Crash like 'watching a kamikaze pilot'
Tue, 14 Aug 2012 6:40p.m.
By Jessica Rowe
A witness to the Fox Glacier skydiving accident has described the plane crash as like watching a kamikaze pilot in an old war movie.
The emotional account came on the second day of an inquest into the devastating air crash, which killed nine people two years ago.
Skydive instructor Oliver Mason was at the hangar when he saw the plane crash soon after take off at the Fox Glacier air strip.
"I remember the noise it made as it dropped," he says. "It was like kamikaze pilots in old movies."
An emotional Mr Mason had been with Skydive NZ for a week, and watched as the plane plummeted to the ground and demonstrated what he saw.
Mr Mason and others ran to the wreckage to check for any survivors
"I remember Nathan yelling, 'Can anyone hear me?' but there was no response."
Tandem dive master Gregory Rowan was another who witnessed the crash that killed his friends and colleagues.
"I heard the crash... saw the explosion. It was a fireball, a cloud of smoke. I rang 111 straight away and got put through to the fire service.
"I ran down the runway 400m and got to the crash site, but couldn't get close, couldn't see much."
Nine people were on board the plane when it took off, including four tourists and five staff from Skydive NZ.
An investigation found that modifications to the converted topdressing plane contributed to the crash, and that it was overweight and off balance.
Aviation expert Barry Payne told the inquest the plane was not loaded correctly.
The inquest is expected to run until Friday.
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