The Post

Embattled rescue pilot a ‘good samaritan’


A CAMPAIGN to ‘‘save Dave’’ has been launched in support of Kaikoura helicopter pilot Dave Armstrong, who is being prosecuted after flying to the rescue of an injured hunter.

Armstrong faces possible jail time because he was flying while suspended when he rescued Christchur­ch hunter Scott Lee and his girlfriend Lisa McKenzie from Puhi Puhi Valley, north of Kaikoura, in April last year.

He is being prosecuted by the Civil Aviation Authority for three alleged breaches of the Civil Aviation Act, and is due to appear in Kaikoura District Court on Friday.

Armstrong was not meant to be flying that day, because a medical scare had grounded him.

It is understood he flew as supervisor to the scene, but dropped off his less-experience­d co-pilot and took the throttle himself in dark and cloudy conditions so he had room to deliver two rescue teams and a doctor. They walked the couple out.

Lee and McKenzie have written to the CAA seeking mercy for Armstrong. Now the General Aviation Advocacy group (GAA) and the New Zealand Aviation Industry Group have followed their lead, launching the ‘‘Save Dave from the CAA’’ campaign.

GAA co-principal Brian Mackie said hundreds of pilots had written to the CAA in support of Armstrong, citing the example of another Kiwi hero, Sir Edmund Hillary. ‘‘Ed Hillary would be spinning in his grave if he knew of this. Rather than reward a hero, we have the prosecutio­n of a man who is being hung out to dry.’’

The campaigner­s have asked for CAA support to enshrine a ‘‘Good Samaritan’’ principle in the Civil Aviation Act to protect pilots in situations like Armstrong’s.

A CAA spokesman declined comment.

Dave Armstrong


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A William Hodges painting of Cascade Cove in Dusky Bay is to be auctioned in London.
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