Pilot Mark Law tells Patrick Gower his 'biggest regret' about White Island eruption

  • 08/12/2022

Helicopter pilot Mark Law has regrets.

The Kāhu Helicopters CEO and former SAS soldier is haunted by the events of December 9th, 2019. 

After the eruption began and authorities deemed  too dangerous to land upon, Law was one of several commercial pilots who risked it anyhow.

The first to land at the site of the disaster, he recalls a scene covered by a thick blanket of ash.

“It dawned there that we had a great catastrophe on our hands with so many people lying about in the middle of the volcano.”

With a gas mask strapped to his head, Law discovered 20 people at the volcano’s crater. 

He and the other pilots who’d arrived carried the injured to their helicopters and flew them to Whākatane. They were stopped from returning for the bodies of those who had died.

"We had another eight people to take off the island, and were told to stand down. In hindsight, we shouldn’t have listened to that and just carried on," Law told The Project's Patrick Gower. 

"I know that we would have been able to get everyone home. I think out of everything, that’s the biggest regret."

The bodies of two victims were never recovered. Of the 47 who were on the volcano when disaster struck, 22 people lost their lives.

See the full interview with Mark Law tonight on The Project at 7pm.

The documentary The Volcano: Rescue from Whakaari will hit Netflix on 16 December.