12 Nov 2008

Two thousand attend helicopter pilot's funeral

4:13 pm on 12 November 2008

Nearly 2,000 people have gathered in Wanaka on Wednesday afternoon to farewell local pilot Morgan Saxton, who died when his helicopter plunged into Lake Wanaka almost two weeks ago.

Friends, family and fellow pilots all paid tribute to the 31-year-old.

Members of the Royal New Zealand Navy, who helped recover Mr Saxton's body, also took part in the service.

His coffin was placed inside a helicopter for a fly past before a private committal.

A massive search took five days to find the wreckage of the Robinson R22 helicopter and his body almost 70 metres below the lake's surface.

Mr Saxton was well known and respected throughout the New Zealand aviation community.