31 Oct 2016

Helicopter crashes in Central Otago

5:09 pm on 31 October 2016

A helicopter pilot is lucky to have survived after window moisture caused him to crash in a Central Otago vineyard, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) says.

The pilot - a man in his 60s - managed to climb out of the wreck of the Guimbal Cabri helicopter, which crashed about 4.30am near the Luggate-Tarras Road.

He was the only occupant of the aircraft that was apparently being flown for frost protection on vineyards or crops.

Police said the man was moderately injured in the crash.

The CAA said the crash happened after moisture on the cabin window restricted the pilot's visibility, requiring him to open the door to try to locate the ground.

It said he hit a vineyard pole while doing so.

The Authority was satisfied the cause of the accident could be attributed to pilot error, and the crash would not require an onsite investigation, it said.

The injured man was initially taken to Wanaka Hospital, then transferred to Dunstan Hospital, at Clyde, where he was being treated for moderate chest injuries.

Civil Aviation Authority spokesperson Mike Richards said it was no longer thought there had been smoke in the aircraft's cockpit, as had been reported to the authority earlier.