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Mon, Oct 20, 2003

Tiger Moth Down In New Zealand

Newly Married Couple Killed In Firey Incident

New Zealand has suffered another aviation setback and this time, it's cost the country an aviation pioneer. Young Eagles pilot Nola Mary Pickard and her husband, Michael Stanley Pickard, were killed Saturday when their vintage Tiger Moth crashed in flames, just after launching from Taumarunui airstrip.

Nola was an enthusiastic promoter of the vintage planes and devoted her time to encouraging young people to share her love of flying. She was an EAA Young Eagles coordinator for the New Zealand flying club. Nola was also a member of the Tiger Moth Club.

That organization recently suffered another loss when it lost Barry Crowley in the crash of an AirFreight New Zealand Convair 580 in heavy weather near Wellington. "It has not been a good couple of weeks for us. "The aviation community is very close-knit. We mostly know one another."

There was no immediate explanation for the incident. It happened just as the Pickards were getting ready for a spot-landing competition. Some 60 people watched as their Tiger Moth (file photo of type, below) stalled in a turn, then spun into the ground. As the horrified crowd looked on, the Pickard's aircraft was engulfed in flames.

It was the first fatal accident in the Tiger Moth Club's 34-year history. Sunday, friends stopped by the crash site to lay wreaths and flowers in the meadow where the Pickard's went down. New Zealand civil aviation officials were at the crash site on Sunday, trying to determine a cause. That, said one investigator, could be months in coming. "We've just gone through the controls this morning, and made sure everything's as it should be," Tom McCready told Television New Zealand. "We have found nothing untoward."

FMI: www.caa.govt.nz

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