One of the pilots killed in a two-plane crash in Masterton yesterday has been identified as Craig McBride.

McBride, a member of the Wairarapa Aero Club, was killed when his plane collided with a Skydive Wellington aircraft south of Hood Aerodrome at around 11.15am.

Four skydivers had parachuted from the light plane shortly before it collided.

At the time of the crash, McBride's wife was travelling overseas and had landed in Dubai when she was informed of his death, Stuff reported.


His two daughters - based in the United Kingdom and Australia - are understood to be travelling back to New Zealand.

Craig McBride was one of the pilots killed in a light aircraft crash near Masterton yesterday. Photo / Facebook
Craig McBride was one of the pilots killed in a light aircraft crash near Masterton yesterday. Photo / Facebook

A family member told Stuff he was "absolutely flattened" by the death.

He said McBride, who was in his late 60s, had been learning to fly.

McBride was also a long-serving member of the Wairarapa Cricket Association.

Simon Roseingrave, Wairarapa Cricket Association's operations manager, said there was "shock and sadness" in the community after the news of McBride's death.

He said McBride had been a "significant volunteer around the district for decades".

"I would say that he's impacted on thousands over his decades including a few significant names around the country,

"Even as recently as the last few years he's been working with one of our local schools, Wairarapa College, in terms of getting their cricket into gear."


Roseingrave said they would certainly be acknowledging McBride in some shape or form alongside Lansdowne Cricket Club, where he was a life member.

"Being a life member is a reflection in itself on the amount of time he's provided in that area."

On Facebook, the Association said, "It is with significant sadness that the Wairarapa Cricket Association have to inform our community that a long-serving member of the Wairarapa Cricket region passed away on Sunday.

"Craig is an ex-chairman of the WCA and an exceptionally passionate supporter of all things cricket, and those partaking in the game within the Wairarapa.

"Craig donated untold volunteer hours in a significant number of settings – including, but not limited to, Lansdowne Cricket Club [for which Craig was a life member], Rathkeale College, the WCA itself [including age-group representative coaching] and in recent times, Wairarapa College," the post read.

"On behalf of the whole WCA Community, we wish to express our sincere condolences to all those impacted by this tragic event, especially Craig's wife and daughters.

"Our community thrives on volunteers, and through his contribution Craig has impacted positively on thousands within our game over many years. He will be missed."

Hood Aerodrome, which is owned by Masterton District Council. Photo / File
Hood Aerodrome, which is owned by Masterton District Council. Photo / File

Skydive Wellington owner/operator Marty Lloyd said the crash had left everyone in a state of shock.

"None of us saw it, so I know as much as you do - it's been an absolute tragedy all round.

"We just have to wait for the investigation."

He said the skydivers had all landed by the time the collision occurred and hadn't seen the crash either.

"The pilot was popular and was fitting in really well, and I've only got positives to say about them."

Both pilots involved in the crash are thought to have been killed on impact.

Witnesses described the "terrible" moment the two planes crashed with a massive bang before debris spiralled out of the sky and burst into flames on the ground.

The planes hit the ground close to a house about 100m apart before bursting into flames. Residents immediately rushed to help but both pilots were already dead.

Wairarapa Police area commander Inspector Scott Miller said it appeared one was a training plane, while the second had taken four parachutists for a successful jump.

The planes collided 800-1000m south of the aerodrome, around 300ft off the ground.

"The impact was very severe. Both planes dropped immediately after the impact and most likely both pilots were killed, very unfortunately and tragically, at that impact."

It is understood the body of one pilot was removed from their craft last night but the second was left where it was overnight for the Civil Aviation Authority's investigation.

Michael O'Donnell of the Wairarapa Aero Club confirmed that one of their members had been killed.

"Clearly the club is in shock. We're working with authorities."

The Transport Accident Investigation Commission is in control of the site as it looks at what lessons can be learned from the crash. Two investigators were headed to Hood Aerodrome this morning, TAIC spokesman Simon Pleasants said.

Police would be investigating the cause of death for the Coroner, while the Civil Aviation Authority would look at whether all rules and regulations were followed.

"It's up to [TAIC] to figure out what can be done in future to make things safer," he said.

The commission's investigators would speak with the aircrafts' operators and any other organisations directly involved in their maintenance and operation.

"They'll be talking to the aero club management, no doubt, about flights on the day."

Hood Aerodrome, like many small regional airports, has no control tower. Pilots follow air safety rules in a similar way to drivers following road rules on the ground, and talk over an open radio channel, updating each other on their whereabouts and plans every 15 minutes.

"Through that system, all the pilots in the air at any one time develop a mental picture of what's going on," he said. He did not know if the radio broadcast had been recorded.