30 year-old flight instructor Gary Skedgwell is still in critical condition Tuesday, after his student, 18 year-old Sam Metzger, accidentally lost control of a training aircraft and slammed it into a steep hillside in the Pohaninga Valley near Palmerston North, NZ.
The pair was on a routine training flight, with Metzger piloting the small Piper Tomahawk over the hills of Palmerston North. There is no word yet on exactly what happened to cause the plane to crash, though rescuers claim that it is a miracle anyone was able to survive it. Stuff.co.nz has a stunning write-up of the events that took place during the rescue, which by all reports was as difficult as a rescue can get. The plane was embedded in a steep, precarious hillside, supported only by a few trees that prevented it from tumbling down the cliff.
Here, Metzger’s parents tell of their response to the ordeal. Metzger’s father said that upon hearing of his son’s accident:
I was just in complete shock… It was made even harder because there was no more information. We couldn’t do anything. We just had to sit there and hope and pray Sam would be all right.
After the daring rescue, Metzger underwent surgery for a broken arm and leg, and though his pelvis is broken too, his condition is stable. Skedgwell’s injuries were much worse - he’s still being held in a medically induced coma.
Still, both instructor and student are expected to fully recover, at which time investigators can finally find out what happened to the small plane. The wreckage is to be removed by the insurance company, though that will similarly be no easy task.