Kiwi Pilot Admits Faking Ditching

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It was the perfect crime, right up until someone found, high and dry, the airplane that Howard Jamison claimed was under water somewhere off the coast of New Zealand. As AVweb told you in February, the Ashburton skydive operator was charged after the plane was found. Last week Jamison admitted to concocting an elaborate scheme to claim a $258,000 NZD insurance settlement aimed at getting him back on his feet financially. He pleaded guilty in court to two charges of using a document to obtain pecuniary advantage, according to a story in NZ Lawyer. Now, he faces a possible jail term and will likely have to sell off all of his assets, including the Cessna 185 he "ditched" in a storage container. Jamison made headlines in July 2004 when he told of his dramatic escape from the 185 that he said he'd put in the ocean after the engine failed. He even had obvious head and neck injuries that authorities insisted he have checked at the local hospital. It turns out Jamison hurt himself while taking one of the wings off the 185 as he worked through the night to disassemble the aircraft and put it in a storage container. He then filled a couple of containers with 40 liters of fuel from the pumps at a nearby airport, dutifully noting the purchase in the log. After filing a flight plan, he drove to an isolated beach and phoned the New Zealand Airways Corporation to tell them that he had ditched the plane. He then drove home and later claimed he'd been picked up by a passing motorist. He told authorities that he'd been able to make it to shore by using a piece of plywood flooring from the plane and a couple of life vests for flotation. The scheme unraveled last February when someone discovered the disassembled but undamaged 185 by chance.