Plane hit tree before nosediving on to golf course

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Plane crash investigators have revealed the way a small plane went down on Arrowtown golf course, killing the pilot. 

Civil Aviation Authority officials have today (Wednesday) been piecing together clues at the site of the wrecked fuselage as they attempt to find out what led to Monday’s accident that claimed the life of Tauranga man Ian Sloan, 59, and badly-injured a female friend and Sloan’s step-son. 

Sloan was attempting to land his Cessna Skyhawk at a neighbouring private grass airstrip in an easterly direction, lead investigator Colin Grounsell says. 

“For some reason, yet-to-be-determined, he appears to have lost control of the aircraft and crashed on to the golf course.” 

As it struggled in the air, the tail of plane hit a small tree, causing a wing and the nose to hit the ground “very hard” before sliding in the same upright position down a bank near the golf course’s seventh hole. 

“The aircraft didn’t have a lot of forward speed…and the fact that it was going sideways as well will have helped dissipate some of the energy. From that point of view [the surviving passengers] were lucky,” Grounsell adds. 

The CAA’s preliminary findings are expected in about four weeks but the full investigation could take months.