2 killed, including Helinet founder Alan Purwin, in Colombia plane crash
BOGOTA, Colombia —
A small plane assigned to the crew of a movie starring Tom Cruise crashed in the Colombian Andes on Friday, killing two people, including a Los Angeles-based film pilot, and seriously injuring a third, the country’s civilian aviation authority said.
An official with the aviation agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter, said Cruise was not on the aircraft.
The official said an American, Alan Purwin, was killed along with the Colombian Carlos Berl. A third person aboard, Jimmy Lee Garland, a pilot from Georgia, was rushed to a hospital in Medellin, where he was in intensive care.
The official said the twin-engine Piper Aerostar ran into bad weather late Friday afternoon after taking off from the colonial town of Santa Fe de Antioquia for a short flight to Medellin. No emergency was reported to air traffic controllers.
Cruise, a trained pilot, arrived last month to Medellin to film a movie called “Mena,” about American pilot Barry Seal, a drug runner recruited by the CIA to try and capture the late cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar. Seal was shot and killed in 1986 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, allegedly by assassins sent by Escobar’s Medellin cartel.
Cruise’s spokeswoman, Amanda Lundberg, had no comment on Friday’s accident.
Purwin was founder and president of the Los Angeles-based Helinet Technologies, a company providing aerial surveillance technology to law enforcement. On the company’s website, he’s described as “one of the top film pilots of his generation” with a list of credits from television and major Hollywood movies such as “Transformers,” ”Pearl Harbor,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
He sat at the controls of a helicopter for the first time at age 16 and two years later took his first flying job crop dusting in Indiana, according to Helinet’s website.
“Alan’s enduring passion for film and flying has created aerial footage loved by millions around the world,” according to an online bio on the website of Shotover, an aerial cinematography subsidiary of Helinet.
In his last Tweet sent Wednesday, Purwin expresses joy at landing on a dirt runway between the towering jungled mountains surrounding Santa Fe de Antioquia.
Helinet’s Vice President Jack Snyder declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.
Garland, the sole survivor, is a flight instructor and manager of a regional airport in Georgia’s Cherokee County, near Atlanta.
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