Friends of a NSW pilot found dead in his burnt-out light plane have described him as a “wonderful family person” and someone who would do anything for those he cared about.
Gerard Beiboer’s Pitts Special plane came down and burst into flames at Sawyers Gully in the NSW Hunter region on Wednesday afternoon.
The 55-year-old leaves behind a wife and four daughters, the oldest of whom is a teenager.
“He certainly believed in family and supported them endlessly,” Geoff Edman, a colleague of 11 years, told AAP.
“He was very highly thought of and loved by all his (more than 60) employees.”
Mr Beiboer was managing director of a Newcastle rig installation company, but had a passion for aviation.
Mr Edman said his friend felt at peace in a plane.
“He was very at home with it,” he said.
“It was his release.”
Mr Beiboer had volunteered hours of his time organising the recent inaugural Hunter Valley Airshow.
The organisers of last weekend’s show, Paul Bennet Airshows, say future events will “grow in his honour”.
“I have known him for two years and he’ll do anything for you,” operation manager Glenn Graham said.
“I just assumed it was in his nature.”
Witnesses have described seeing Mr Beiboer doing aerobatic manoeuvres before flying straight up and dropping tail first towards the ground.
A plume of smoke was seen after it crashed into dense bushland.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau says three specialised aviation engineers are expected to arrive at the crash scene on Thursday afternoon to gather information and talk to witnesses.
Police are also appealing for any witnesses to contact them.