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Old 02-05-2012, 09:03 AM   #1
rkolinski rkolinski is offline
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May 2008
Default James Cameron's right-hand man & famous documentarian die in helicopter crash

"A Melbourne pilot and his American passenger have been killed in a fiery helicopter crash near Nowra on the New South Wales south coast.

Police released details of the men this evening after the helicopter crashed during take-off from the Jaspers Brush airfield, south of Berry, just before 4pm.

The men, both in their 50s, were reportedly involved in making a documentary. They both died at the scene.

Witnesses have told police the helicopter crashed shortly after taking-off and burst into flames.

David Bennett, president of the South Coast Recreational Flying Club, says he was standing just six metres from the helicopter when it crashed.

Mr Bennett said he met the men, who were off to do some filming for a documentary, for the first time today, before he watched the crash unfold.

"Something has gone wrong and they have crashed to the ground and burned," Mr Bennett said.

"I don't know who they were, other than to say, 'G'day' when they arrived.

"They were filming a documentary down in Jervis Bay.

"They had a pilot and cameraman on board and they were taking off together to do some filming."

A Rural Fire Service spokesman said crews arrived at the scene to find the helicopter well alight.

The crash had occurred near a hangar and people there had already started fighting the fire before crews arrived, the spokesman said.

The fire burned "mostly within the cabin area" of the helicopter before sparking a grass fire, he said.

Police have established a crime scene and will prepare a report for the coroner.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is arranging a team of investigators to examine the scene, spokesman Mike Walker said.

Two investigators from Canberra and two from Brisbane will arrive at the site tomorrow morning.

Mr Walker said the helicopter was a Robinson R44."

Mike DeGruy

Hooked by an octopus

"Mike DeGruy, the internationally respected and unanimously liked documentarian of underwater nature films who called Santa Barbara home, died today in a helicopter crash in Australia just before 4 p.m. local time. He had just turned 60 years old at the end of December, and leaves behind his wife and two children.

In charge of curating the “Reel Nature” sidebar of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival for the past decade, DeGruy was missing his first film fest in nine years, according to his Twitter page ( He was in Australia to work on his next project, and was slated to continue working sometime next week in Papau New Guinea. The crash, which also killed a pilot from Melbourne, occurred near the town of Nowra on the New South Wales coast, according to an article in The Age. [UPDATE: According to an associate who emailed the newspaper, the pilot's name was Andrew Wight, a longtime production partner of director James Cameron.] It happened during take-off, but the cause is still under investigation.

Roger Durling, the executive director of the film festival, called DeGruy “one of my best friends” said he was “heartbroken” by the news. “The Santa Barbara Film Festival has lost one of our family members: Mike DeGruy, underwater filmmaker and curator of the Reel Nature series and the force behind Field Trip to the movies,” said Durling. “Our thoughts are with his wife Mimi and his children. His enthusiasm and sense of adventure inspired all of us at SBIFF. Knowing him well, he would have wanted us to carry on today enjoying and celebrating movies.”"

See his website here:

Andrew Wright

"Sanctum" trailer

"The writer-producer of the most successful Australian movie of 2011 was one of two men killed in a helicopter crash near Nowra on the New South Wales south coast.

Andrew Wight, the writer-producer of the 3D film Sanctum, which was shot on the Gold Coast and took just over $100 million worldwide, was piloting a helicopter with fellow filmmaker Mike DeGruy aboard. Both men were killed in yesterday's crash.

The pair are believed to have been working on a feature-length documentary about Papua New Guinea.

The tragedy comes less than three weeks after James Cameron, the director of Titanic and Avatar and an executive producer of Sanctum, announced the opening of a Melbourne office of his 3D production company, Cameron Pace.

Wight was the general manager of the office, the first for Cameron's production group outside the US, and was to oversee a push into local 3D production.

DeGruy, 60, specialised in underwater cinematography. Wight, 52, was a keen farmer, with a property at Culcairn, just north of Albury. He remarried at 50 and became a father for the first time about a year ago.

Wight was a keen helicopter pilot, diver and explorer. His screenplay for Sanctum was based on his own near-death experience while potholing in the 3.2-kilometre-long Pannikin Plains cave system beneath the Nullarbor Plain in 1988.

It was his second stab at telling the story, the first being the documentary Nullarbor Dreaming, which aired on TV in 1989.

It was a shared love of diving that led to the friendship between Wight and Cameron, and in 2001 the Australian began working with Cameron's Earthship Productions on a range of dive-related films - Ghosts of the Abyss, Expedition Bismarck, Aliens of the Deep and Last Mysteries of the Titanic - for IMAX and TV.

Wight was also integrally involved in the development of the 3D technology Cameron deployed on Avatar. The cameras used on Sanctum were the very same as those used on Avatar.

According to one friend of the Australian, Wight was "James Cameron's right-hand man for years, and knew him intimately".

Wight enjoyed the idea of being able to straddle the two vastly different worlds, the friend, who asked not to be named, added. His death would be "really terrible for the industry, with Australia just being put on the filmmaking map in 3D terms".

DeGruy leaves behind a wife and two children and Wight is survived by his wife and infant."
The Alamo, Black Rain (Jp), Far from the Madding Crowd, Gray Lady Down, The Incredible Shrinking Man, Interrupted Melody, Lust for Life, Mississippi Burning, Moby Dick (Gregory Peck), The Other Sister, Ryan's Daughter, Searching for Bobby Fischer, Sink the Bismarck, Swing Kids, Testament, Them, They Died With Their Boots On, The Thing from Another World, War of the Worlds (Orig.) & When Worlds Collide
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Old 02-05-2012, 04:24 PM   #2
jtwise jtwise is offline
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Apr 2007
Lexington, Kentucky

Really Sad. I met Mike deGruy two summers ago. He was doing work with my father at one point. He was really nice, and it was great to hear him talk about deep sea things. He will be missed. RIP
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Old 02-05-2012, 05:26 PM   #3
1blufan 1blufan is online now
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Mar 2009
The Road to Nowhere.

Wow sad when this stuff happens to anyone. At least there fantastic work will always live on.
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