20 Jun 2019

Wairarapa flying community's 'shock and disbelief' over loss of two pilots

11:56 am on 20 June 2019

The close-knit Wairarapa flying community is preparing to farewell two of their own.

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The Hood Aerodrome in Masterton. Photo: RNZ / Kate Gudsell

Twenty-year-old Joshua Christensen and Craig McBride, 66, were killed in a mid-air collision near Hood Aerodrome in Masterton on Sunday.

Wairarapa Aero Club president Michael O'Donnell said the flying community was in a state of "shock and disbelief".

"It was a glorious day, a lovely day to go for a fly. And it just seemed absolutely surreal that it had happened, just the out of sight of the aerodrome. So shock and disbelief and people have been supporting each other well...

"Josh had a plane at the airfield and flew it regularly and we all know him to say hello to. He was a more recent arrival than Craig [who] obviously had been here for most of his life, and was known through all the other communities - cricket and theatre and so forth and so on and the school. Craig was very much a bit of in the community and will be really sorely missed by lots of people...

"The first couple of days after the crash the weather was pretty awful, and no one was felt like flying. But now now ... it's on the approach to the 06 runway, so [there's] no avoiding it really."

The club had a gathering for the two men on Sunday and there was funeral to get through on Friday, he said.

Investigations into the crash continue.