The New Zealand Agricultural Aviation Association, in conjunction with the New Zealand Helicopter Association, held its annual conference in Wellington on the North Island June 25-29. One of the conference topics was the Association’s “Down to the Wire” campaign. NZAAA Chairman Alan Beck is championing an initiative to have farm wires taken down and tied to a fence line so that they at no point extend above the fence they are tied to. Current practice is to run electric fence feeder wires across gullies at heights up to 400 feet.
The Down to the Wire programme involves educating landowners, then rewarding them with a framed certificate of appreciation signed by Chairman Beck when they take their wires down. So far, nearly 100 landowners have been awarded certificates. The New Zealand CAA is helping and will fund the removal of wires if farmers are too busy. Thus far, 28 New Zealand ag-pilots have lost their lives through wire strikes. The programme does not involve electric power lines, as these are much more visible and are reasonably predictable in their routing.
The Association is soon to announce a major sponsor for the programme that will enable the mounting of signage on many New Zealand rural roads. The photo shows the accident scene of the last ag-pilot, Peter Robb, to die from a wire strike. Robb’s daughter, Shannon Carr, is very active speaking at events to spread the word of the danger wires create. It is spell bounding to hear her speak and explain how she found out from the media that her father had been killed.
There are 26 ambassadors throughout New Zealand who are spreading the word about Down to the Wire. Each has a certificate signed by Chairman Beck and the Director of CAA.