News

Family mourns West Coast father-of-two that crashed light plane in Southern Alps

The daughter of a man who is presumed dead after crashing a light plane in the Southern Alps is still trying to get home to be with her family after three days of trying.

Well-known West Coast man, Tim Gibb crashed his light plane in the Southern Alps on Thursday.

Gibb left Franz Josef about 9am on Thursday, destined for Rangiora.

The downed plane was found by a rescue helicopter near Mt Nicholson on Thursday afternoon, but plans to get to the plane were put on hold due to bad weather.

READ MORE:
* Missing light plane found in the Southern Alps
* Poor weather delays attempts to reach crashed light plane
* Dump truck ferry carries up to 100 each day across bridge-less Waiho River

The Gibb family is mourning the loss of father Tim Gibb.

Supplied

The Gibb family is mourning the loss of father Tim Gibb.

His daughter Sarah Gibb said it was all “very surreal”.

She was at sea on a boat in Makarska, Croatia, when she received the news her dad had been in the crash.

“I went into shock and felt like I had detached from my body, words were coming out of my mouth, but they didn’t feel like my own,” she said.

Gibb famously brought in equipment to ferry cars and people across the Waiho River when the bridge was washed away in 2019.

He ferried up to 30 cars and 100 people a day across the river using a 38-tonne dump truck.

Marianna Muniz Photography

Tim Gibb is ferrying up to 30 cars and 100 people a day across the Waiho River in a dump truck after the bridge was washed away in a recent storm. (First published April 2019)

Sarah tried for three days to get home when she got the news.

“I had to wait for [the boat] to dock then bus to Split, found a flight to Paris with a 24-hour layover and then going home via India and Australia, I’ve been trying for three days to get home, but my flights have been cancelled multiple times, one set of flights went from $10,000 to $21,000 as I was halfway through booking them.”

The 27-year-old has another three days of travel ahead, but has found some flights through India.

“I think because it’s been so stressful trying to find tickets to get home especially with limited WiFi it’s taken all of my energy and I won’t process it properly until I get home to my friends and family.”

Sarah described her dad as humble, hardworking, patient and kind.

Tim Gibb, who set up a ferry service across the Waiho River, when the bridge washed away has died in a plane crash.

Marianna Muniz Photography/Suppl/Stuff

Tim Gibb, who set up a ferry service across the Waiho River, when the bridge washed away has died in a plane crash.

“[He was] the greatest role model a child could ask for. I am so grateful and lucky that I got to call [him] my father and I will always cherish the years we had.”

Sarah joined the Fire Service to be like her dad when she was 16.

A police spokesperson said they are working with Department of Conservation Aoraki Mount Cook Alpine Rescue Team to plan a recovery operation to the light plane.

“The forecast suggests conditions will not allow for any recovery until next week,” they said.

His younger daughter Oliva, 26, said they are “broken”.

She said her dad was always helping people, often out checking the river levels when there was heavy rain.

Tim Gibb crashed a light plane in the Southern Alps

Supplied/Stuff

Tim Gibb crashed a light plane in the Southern Alps

When a hotel in Franz Joseph flooded he helped with the rescue and coordinated the evacuation of the residents and guests before the river burst its banks, Olivia said.

“He was a doer, the action man in any civil defence situation and was and has been the main go to person in the town of Franz Josef. He has left a large hole in the community.”

“[He] has a very soft spot and close a companion with his little dog Ace who has been inseparable for many years.”

“He absolutely loved flying that was his happy place,” she said.

A Give A Little page was set up to support his family paid tribute to the man.

“This is devastating news and a great loss to our very close-knit community,” the page read.

Tim Gibb with wife Vanessa Gibb.

Supplied

Tim Gibb with wife Vanessa Gibb.

“Tim was very well respected within the Franz Josef community, being a deputy chief firefighter who has given over 15/20 voluntary years to the service and his people, he was also the Civil Defence Officer for Franz.”

Gibb was the only person in the plane.

Air Traffic Control notified the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand its assistance was required at 11am on Thursday.

A plan was developed overnight to try to reach the area on Friday, but it was put on hold due to “winds being above a safe operating level for helicopters”, a Maritime New Zealand spokesperson said.

Senior pilot Stuart Farquhar at Canterbury Westpac Rescue Helicopters, part of the rescue crew that located the aircraft, said the helicopter crew hovered above the downed plane, taking photographs and videos of the scene, but the weather was too poor to land.

Tim Gibb crashed a light plane in the Southern Alps

Supplied/Stuff

Tim Gibb crashed a light plane in the Southern Alps

“It was obvious the plane had a severe impact,’’ he said.

“The plane was all together and all in one place, but it was obvious that it was a very severe impact.”

Farquhar said the plane was located on McCoy Glacier in the Southern Alps near Mount Nicholson at a height of about 2000 metres. The crew could not see anybody at the scene.

The weather conditions were very poor, which made it difficult to access the glacier, he said.

“The weather conditions yesterday were less than desirable to be flying around the mountains. It was terrible weather with pretty heavy, fluctuating winds and snow blowing off the glacier.”

Tim Gibb was “in his happy place” when flying.

Supplied

Tim Gibb was “in his happy place” when flying.

“There were several attempts to get to the scene of the incident. They managed to finally get in there and locate the aircraft.”

He said poor weather would mean a helicopter would not be able to return to the site until Sunday at the earliest or even late next week.

Air Traffic Control notified the Rescue Coordination Centre New Zealand its assistance was required at 11am on Thursday.

A plan was developed overnight to try to reach the area on Friday, but it was put on hold due to “winds being above a safe operating level for helicopters”, a Maritime New Zealand spokesperson said.

The situation would be assessed regularly, the spokesperson said.

Source link
[the_ad id=”1767″]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.