24 Mar 2014

NZ man felt nervous about skydive

8:16 pm on 24 March 2014

One of the two New Zealanders killed in a plane crash in Australia posted a message online about feeling "nervous as hell" before taking off.

Joey King, from Manurewa in Auckland, and his fiancee Rahi Hohua, whose family is based in Hamilton, were among five people killed on a skydiving trip in Queensland on Saturday.

Rahi Hohua and Joey King.

Rahi Hohua and Joey King. Photo: FACEBOOK

Witnesses say the Cessna 206 veered left before crashing and bursting into flames shortly after taking off from Caboolture airfield, north of Brisbane.

The trip was a gift for Mr King from Ms Hohua. Before the flight, he posted on social networking site Facebook that he was "nervous as hell about the skydiving" and was about to conquer his "greatest fear", before saying goodbye.

A friend of Mr King's, Geoff Ahipene, says he joked with him about how scared he was.

"I saw him in the carpark before he left work, just giving him a hard time about it because he was really scared. Never, never did we think anything would happen but we thought we'd see him again on Monday. It's just shocking.

"They were the happiest, happiest people in the world and just full of life, and they'll be dearly missed."

A service was held on Sunday night in memory of the couple and funeral arrangements are underway.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau says it was the plane's third flight on Saturday and the weather was clear.

Accident investigator Grahame Hill says the plane hit the ground wing-first, before cartwheeling and turning into a fireball.

Mr Hill says it could take some months to establish what happened. The ATSB says a preliminary report will be completed by 23 April.