I have tragic news to report. Luciano and Giuliana Nustrini died in a crash of their Falco in the sea off Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday, February 6, 1999. At this time, all I have is the following reports. As we get more information, I will include it here.
Luciano Nustrini was a wonderful man and a great friend. He has had a great impact in the Falco world, and he has enriched the lives of us all.
This is from the January 7, 1999 issue of an Auckland newspaper
Two bodies were found after a vintage plane flown by a leading Italian pilot crashed into the sea off Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf yesterday.
The aircraft was overflying Italian yacht Fila, sailed by Giovanni Soldini, and was seen by Soldini plunging into the sea about 4:30 pm.
After he saw the aircraft dive, about 9km south of Little Barrier Island, American sailor Brad Van Liew sailed his yacht Balance Bar to the area in a futile bid to find survivors.
Van Liew, a pilot, could smell aviation fuel and knew there was a serious problem, but could not see any wreckage.
An Auckland volunteer coastguard vessel eventually found two bodies and wreckage from the two-seater Falco aircraft about an hour after the crash was reported.
Coastguard general manager Michael Pate said the bodies were transferred by Auckland police launch Deodar II and taken to the city.
Pate said coastguard vessels tool about 35 minutes to reach the crash site. The aircraft's fuel tank and part of a wing were among wreckage hauled aboard the three coastguard vessels.
The WestpacTrust rescue helicopter and coastguard aircraft were also involved in the search.
The aircraft was being flown by Auckland-based Italian stunt pilot Luciano Nustrini, who is also a leading Italian architect. His wife was reported to be the only other occupant.
Nustrini was registered as a correspondent for the Italian sailing magazine Fare Vela and was covering the Around Alone event.
He had been out on the water on a spectator craft after farewelling Fila when the race started at noon and later decided to fly over the fleet.
"I saw him at 3:30PM," said Around Along media spokesman Dan McConnell. "He just popped in to say what a great day he'd had. He didn't say anything about going for a flight."
Nustrini was well known among the sailors and had spent a lot of time with them over the Auckland stopover.
The fleet of 11 solo sailors had set off for the third and most dangerous leg of the singlehanded race around the world.
The Hauraki Gulf between North Head on Auckland's mailand and Rangitoto Island had been crowded with about 300 spectator craft that gathered to farewell the fleet.
This was forwarded to us by George Richards. Source unknown
LUCIANO AND GIULIANA NUSTRINI DIE FAREWELLING THE AROUND ALONE FLEET
Two air accident inspectors from the Civil Aviation Authority will today investigate the fatal crash of a light plane on Saturday.
The two-seater Falco plane crashed into the sea near Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf. It had been flying over the Italian yacht Fila, sailed by Giovanni Soldini, in the Around Alone yacht race.
Police believe an Italian couple, Luciano Nustrini, 72, and his wife Giuliana, 59, were in the plane.
Air accident inspectors will be interviewing witnesses and will also decide whether to try to recover the wreckage.
Organisers of the yacht race say the crash of the plane, believed to be farewelling a boat, is a tragic start to the latest leg of the competition.
A spokesperson for the race says the crash took the edge off a spectacular start.
SAILORS TO BE INTERVIEWED
Sailors on the Around Alone yacht race will be amongst those interviewed over yesterday's air crash in the Hauraki Gulf.
Martyn Gosling, spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority, says two air accident investigators are examining pieces of the plane.
Gosling says they will also talk to witnesses, including sailors in the Around Alone race who saw the plane nose-dive into the sea and alerted police.
Sun Feb 7 07:56 1999
From the February 8, 1999 issue of Auckland Herald Newspaper
By Suzanne McFadden
Luciano Nustrini's lifelong fascination with the air and sea ultimately led to his death on the Hauraki Gulf.
The 70-year-old Italian, a celebrated architect, and his wife, Guiliana, when their two-seater plane crashed into the water on Saturday.
They had been flying over the Around Alone race fleet. A skipper who had flown with Mr. Nustrini the week before made the mayday call when he saw the plane go down.
Mr Nustrini was a world-renowned architect who designed airports. He was also a jet test pilot, champion air racer, astronomer, sailor, photographer and yachting journalist.
The couple and their five children came to live in Auckland
from Italy 15 years ago.
The Civil Aviation Authority is investigating the crash and will decide whether to retrieve the plane wreckage, lying 50m under water.
The Italian-designed plane, a Falco two-seater built in 1956, was brought to New Zealand by the Nustrini family.
Mr Nustrini had taken Italian solo round-the-world skipper Giovanni Soldini on a flight over the gulf last week.
Soldini said yesterday that he recognised the plane as he saw it crash, 8km south of Little Barrier Island.
He watched the plane circle the race fleet about 300ft up when it did a steep right turn and dived into the sea - directly in front of another Around Alone skipper.
Soldini radioed the skipper, American Brad van Liew, to warn him that a plane had crashed in his path.
Van Liew, a commercial pilot,sailed to the site of the accident, but there was no sign of the wreckage. "I could only smell aviation fuel," he said.
The Coastguard recovered the two bodies and pieces of the fuselage on Saturday night.
Ten Years ago, Mr Nustrini began lecturing at the School of
Architecture in Auckland and until last year he continued to teach
at the University of Florence for six months of the year.
A senior lecturer at the Auckland school, Ross Jenner, said Mr Nustrini was an international expert in airport design.
"He was a very distinguished man who collaborated on several
of the world's largest airports."
Mr Jenner said Mr Nustrini was an excellent pilot - in Italy he had tested jet fighters and airliners.
He also loved astronomy and had built an observatory at his Titarangi home.
The Nustrinis became interested in yachting when the moved to New Zealand. Two of their sons, Giovanni and Lapo, have sailed in legs of the Whitbread round-the-world race.
Mr and Mrs Nustrini crewed together in their Flying Fifteen yacht at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club.
Mr Nustrini had become a well known face at yachting events in Auckland and wrote for an Italian sailing magazine.
This article appeared in the March 1999 issue of Falco Builders Letter.
Luciano and Guiliana Nustrini died on February 6 in their Falco, ZK-ERNA, in a crash into the sea off Little Barrier Island in the Hauraki Gulf near Auckland, New Zealand. At the time of the accident, Nustrini was covering the Around Alone sailing race for the Italian sailing magazine Fare Vela.
The fleet of 11 solo sailors had set off on the third and most dangerous leg of the singlehanded race around the world, and about 300 spectator craft had gathered to farewell the fleet. Nustrini had spent a lot of time with the sailors during the Auckland stopover, and he had been out on the water earlier that day with the fleet farewelling the Italian yacht Fila, sailed by Giovanni Soldini.
Around Alone media spokesman Dan McConnell said "I saw him at 3:30pm. He just popped in to say what a great day he'd had. He didn't say anything about going for a flight." At the time of the accident, Nustrini was overflying the yacht Fila and was seen by Soldini plunging into the sea about 4:30pm. After he saw the aircraft dive, about 9km south of Little Barrier Island, American sailor Brad Van Liew sailed his yacht Balance Bar to the area in a futile bid to find survivors. An Auckland volunteer coast-guard vessel eventually found two bodies and the wreckage of the Falco about an hour after the crash was reported.
The wreckage has subsequently been recovered and no mechanical defects have been found, and autopsies revealed no health problems with Luciano Nustrini prior to the accident.
At the time of the accident, the Falco was seen to be flying quite low over the fleet. The only witness indicated that the aircraft entered an 'unusual', quite sudden steep turn to the right at approximately 200-300 above the sea. The aircraft continued to roll, with subsequent nose drop, impacting the surface almost inverted right wing first. There was no smoke from the aircraft (there is no evidence of fire on the wreckage recovered), and the engine was reported to have been running normally to the impact. The aircraft broke up on impact, and the heavy items sank to the sea floor some 150 feet below.
Falco builder George Richards has assisted the New Zealand aviation authorities in their accident investigation. At this time, there is no official determination of the cause of the accident, however the circumstances of the situation suggest that Luciano may have been taking a photograph of the sailboat(s) at the time of the accident, and he may have become distracted momentarily. The authorities agree that this is a possibility, and they have discovered an empty camera case, with a few exposed rolls of film (none with any relevant photos) in the wreckage.
Luciano Nustrini was an exceptionally talented man. He was an accomplished alpine skier and nearly qualified for the Italian Olympic team. He was a professor of architecture and a recognized expert on airport design. When I visited with him in 1982, he had a collection of about 300 cameras, and when he moved to New Zealand, he sold half of them to buy a telescope for his own personal observatory he built at his house in Auckland. Long before he knew Stelio Frati, he had designed a molded plywood chair which won the Compasso d'Oro design award, which was later awarded to Stelio Frati for the Falco.
Nustrini was an expert pilot, with 14,500 hours, and he had modified his Falco for exceptional speed. Falco I-ERNA was one of the most highly refined-for-speed planes in existence, and Nustrini used to regularly beat SF.260s in Italian air races. He was an accomplished test pilot and was Stelio Frati's test pilot and also travelled to the Soviet Union to do certification-confirmation on a number of Soviet airliners so that they could fly in western airspace. He was an avid sailor and wrote for sailing magazines.
He was, of course, a very famous man and his accident made headlines in New Zealand and Italy. Despite all this, Nustrini was a remarkably unassuming man, and he was a quiet thinker who would slouch in a chair in a crumpled rubber-man pose. Some years ago, he came to Oshkosh with Karl Hansen, and they were a pair to watch!-Karl the effusive extravert and the introverted Luciano almost painfully peopled-out in his presence. They got along wonderfully, but you could tell Luciano badly needed to go for a long walk by himself at times.
At the time of the accident, Luciano Nustrini was 71, and Guiliana was 63. He was a close friend of Stelio Frati's and visited with Mr. Frati whenever he was in Milan. I last heard from him in July when he sent a card. "I had a wonderful meeting with Frati (of course!), and I saw a lot of very interesting ideas. I hope to see you when I will pass through the states." It was signed by both Luciano and Stelio Frati.
This is a terrible loss for us all, and I know all of you join me in sending our condolences to the Nustrini family.