Pilot in deadly crash remembered by spouse as ‘the most positive person’

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Audrey Paquette remembers seeing a handsome well-dressed man staring at her at a popular music venue in Toronto called the Modclub in 2006. She was a bartender and he was a barback.

"He loved the freedom and challenge of flying in the North," said Audrey Paquette of her common-law husband Will Hayworth. photo courtesy of Amber Thelen
“He loved the freedom and challenge of flying in the North,” said Audrey Paquette of her common-law husband Will Hayworth.
photo courtesy of Amber Thelen

He came up to introduce himself and during their first conversation he mentioned that he was working on his pilot’s licence. Will Hayworth had his heart set on flying ever since he was a little kid, she said.

“Will wanted to be a pilot because his grandfather was a pilot,” said Paquette.

Air Tindi pilots Will Hayworth, 36, and Zach McKillop, 28, were killed when their King Air 200 crashed near Whati on Jan. 30. They were flying to Whati from Yellowknife and were the only people on board.

Paquette, Hayworth’s spouse, said, “Will was the most positive person.”

“He didn’t judge people, he was never condescending,” she said. “It just wasn’t in his blood. He was kind, caring and very funny. He could always make you laugh and he could laugh at himself.”

Hayworth moved to Yellowknife from Ontario in June 2011. A friend from college was already working at Air Tindi and got him a job with the airline. Paquette followed him up a few months later, “arriving just in time for winter.”

It was supposed to be a temporary relocation, but they both fell in love with the North, she said. The couple loved Yellowknife summers and spent a lot of time at a cabin on Prelude Lake.

They both loved fishing, swimming and exploring the trails, she said. They had been considering moving back to Ontario just in the past year, but Hayworth was hesitant, she said. He didn’t want to fly for another airline.

“He loved the freedom and challenge of flying in the North,” said Paquette.

Canoeing and listening to music were some of their favourite activities, said Paquette’s sister Amber Thelen, who described them as excellent partners who cared for one another immensely.

“They were on the same page, you could see it when you were with them, they barely needed to communicate aloud,” she said. “They just knew each other. Audrey and Will’s love for each other is unique. Not everyone gets to have that. She’s really thankful she did. She knows she’s lucky.”

On Feb. 11, investigators recovered the cockpit voice recorder from the wreckage of the downed aircraft, stated the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) in a news release. The recorder is designed to preserve the flight crew’s conversations and radio transmissions. It has been sent to the TSB Engineering Laboratory in Ottawa for analysis.

Recovering the recorder had been a priority for investigators who faced challenges searching the crash site due to heavy snowfall, said Jon Lee, the TSB’s western regional manager. It could hold clues to what caused the fatal plane crash, he said.

Parts of the King Air 200 will be sent to Edmonton for further examination but it’s expected to take months before the cause of the crash is determined.

Air Tindi held a celebration of life to honour the two pilots in Yellowknife last week.
Organizers asked people to donate to Hayworth and McKillop’s GoFundMe pages in lieu of flowers.

– with files from Brendan Burke
and Meaghan Richens

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