13 Dec 2016

Bodies of plane crash victims recovered

1:25 pm on 13 December 2016

The bodies of two men killed in a plane crash near Wairoa have been recovered and taken to Palmerston North for post mortems.

Pilot George Anderson, and his loader, who has yet to be named, were killed after the topdressing plane they were in hit powerlines in rugged terrain northeast of Wairoa.

Pilot George Anderson was killed in a plane crash near Wairoa.

George Anderson died in the crash. Photo: Supplied / LinkedIn

Investigators from Wellington have arrived in Gisborne and are preparing to head to the crash site.

Three investigators from the Civil Aviation Authority are now in Gisborne talking to police about the crash.

They are expected to arrive at the site of the crash and begin combing it this afternoon.

Aviation New Zealand chief executive John Nicholson said he was waiting to hear from the authority after the investigation.

He said the pilots obviously didn't see the powerlines and the investigation should explain what went wrong.

The plane's owner, Farmers Air, said it was inappropriate for the company to comment on the cause of the crash while an investigation was underway.

A close family friend of Mr Anderson's, Peter Jerram, said it was hard to believe such an experienced pilot could have hit powerlines.

He said Mr Anderson was a big, strong, larger-than-life man who had flown in Africa and Central America doing aerial surveying.

Mr Jerram said he was devastated by what had happened.

Wairoa Mayor and local farmer Craig Little said the crash was mystifying as the pilots were both experienced.

"Pilots of farm top dressing outfits really know their stuff around aerials and power lines. It's a real mystery as to why it happened as they have to know what they're doing every second of the job, and these guys are pretty experienced and they don't normally take risks. I really don't know what's gone wrong," he said.

Mr Little said Wairoa had been hit by the news, and while he hadn't heard who the victims were, everyone knew each other in rural communities.

"I'd say most people in the rural community will have had something to do with the pilot or loader operator who was also in the plane, as they know all these guys. It's really hit home this one."

The crash cut power to Gisborne, and over 40,000 homes and businesses in the city remain without electricity.