Two Queenstown pilots trespassed for late-night car driving on the airport runway explained their actions as “stupidity”.
So says airport cop Sergeant Steve Hutt, who investigated the April 9 incident for Queenstown Airport Corporation.
Mountain Scene understands the duo – trespassed by QAC for two years for breaching security and endangering lives – are Milford Sound Flights pilots Andrew Pye and Stefan Burrell, who’ve since resigned.
Mark Quickfall, their former boss, says they were “a couple of valuable, good professional pilots”.
He can’t comment on the out-of-hours incident but notes “we offered up some solutions” to QAC.
A “Trespasses Support Group” on Facebook, apparently supporting the banned pair, has 16 members, including eight pilots.
Group member David Cruickshank writes: “Word on the street is that there may be an early reprieve for the dastardly duo.”
QAC boss Steve Sanderson: “It’s at our discretion to lift the trespass notice but we’re making no commitments to do that.
“We certainly took legal advice about the ban.
“It’s a very difficult thing to do, and consideration was taken into account of the severity of this and we’re well aware of the impacts on those pilots for their careers and money-earning capability. But I think the severity of their actions is beyond that,” he says.
Hutt adds: “People have got to get it into their heads that you can’t just rock up on this international airport and do this sort of nonsense any more.”
Hutt says a metal fragment on the Paris runway was blamed for the Concorde crash in 2000 that killed 113.
“A wing mirror or bit of trim could have come off the pilots’ car. If you pop one of those aircraft wheels you’re looking at a major disaster.”
Mountain Scene was unable to contact Pye or Burrell, who now works for a milkman.