NZ chopper crashes while erecting tree

2011-11-23 08:56
Wellington - A New Zealand helicopter pilot miraculously escaped injury on Wednesday when his chopper crashed spectacularly and broke up while erecting a giant Christmas tree on the Auckland waterfront.

The helicopter's main rotor clipped a cable as it was about to land, sending the aircraft spinning out of control into a pylon, which sheared off the tail section as nearby workers ran for cover.

Television footage showed the pilot, clad in a fluorescent safety vest, being tossed around the cockpit like a rag doll, appearing to fall out of the chopper's door before his harness snapped him back inside.

The aircraft slammed into the ground, with the cockpit surviving in one piece and the pilot, named in local media as Greg Gribble, walking away with help from two co-workers, who clambered on the wreckage to free him.

Gribble, an experienced chopper pilot with thousands of flying hours, was taken to hospital for precautionary monitoring and later released.

"He was lucky to walk away from this," New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) safety inspector Steve Walker told reporters, adding that it was "extraordinary" no ground staff were hit by flying wreckage.

Gribble was the only person aboard the Eurocopter AS350 B2 Squirrel helicopter, which had been hired by Telecom Corp to erect a 26m high fibre optic Christmas tree on the waterfront.

"Can confirm the helicopter that crashed was putting up our Xmas tree. We're really happy to confirm pilot and ground crew all OK [sic]," Telecom said on its official Twitter feed.

The CAA said it expected a preliminary investigation into the crash to be completed within four weeks.
Read more on:    new zealand

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Miley Cyrus can’t get enough of her new puppy

Miley's new dog is too adorable.



13 guilty pets
Meet SA's top poacher-catcher
The unusual pets of Instagram
Bertie sets a new world record!

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

The Leo moon adds an element of drama and entertainment. A significant person that you may consult or confide in may play more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.