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Narrative:The pilot was making his first solo flight in a Cessna 170 after 45 minutes of conversion dual instruction.
|Operator:||Hawera Aero Club|
|C/n / msn:|| 27112|
|Fatalities:||Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1|
|Airplane damage:|| Written off (damaged beyond repair)|
|Location:||150 yards W. of Hawera Aerodrome, Taranaki -
On final approach, and at a height of 100 to 150 feet, the aircraft was seen to suddenly pitch nose down and dive into the ground at an angle of 50 degrees and an estimated speed of 70 m.p.h.
The Cessna was completely destroyed and the pilot was killed instantly. The plane did not catch fire.
The pilot was a former Royal New Zealand Air Force pilot ( 1942-1945 ) who had accumulated 602 hours of Service flying, mainly in fighters. He had seen service in the Burma theatre of operations.
Early in 1945 he had complained to the Air Force medical authorities of symptoms which included nervousness, dizziness and a feeling of impending " black out " when under stress. As a result he was grounded from further flying and subsequently released from RNZAF service.
In mid-January 1957 he applied for a Student Pilot Licence and did not reveal his grounding by the Air Force when taking the required medical examination. His previous history was not picked up by Air Department staff and the licence was issued.
Cessna 170B ZK-BQH had demonstrated some abnormal flight characteristics during its time with the Hawera Aero Club. The aircraft tended to oscillate gently in pitch when in straight and level flight and at times the nose would suddenly pitch down. Several pilots reported difficulty in trimming the aircraft to fly level even in smooth air. The Aero Club engineer had tried to remedy the problems, with little apparent success.
In his report the Chief Inspector of Accidents advised that the reason for the sudden dive was probably due to the abnormal behaviour of the aircraft, and expressed his regret that the aircraft's operators had not sought the expert advice of the civil aviation authorities in their attempts to correct the difficulties being experienced.
The Chief Inspector concluded that pilot incapacitation was not a factor in the crash, but cited the pilot's failure to disclose his full history to the medical practitioner who conducted the physical examination for the issue of a student pilot licence.
Edward Joseph Caskey R.I.P.
Civil Air Accident Report No.25/3/803 issued by the Accident Investigation Branch, Air Department, Wellington.
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