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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 65477
Last updated: 23 November 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic DH82 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
de Havilland DH82a Tiger Moth
Owner/operator:FIS RNZAF
Registration: NZ722
MSN: 3696
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:600 yards off Narrow Neck Beach, Rangitoto Channel, Auckland -   New Zealand
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RNZAF Hobsonville, Waitematā Harbour, Auckland, New Zeland
Destination airport:
de Havilland DH82a Tiger Moth MSN 3696: Built at Hatfield. Issued with UK C of A number 6323 on 21 June 1938 to F.D.Mill, and imported into New Zealand for the Auckland Aero Club. Arrived in NZ 25.8.38; erected and re-flown at Auckland 12.9.38. Issued with New Zealand Certificate of Registration 137 on 8 September 1938 and registered as ZK-AGH to Auckland Aero Club, Auckland. CofA 228 validated 3.10.38

Impressed into the RNZAF on 1 October 1939 for a cost of 1,200 and allocated the serial NZ722. Crashed into sea 600 yards off Narrow Neck Beach, Auckland about 10:00 hours on 31 August 1940 while being operated by Flying Instructor's School, RNZAF Hobsonville.

According to a local newspaper report (article from the 'Auckland Star' dated 31st of August 1940):

A Tiger Moth aeroplane of the Royal New Zealand Air Force, from the Hobsonville air station, crashed into the sea about 600 yards off the Narrow Neck Beach shortly after ten o'clock this morning. It sank almost at once. Pilot-Officer Boyd Victor Le Pine, aged 24, of Wellington, one of the crew of two, was rescued by the port examination launch and taken to the Auckland Hospital. His injuries consisted of severe concussion, shock and lacerations to the face, knees and arms.

Pilot-Officer Robert Michael Goldstone, aged 21, of Wanganui, the other member of the crew, is believed to have been drowned. Efforts to extricate Pilot-Officer Goldstone were made by the crew of the examining vessel.

What Residents Say.
North Shore residents saw the Tiger Moth down harbour, perform aerobatics over the Rangitoto Channel and then go into a bank. The 'plane went into a dive, variously estimated from 200 ft to 1000 ft. The accident happened so quickly that eye-witness accounts vary. The naval examination vessel, anchored about 500 yds away, was on the way to the scene of the crash within a minute. The tail of the 'plane was still above water when the examination vessel, a small trawler, arrived.

Pilot-Officer Le Pine was seen to crawl out to the tail, and was taken aboard the trawler. Almost immediately, before a rope could be attached to the sinking 'plane, the Tiger Moth disappeared. The area was then buoyed, so as to mark the spot, as rescue operations were hampered by a fast, ebbing tide. Two dinghies began to operate.

Leaving the dinghies, the examination ship headed for port at full speed, taking Pilot-Officer Le Pine to the naval base, for conveyance to the Auckland Hospital by St. John ambulance.

Routine Training Flight.
The examination vessel sent a Morse message to the shore authorities, advising that air force personnel had been involved in a crash. Both Pilot-Officer Goldstone and Pilot-Officer Le Pine belonged to the Instructors' School at Hobsonville. They had been at the air station only a few weeks after completing the usual course of pilot training at a South Island station. Their flight this morning was a routine training flight.

Port Promptly Closed.
During operations at the scene of the crash the port was closed. A small vessel which attempted to enter port during this period was pulled up short by two bursts of machine-gun fire from one of tho coastal defence stations. Warned by the bullets whistling across her bows, her skipper put about and anchored nearby. The port was reopened about midday.

Scores of civilians along Narrow Neck Beach watched the rescue operations, as did several hundred officers and men at the Narrow Neck camp and nearby coastal defence stations. Fairly thick, misty rain was falling during the search for Pilot-Officer Goldstone. Two naval launches appeared on the scene shortly after the examination vessel had sent the Morse message.

According to information received by the police, Pilot-Officers Goldstone and Le Pine left Hobsonville at 9.15 a.m. to-day, in the Tiger Moth 'plane, D.H. 82, a two-seater aeroplane fitted with dual control.

Next-of-kin of Pilot-Officer Goldstone is given as his father, Mr. J. Goldstone, of 21, College Street, Wanganui, and that of Pilot-Officer Le Pine, as his mother, Mrs. V. Le Pine, 101, Barnett Street, Island Park, Wellington.

The condition of Pilot-Officer Le Pine was stated at 3 p.m. to be improving but still serious".

Cambridge airman, the late Trevor Pearce wrote about this accident in his memoirs (see link #7), from when he was in the Army before switching to the RNZAF. He wrote:

"... But back to the job in hand and that was to protect N.Z. from the hordes of enemy that was expected. And so we were now in a position to make loud noises in the sky if we were attacked even though at this time we had, if my memory serves me well, just 41, yes that's right, 41 shells between two guns. So who was to get the extra shell, easy just toss for it. But we also had a few WOODEN practice shells that we could throw at the enemy or else put them in the guns and make loud noises as if they were alive. This would keep the enemy guessing.

We knew that these wooden shells were lethal as one day an Air Force Tiger Moth was flying over Takapuna beach and started to do some aerobatics and so we had a good target to practice on using the sophisticated predictor and range finder and as the guns followed his path we theoretically fired a shot which at this point he went into a spin from which he did not recover and promptly plunged into the water, fortunately with no loss of life. So don't tell me that wooden shells cannot hurt. At this point in time we sent for the painter to paint onto the guns one aircraft shot down with a wooden shell. The Air Force was never going to live this episode down."

Trevor never realised till much later that one of the pilots had indeed been killed.

Pilot Officer Robert Goldstone killed and Pilot Officer B. Le Pine injured, but rescued by Navy vessel. The aircraft entered a spin at low altitude and crashed into the sea about 600 yards offshore. Wreckage salvaged on 3 September 1940 by 3 fishing boats and aircraft written off.

The Rangitoto Channel is one of several passes between the islands of the inner Hauraki Gulf, close to the mouth of the Waitematā Harbour to the east of Auckland in New Zealand. The channel is an important stretch of water as it is the only deep water approach to Auckland Port for large ships such as container cargo ships and passenger cruise liners. The channel separates the volcanic cone of Rangitoto Island from the East Coast Bays of North Shore city, to the north of the Waitemata's entrance.


1. 'Auckland Star' 31st August 1940


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Revision history:

11-Jun-2009 01:32 angels one five Added
21-Sep-2009 02:34 angels one five Updated
21-Jan-2012 07:06 Nepa Updated [Time, Operator, Narrative]
02-Feb-2012 19:10 Dr. John Smith Updated [Registration, Cn, Operator, Location, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
17-Jan-2013 13:26 Nepa Updated [Operator, Narrative]
24-Oct-2013 06:24 angels one five Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Operator, Departure airport, Narrative]
04-Feb-2019 15:36 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
04-Aug-2021 17:30 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Departure airport, Source, Narrative, Category]
04-Aug-2021 17:31 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
04-Aug-2021 17:31 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
04-Aug-2021 20:12 Anon. Updated [Time, Operator, Operator]

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