Tributes flow for daring adventurer

Alan McCandlish
Alan McCandlish

Hundreds of mourners packed the Te Awamutu Bible Chapel on Wednesday to farewell "legend" base jumper Alan McCandlish who died moments after leaping from a mountain ledge in Switzerland a fortnight ago.

Friends and family came from across New Zealand and as far away as Western Australia and the US.

Mr McCandlish, 31, was three weeks into a two-month trip through Europe when he took his last jump on the 2500m peak Unteren Tatelishorn, about 200km southwest of Zurich.

Onlookers said the experienced base jumper, who was wearing a new wingsuit, hit a rock ledge before freefalling onto another.

Mr McCandlish's casket was draped with a New Zealand flag that Alan and his friends Benny MacPherson and Teroy Attwood had taken on their travels, and a Ferrari flag, a gift from Alan's brother Scott, who flew home from Italy after hearing the tragic news.

The pallbearers carried Alan in to The Eagles' Peaceful Easy Feeling.

Family friend and celebrant Mick Henderson spoke of Richard and Sue McCandlish's memories of their eldest son's adventurous ways.

They were shocked at the climbing skills he exhibited when he was 15 months old, as he scaled the bars of his cot and let himself down to the floor.

Another anecdote recalled a moment when Alan suggested his mother skip a family walk up a steep hill because “you won't let us look over the side like dad does”.

Several of Alan's friends acknowledged the role Mr and Mrs McCandlish played in supporting their son and giving him the freedom to pursue his unorthodox dreams.

They described their inspirational friend as a humble and quiet achiever who had a great sense of humour; someone who “just loved the outdoors”.

A video he made for his parents, portraying his base jumping feats, was played. The service ended on a lighter note.

Alan's friends found footage on his computer showing him feeding a bottle of milk to a tiny wild piglet that he and close friend James Frost found while hunting on Alan's 31st birthday.

The pallbearers then carried him outside to another of Alan's favourite tunes, Parabola by Tool.

Mr MacPherson spoke after the service about the support he and Mr Attwood received from Swiss police and undertaker Rubin Thomas, who organised the recovery of Alan's body and helped bring him home.

“And we were really grateful that another base jumping friend, Chris ‘Douggs' MacDougall, contacted Rega Air Rescue Helicopters as soon as the accident happened,” Benny said.

He also paid tribute to staff members at Southern Cross Travel Insurance, who had “played a huge role” in getting Alan's body home to his family so quickly.

Waikato Times