Replica WWII warplane in crash

By John Cousins

A $50,000 replica World War II German fighter plane which was being flown to its new home from Tauranga Airport crash-landed in a paddock near Levin.

The pilot and owner, Murray Milnes, had purchased the Focke-Wulf 190 from Bay Flight's chief flying instructor Phil Hooker and was heading south to Paraparaumu Airport when the plane started losing power.

Media reports said Mr Milnes received a fractured skull and two broken ankles when the plane skidded across a paddock, narrowly missed a water trough and hit a fence.

Prior to the crash, the 27-year-old replica of the famous fighter had been on display for three years at Tauranga's Classic Flyers Museum and put in a lot of appearances at New Zealand air shows.

Mr Hooker told the Bay of Plenty Times that the 60 per cent-scale Focke-Wulf had become surplus to requirements because he did not need it and hardly ever flew it.

He owned the kitset aircraft for about five years before deciding to put it on Trade Me earlier this year. The sale went through a month ago and Mr Milnes picked it up on Friday, once all the paperwork had gone through and the aircraft had its new warrant of fitness.

Mr Hooker said the new owner was an experienced pilot of tail wheel aircraft. "He had the skills to fly it."

Although Mr Hooker confessed to not having an emotional attachment to the aircraft, he said he was gutted by the crash. "It is another bit of aviation history wrecked. I feel sad for the aviation community rather than myself."

Classic Flyers CEO Andrew Gormlie said Mr Milnes had been lucky to escape so lightly from the crash. "He will be hurting, but it's nothing terminal."

He said the Focke-Wulf had quite a high wing loading which meant it would have been moving quickly when Mr Milnes put it down. "It would have been a difficult exercise to bring it down safely.

"He did quite well in the circumstances."

Mr Gormlie said the crash was really sad.

"The aircraft is quite neat. It could be a project for someone - an enthusiast could have a go at putting it back together."

He said the Focke-Wulf airplane was quite well known. It had featured at quite a lot of air shows around New Zealand, including two in Tauranga.

Mr Milnes was an experienced glider tow plane pilot, operating out of Paraparaumu. The Focke-Wulf had a two-hour flying range on a full tank of gas. It crashed at 2.30pm on Friday.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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