Family seek mountaineers after 12-year search for missing plane

Spread the love

A family who have spent over 10 years searching for a missing plane in the Canterbury High Country are seeking help from mountaineers to get into the high terrain.

Members of a search party take stock after being dropped by helicopter into the Jacobs River area of the West Coast.

Members of a search party take stock after being dropped by helicopter into the Jacobs River area of the West Coast. Photo: SUPPLIED

In 1962, a dragonfly plane took off on a scenic flight from Christchurch to Milford Sound with five people onboard, including a newlywed couple.

Despite one of the most extensive aerial searches in New Zealand history, the plane has never been found.

Filmmaker Bobby Reeve and his family have been looking for the Dragonfly since 2008 – most summers they tramp up the Huxley River deep into the Brodrick Pass on the South Islands Main dIvide.

Talking to witnesses and friends of the pilot, Brian Chadwick, they believe they’re in the right spot.

“He would have known roughly whereabouts he was and properly entered the cloud thinking he was high enough to get through the pass and he’s been off to one side or the other.

“When you look at the area up there, it’s an area where nobody would go, no-one would just stumble across it.”

Brian Chadwick's Dragonfly-type plane went missing between Christchurch and Milford Sound on 12 February 1962.

Brian Chadwick’s Dragonfly-type plane went missing between Christchurch and Milford Sound on 12 February 1962. Photo: Edna Bates / SUPPLIED Richard Waugh

Reeve said the discovery of a woman’s boot in the remote location has led them to believe the plane was about 8000 feet up, deep in the permanent snow.

“I think if it had been in the bush the whole time it would be covered in moss – but it wasn’t which is why I think it’s come down off the snow.”

Reeve, who turns 79, this year said it had become a bit dangerous for the family to continue alone.

“If we could sit down with people that we could trust – they would have to be mountaineers – then we could make a plan point out what we’ve already done and take it from there,” he said.

“If you know what you’re doing you could get up there, it’s not dangerous terrain for mountaineers but you just need to know what you’re doing.”

The Reeve family make their way to the Hopkins Valley.

The Reeve family make their way to the Hopkins Valley. Photo: SUPPLIED

The Reeve family have been filming their search efforts with plans to release the movie when they find the aircraft.

“If people can help us get up there either on foot or by helicopter we would like them to be able to film it as they go so it can be part of the film.”

Despite the challenging conditions, Reeve, his wife, and two sons are setting out again next month to search for the missing dragonfly.

“I keep thinking all the time that the plane is just lying up there somewhere, most of it will still be together in the area,” Reeve said.

“It would be nice to say at the end of the day that we worked hard, we got there, we found it and that’s probably what’s keeping us going.”

The Reeve family say they want to hear from anyone who may be able to help look for the dragonfly either by foot or from the air.

To contact the family email [email protected]

 62 

Leave a Reply