Julian Kramer, also known as Julianne Kramer. Photo ODT
The Queenstown pilot killed when their helicopter
"dropped out of the sky" last night was the chief flying
instructor at Wakatipu Aero Club.
The pilot was Julian Dean Kramer (52), also known as Julianne
Kramer, police said.
Sergeant Aaron Nicholson, the Wanaka Police SAR Coordinator,
said the body had been recovered from the crash site on the
Criffel Range about 8.30am today.
Sgt Nicholson was with the pilot's parents in Queenstown this
morning. "Obviously with the trauma of a sudden
incident and being unexpected and no opportunity to say
goodbye - all those things will weigh heavily".
Kramer was the only person on board the helicopter when it
"just dropped out of the sky" about 8.30pm, Civil Aviation
Authority corporate communications manager Mike Richards
The Robinson R22 helicopter belonged to a local helicopter
company, Mr Richards said.
The crash scene.
Police said the pilot and a friend had earlier flown from
Queenstown to Wanaka Airport to pick up another light aircraft
and then both returned to Queenstown via the Cardrona Valley,
one flying the aircraft the other flying the R22 Helicopter.
The friend arrived in Queenstown unaware of any incident
involving the R22 Helicopter.
Several witnesses to the crash alerted emergency services.
Ambulance, police and fire personnel, along with Land Search
and Rescue (LandSAR) volunteers rushed to the scene and
established a base in a paddock at Spotburn Station in
Cardrona Valley Rd, near the crash site.
The owner of the farm where the helicopter crashed, Ben
Gordon, who took emergency services to the scene, said the
helicopter crashed about 600m up the Criffel Range as it was
heading back to Queenstown from Wanaka.
He learned of the accident after Hamish Mackay, who farms on
a neighbouring property, saw the crash while he was out on
"Apparently, it was flying along the Pisa Range when it just
dropped out of the sky," Mr Gordon said.
Conditions were "perfect".
"For some reason, the rotors have stopped and it has just
fallen out of the sky, basically. It has hit the ground
really hard and left quite an impact ..."
The helicopter was "in bits" and almost unrecognisable.
Senior Constable Nigel Buckingham, of Wanaka, said one
witness reported seeing the rotor stop, before the machine
"dropped out of the sky" and made a "very hard landing" on
the side of the hill.
Two helicopters - one from Wanaka's Aspiring Helicopters and
the Otago Regional Rescue Helicopter from Dunedin - with a
medic, fire officers and LandSAR volunteers on board, hovered
over the crash site for about an hour, using spotlights to
search the area, Mr Richards said.
CAA will begin an on-site investigation this morning.