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Skydiving company ‘devastated’

Josh Christensen. PHOTO/FACEBOOK

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Tributes have flowed for the two pilots killed in Sunday’s mid-air collision, about a kilometre south of Hood Aerodrome, after they were formally named by police on Wednesday.

Wairarapa Aero Club member Craig McBride, 66, and Skydive Wellington pilot Josh Christensen, 20, likely died on impact when their light aircraft collided at an altitude of around 90 meters.

Both were from Masterton.

Skydive Wellington chief executive Marty Lloyd remembered Christensen as a quiet young man, with a wicked sense of humour.

“I first met Josh late last year. As a young commercial pilot, he was touring around the North Island looking for opportunities in aviation.

“He was keen to come and live in Masterton and work with us, so we developed a training plan with him to achieve this.”

Lloyd said Christensen had worked hard on advance training in tailed wheeled aircraft, including a Piper Cub and Chipmunk, before starting a type rating in the company’s Cessna 185.

Christensen was focused and gained the necessary ratings to become a parachute drop pilot.

“Josh was a quiet young man, with a wicked sense of humour, who very quickly integrated into our small team.

“He was very conscientious, got along well with our eclectic crew, and was a pleasure to work with. He is keenly missed by us all.

“I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere condolences to the Christensen and McBride families,” Lloyd said.

Craig McBride. PHOTO/FILE

McBride, a passionate cricketer, has been remembered as a “really good bloke” by Black Cap international cricketer Doug Bracewell, who was coached by him in his early days.

Bracewell went to Rathkeale College when his family moved to Wairarapa. McBride taught him maths for about three years, as well as coaching him in the Rathkeale First XI and Wairarapa cricket teams.

The allrounder said McBride was a “real character” and “really passionate about everything he did”.

The 28-year-old said McBride put in a lot of hard work with not only sport but also teaching.

“You always remember people like that. He would’ve had a massive influence on a lot of people’s lives, not just through his cricket and coaching abilities and his knowledge of the game, but life in general.

“He made a lot of people laugh and he was a real character … it’ll be a huge loss to the community, for sure.”

Bracewell said he still heard stories of what McBride was doing for the sport in the district, most recently at Wairarapa College.

A well-known figure in the Wairarapa cricket scene for decades, he was a former chairman of the Wairarapa Cricket Association.

Simon Roseingrave, the association’s operations manager, said there was “shock and sadness” in the community after the news of McBride’s death.

Roseingrave said McBride had been a “significant volunteer around the district for decades”.

A funeral for McBride was held in Masterton yesterday.

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