7 May 2013

Pair escape helicopter crash

10:30 pm on 7 May 2013

Images from the shark movie Jaws flashed through the mind of a pilot as his helicopter crashed in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf on Tuesday.

Peter Maloney was flying with Nina Heatley when the aircraft suffered engine failure and plunged into the water just off North Head shortly after 11am.

They managed to quickly free themselves and swim away from the aircraft. By chance, the Navy vessel Taupo was in the Gulf and rescued the pair, taking them to shore where they were treated for minor injuries.

Mr Maloney told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme his training kicked in when the helicopter got into trouble.

"During the descent I had the chance to make two mayday calls, I had time to release my seat belt. Then we arrived over the water and I just put the belly down nice and gently. There were no big bangs."

However, his thoughts then turned to what could be in the water.

"My first thoughts were I'm not a fan of swimming in the ocean, I'd rather be on scuba tanks. The vision of some big fish around - I remember seeing Jaws as a kid."

Senior Sergeant Martin Paget praised the pair for the way they responded. He said they did everything right and all they had to do was wait for the next boat to come along.

Peter Maloney says he and Ms Heatley are just thankful that the Navy were so close.