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Accident description
Last updated: 21 October 2017
Status:
Date:Wednesday 27 May 1953
Time:08:59
Type:Silhouette image of generic B170 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Bristol 170 Freighter 31M
Operator:Royal New Zealand Air Force - RNZAF
Registration: NZ5908
C/n / msn: 13061
First flight: 1952
Engines: 2 Bristol Hercules 734
Crew:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 4
Passengers:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Total:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:11 km (6.9 mls) SSE of Blenheim-Woodbourne Airport (BHE) (   New Zealand)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Military
Departure airport:Blenheim-Woodbourne Airport (BHE/NZWB), New Zealand
Destination airport:Whenuapai Air Base (NZWP), New Zealand
Narrative:
Bristol 170 NZ5908 operated served with RNZAF 41 Sqn. On May 27, 1953 it operated on the regular transport supply run from Whenuapai Air Base to Ohakea-Royal AFB (OHA), Blenheim-Woodbourne (BHE) and Wigram Air Base.
Group Captain R. Webb who was the commanding officer at Whenuapai also boarded the flight. He was not a qualified pilot on the Bristol 170 transport plane. On the return leg from Blenheim to Whenuapai he was at the controls in the left hand seat. The captain of the flight occupied the right hand seat and the navigator thus also had to move to a different position on the flight deck. The flight took off at 08:53 on an instrument departure to the east and soon entered clouds. Instead of continuing on runway heading until over Cook Strait, the airplane soon turned right towards high ground. The navigation instrument were not tuned into the correct beacon (Blenheim NDB). Six minutes after takeoff the airplane collided with Taylors Pass.

Classification:
Flightcrew un(der)qualified

Controlled Flight Into Terrain (CFIT) - Mountain

Sources:
» Ralph Simpson
» King, John (1995). Aviation Accidents and Disasters. New Zealand Tragedies. Wellington: Grantham House. pp. 77-78. ISBN 1 86934 042 6
» Ministry of Defence Accident File 25/2/2634


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Map
This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Blenheim-Woodbourne Airport to Whenuapai Air Base as the crow flies is 529 km (330 miles).
Accident location: Approximate; accuracy within a few kilometers.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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