The two pilots killed in a light plane crash near Masterton on Sunday have been named by police.
Skydive Wellington pilot Joshua Christensen, 20, and Wairarapa Aero Club member Craig McBride, likely died on impact when their light aircraft collided at an altitude of around 90m near the Hood Aerodrome. Both were Masterton locals.
The skydiving plane was returning to Hood Aerodrome after dropping off four parachutists who successfully completed their jumps prior to the fatal crash. It has not been confirmed what direction the second plane was heading.
Marty Lloyd, CEO of Skydive Wellington, said everyone at the company was "devastated" at Christensen's death.
Lloyd had first met the young commercial pilot last year when he was touring the North Island looking for flying opportunities.
He was keen to move to Masterton and work for Skydive Wellington, so they began a training plan.
"He worked hard on advance training in tailed wheeled aircraft including a Piper Cub and Chipmunk before starting a type rating in our Cessna 185. Josh was focused and gained the necessary ratings to become a parachute drop pilot," Lloyd said.
"Josh was a quiet young man, with a wicked sense of humour, who very quickly integrated into our small team. He was very conscientious, got along well with our eclectic crew, and was a pleasure to work with. He is keenly missed by us all."
Lloyd expressed his "sincere condolences" to both pilots' families. The company's offices are temporarily closed while they assist with the investigation.
Hood Aerodrome, like many small regional aerodromes, 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, regularly updating each other on their whereabouts and plans.
A source told Stuff Christensen "was making all the right radio calls" on the day of the accident, ensuring that other pilots knew where and when the parachutists were jumping.
He also told Stuff Christensen then broadcast his descent path, which was to the east of the airfield.
Masterton District Council owns and operates Hood Aerodrome. Mayor Lyn Patterson said the loss was "not just a devastation for our aviation community, but also the wider community".
"Craig was passionate and determined and gave a lot to the Masterton community through his involvement in sport and teaching.
"I understand Josh was an inspiring young man. The loss of someone so young is an absolute tragedy."
Acting detective senior sergeant Haley Ryan said police were continuing to investigate on behalf of the Coroner, along with the Civil Aviation Authority and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission.
"We extend our sympathies to Mr Christensen's and Mr McBride's family and friends," Ryan said.
TAIC's role will likely be to investigate what lessons can be learned from the crash, while the Civil Aviation Authority will look at whether all rules and regulations were followed.
TAIC spokesman Simon Pleasants said the wreckage of the planes would be taken to the commission's secure technical facility near Wellington as the investigation continued.
TAIC's aviation investigations took 18 months on average to wrap up, he said. The Masterton crash would be complex because it involved two aircraft and evidence gathering could take longer than usual.
He expected a final report would be available in late 2020 or early 2021.