1986 - Civilian Rescue Helicopter Pilot Peter Button - QGM

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He bravely flew into the storm, Wellington Harbour, 2 July 1986

Pilot Peter Button
The Queen’s Gallantry Medal 

Pilot Peter Button with his son ClivePeter Button with his son Clive

On the morning of 2 July 1986, the New Zealand Police launch Lady Elizabeth II, with four Police Officers on board, sank at the entrance to Wellington Harbour. The weather conditions were atrocious at the scene with 10-metre-high waves and dangerously high winds of up to 65 knots recorded, accompanied by rain and, at times, hail. Despite being advised that weather conditions made flying dangerous, Mr Button, accompanied by his son Clive, flew to the scene. Two survivors - Constables Jim McLean and Rod Herd - were located in the water, winched into the helicopter and flown to safety. Mr Button returned to the scene by himself and, after several attempts, uplifted the body of Senior Sergeant Philip Ward with the aid of a scoop net. The body of the fourth person, Constable Glenn Hughes, was not found. The two survivors would have perished within a very short time had it not been for Mr Button’s outstanding flying skills and courage while placing his own life at risk.

[London Gazette: 1987/11343]

[New Zealand Gazette: 1987/4057]


The daring helicopter rescueThe daring helicopter rescue

The daring helicopter rescueThe daring helicopter rescue


The Queen’s Gallantry MedalThe Queen’s Gallantry Medal