Lance always wanted to fly, so he grew wings and did it. He was a well qualified and experienced commercial helicopter and balloon pilot with an good reputation for safety.
Hoppy also worked as a local truancy 'officer'. He showed all the little local kids that they can do what they love too. Hoppy knew it was important to give kids two things, roots and wings. If I remember rightly Hoppy was adopted, and he knew what it felt like to feel not quite as good as the rest or as big as the rest or whatever, for one reason or another, and how it was important not to let that define who you are or let it hold you back. He was a very humble man too.
I note people have been searching this site for information on the Seven Day Club. They reason they won't find any is because of Hoppy. He was a good kind man who loved his family very much, and who set a good example to all the people who looked up to him, like the members of the 7 Day Club. Although he was a quiet and humble man he was someone special in this town, everyone who knew him liked and respected him.
Here's a link to a facebook page where people can pay their respects to the families of Lance and his passengers.
He's greatly missed by our community, this is a huge loss to Carterton. Thinking of the families, and the people working out in the rain today to find out how this happened. Thinking of the poor local police and ambulance and fire crews who responded to the sirens and arrived at the scene to discover it was their mate, Hoppy.
The rain has suddenly stopped, and it's so quiet.
Here is a link to an interview with a witness, Bevan Lambess.
Here's a link to a news article about Hoppy, and his passion for flying.
And here's one that attests to his reputation for safety.
Nobody knows how this tragedy happened, but we all mourn the loss of Hoppy and his passengers, and await the result of the investigation.
Update, 9 January 2012: Brian Edwards has written an article regarding some of the ongoing appalling media coverage of this tragedy, it's worth reading. Journalist Simon Bradwell is the subject of a formal complaint to police accusing him of deliberately attempting to deceive the families of the victims.
Update 23 February 2012: "The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has launched an urgent inquiry following "serious" findings of a report into the Carterton balloon tragedy.
The tragedy was bad enough, but the lack of respect for the notion of safety shown by the bikers in refusing to wear helmets, and loudly proclaiming it was "out of respect for the dead man" - particularly given the number of accidents involving large motorcycles, and the number of injuries and deaths from those accidents. This latest stabbing is further insult to a man who tried to rein these idiots in and keep them off the streets. Shame on them.