'We miss you' - Ardmore Flying School pays tribute to two pilots killed in Kaimanawa Ranges small plane crash

Ardmore Flying School has released the names and photos of two pilots who died in a small plane crash in the Kaimanawa Ranges on Saturday.

They were Zakir Ali Parkar and Pete Callagher.

The two pilots were flying a Diamond DA42 twin engine plane from Palmerston North to Ardmore Airport via Taupō when it lost contact at 9pm on Saturday, and was reported to the police as overdue.

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The aircraft left Palmerston North last night and was found this morning. Source: 1 NEWS

Writing on their Facebook page, Ardmore Flying school said Mr Parkar "was an amazing and reliable friend to all, an articulate perfectionist who excelled at instructing and an empathetic listener to whom many had approached for guidance and advice.

"As an IT-savvy and meticulous administrator, he was a familiar point of contact for all in the organisation.

"His laid-back demeanour contained a character that could and did overcome any challenges he encountered.

"His resilience was inspiring to many ... we miss you, Zak."

The school wrote that Mr Callagher was a "beloved colleague and treasured friend".

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For more on this story, watch 1 NEWS at 6pm. Source: 1 NEWS

"He was always ready to extend a hand to friends in need and was unceasingly passionate in sharing his deep knowledge of all things aviation to student pilots and instructors-in-training.

"As a member of the NZALPA Peer Assistance Network, his efforts in raising awareness for mental health challenges in the profession have made a positive impact in our organisation and the wider general aviation community.

"His wit and vibrant personality has left a mark in our hearts ... we miss you, Pete."

A team from the Transport Accident Investigation Commission is expected to arrive at the site of the crash in the Kaimanawa Ranges this morning.

The Civil Aviation Authority will also run an independent parallel investigation for the purpose of informing the aviation community of any safety issues that might arise from the crash, but TAIC will lead the investigation into the crash.

Police have not yet formally released the names.

Pete Callagher, left, and Zakir Ali Parkar, who died in a plane crash in the Kaimanawa Ranges on March 23.
Pete Callagher, left, and Zakir Ali Parkar, who died in a plane crash in the Kaimanawa Ranges on March 23. Source: Ardmore Flying School