Chopper wreckage recovery today - a couple of real heroes killed when their helicopter crashed in a rescue attempt during a massive and suspicious blaze.
Kaitaia ranger William Macrae (left) and pilot John 'Prickles' de Ridder Shrink
Northland pilot John 'Prickles' de Ridder (inset) was flying into fiery conditions when his helicopter crashed last night. Photo / SNPA Images/Petrina HodgsonWork to recover the wreckage of a helicopter that crashed during a massive blaze in New Zealand's Far North begins today.
Pilot John de Ridder and Department of Conservation worker William Macrae were killed when their helicopter crashed about 350m off the coast of the Karikari Peninsula late on Wednesday.
The Squirrel ZK-IMB helicopter had been assisting firefighters battling a massive blaze that destroyed at least three homes and sent residents scrambling for shelter.
The Civil Aviation Authority said a recovery barge was expected to reach the area early this morning after making the 12-hour journey from Paihia.
A dive team from Paihia would make an initial dive before working with the barge crew and air crash safety investigators to determine best way to winch the wreckage from the water.
The timing of the recovery would depend on sea and weather conditions, but investigators hoped it would be possible some time today.
The helicopter was submerged in about 7m of water.
Investigators were yesterday working to confirm details, including where the wreckage would be taken once recovered.
The men's bodies were found midday Thursday and recovered late that evening.
Acknowledgements: - APNZ