06 October 2011

Bay of Plenty Airways' Aero Commander Crash Memorial

A memorial service and commemorative plaque/display unveiling is being planned for the 50th anniversary of the accident of Bay of Plenty Airways Aero Commander ZK-BWA, to be held at the Classic Flyers Museum, Tauranga Airport, on Monday 21 November 2011. In the early afternoon there will be presentations about the accident by Professor Les Erasmus, Rev Dr Richard Waugh and Steve Swift (former Australia Civil Aviation engineer) in the Museum's upstairs lecture room.

On 21 November 1961 Bay of Plenty Airways Aero Commander ZK-BWA, while on a scheduled service from Wellington to Rotorua and Tauranga, broke apart in flight and crashed on the slopes of Mt. Ruapehu, with the loss of life of all six occupants: Captain Alf Bartlett, Miss Marlene Boynton, Mrs Nicholas Crook and her children Jeffrey (2) and Helen (8 months) and Mr Irvine Down.

Subsequent air accident reports, engineering analysis, and pioneering metal fatigue work by Professor Les Erasmus (University of Canterbury) drew important conclusions about the cause of the accident. Further work by Steve Swift, Principal Fatigue Engineer, Civil Aviation Authority, Australia, drew attention to the international significance of the accident and the structural inadequacies of the Aero Commander design.

The 1961 Mt. Ruapehu accident is one of the nine scheduled airliner accidents in New Zealand from the early airline period of the 1930s through to the 1960s. A total of 73 people lost their lives in these tragic accidents (12 aircrew and 61 passengers). The 1961 Aero Commander is the final air accident from the early airline period yet to be commemorated.

For more details contact Richard Waugh - rjw@ecw.org.nz

1 comment:

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