Hours after crash 'a blur'

17:25, Jan 22 2013
Joanne and Ralph Saxe
SOUL MATE: "Losing Ralph nearly broke me but I try to take the time to really appreciate what's good in every day," Joanne Saxe says.

The hours after Joanne Saxe learned her husband had died in a plane crash remain a blur.

She remembers almost nothing of the time between learning of the crash at Timona Park about 11am and 7.30pm, when she was able to go to the scene.

"I didn't expect Ralph to walk out that door and not walk back in."

Ralph Saxe had walked out the door that morning, a year ago tomorrow, with friend Brett Ireland, who also died in the crash.

The night before, the Saxes had a barbecue and normally they would do the dishes before heading to bed, but that night they didn't.

In the morning when Dr Saxe said he wanted to take his Yak 52, one of his three planes, up for a flight, Mrs Saxe suggested he take Dr Ireland, back in Palmerston North for a few days for a wedding, with him.


"Flying was a real passion of Ralph's," Mrs Saxe said.

"He loved the freedom, the feeling, the challenge."

Normally Mrs Saxe would have flown with him but that morning she wanted to tidy up from the barbecue.

"I received a phone call about 11am asking if Ralph was OK. I rang Ralph, got no response and jumped in the car to get to the airfield.

"I saw a friend of Ralph's coming towards me in his car and felt sure that he was coming to tell me that Ralph was OK.

"But when he got out of the car the look on his face told me what I find even hard to accept to this day."

Dr Saxe's plane had crashed at Timona Park after he had been doing aerobatics.

The Civil Aviation Authority's report into the crash was released today.

A preliminary finding, released the day of Dr Saxe's funeral, suggested the crash may have been caused by a loose screwdriver.

"Foreign object damage is a known risk to aerobatic aircraft.

"Any loose material, even a paper clip, can shift during aerobatics and affect the aircraft's controls," the finding said.

Mrs Saxe was shown the full report last week by lead investigator Alan Moselen.

"I must say the CAA have been absolutely fantastic - their support and empathy and information," Mrs Saxe said.

She said she was grateful Mr Moselen took time to visit her and answer her questions.

Finding things to be grateful for has been key in the past 12 months.

"Losing Ralph nearly broke me, but I try to take the time to really appreciate what's good in every day," she said.

"I'm grateful that I've got my health; I'm grateful that I've got a good job and I can look after myself; I'm grateful for a very loving and supportive family and friends.

"Every day I write down things that I am grateful for to balance out what I've lost."

The couple were married in 2007 and worked together at Radius Medical-The Palms for 17 years.

There were many things that drew her to Dr Saxe, she said.

"His laughter, his smile, his enthusiasm for life, his never-say-never attitude, his warmth and the fact that he lived life to the fullest every single day.

"Ralph had such energy and enthusiasm for life and in everything he did.

"We can't change what's happened in the past but we can change what happens in the future.

"For me he was my best friend, my husband, my lover, my soul mate, he was my world and I never imagined life without Ralph."

Manawatu Standard