Pilot Sam lived life to the fullest

By abbey.hartevelt@dailypost.co.nz, Abigail Hartevelt

From a very young age Sam Kershaw wanted to become a pilot and he fulfilled his dream.

The 26-year-old, who would have turned 27 next week, was farewelled by more than 400 people at the Rotorua Crematorium Chapel yesterday afternoon.

There was standing room only in the chapel with at least 100 people spilling outside.

Samuel, affectionately known as Sam, Francis Kershaw died last Saturday after the top-dressing plane he was flying crashed at Waikite Valley, south of Rotorua, about 1.20pm.

The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Mr Kershaw worked for Ballance Agri-Nutrients offshoot Super Air, a regional aerial fertiliser spreading company. He was working on the Waikite Valley farm when the aircraft crashed.

The Reverend Ray Bloomfield, who took the service, said Mr Kershaw lived life to the full and he lived his dreams.

Mr Bloomfield said when Mr Kershaw met his fiancee, April Mainland, he told her of his dream of becoming a pilot and he spent the next eight years achieving his goal.



Ms Mainland spoke of how she met Mr Kershaw when they worked together at Tuakau-based company Wetit and said she thought, "I should get to know this quiet boy".

Ms Mainland said she recalled jokingly asking Mr Kershaw if his parents owned a farm and whether he was the oldest child in his family, to which he replied with a simple "yep".

"He was a man of few words. I said to him 'do you want to hook up and get married?' and he said 'okay'."

Ms Mainland said little did she know of the "amazing journey" they were about to take together.

Mr Kershaw almost fulfilled her dream to get married.

A few months ago, he organised a helicopter flight for the couple to the top of Mt Tarawera where he proposed to her. They were then flown to a restaurant which had opened just for them.

"I felt like a princess and so proud to become his fiancee ... Life had become perfect. [He was] my rock, my love, my mate ... I love you and I'm so proud of you," Ms Mainland said.

A friend of the family spoke on behalf of Mr Kershaw's mother, Melissa, reading a tribute from her to her son.

"I wish I could see my Sammy again.

"I wish I could touch his beautiful face."

Mr Kershaw's brother Mathew recalled his mother taking him and Mr Kershaw, who grew up in Tuakau, to audition for a TV advertisement when they were young.

They were asked what they wanted to do when they grew up and Mr Kershaw said he wanted to be a pilot.

"It has been awesome to see 20 years later he did it."

Mathew said his brother was so obsessed with fertiliser that he came up with an idea for a PlayStation game called Fertilisation Challenge.

Mr Kershaw's young cousins, Zachary and Carlos, read out a poem written by their father Chris when he was 10 years old about his own dream to become a pilot.

Others spoke of Mr Kershaw's abilities as a motocross and trials rider and a musician.

Meanwhile, Ms Mainland and Mr Kershaw have a share in a Cessna plane in Tauranga which Ms Mainland plans to auction off on Trade Me next week with a $1 reserve and give the money to the BayTrust.

"Since Sam's passing, I've realised how strong the aviation industry is and this is my way to give back to that industry for the aviation dream that Sam accomplished," Ms Mainland told The Daily Post.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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