13th April 2005, 10:20 AM
Helen Clark in mid-air drama
WELLINGTON : A small plane carrying New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark was forced to make an emergency landing after rapidly losing altitude when a door swung open in mid-air, flight officials confirmed.
Clark said she wondered whether she would "live or die" when the door dislodged and opened during turbulence on a flight from Rotorua in the cental North Island to Wellington.
The pilot sent out a distress call and diverted to the nearest airport, which was at Paraparaumu just north of the capital.
Clark told National Radio she was sitting in the rear of the plane reading her papers when they struck turbulence without warning.
The sudden movement of the plane dislodged the door and as it began to open, two police officers travelling with the prime minister grabbed hold of it.
They could not shut the door, so they held on to it through the emergency landing.
"When the plane plunges like that, it's obviously quite shocking," Clark said.
"When you see the door can't close you know that it is a serious incident."
Aviation authorities have been alerted and an investigation is under way.
"At this stage we're not quite sure what happened," Rescue Co-ordination Centre spokeswoman Heidi Brook said.
Clark would not comment on whether the door on the six-seater plane had been closed properly before take-off, saying that the investigation would look at that question.
I always thot she very hiong.. for those who watch discovery, u'd know who helen clark is. She's the prime minister of New Zealand who, on the program (The Royal Tour), brings us ard NZ, doing dangerous activities, e.g. shotover jet, climbing cliffs and caves, just short of bungee jumping....
super woman sia.. can't imagine a country's prime minister doing all that.