Queenstown pilot dies in crash

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The pilot killed in a Central Otago plane crash yesterday was experienced in mountain flying and very familiar with the route he was taking, his employer says.

Queenstown pilot Raymond Vivian Crow (56) was killed when the Glenorchy Air Piper Cherokee crashed just north of the Poolburn Reservoir about 3.40pm yesterday.

“It’s just sheer bad luck.”

American tourists Sarah and Eric Hoffman of Houston, Texas, were seriously injured in the crash and are now in a stable condition at Dunedin Hospital.

“Ray was a good friend and colleague who will be very sorely missed by us all,” Glenorchy Air owner Robert Rutherford said today.

“He was a very experienced and careful pilot who had worked for us for about six years and was well experienced at flying in the mountains.

“He had flown this particular route many, many times.”

Mr Rutherford extended his condolences to Mr Crow’s family and friends, and said the company had been in contact with the passengers involved in the accident to ensure they were offered “all possible care and support.”

Mr Crow’s son, Dan, said on his Facebook page his father would always be a hero.

“R.I.P to my dad died saving his passengers died doing what he loved most flying his plane,” he wrote.

Dan said his father was the only person he could trust 100 per cent, describing him as “the most loyal hard working strongest willed person I have ever met or come across in my life”.

Dan said his father flew his plane every day. Ray Crow knew it was a dangerous job, and a number of workmates had lost their lives flying in Queenstown in recent years.

His son said he “always new the risk u where taking but also new how much u loved what u did and that makes me happy,that’s why I told u I love u everyday before u went out flying.

“RIP to my loving father u went out doing what u loved most an saved some people’s lives losing yours your a hero and always have been and always will be my hero love u dad xox.”

Investigators from the Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC) will examine the scene today.

Police said conditions were fine at the time of the crash.

The flight was on a The Lord Of the Rings tour at the time of the crash.

Glenorchy Air’s Lord of the Rings tour – which costs $380 a passenger – includes a visit to the reservoir, which was depicted as ”Rohan country” in the popular trilogy.

”This flight includes approximately two hours on the ground at Poolburn, there is a walk from the landing strip to view the scenery and have a close look at the sites of the filming.

“Your pilot will tell you all about the making of the Trilogy as you go,” the company’s website says.

Glenorchy Air is a family-owned business operating from Queenstown Airport, and ”we have a 100% safety record”.

”No-one flying with us since we started our business 21 years ago has been injured,” the website says.

A Piper Cherokee with the same registration was steered off the side of the grass airstrip to avoid over-running the runway at Elfin Bay, near Glenorchy, on April 5, 2007.

The pilot and two passengers were uninjured when the aircraft received moderate damage from striking a fence, prompting a TAIC investigation.

– Otago Daily Times