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

shaky” afterwards.

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.”