A Van’s RV-7 that crashed on New Year’s Day in Northland New Zealand, killing both occupants, has caught the attention of the RV community because of the possibility of structural failure. If the investigation confirms the witness accounts, it will be the second suspected fatal in-flight breakup of an RV-7 this year. A similar aircraft crashed in Arizona in June and local reports suggest that plane came apart. The New Zealand builder/pilot Dean Voelkerling was an experienced and respected EMS helicopter pilot and was well-known in the local aviation community.
Local media reported eyewitness of a wing “spiraling” down separate from the stricken aircraft, which crashed into a field. While it is common for early eyewitness accounts to be inaccurate, video and still pictures released from the scene also appear to show the absence of the aircraft’s right wing.This tragedy will surely be watched closely by enthusiasts and authorities alike as the investigation unfolds, especially as it comes on the heels of a fatal accident of the same RV-7 model this past June in Arizona, which also presented early indications of an in-flight structural failure. More information will follow as the investigation continues.