Only pride injured in Gyrocopter crash

A man who crash-landed his gyrocopter in the shallows of Tauranga Harbour says his biggest injury was to his pride.

David Church and a friend, both in their 60s, walked away with only minor injuries after the gyrocopter lost power at 150m shortly after take-off from Tauranga Airport.

Mr Church thought he could make it back to the runway, but instead he had to make an emergency landing about 50m offshore.

He and his passenger then freed themselves and walked 200m back to the end of the runway.

Mr Church said he made "a fundamental error'' in one of his calculations, but he would not go into details.

The advantage of a gyrocopter was the ability to "sort it out'' after making a mistake.

"If I'd have been in a fixed-wing [aircraft] it might have been a bit different, because they stall,'' he said.

"I was very happy with the way I landed when it came to doing the emergency landing. We walked away, both uninjured - well, semi-injured.''

Mr Church said his friend was taken to hospital for observation.

"I think he might have bit his tongue ... he'll be out in a minute and I hope he's coming home to have a drink with me.''

Mr Church himself was unscathed.

"The biggest thing that's hurt is my pride - other than that I'm 100 per cent.''

It was the first time he had taken his friend out in the gyrocopter, but he had taken others out before.

Mr Church, 64, had owned the Xenon gyrocopter for about three and a half years.

He was "relatively experienced'', having flown it for about 250 hours.

Mr Church said the gyrocopter had sustained some damage to a rotor and the motor probably needed reconditioning, but it would be able to fly again.

Emergency services were called to the airport after the emergency landing about 1.30pm today.

Police said one man was taken to hospital as a precaution only.

The Civil Aviation Authority was investigating.

- APNZ

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