Spirit not dented … Alan Macdonald visited Rangiora Airfield on Monday to find his missing shoe. It had been wedged under the rudder pedal. PHOTO: SUPPLIED


Nose-diving into a paddock in a light aircraft has not put 73-year-old Alan Macdonald off flying.

The Rangiora retiree had just started taking lessons in a bid to tick off one of the items on his bucket list — learning to fly.

He smashed his wrist, suffered cuts, bruising, a couple of black toenails, and whiplash.

Both he and the Canterbury Recreational Aircraft Club’s chief instructor, Stewart Bufton, were taken to Christchurch Hospital, but have since been released.

Lucky escape … Alan Macdonald is determined to return to the air, following his recent scare. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

‘‘I was really lucky. I won’t be playing golf anytime soon,’’ Alan

But he has every intention of carrying on with his lessons as soon as his body is willing.

‘‘You have to get back on the horse again. I am not going to let it beat me.

‘‘It is a lovely view up there. On a fine day, it is serene. You get a view of the countryside from another perspective.

‘‘I also want to see my farm in Sheffield, which my son has now, every now and then from the air.’’

Alan and Mr Bufton were practising engine failure protocols when the plane clipped power
wires and nose-dived, at low speed, into a paddock on a farm near Glentui on Wednesday last week.

‘‘I was under instruction when we caught some wires on the opposite side of the hedge we were climbing over,’’ Alan says.

Upended . . . The plane ended up standing on its nose in a Glentui paddock. Photo: Geoff Sloan, Star Media

‘‘ It was a slow speed, low-altitude accident.

‘‘ It happened in micro-seconds, so I didn’t get time to have any thoughts as we nose-dived into the paddock,’’ Alan says.

He did not want to comment further about the crash until the Civil Aviation inquiry was held to establish what went wrong.

On Tuesday, Alan went to the Rangiora Airfield to have a look at the plane, and search for his log book and one of his shoes, which had got stuck under the rudder pedal.

His family had been belatedly told that Alan was intending to take flying lessons.

Alan’s daughter, Bridget, told him he was mad.

“I said I hoped he didn’t fly away too soon. He nearly did,” Bridget says.

“They were incredibly lucky.”

Alan’s wife, Christine, said it was traumatising to get a call from a policeman to tell her about her husband being in a plane crash.

She continues to have nightmares about what might have been.

“That’s what has been waking me in the night. The thought of them burning to death,” she says.

“But we will be all right. It could have been worse.”

She reminded her husband yesterday of their wedding vows – in sickness and in health – helped to shower and dress him.