GYROCOPTER TRAGEDY: 'He died doing what he loved'
SETTING the table for his weekly dinner with his best mate, Des Benson was looking forward to catching up with Tim Pettitt and solving the problems of the world as they so often did.
Tim never arrived and Des was still struggling to unset that table on Friday knowing that he would not get to banter over a meal again.
Tim set out from Booyan Airstrip 22 km north of Bundaberg in his gyrocopter on Wednesday to head home to Yeppoon, he didn't arrive.
A mass search and rescue operation was launched searching the terrain between Bundaberg and Yeppoon.
Friday morning Tim Pettitt was found deceased with his crashed gyrocopter in bushland near Baffle Creek.
The news was like a sledge hammer to the head for good mate Des who is still struggling to come to terms with the tragedy.
"I spoke to him on Tuesday, we put our dinner plans on hold until Wednesday because his wife Judie had something planned," Des said.
"I feel gutted.
"Tim had done over 400 parachute jumps, hitchhiked through the Himalayas, travelled the world extensively and rode a motorbike around Australia.
"He was a great guy who had spirit and a keen sense of adventure.
"He was a lovely man and a true friend, one of the best mates I have met in the past 20 years."
Des said in hindsight, it was probably the way Tim would have preferred to go.
"He died doing what he loves. The man was a gentleman and a great guy, I admired his sense of adventure and like others, I'm feeling the loss," he said.
Des said Tim's sons are both currently overseas but wife Judie has been in contact.
Just after first light on Friday morning a search helicopter spotted the wreckage in bushland near Baffle Creek.
The search focused on the area of bushland based on a gyrocopter sighting reported to AMSA on Thursday by a 14-year-old boy from the Baffle Creek area.
AMSA Response Centre Manager Alan Lloyd would like to acknowledge the young man from Baffle Creek and the many members of public who responded to AMSA's call for assistance in gathering information.
"The information provided by this young man was exactly what our officers needed to narrow the search and find the missing aircraft. He showed great initiative and responsibility in reporting what he saw to AMSA," Mr Lloyd said.
"AMSA wishes to extend its sympathies to the family and friends of the pilot and thank all those involved in the search operation."
Livingstone Shire Council Mayor Bill Ludwig offered his condolences on behalf of the community.
"This is a terrible tragedy," he said.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and family."