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Warbirds over Wanaka head grilled in High Court over crash

Jul 09, 2020

The head of airshow Warbirds over Wanaka has been grilled about why two mobile platforms were on a grass strip that caused significant damage to a vintage plane.

Pilot Arthur Dovey escaped unharmed, but a wing on his World War II Yak-3 aircraft was destroyed after hitting one of the cherry pickers during landing in 2018.

At the High Court in Wellington today, Warbirds' general manager Ed Taylor said the platforms were put into position for a display which was to follow Dovey.

He said they were put in place earlier than expected for a light sport aircraft (LSA) display because of timing.

"They wanted to bring them out a bit earlier because they didn't have enough time in that 10 minute window to actually get them from the northern grass out to the middle (and) then set them up," he said.

Taylor said the flight display programme should have been amended to include that change to the LSA display.

He said he only saw the mobile platforms after the crash - which he rushed out to see.

The repair bill for the destroyed wing was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and Dovey wanted to recover those costs from show organisers.

Dovey's Yak-3 was one of two involved in the opening display, and replaced an F-16 aircraft because of wet weather.

Warbirds over Wanaka celebrated 30 years in 2018 and was cancelled this year due to Covid-19, but will be back in 2022.

The case before Justice Mallon is set down for up to 10 days.

A yak3 at the Warbirds Over Wanaka show (file picture). Photo: Twitter / Paul Stewart

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