Click to enlarge. ODT graphic
The Arrowtown pilot killed in a helicopter crash on the
Criffel Range, near Wanaka, on Thursday night was a respected
and experienced aviator and an instructor to generations of
Julian Dean Kramer (52), of Arrowtown, was also known as
Julianne, or "JK".
He was the Wakatipu Aero Club's chief flying instructor and
trained at the Frankton club and in Dunedin.
Club president and pilot Adrian Snow said yesterday Mr Kramer
was flying solo in a privately owned Robinson R22 helicopter
on a private flight.
Mr Kramer had taken the opportunity to ferry the aircraft
back to Queenstown from Wanaka but tragedy struck at 8.40pm,
about halfway through the flight, despite perfect flying
It was the fifth fatal incident involving a two-seater
Robinson R22 helicopter in the lower South Island in four
Robinson R22s have been involved in more than 30 crashes - in
which nine people have been killed - in New Zealand during
the past eight years.
"Obviously, it is a big loss for the club and everyone is
deeply saddened by what has happened and our thoughts are
with the family," Mr Snow said.
Mr Kramer had more than 30 years' flying experience and
logged 9000 hours as a pilot. He developed a nationally
recognised skill-set in mountain flying training based on the
Wakatipu and Fiordland, Mr Snow said.
"He's trained many of the commercial fixed-wing pilots who
operate in and out of Milford today. He used to have students
travel the length of the country to train with him and a few
had come from overseas and he even had regular visits from
some of the flying schools in Auckland spend time under his
Helicopter company Over the Top chief executive and chief
pilot Louisa Patterson, of Queenstown, said yesterday Mr
Kramer was a friend and aviation colleague for decades. He
was "a great mentor and well-respected aviator, enthusiastic
and passionate about aviation".
His "cheerful voice and experience will be missed in the
skies over Queenstown and Milford Sound, because that
experience is important to pass on to young people coming
into the industry".
"That mentoring will be a huge gap in the aero club and with
new and young aviators in the area."
Mr Snow said flying was Mr Kramer's passion. The
Queenstown-born and raised pilot began his flying career in
the early 1980s in a home-built aircraft, then moved on to
microlights, hang-gliders and sail planes.
He started training at the Wakatipu Aero Club, of which his
father Henry Kramer was a founding member and past president,
and completed it at the Otago Aero Club in Dunedin.
Mr Kramer earned his commercial pilot's licence and
instructor rating after returning to Queenstown in the early
1990s, and worked part-time for flightseeing operators. He
also did glider towing and parachute drops.
He rose to be chief pilot for Air Fiordland until he returned
to the Wakatipu club as operations manager, then chief flying
Mr Kramer gained his helicopter pilot's licence at Wanaka
Helicopters during the past few years and flew choppers
whenever time or money allowed, Mr Snow said.
Mr Snow spoke to Mr Kramer in the club rooms on the morning
of the day of the crash. "He was in fine fettle, as normal,
champing at the bit to go flying."
Mr Kramer is survived by his parents, Henry and Lyn Kramer,
of Frankton, and brother Mark, of Arrowtown.