Pilot killed in Milford Track crash named

Bruce Andrews
Bruce Andrews
Te Anau Police have named the pilot who died when a Hughes 500 helicopter crashed in steep terrain near the start of the Milford Track.

He was William Bruce Andrews (known as Bruce), aged 49.

Mr Andrews was from the Te Anau area and a pilot for Milford Helicopters. He was the sole occupant of the helicopter.

An Invercargill Police search and rescue team landed at the crash scene this morning and recovered Mr Andrews' body.

The Hughes 500 helicopter was flying between the Greenstone Valley and Dumpling Hut when it went down at Glade Burn, near the Lake Te Anau starting point of the track.

The aircraft was last heard from in radio communication between the experienced  pilot and his base at 4.55pm yesterday. It is feared he did not survive the crash.

Three helicopters, apparently one from the same company and two from other helicopter firms, began searching after the helicopter failed to arrive at Dumpling Hut as expected about 5.30pm.

The missing helicopter was later located in ''very steep'' and rugged terrain, about 840m above sea level, near the Te Anau entry to the Milford Track, Sarah Brazil, of the Wellington-based Rescue Co-ordination Centre of New Zealand, said.

The crashed machine was located at 9.15pm yesterday, with only about 15 minutes of natural light left.

Although the weather was cloudy, with drizzle falling, ''conditions were OK'' and searching helicopters had been able to fly over mountain passes to access the area, she said.

After the crashed helicopter was located, a searcher was winched into the area but was unable to locate the pilot last night.




The best helicopter pilot and man

I'm so sorry to hear of the loss of Bruce.  He was an excellent pilot that I enjoyed flying with on a daily basis when I was working in Iliamna, AK.  He was so much fun to tease and laugh with.  I always enjoyed listening to radio traffic between him and the other pilots.  They loved to rib each other and it always made me laugh. He will be missed by a lot of people.