Accident Brief, Occurrence # 15/4097

Occurrence No 15/4097 Nature of Flight Private other
Aircraft Model Zenith Zodiac CH 601-XL Pilot License
Date and Time 23 Aug 15 at 17:12 Pilot Age 58
Location Stratford Flying Hours (Total) 0
POB 2 Flying Hours (on Type) 0
Injuries (Fatal) 0 Last 90 Days 0
Injuries (Serious) 1 TAIC Ref
Injuries (Minor) 1 Publishing Ref Vector 2016-6
Damage Substantial Date Published


The aircraft was returning to Stratford aerodrome, and was well south of Mokau, when it encountered a wall of cloud that prevented the flight from continuing down the coastline. The pilot decided to divert inland, and climbed up to about 6000 feet to have a look at conditions. He saw what he thought was a route under the cloud, descended, and continued the flight towards Stratford. He encountered marginal weather in the area to the west of Whangamomona. He knew from his navigation app that Stratford was only 18 NM away, and this area was where he had done his flight training, so he felt comfortable enough to continue. He radioed Stratford and advised a colleague that he was 18 NM away and "we'd be there soon". He was flying above the hill tops, but beneath the cloud layer, so he slowed the aeroplane down to about 40 mph. Soon after, he found himself trapped by cloud below the hill tops in a narrow valley and that his way ahead was also blocked. He immediately realised that his only option was to make a 'controlled crash'. He closed the throttle, pulled the nose of the aeroplane up, and within a few seconds everything came to a stop. The aircraft had slid down a steep slope and came to a stop with the nose resting in a creek.