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Pilot and helicopter home safe and sound

18 August 2011

Pilot and helicopter home safe and sound

Pilot Michael Clarke and his helicopter are safely back home in Queenstown after spending two nights in inclement weather in Otago’s Lammerlaw Ranges.

Over The Top, a Queenstown based helicopter company was conducting a routine flight from Queenstown to Dunedin when adverse weather was encountered enroute.

Clarke and his passengers spent Tuesday night safely inside the helicopter which was well equipped with satellite, mobile phone and GPS tracking and stocked with full survival kits, clothes and food for such eventualities.

Yesterday morning, Over The Top arranged a private charter to take the passengers to Dunedin leaving the pilot with the helicopter.

Clarke stayed with the chopper hoping that a clearance would ensue but unfortunately the weather remained set in.

Clarke spent a second night in the chopper with plenty of survival supplies to ensure his well being.

This morning (Thursday), after de-icing and checking the helicopter Clarke waited for Over The Top CEO Louisa Patterson accompanied by Michael’s father and brother to fly in for an extra ‘eye over’ the chopper before flying home

The crew enjoyed a picnic lunch on the edge of Lake Onslow before flying back to Queenstown arriving early afternoon.

Ms Patterson said she was immensely proud of Michael who kept good spirits throughout his adventure, and commended his decision making.

“Michael’s strict adherence to the Safe Operations Plan ensured the safety of all aboard the helicopter. It takes a mature head to act cautiously and do everything by the book and Michael did exactly that. He kept in contact with our Operations Control throughout and made sure he kept himself, his passengers and machine safe. “


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