The pilot of the light aircraft which crashed into the sea just off Kohimarama Beach at about 9.40pm last night is in Auckland Hospital and is being interviewed by Police this morning.
The man, an Aucklander, is believed to have taken the Piper Cherokee from Ardmore Airport south of Auckland city, at about 7pm. Auckland International Airport air traffic control staff notified Police of an unidentified aircraft over Manurewa at about 8.15pm.
The Sky Tower restaurants were evacuated shortly after 9pm. Police initiated the evacuation due to the flight path of the aircraft. Inspector Jim Wilson says the evacuation was carried out as a precautionary safety measure.
"Not long after the evacuation was completed, the plane crashed into the water about 50 metres offshore on an outgoing tide, at about 9.40pm," Mr Wilson said.
"The pilot was able to make his way - unassisted - to the beach where medical treatment was administered. He was taken to Auckland Hospital by ambulance."
Police are carrying out a criminal investigation in tandem with the Civil Aviation Authority's safety investigation. The aircraft was recovered from Kohimarama Beach this morning when it was put onto a barge and delivered to land-based secure storage where the CAA investigators will continue their work.
Police understand the pilot had legitimate access to the plane and that he was a qualified pilot.
While there has been some speculation about the pilot's motivation, Police at this stage do not believe his actions were politically motivated.
Issued by Noreen Hegarty
Auckland City Police Communications Manager
Ph 09 302 6947 or 0274-951-589