"Tony was born to fly."
That's how heartbroken widow Suzanne Budd remembers the husband she lost to a glider crash near Taupō late last month.
Taupō Gliding Club member Anthony 'Tony' Frederick Hector Budd of Taupō and his student Kusum Pasha, 41, from Wellington, were killed in the crash on Mt Tauhara on May 31.
Suzanne Budd said the crash was "unbelievably" sad.
She said her husband, 78, was a highly experienced Cat B gliding instructor and a "very careful, safety-conscious" pilot.
"When you sat in the glider beside Tony he would run through all the safety procedures including checking and rechecking the harnesses. 'Safety first' was his golden rule.
"Tony used to say 'there are old pilots and bold pilots but not many old, bold pilots' and that was why obeying all the safety rules were so important to him."
Every day took a 45-minute walk and regularly checked his blood pressure.
"Tony was so pedantic about keeping himself in top shape so he could keep flying. The last thing he wanted was to have a stroke or suddenly fall ill at the controls," she said.
Mrs Budd said the last time she saw her husband was about 12.30pm that fatal day, as she headed to the Taupō Hospice store to help out for a couple of hours.
"Tony and I had such a nice morning together which included us rebooking our fights to head to back to our holiday home in the Nouvelle Aquitaine area in France in the next few months."
The crash happened about 2.45pm. The Transport Accident Investigation Commission is investigating the cause.
"Tony just loved gliding and he would spend time at the Taupō Gliding Club every day," Mrs Budd said.
"If he wasn't instructing someone or helping out around the clubrooms - which was his way of giving back to the people who had helped and supported him - he would be up gliding or flying most days if the weather conditions were right."
Mrs Budd said her British-born husband also learned to fly other small aircraft so he could tow gliders for fellow club members. He had been a member of the Taupō Gliding Club since 2014.
"In the mid-1990s Tony also won a silver medal after flying a Yak 52 Russian aerobatics machine in the British Aerobatics Competition," she said.
"Tony just loved being up in the air and all things to do with aircraft. He was born to fly."
Tony would be devastated that Kusum lost her life while he was at the controls, she said.
Pasha and her husband, who had taken a trip up in the glider first, were holidaying in Taupō.
"Because there is no motor in a glider, I'm not sure whether the crash investigators will ever find out what really happened. At this stage, no know really knows," Mrs Budd said.
Budd is also survived by his younger sister, Suzette Pullin; his three step-children Chris Tait, Elizabeth Church and Catherine Wrenn and his four grandchildren.
Mrs Budd said she met Tony 18 years ago while teaching in Britain, and they married in Napier in April 2006. They retired together 10 years ago and settled in Taupō, splitting the year between New Zealand and France.
She said her husband, who had engineering and marketing degrees and ran his own marketing business before retiring, had travelled the world extensively before she met him.
"Because Tony did not have any children he was able to use his earnings to travel the world and he first started gliding in England in 1975 and never looked back."
Mrs Budd said her husband had a "larger than life" personality.
"Tony was really funny and such great fun to be around. He had such a passion for life and everybody who met him really liked him. He loved company and talking to people.
"Tony has done more things in his lifetime than I could ever imagine myself doing.
"That includes endurance water skiing, playing the classical guitar and he also painted beautiful watercolour and rode in dressage and cross-country horse riding events."
She said her next trip back to France without him would be "very emotional", but good friends planned to meet her at the airport.
Mrs Budd said she took great comfort from the "amazing support" from members of the Muslim, Māori and Pākehā communities.
A funeral service was held last weekend at the Taupō Gliding Club hangar, and she attended a "very special" service to lift the rahui placed on Mt Tauhara by local tangata whenua.
As part of the healing process, she hoped to walk to the top of Mt Tauhara next week.
"It is a special monument to Tony and Kusum as well," she said.
Tim Norman, president of the Taupō Gliding Club, said the club was a "second home" for Budd when he was in Taupō, and he could be found at the airfield on Centennial Drive most fine days.
"He was a popular and highly respected member of the club. With the dual qualifications as a tow pilot and instructor Tony was always ready to step into either role to assist."
Norman said Budd was a great story and joke teller with a "fund of anecdotes". He also had a serious side and, as a senior instructor, was always willing to help gliding students.
"The club has lost a valued member and the loss is all the more tragic in that Kusum Pasha, a student member on her first flight, also lost her life. The club grieves for them both."