Exactly 50 years after 23 passengers and crew members died when their plane crashed into the Kaimai Range, family members will gather at a memorial to remember them.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of New Zealand’s worst internal air disaster, which cost the lives of three crew members and 20 passengers on their way from Auckland to Tauranga.
Flight 441, a National Airways Corporation DC-3, crashed into the Kaimai Range at about 9am on July 3, 1963 with many on board planning to attend business trips or visit family.
An inquiry into the crash found it was probably caused by a strong downward current in the Kaimais which carried the aircraft below the tips of the hills, according to the Flight Safety Foundation.
As a result, the plane experienced severe turbulence which made it impossible for the pilot to regain control.
Today, a 40-minute memorial service will take place at the memorial plaque on Old Te Aroha Road from 9am to remember those killed in the crash.
It will be followed by two memorial fly-pasts by the Warbirds Dakota.
Family of the 23 people killed in the crash will attend the ceremony, as well as members of the public.