Hundreds farewell aviator

BROOKE GARDINER IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 14:12 15/11/2012
Southland Times photo
BROOKE GARDINER/Fairfax NZ
Pilots formed a guard of honour outside the City Impact Church at Frankton in a mark of respect for highly-respected aviator Julian Kramer who died last Thursday in a helicopter crash near Wanaka.

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Julian Kramer's family thanked his friends and colleagues for standing by him through difficult times at his funeral yesterday.

Hundreds of mourners gathered to farewell the respected aviator, who was also known as Julianne, after he was killed in a helicopter crash near Wanaka last Thursday.

A poignant letter read on behalf of his seriously ill mother Lynn said she had found the gender issue difficult to talk about but praised her son's strength of character in deciding to live with his choice of living as a woman in the face of adversity.

Mrs Kramer described her son as "the quiet achiever" who was always around when there was work to be done.

"Thank you for being a loyal and faithful son in good times and in bad . . . we have been greatly blessed," she said.

Henry Kramer thanked his son for his loyalty, generosity and for honouring his parents.

"We are profoundly thankful for the wonderful 52 years he has bestowed upon our lives."

The Wakatipu Aero Club's chief flying instructor and operations manager was killed when the Robinson R22 helicopter he was piloting crashed on the Criffel Range on a trip from Wanaka Airport to Queenstown Airport last Thursday night.

Family, friends and colleagues all spoke fondly of a kind, gentle and courageous person who rarely got into trouble as a child, was hard working and a lot stronger than he looked.

Mark and Simon Kramer described their brother as a hard worker who became a talented mechanic, aviator and instructor who never boasted about his skills.

Having started out as his father's apprentice mechanic after leaving school, Mr Kramer moved to Dunedin and fell in love with a talented violin player. However, when she eventually moved overseas, Julian, who was by that stage an extremely accomplished mechanic, was left heartbroken, Mark Kramer said.

"I don't think he ever recovered."

In the hope of mending his broken heart, their father suggested Julian take up flying and a new passion was born.

A passionate aviator, Mr Kramer amassed 34 aircraft ratings despite a dislike of flight tests.

"He will be pressing his heavenly father for a set of wings so he can fly again . . . if you go to heaven and hear a buzzing I suggest you duck because that will be Julian coming in to land," Simon Kramer said.

Having developed his own "time zone", the pair shared light-hearted stories about Julian's struggle with punctuality before extending heartfelt thanks to those who had supported him in his difficult decision to live as Julianne.

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Over the years, Mr Kramer instructed countless pilots and Mark Kramer urged young pilots to "never be afraid to question a situation" and "always remember pilots fly, not personalities".

Long-term family friend and fellow pilot Grant Stewart recalled memories of growing up with Mr Kramer and introducing several of their Wakatipu High School peers to heavy metal music. At Air Fiordland start times had been recreated to get JK there on time, Mr Stewart said.

"But one thing can be said. JK was way too early for this."

The family plan to scatter Mr Kramer's ashes in the air.

The Civil Aviation Authority investigation into the cause of the crash continues.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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