This Site is dedicated to all those families of the people that have tragically disappeared on flights in and around New Zealand. I only hope that from all the effort in building this site and from all the effort of those taking part in this venture, that it will bear fruit in bringing ‘closure’ to their memories!
Father Crosbie had spoken, on Kevin Fisher's radio, to a girl at Balfour who said there was patches of blue sky there.
This would have meant that he also had another option of knowing that it was possible to fly over the top of any cloud blocking Wilmot Pass (although I'm not sure it was legal in 1978?) and knowing that it would be possible to get back down through holes in the cloud at Balfour (if they were still there). He was that sort of person as he had a reputation for flying in cloud (although not rated to do so), in fact he had once been grounded by his Aeroclub for doing so.
Wilmot Pass / Percy Saddle
Is there any evidence to support the possibility of them flying by way of Wilmot Pass? …..Yes!
There was an observation just east of Wilmot Pass from Mr and Mrs McCullam at West Arm Powerhouse. They heard a plane over Percy Saddle about 5.45 to 6.00pm.
The distance from Long Reef Point to Percy Saddle is 98 n.miles and at 130 knots this distance would be covered in 43 minutes - 4.55pm + 43 minutes = 5.38pm, and taking into account the recorded 15 knot tailwind = 40 minutes = 5.35pm.
However, Father Crosbie said "he would get a bit more" (as mentioned earlier) and if he meant fuel endurance, then one of the ways he could have done this was by slowing it down to say 110 knots = 53 mins = 5.42pm. Whatever their ground speed was, you'd have to admit that the plane that the McCallums heard could very well have been ZK-BMP.
In one of the newspaper articles in the files, it said, "It had been confirmed that another aircraft was in the West Arm area about the same time as the reported hearing. Other information discounted the possibility of it being the missing plane". There is no mention of all this in the files so I can't really comment apart from the knowledge of knowing how notoriously newspaper articles have been wrong. I wonder where this information is if it is not in these files. If anyone knows, please contact me? A police involved with the search at the time, told me that they never did find out who was flying there at that time.
Even if there was some other plane there about this time, this still does not rule out the possibility that what the McCullams heard may well have been BMP, so until it can be proven otherwise, I would still feel it worthwhile using this scenario seeing that the timing of it all fits in so well, and I believe the logic is good.
The McCallums recalled it as "dark and snowing lightly", but you need to understand that what appears to be atrocious weather to someone on the ground, does not mean the plane was flying in the same weather. Where the plane was, was quite likely totally different, much finer weather, as in an aircraft you are able to skirt around the showers. If an observer is on the ground in a rain shower looking out, the aircraft looks like it is in the shower also, when in fact it probably is not.
If they did in fact make it as far as Percy Saddle, then in reality they should have made it to Riversdale as the worst was behind them. They only had another 1/2 hour to run.