district and we need help with this.  If you can spare a couple of hours to drop a few hundred flyers in your local area, get in touch.

Of course, most won’t want to get involved in that so simply share us on social media and tell friends.

Just paste this link on your facebook page with a short description of your choosing.

Join our Facebook group to join in the conversation and get regular updates. (link)
Send footage and we’ll post it to our YouTube Chanel (link)

And most importantly, write to the operators of Motueka Aerodrome and tell them how you feel, voice your concerns, then send a copy and any replies (if you get one!) to us so that it can be published.

Mark Johannsen – Head of operations Tasman Council:

Giles Witney Nelson Aviation College:

Graeme Harris Director CAA:

Phil Tyford Minister of Transport:​​


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Not all crash pictures New Zealand based

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