Wellington can be an alarming place, with high winds, hills and fog. We often see helicopters going about their business, carting tourists around, carrying out rescues, and delivering or removing loads from steep hillsides. It was just a four years ago, almost to the day, when one helicopter tragically crashed just a few hundred metres from our house near the top of Mount Victoria.
It had been working for weeks taking soil from a building site lower down the hill and dropping the loads into trucks waiting at the top of the hill. Then a gust of wind caught it and before our eyes it went down. U.S. Ambassador Carol Moseley-Braun who happened to be visiting the lookout rushed to the aid of the pilot. A nearby Canadian doctor who was visiting Wellington tried unsuccessfully to revive him. We had been walking the dog and were actually too far away to do anything, but a neighbour called the emergency services.
For a long time after that event I felt anxious whenever a helicopter flew overhead, but fortunately enough time has passed now and I’m even planning a short tourist excursion myself.
The photo above (thumbnail opens into a new window) shows three helicopters squashed together on the landing pad down by the harbour. In the background are a freighter and assorted other boats and buildings. I didn’t have time to get a decent shot, and from where I was standing I was almost convinced a couple of the helicopters were going to collide. The red one at the front had just landed as I took the photo.
This second photo though is intended to show just where they land. It’s a wharf, surrounded on three sides by the sea. Central Wellington is at my back. Those pilots take off and land from that wharf every fine day, but I don’t know how they manage it. A few metres in the wrong direction and they’d be in the harbour.