Two diplomatic protection squad officers at the centre of an aerial drama involving Prime Minister Helen Clark earlier this year have been recognised with police awards.

Constables John Burridge and Senior Constable David Reid used their police batons to hold the door of a chartered Piper Aztec aircraft closed after the aircraft hit turbulence and the door burst open.

The incident happened 2440m above the coast north of Wellington on April 13.

The air storm inside the aircraft ripped ear protectors off Constable Burridge's head and they disappeared out the door.

Helen Clark was thrown about the inside of the aircraft and badly bruised her arm.

The aircraft made an emergency landing at Paraparaumu Airport 15 minutes later.

The police magazine Ten One said the two constables used their police batons to hold the door and prevented it being ripped off, which would have further endangered the aircraft and its occupants.

Helen Clark was the only person hurt but after the event she said she wondered if she would live or die and was very relieved to land.

Her elbow was x-rayed but was not broken.

She said she was proud of the two police officers.

The door opened after a rubber grommet came off the door's windowsill and worked under the locking mechanism, allowing the door handle to be able to move in-flight.

The officers both received silver merit awards.

- NZPA