A plane crash in which broadcaster Rod Vaughan and his son were injured was unlikely to have been caused by a drone hitting the aircraft, an investigation has concluded.
The former TV journalist, who lives in Katikati, was flying over Waihī in March last year when the windscreen of his plane exploded, forcing him to make an emergency landing.
The report indicated the windshield may have shattered due to UV damage to the glass, but Vaughan believed at the time that a drone was responsible for the sudden loss of the windscreen.
He told the Bay of Plenty Times yesterday that he accepted the report's findings but did not think it could be ruled out that a drone caused the crash due to reports from residents and helicopter operators alike of drones flying in the area.
"The Waihī goldmine is notorious for drone activity," he said.
The windshield may have shattered due to UV damage but the plane was not that old, Vaughan said.
"The problem with my theory is that there is no smoking gun."
At the end of the day, he was counting his blessings: "I'm happy to be alive and flying again."
He had returned to the area while flying where the crash had happened but had kept his distance from the crash site.
The Civil Aviation Authority, in a report released this week, said investigators found no trace of a drone after the crash.
The report said Vaughan was viewing the Waihī mine when the windscreen failed "catastrophically".
"The sudden inflow of air caused both cabin doors to come open and aerodynamic control became compromised," it read.
"The pilot elected to make a forced landing onto open ground to the south of the town.
"While a successful approach was made to the chosen farm paddock, following touch down the aircraft bounced and was inverted, injuring the occupants."
Examination of the aircraft and searches of the area of the mine found no
evidence of a drone, the report said.
However, during the examination of the aircraft, a discolouration of the
plastic polymer windscreen was found. The windscreen had parts of yellowing on the original clear material.
Laboratory examination of the windscreen found UV degradation to upper sections of the outside of the windscreen.
This kind of degradation could result in sudden failures, the report said, but the extent to which this could affect the mechanical properties of the windscreen had not been established.