Filmmaker Bobbie Reeve was in his early 20s when Dragonfly ZK-AFB disappeared on a scenic flight between Christchurch and Milford Sound.
Likely downed somewhere in the Southern Alps, its pilot Brian Chadwick and his four passengers were never seen again.
For nearly 60 years, the disappearance has endured as one of New Zealand’s greatest aviation mysteries.
The incident mystified Reeve at the time, but took on extra meaning when he discovered he had met Chadwick several times – the pilot had bought a yacht from him two years prior.
When Richard J. Waugh’s book Lost Without Trace: Brian Chadwick & the Missing Dragonfly was released in 2003, it changed Reeve’s life forever.
“Buying it was probably the worst thing I ever did in my life. I read it three times, and I got hooked,” Reeve said.
Since then, he and his family have spent seven summers searching for the plane, filming their attempts for a documentary film.
Having interviewed search pilots and deer cullers working in the area at the time of the plane’s disappearance, Reeve believes the plane to be somewhere near Broderick Pass.
“I’m not the type of person to give anything up,” he said. “If I was uncertain about where we have been looking, I wouldn’t have kept going.”
His 2015 discovery of a women’s shoe in the area – believed to belong to passenger Valerie Saville who was honeymooning with husband Elwyn – confirmed in his mind he’s on the right track.
Reeve is asking for help from the mountaineering community.
“It’s too dangerous – both of my sons have fallen off the side of the mountain already,” he said.
Reeve would like to hear from skilled mountaineers who are able to help uncover the mystery. Those interested can email firstname.lastname@example.org.