Royal New Zealand Air Force aerobatic display team Red Checkers have been grounded, after one of the plane experienced a mechanical failure. Squadron Leader Jim Rankin, who fly this CT-4E Airtrainer aircraft, was forced to land the plane about 100 meters away from the Desert Road, in a tussock-covered area approximately 12 kilometres south of Rangipo, near Waiouru at about 4.20pm today. The plane overturned on touching down, as the pilot was not injured and walked away from the aircraft.
Red Checkers display team were on route from Ohakea Air Base in Manawatu to Tauranga for the Tauranga Air Show this weekend.
As a precaution the Red Checkers will not be flying this weekend, including the Tauranga Air Show and Auckland Anniversary on Monday, the Defence Force spokesman said.
On Jan 14, 2010, Squadron Leader Nicholas Haydn Cree, died when his airplane crashed on the ground during training flight. The crash occurred about 8 a.m. near the Santoft Forest, 18km west of Bulls, while all six Red Checker's CT-4 Trainer aircraft practicing aerobatic maneuvers. The official statement about crash said the pilot performed non-regulated maneuver that he had not been trained to do. Squadron Leader Cree performined a "Fishtail Pass" maneuver at the time of a crash.
Two months later on March 1, 2010, another incident occurred, when two of the team's aircraft touch each other in training flight. Both planes land safely with minor injuries, but these accidents raised the question - is the Red Checkers are safely to display in front of public, because this was the second incident within a few months.
After these incidents RNZAF authorities decided to ground Red Checkers for inspections of the team's training program. At the end of 2010, after hard training the Red Checkers were flew again.