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Two men have been winched to safety and flown to Palmerston North Hospital in a rescue mission managed by the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand (RCCNZ).
The men were an instructor and student on a training flight for a commercial pilot’s licence.
The operation to recover the men began when air traffic control alerted RCCNZ at 12.45pm today that a two-seater PA38 aircraft was 15 minutes overdue. At about the same time, reports were received that aircraft flying over the lower North Island were picking up signals from an emergency locator beacon.
A Square Trust Rescue Helicopter from Palmerston North located the plane in steep terrain in the Ruahine Forest Park, about 15 kilometres north northwest of Dannevirke.
A paramedic and a crewman were lowered to the ground about 10 minutes’ walk from the crash site. They were able to confirm shortly afterwards that both men were alive.
The men were winched aboard two helicopters and flown separately to Palmerston North Hospital. The extent of any injuries they suffered is not known.
One of the helicopters returned to the crash site to pick up crew and equipment, and the plane’s emergency locator beacon was turned off.
RCCNZ Search and Rescue Officer Chris Wilson said that the rescue helicopter used the aircraft’s emergency locator transmitter to home in on it. She said the terrain was steep, and paramedics had to be lowered to the ground to treat the two men before they were winched aboard the helicopters for transfer to hospital.