The family of a Manawatu doctor killed in a plane crash in Feilding on Monday have paid tribute to a larger than life family man.
Ralph Saxe, 51, died along with friend Brett Ireland, 50, when the small plane they were in crashed in Timona Park, about 35 minutes after taking off from the Taonui Aerodrome near Feilding.
In a statement today, Dr Saxe's family in New Zealand, including wife Joanne and daughter Esleigh, said they were deeply grateful for the overwhelming support they had received locally and from overseas.
"We are devastated by the loss of our larger than life, most precious family man, who we will never forget," the family said.
Dr Saxe's immediate family in South Africa - parents Ronald and Amor Saxe, brother Clive Saxe and sister Leighshe Hodson - said he had been "a rock to all; our idol, our hero and much loved by all who came into contact with him".
"No matter what Ralph pursued he did so with a passion, and his zest for life was unbelievable. A devoted father to his daughter Esleigh Saxe; a true family man like no other.
"As the oldest son we could not be prouder and the love he has shown to us, Esleigh and his siblings was an inspiration to us all.
"He lived life to the fullest. The void his loss has created in our family will be impossible to fill."
Dr Saxe was a well-known Manawatu doctor who had worked extensively in South Africa and New Zealand.
He was managing director at the Palms Medical Centre in Palmerston North, where his wife is also a practice manager.
On his curriculum vitae he said in 2002 he was elected onto the MidCentral District Health Board, where he was a member for two years.
Dr Saxe had also worked as a GP and a pharmaceutical company manager in South Africa in the 1990s.
Between 1992 and 1996 he worked as a GP in Melkbrosstrand, 35km north of Cape Town.
In his spare time he was a keen flyer, and had his private pilot's licence.
Dr Saxe was part of the Feilding Aero Club, the Manawatu Aero Club and the Rifle, Rod and Gun Club in Palmerston North.
On his curriculum vitae, he listed flying, shooting and trout fishing as some of his interests.
Dr Saxe and Dr Ireland were in an Aerostar Yak 52TW, co-owned by Dr Saxe, when they crashed in the Feilding park about 10.45am on Monday.
Queensland chiropractor Dr Ireland had previously lived in Manawatu but had moved his family to Southport, on Australia's Gold Coast, in 2002.
He and his wife Janine had returned to Palmerston North for the wedding of a friend's daughter.
The Civil Aviation Authority is investigating the crash.