A RNZAF UH-1H Iroquois fatally crashed near Pukerua Bay, approximately 40km northeast of Wellington, shortly before 6am on April 25 killing three of its crew and injuring another.
Pilot FLTLT Hayden Madsen, copilot FLGOFF Daniel Gregory and crewman CPL Benjamin Carson were killed when their Iroquois, NZ3806, one of three from 3 Squadron en route from its base at Ohakea, near Palmerston North, to participate in an Anzac Day flypast at the Wellington Cenotaph, crashed. The sole survivor, crewman SGT Stevin Creeggan, was winched into the Westpac Rescue helicopter and taken to an awaiting ambulance and transported to Wellington Hospital in a serious condition.
The helicopter came to rest on its right side in a gully with its nose cockpit section missing. The weather at the time of the accident was reportedly poor with low and misty cloud.
This was the second fatal accident involving the type in its 44 year RNZAF service and happened almost 38 years to the day since the first accident. On April 27 1972 three people were killed when their Iroquois crashed into sandhills near the Kaipara harbour, approximately 90km northwest of Auckland.
Accident investigators are examining the wreckage on scene before airlifting the remains back to Ohakea for further analysis. Investigators will likely look at why the helicopters were flying in low cloud and poor visibility over hilly terrain rather than over the adjacent coastline.
The RNZAF is replacing its remaining 13 UH-1Hs with eight NH90 Medium Utility Helicopters (MUHs), with the first due to enter service later this year. Full operating capability of the MUHs is expected during 2013.