August 17, 2017

Man decapitates himself test driving hovercraft

File photo of a kitset hovercraft. DIY can be dangerous stuff when there is moving parts and humans involved.

A man has been decapitated in front of his partner as he was test-driving a homebuilt hovercraft in Auckland, New Zealand.

The 40-year-old had built the hovercraft from a kitset and was testing it for the first time when something went wrong with the engine, causing a blade to strike his head.

Sergeant Colin Nuttall, from the Waitemata police serious crash unit, said the man died instantly when the accident happened about midday on Sunday with his partner and a next-door neighbour looking on.

The man built the hovercraft at his west Auckland home from a kitset.

Sergeant Nuttall did not know where he bought it or if he had experience with hovercraft kitsets.

“He took it up there for a test run. It was the first time he’d tried to drive it, but I’m not sure if it was the first time he’d started it up,” he said.

“His partner and neighbour were there at the time, they saw it.”

The investigation was in its early stages, and an engineer who was a hovercraft expert was assisting police.

Sergeant Nuttall said anyone could build or fly a hovercraft in New Zealand. No licence was needed to operate them.

“As far as we can tell at this stage, it’s completely unregulated.

“The only thing you can’t do is use it on a road.

“You’d need a warrant of fitness and registration for that, and you’ll never get something like that warranted or registered.”

Another maiden voyage ending in tragedy, but no iceberg in sight this time. At least he was doing what he loved. Not much comfort for those left behind though.