Recent Ruapehu Crashes
Mount Ruapehu claimed another 10 lives in the years that followed. On 4 December 1951 a Royal New Zealand Air Force plane flying from Ohakea base to Rukuhia in the Waikato struck the western slopes of the mountain in murky weather and all four occupants of the machine were killed.
There was a more poignant angle to the 1961 tragedy on Mt. Ruapehu. Six people died when a Bay of Plenty Airways Aero-Commander passenger plane crashed into the eastern side of the snowcovered mountain on 21 November 1961. The plane carried a pilot and five passengers. Among them were a young wife and her two infant children who were returning to Murupara after a reunion weekend with a Lower Hutt family with whom they had travelled from England as emigrants only months before. The other two passenger casualties were adults, and the pilot, who also lost his life, was the founder and managing director of the airline. The Civil Aviation expert who inspected the wreck found that the crash appeared to have been caused by sudden turbulence over the mountain. This aggravated a fatigue crack that had developed in a wing spar. The crack progressed into an immediate fracture which so weakened the wing that it sheared off from the fuselage. The plane struck the mountainside at 7,500 ft, bringing Mt. Ruapehu's toll in aircraft crashes to 21 in 14 years.