Pilots blamed ‘unjustly’

Paul Holmes launches his Erebus book at Coastlands Paper Plus

Broadcaster Paul Holmes has attracted a sell-out crowd to Coastlands Paper Plus for the launch of his new book ‘Daughters of Erebus.’

And books sold quickly after a talk in which Holmes argued vehemently that the pilot, Captain Jim Collins, was not responsible for the deaths of 256 other people on board the DC-10 that crashed on Mr Erebus in Antarctica in November 1979.

Since then, Holmes said, Captain Collins wife Maria and four daughters have endured not only his death but the pain of his being blamed for the accident.

Holmes presented a damning account of the actions of the Air New Zealand hierarchy at the time and the Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon.

The Chief Air Accident Inspector Ron Chippendale came in for particular condemnation, although this was challenged vocally by a man in the audience.

But he was cut short by the author who told him: “I haven’t come here to argue with you about this.”

The rest of the 75 or so listeners, who included many old aviators, gave the author a good reception, however, and he looks likely to have revived debate over perhaps the most contentious disaster in NZ history…and certainly the  most divisive in our aviation history.