Crash pilot passionate about flying
THE pilot who died in an ultralight plane crash in south-western NSW last week thought flying was a 'beautiful thing', his wife of 25 years has said.
Peter McKenzie Stewart, 56, of Currawinya, a multiple occupancy property north of Tabulam, died when his single-seater plane crashed near Hay.
He left Renmark in South Australia last Monday morning and was expected to arrive at Hay, west of Griffith, in the afternoon.
Mr Stewart had planned to stay there overnight before continuing to Casino.
But the plane's wreckage was found in a field 40km west of Hay on Thursday morning after an extensive search.
It is believed bad weather may have caused the plane to crash.
Mr Stewart's wife, Quan Stewart, said it could take several months to determine what caused the accident. It will be investigated by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
“Peter loved flying - it was a beautiful thing for him,” Mrs Stewart said.
“He had too many passions. I guess that's the best way to put it. When we moved to Currawinya five years ago, he set up a Landcare group.
“We had always wanted to live in the mountains and we just fell in love with Currawinya.
“But it was very degraded and we wanted to give it new life.”
Ms Stewart said her husband obtained his pilot's licence two-and-a-half years ago.
“He was a natural at flying,” she said.
“It's unbelievable that this has happened to him. It's just such a shock.”
After moving to Currawinya, Mr Stewart became known in the Tabulam, Drake and Bonalbo communities for his dedication to the environment.
He set up Friends of the Currawinya Landcare in 2004 and started a campaign to save the brush-tailed rock wallaby.
Fellow Currawinya resident Terry Villis said Mr Stewart was a passionate man who 'always had time for everyone'.
“I was talking to him only a couple of days before he left,” he said.
“It's very sad because he was just such a wonderful man. He was dedicated to nature and put an immense amount of time into everything.”
There will be a private memorial service for Mr Stewart at Renmark, followed by a small ceremony when Mrs Stewart returns to Currawinya.