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Warbirds over Wanaka crash: Communication errors revealed in court

Jul 10, 2020

Communication errors have been exposed in the High Court case into events leading up to an expensive crash at Warbirds over Wanaka.

Pilot Arthur Dovey escaped unharmed when his World War II Yak-3's wing hit a mobile platform while landing on grass at the 2018 airshow.

The crash caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage.

In the High Court at Wellington today, experienced pilot and Warbirds board member John Lamont said he had known the platforms needed to be moved into place for another display.

However, he said that was from a verbal chat.

"The discussions... were how much time he had for the display and then he informed me that they would need so much time to set up and that was the 10 minutes I allowed.

"That was not documented - that was a discussion and I drafted the flying programme to allow that 10 minutes," he said.

Lamont said the display director was in charge of the on-the-ground action on the day and best practice was for pilots to tell the director what they planned to do.

He said Dovey's radio communication that he was about to land on grass went unheard.

Earlier in the week, Dovey told the court he had landed on the grass at the airport hundreds of times without fault.

Lamont, who has been involved with Warbirds over Wanaka since its inception in 1988, told the court today landing zones were available on the seal and grass.

Lamont currently sits on the Warbirds over Wanaka Community Trust Board of Trustees.

The case is set down for up to 10 days.

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