Kiwi couple among Australian skydiving plane victims
New Zealander Joseph King told friends he was going to conquer his biggest fear by going skydiving. But he never got there.
Just hours later Mr King and his Kiwi fiancé, Rahuia Hohua, were dead after their skydiving plane crashed following take off.
The accident happened at Caboolture Airfield, 50 kilometres north of Brisbane yesterday.
Horrified witnesses watched the plane nosedive shortly after take-off, before it disintegrated into a fireball yesterday.
"What has happened is there's been a plane crash," says brother Inia Raiana Hohua. "My sister and my brother-in-law were in it."
There were five people on board, including Kiwi couple Mr Hohua and Mr King, but no one survived.
"Honestly words fail and it's just crushing," says Mr Hohua.
Witnesses say the plane veered to the left after take-off before plunging to the ground and catching fire, leaving rescuers with little hope.
Police say the impact of the crash meant it was not survivable.
Mr King is from Manurewa in south Auckland, and Ms Hohua grew up in Hamilton, but they now lived in Australia. They had six children between them and were planning to get married.
The skydiving trip was a gift from Ms Hohua to Mr King. Her brother says they were "beautiful people, infectious".
Mr King shared this message on social media just hours before they took the fateful flight: "So I woke up this morning as nervous as hell about the skydiving today. I'm about to conquer my greatest fear. I love everyone lol."
Within hours of the tragedy, Mr King's worried friends returned to Facebook, asking whether the couple were okay, only to be told they never made it past the end of the runway.
"We love you Rahi and Joey – til next time," says Mr Hohua.