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NEW ZEALAND DISASTERS AND TRAGEDIES
WAIKANAE AIR DISASTER - FRIDAY 18 MARCH 1949

At 8.11am on Friday 18 March 1949 the Lockheed Lodestar ZK-AFW Kereru left Whenuapai Airport (Auckland) for Paraparaumu near Wellington. The flight was then to go on to Harewood at Christchurch and then to Taieri, near Dunedin. This air route was referred to as the "Main Trunk".

The Captain was Commander R W Bartley, a former RNZAF pilot. He obtained permission from the Paraparaumu tower to descend on instruments through the cloud base (estimated at 800 feet) but shortly after, all contact was lost with the flight.

Search planes were sent out and just after noon burning wreckage was seen at around 1500 feet on a ridge near Waikanae in the Tararua foothills.

About 50 searchers set out for the site – blankets and stretchers were strapped to a packhorse. Fog soon set in and the search party lost site of the spotter plane and the search had to be abandoned around 6pm. At first light the next morning the search party set out again and reached the wreckage around 8am. They soon found that all 15 people on board had been killed instantly.

A Royal commission investigation found the crash was due to faulty navigation.

For further information see the book - New Zealand Disasters by Eugene C Grayland (1957 A H & A W Reed).

BARTLEY Richard Warren
BELL Noeleen Babbette
BOYS Roger Anthony
CATTIN Gladys Myrtle
JEFFCOAT (Actually JEFFCOTT) Frederick Edward John
JUNE James Frederick Dudley
KEELER (BRIELL) Edward Phillip James
KENNEDY Robert Henry
PERKINS Edna May
PERKINS William Edward
RYLAND Andrew Gilbert
STEPHENS Frank Burcon
THURGOOD Edward William
TREWEEK Joan
WILSON Donald Scoular

Thanks to John Wilson for his help with this.


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