Possum Trapper winched to safety by Air Force helicopter

The 3 Sqn Iroquois on display at Wings over Wairarapa
The 3 Sqn Iroquois on display at Wings over Wairarapa (OH 05-0026-69)

02 April 2009

An Air Force Iroquois helicopter was involved in the rescue of a possum trapper suspected of cyanide poisoning during the early hours of this morning.

The trapper was in Whirinaki Forest Park near Murupara when he took ill. The Rotorua Police Search and Rescue Team called in the Air Force helicopter which arrived on scene at 2.30am. 
“The weather conditions were atrocious. Thick cloud, heavy rain and no illumination made the rescue pretty tricky, we were lucky to get a rescue.” said Squadron Leader 'Coops' Cooper, the aircraft Captain. 

The Trapper was flown to a near by ambulance and taken to Rotorua Hospital.  

“Operating on night vision equipment at night in poor weather conditions is a significant challenge, but the risk taken was a calculated one based on the reported condition of the trapper. To achieve the rescue is a rewarding outcome for all” said Air Commodore Gavin Howse, Officer in charge of Air Force operations.


For further information please contact SQN LDR Kavae Tamariki, Defence Communications Group, Media Adviser Air Force, ph 04 496 0294, 021 420 899


14 x UH-1H Iroquois helicopters are flown by No 3 Squadron RNZAF based at Ohakea. An aircraft has a standard crew of three (pilot, co-pilot, helicopter crewman). In this case a trainee helicopter crewman was also part of the crew.

The Squadron provides:

  • Operational support and training for the NZ Army, specifically in tactical air transport, special operations and aeromedical evacuation. 
  • Helicopter conversion (Sioux) and operational conversion (Iroquois) training for pilots and helicopter crewmen.
  • Search and rescue, medical evacuation, NZ Police support, and assistance to other Government agencies

Currently 427 New Zealand Defence Force personnel are deployed on 14 operations, UN missions and defence exercises around the world.

This page was last reviewed on 5 November 2010.