Central Otago plane crash: Tourists named
NEIL RATLEY AND NICOLE MATHEWSON
The scenic flight company involved in a crash that killed a pilot and seriously injured two tourists in central Otago has suspended all operations.
Pilot Raymond Vivian Crow was killed and two passengers seriously injured when their Piper Cheokee 6 aircraft crashed near Alexandra yesterday afternoon.
The injured tourists, Sarah and Eric Hoffman of Houston, Texas, were both being treated at Dunedin Public Hospital and were in a stable condition. Both were aged in their 30s.
Scenic flight company Glenorchy Air today paid tribute to 56-year-old Crow, saying the senior pilot was a "a good friend and colleague".
In a statement, owners Robert and Janet Rutherford said the company had temporarily suspended all commercial operations while it focused on supporting staff, the passengers and Crow's family.
The company was also working with the Transport Accident Investigation Commission, police and other relevant authorities.
Crow had been flying the Hoffmans over various locations used in the filming of the Lord of the Rings trilogy when the crash happened.
He had been in regular contact with the company's office and the plane was on its expected flight path.
The crash happened just before the plane was due to land at Poolburn airstrip.
"Ray was a good friend and colleague who will be very sorely missed by us all," Robert Rutherford said.
Crow had loved flying and enjoyed being a tour guide.
He obtained his commercial pilot licence in 2008 and began working for Glenorchy Air in 2009.
"He was a very experienced and careful pilot ... and was well experienced at flying in the mountains. He had flown this particular route many, many times," Rutherford said.
Queenstown Airport Corporation chief executive Scott Patterson said the airport community was shocked and saddened by the tragedy.
"Glenorchy Air is a longstanding member of our airport community and close-knit local flying fraternity and our thoughts are with Ray's loved ones, Glenorchy Air owners Robert and Janet Rutherford, and their staff during this difficult time," he said.
Heartfelt tributes for Crow were also pouring in to social media today.
Crow's son Dan said his father died doing what he loved most, flying his plane.
"RIP to my loving father, u went out doing what u loved most and saved some people's lives loosing yours [sic]."
Dan Crow said he knew his father's job was dangerous but was happy he could do something he loved.
Dan Crow's mother, Dawn Seddon, wrote that Ray Crow was a "special man with a big heart", who was "a hard worker and a passionate man that was living his dream".
Investigations into the cause of the crash were under way.
- The Southland Times