Dead pilot's partner supported by coroner

  • 17/12/2015

A coroner has supported the views of a woman who criticised the investigation into her pilot partner's death in a topdressing accident near Rotorua.

Samuel Francis Kershaw died on December 12, 2012, a week before his 27th birthday, when the aerial topdressing plane he was piloting crashed on farmland near Waikite Valley, southwest of Rotorua

However a Civil Aviation Authority investigation into his death did not satisfy his partner April Mainland.

At an inquest in June, Ms Mainland told Coroner Wallace Bain she believed a CAA investigation and final report into Mr Kershaw's death lacked facts and was based on assumptions.

Coroner Bain, who has released his final report into Mr Kershaw's death, noted Ms Mainland concerns.

It was reasonable, as per Ms Mainland's submission, to infer Mr Kershaw could have become distracted and lost control moments before he crashed, looking out for his instructor's plane - which was also in flight - coming up behind him, the report said.

She had made a valid point that when two planes are operating off the same airstrip and where one pilot is more experienced than the other, a standard protocol needed to be practised to avoid accidents, Coroner Bain said.

Ms Mainland had said at the inquest although she had spoken to an accident inspector at the crash site a day after her partner died, she believed she should have been re-interviewed when she was in a better "head space".

In his report, Coroner Bain shared Ms Mainland's concern but noted the CAA had since taken it onboard.

The CAA's submissions found Mr Kershaw's plane stalled during a climb and he was not high enough above the ground to make a recovery.

Coroner Bain found Mr Kershaw died from multiple blunt force trauma as a result of an aviation accident, and no alcohol or drugs were in his system.

He did not make any recommendations.