The fourth victim of a helicopter crash in Victoria’s Mount Disappointment has been identified as finance consultant Ian Perry.
Mr Perry, who worked at AXIchain, was one of five people killed in the chopper tragedy in a state forest north-east of Melbourne on Thursday morning.
His colleague and CEO Linda Woodford was also on the chopper along with helicopter pilot Dean Neal, 32, and Radford’s Abattoir chairman Paul Troja, 73.
AXIchain released a statement labelling Mr Perry as a ‘respected member’ of the agricultural industry and Ms Woodford as a driven ‘visionary’.
The company issued the statement shortly before it emerged Ms Woodford had made a haunting Facebook post about the helicopter before the doomed flight.
Ian Perry and his colleague and CEO Linda Woodford (pictured) were on the chopper along with helicopter pilot Dean Neal, 32, and Radford’s Abattoir chairman Paul Troja, 73
Dean Neal, 32, had four passengers on board, including Radford’s Abattoir chairman Paul Troja, in his care
Ms Woodford’s last Facebook post had the chilling message with a wink emoji: ‘The transport to work today … a little different
‘Linda was a driven visionary and an eternal optimist and will be deeply missed by all that knew her,’ AXIchain said on Friday.
‘Ian was a respected member of the agricultural industry and a committed family man and will be sorely missed by all that knew him.
Mr Perry was described on the AXIchain website as a ‘passionate’ finance consultant who had a ‘deep understanding’ of the agriculture industry.
‘Ian’s aim is to work towards embedding new technologies in traditional finance products to improve the customer experience,’ the website read.
His previous roles included Head of Agribusiness, ANZ Corporate & Institutional Banking and Executive General Manager Financial Services for Ruralco Holdings and Nutrien.
Ms Woodford had made one final Facebook post before boarding the helicopter with Mr Perry and the other passengers.
‘The transport to work today … a little different,’ she wrote with a wink emoji.
Ms Woodford had been the Melbourne-based chief executive of agriculture trading firm AXIchain since 2018 and for the past decade had also been the director of Kaizen Consulting, a blockchain technology company.
In another twist, her family was already dealing with the loss of her sister-in-law shortly before this tragedy in rugged bushland during a trip to inspect land.
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Paul Troja, the chairman of Radford’s Abattoir in Warragul, was killed when the helicopter he was riding in crashed at Mt Disappointment on Thursday
A blue tarpaulin is set up over wreckage found in the Mount Disappointment bushland following the helicopter crash on Thursday
Her friend Martin Gibson posted a tribute to her, alongside the haunting social media post put up shortly before the crash.
‘Yesterday my lovely friend of 25 years Linda Woodford posted pics of her taking a helicopter to work from downtown Melbourne,’ he said.
‘It was yet another proud moment for me, having watched her build a fantastic, innovative and world-leading blockchain company.
‘Her success came after relentless work and picking herself up after many failures.
‘Sadly her flight ended in a crash into Mount Disappointment in Victoria, and it claimed the lives of all five people on board, including Linda’s.’
Mr Gibson remembered her as a ‘beautiful, fun-loving and genuinely compassionate soul’.
Her friend Martin Gibson posted a tribute to Linda Woodford (pictured), alongside the haunting social media post put up shortly before the crash
Mr Gibson remembered his friend as a ‘beautiful, fun-loving and genuinely compassionate soul’
‘Such a loss, and such a shame for this to happen just as all her hard work was really paying off, and as her family are still dealing with the loss of her sister-in-law, whose children she had treated like her own,’ he said.
‘She packed a lot into her half century, and she’ll leave a big hole in so many people’s lives, including mine.’
Another friend Miriam van Heusden, the founder of the Maralytics marketing group, said she was ‘devastated beyond words’.
‘We lost someone that was truly amazing yesterday, Linda Woodford, lifetime best friend of my sister and founder of Axichain, died in the horror helicopter crash in regional Victoria,’ she said on Facebook.
Ms Woodford’s company AXIchain had developed technology to buy, sell and keep track of livestock.
Her brother Dougal told Nine News the family had ‘never felt emotional pain like this’.
Mr Neal was a ‘conscientious, professional pilot [who] always put the safety and wellbeing of his passengers in the highest of his priorities’, his devastated family said in a statement on Friday afternoon
The pilot involved in a devastating helicopter crash has been remembered as ‘remarkable’ and ‘highly respected’.
Dean Neal, 32, had four passengers on board.
His father Rodney Neal read out a statement on Friday afternoon describing his son as a ‘conscientious, professional pilot [who] always put the safety and wellbeing of his passengers in the highest of his priorities’.
‘Our broken hearts go to the family’s and friends of those who were flying with him,’ he said.
‘Your unspeakable loss is understood by us all. We know Dean would have done anything in his power to deliver his passengers safely to their destination.’
Mr Neal was working for Microflite Helicopter Services, a family-owned business based in Victoria that offers private flights and premium tours
Mr Neal was working for Microflite Helicopter Services, a family-owned business based in Victoria that offers private flights and premium tours.
Microflite executive general manager Rod Higgins said in a statement the pilot was ‘highly respected’.
‘The service had been travelling as part of a two-aircraft charter when it lost communication with the second aircraft just after 8am,’ he said.
He flew everywhere from Uluru in the Northern Territory to Hamilton Island in Queensland and has been a qualified pilot since 2016.
Mr Neal was trained to provide specialist bushfire support from the skies and patrolled beaches on behalf of Surf Life Saving Victoria.
He also flew news crews covering some of the nation’s biggest stories.
Paul Troja, the chairman of Radfords Abattoir in Warragul, was also killed when the helicopter crashed.
Mr Neal was trained to provide specialist bushfire support from the skies and patrolled beaches on behalf of Surf Life Saving Victoria
Mr Neal flew everywhere from Uluru in the Northern Territory to Hamilton Island in Queensland and has been a qualified pilot since 2016
The 73-year-old Albert Park man was well known within the agricultural industry. Radfords is a family owned business operating out of the West Gippsland region.
Mr Troja and three others were viewing an agricultural property in Ulupna on the Victorian border when their helicopter crashed, killing them all, The Herald Sun reported.
Avlaw Aviation consulting managing director Ron Bartsch said it was still too soon to determine the actual cause of the crash.
Mr Bartsch said the helicopter flight operator Microflite had a near perfect safety record and there was only one possible explanation for the crash.
‘The aircraft is a very common type of aircraft,’ he told Channel Nine’s Today on Friday. ‘Six passenger aircraft, very reliable.
Avlaw Aviation consulting managing director Ron Bartsch said it was still too soon to determine the actual cause of the crash at Mount Disappointment on Thursday
A pilot and their four passengers, believed to be meat farmers, died after the aircraft crashed near the popular picnic grounds at Blair’s Hut
‘The company indeed has a very good safety record and is very well managed with new aircraft.
‘Really at this stage, without speculating, weather is probably the main consideration at this stage.’
Mount Disappointment recorded a high of 21C and winds of up to 36km/h.
Controlled forestry burns were being carried out in the area while there was also low cloud coverage throughout the day.
Mr Bartsch warned ‘it may be some time’ before investigators determined the exact cause of the crash.
Mr Bartsch warned ‘it may be some time’ before investigators determined the exact cause of the crash (pictured, a tree split in half near the crash site)
‘Unlike larger air transport aircraft, these aircrafts are not always fitted with blackboxes, flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder,’ he said.
‘I know the Australian Transport Safety Bureau is on the scene. Normally they will hand down a preliminary report in six to seven weeks.’
The helicopter was one of two that left the Melbourne City Helipad on Thursday morning, flying in convoy over Mount Disappointment.
Ambulance Victoria received a report of an incident at 9.35am that morning.
Mr Bartsch said the other pilot was the best hope of understanding what happened to the doomed helicopter.
A police helicopter and air ambulance were sent to search for the missing chopper but the terrain hampered their efforts until 11.45am on Thursday when the wreckage was finally located.
A police helicopter, five Country Fire Authority vehicles and paramedics, including the air ambulance, were dispatched to the area on Thursday
Mr Higgins said the incident was reported to the Australian Maritime Safety Authority as per industry protocols.
‘We will work with the relevant authorities to conduct a comprehensive investigation into this incident,’ he said.
The helicopter had picked up the meat farmers from Melbourne City Helipad before reportedly heading north to purchase cattle.
The second helicopter returned to Morrabbin Airport safely with all onboard accounted for and uninjured.
Smoke (pictured) from controlled forestry burns in the area and low cloud cover hampered initial search efforts on Thursday
Five Country Fire Authority vehicles, police and paramedics, including the air ambulance, were on scene at the crash site of the downed helicopter on Thursday.
The Australian Transport Safety Bureau is also investigating and has sent a team from its Canberra and Melbourne offices with expertise in helicopter operations and maintenance, and aerospace engineering, to the site.
The experts will inspect the wreckage and site surrounds before retrieving any relevant components to take them to Canberra for further examination.
The ATSB will also analyse any recorded data and conduct interviews with those who have knowledge of the flight.
A preliminary report from the watchdog is expected in about six to eight weeks.