Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Community saddened by glider pilot's death

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GMH Manufacturing co-owner Gavin Harvey died in hospital on Monday after crash-landing his glider at Tauranga Airport on Sunday. Photo / John Borren
GMH Manufacturing co-owner Gavin Harvey died in hospital on Monday after crash-landing his glider at Tauranga Airport on Sunday. Photo / John Borren

Tauranga Airport's flag flew at half mast yesterday for the Katikati glider pilot who died at Waikato Hospital on Monday.

Gavin Harvey suffered critical injuries after his glider crashed at Tauranga Airport on Sunday afternoon. The 40-year-old was coming in to land when his glider lost altitude and bellied on top of two trailers parked at the end of the hangar.

The flag at Tauranga Airport was flown at half mast yesterday as a mark of a respect. Photo / Grayson Ottaway
The flag at Tauranga Airport was flown at half mast yesterday as a mark of a respect. Photo / Grayson Ottaway

Tributes started to flow in yesterday for Mr Harvey, who was co-director of Katikati-based GMH Manufacturing and well known within the Katikati community.

Paul Simpson, owner of neighbouring business Extra Heat, said he was gobsmacked to learn of Mr Harvey's death.

"I hadn't seen Gavin for a few days but I had no idea he was the one flying the glider."

Mr Simpson said he had operated his business in Earl Drive for 12 years, and Mr Harvey had established his own business several years ago.

"Gavin was an excellent guy, and very helpful to everyone who needed it. He was into his American V8s. My thoughts go out to his family and his staff," he said.

Katikati Tyre Shop manager Wilson Crocker said he was still reeling from the news.

Mr Crocker said Mr Harvey was not only a neighbouring business owner but also a client and vice-versa.

"It's a huge shock to us all. Gavin was very fine fella and always helpful to everyone.

"He was keen on his cars, his dogs, his guns and loved the outdoors. It's a huge loss for the community. I really feel for Gavin's family, and his staff."

Former Tauranga radio broadcaster Grayson Ottaway, who has been involved in aviation at Tauranga Airport for many years, said there was a sadness at the airport yesterday.

"When someone who is a part of the airport's flying community dies, especially as a result of an accident on the airport itself, everyone feels it," he said.

"It was a very nice touch the flag at the entrance to the airport was flying at half mast as a mark of respect, with the breeze yesterday afternoon seeming to have it flapping toward the Gliding Club."

Gliding New Zealand spokesman Nigel Davy said: "Our first concern is for Mr Harvey's family and our deepest sympathies and thoughts go out to them. It's a particularly tragic event to have happened."

Mr Davy said Mr Harvey became a member of the gliding club a year ago.

"Given that he was flying solo he must have done some intensive training, and was experienced and something had gone terribly wrong," he said.

When the Bay of Plenty Times visited GMH yesterday, a senior staff member said his former boss and his family were "private people" and declined to comment.

Tauranga Airport manager Ray Dumble said that Civil Aviation Authority staff were at the airport all day Monday and they would be returning later this week or early next week to do a more thorough investigation, he said.

The matter has been referred to the Coroner.

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