Arrowtown plane crash: Probe launched as pilot remembered

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The pilot who died in a plane crash at Arrowtown Golf Course yesterday has been remembered as a “generous and giving” man.

Tauranga man Ian Douglas Sloan, 59, died after his Cessna Skyhawk plunged into a grass verge near the seventh hole of the course at 3.15pm.

A man in his thirties – a relative of Sloan’s – and a 60-year-old female friend are in Dunedin Hospital with serious injuries. The woman had surgery on her pelvis today (Tuesday) and the man’s condition has improved.

The plane, registered to Sloan, was returning from a flight to Invercargill and was due to land at a privately-owned grass airstrip not far from the golf course.

Second-cousin Amanda Sloan, who had flown with him in the days before the crash, says Sloan was like a father to her son Jaden, 15.

“He was an amazing person, very generous and giving.

“It is such a shock, especially after spending so much time with him at the weekend before he flew down south.

“He was just one of those special people. He basically took on a parenting role with Jaden for a few months last year. He meant so much to both of us.”

Amanda adds: “He loved flying and was always studying for his pilot exams. I feel really lucky to have met in my life.” 

Auckland-based Civil Aviation Authority investigator Alan Moselen has visited the crash site this afternoon while two of his Wellington colleagues continue to make their way to Queenstown. Their flight was diverted to Dunedin due to bad weather.

Moselen, who checked out the wreckage with detective sergeant Brian Cameron, says it’s too early to determine what might have caused the crash.

“The team will start a technical investigation at the scene tomorrow, weather-permitting. How the aeroplane got there, we don’t know yet.”

Moselen says it appears the plane clipped a small tree before it landed nose-first into a hilly part of the course.

Investigators will look for operational and external factors to determine the cause of the crash, a CAA spokeswoman says.

“The sorts of things they look at are any witness statements, any potential for mechanical fault with the aircraft, any fuel line issues, any engine problems, terrain problems.

“They’ll look at what the weather was doing at the time, they’ll look at the weight on the aircraft and see whether that was an issue.

“They’ll piece it together using witness statements and make a decision as to whether they need to see any aspect of the actual machine itself in more detail or not.”

The spokeswoman adds: “If they no longer require it they can release the wreckage back to the owners or the insurers.”