Helicopter pilot David Beck knew a wire was strung across a gully of
an eastern Taranaki farm where he was flying a couple of months
The 42-year-old, who has been a pilot for 20 years, was about to
apply fertiliser on Ian Jury’s dairy farm at Tuna, near Midhirst, in
eastern Taranaki and forgot about the wire.
“It was a momentary lapse,” said the veteran of 6000 hours of flying in
a Bell Iroquois, aka Huey, helicopter.
The wire was strung across a gully on the neighbouring farm of Brian,
Aidan and Kerin Schumacher.
“I flew over some trees and went to drop into the gully – and
remembered the wire. I had to pull up and out.
“If I hadn’t known it was there and hadn’t pulled up, I would have
flown straight through it.”
Beck said it took a long time to pull up because under the helicopter
was a bucket of 11⁄2 tonnes of fertiliser.”I was ready to drop the bucket
if it was going to hit the wire.” He confessed to feeling “a little bit
His father, Alan Beck – himself a flying legend and owner of Beck Helicopters Ltd- said avoiding the wire had required
considerable skill because the pilot had to pull out of a steep turn from a low level.
“He was right at the limit of what the blades could lift in terms of the weight because of the g-force being generated by
his steep turn.
“It’s unusual to do such a steep turn from a low level – let alone with a load. And he had the forethought to be ready to
let the bucket go.
“At least the wire was marked,” he said.
“We both knew the wire was there – but we forgot.”