Helicopter accident fresh blow for family

MICHAEL DALY
Last updated 07:14 13/12/2013
David Jones
CARYS MONTEATH

CHOPPER CRASH: David Stanley Jones, a 48-year-old man from Woodend, has died after crashing a helicopter in North Canterbury this morning.

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North Canterbury pilot David Jones' death in a helicopter crash came just three months after the death of his mother, Beverley.

His family are struggling to understand how such a careful pilot could have crashed, with a brother calling it a mystery.

Jones, 48, is thought to have died instantly after his Robinson R22 helicopter crashed and burst into flames on Wednesday morning in remote farmland near Domett.

"The impact of this loss is awful," father Stan and brothers Richard and Stan said in a statement.

"Our family is devastated at the loss of our son and brother. We were very close, and his death is especially poignant as David's mother, Beverley, passed away just three months ago. It has also brought back to us the loss of David's older brother, Chris, who died in a helicopter crash in 1987 near West Melton."

Richard said his brother was an excellent cricketer with incredible hand-eye co-ordination.

"David was incredibly thoughtful about what he did. He took measured risks. He learnt the hard way in motorbike racing that you don't take risks lightly - after he broke his collarbone twice. Losing him is a tragedy for the family. It's not that long ago that I had three brothers; now I only have one."

Brother Stan said David had incredible eyesight and could shoot a deer just about anywhere.

"He really was genuinely a very careful pilot. He was trained by the best in the business at Wanaka Helicopters - dad, David and I all learnt there. He really took it very seriously. That's why the crash is such a mystery."

Father Stan said a big thrill for David was doing a stint at Antarctica as a kitchenhand, working at the American base. "He loved it there and had a ball."

In 1990 he came back home and worked on the farm in Mossburn. "He met Jane, and we set them up on a farm at Long Bush just outside Invercargill. Later they went to Queenstown, then bought the place at Rangiora where they started growing flowers for export."

David's wife Jane and children Jonny, 19, William, 17, and Charlotte, 14, said they were struggling to come to terms with the loss.

"Away from flying he loved to get out on his motorbike or go for a cruise in his boat. He loved his machines and his toys. But it was his family that meant the most to him. He loved his children and was a great father. We will miss him terribly," they said.

David had started the helicopter business from nothing and built it up over the years into a success, Jane said.

The owner-operator of HeliMax, David Jones had been spraying matagouri at low altitude in a valley on the western side of Mt Percy when the helicopter crashed. He was the sole occupant and crashed near the mountain base.

The Civil Aviation Authority said it could take several months to determine the cause of the crash.

The funeral will be held in the Wai-mana Chapel, 92 Kippenberger Ave, Rangiora, at 2pm on Tuesday.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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