‘Full of life and love:’ GoFundMe campaigns launched for downed pilots

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A pair of online fundraising campaigns for two Air Tindi pilots killed in a plane crash near Behchoko last week has raised thousands of dollars in just days.

Zach McKillop and Will Hayworth died after the King Air 200 aircraft they were flying went down en route to Whati from Yellowknife. Air Tindi lost contact with the two pilots on the morning of Jan. 30. A weather-hampered search and rescue operation, which saw the Royal Canadian Air Force deploy a Hercules aircraft, was launched, and the crash site was soon located near Behchoko.

RCMP confirmed the pilots’ deaths on Jan. 31.

“Zach was charismatic, kind, adventurous, sarcastically funny and most of all, full of life and love,” writes the organizers behind the online fundraising effort.

“Those who had the pleasure to know Zach will tell you he loved music, always had a witty comeback, and regularly spent time outdoors ‘splorin’,” they wrote.

Zach McKillop, pictured here, “loved” his job as a pilot at Air Tindi. He’s being remembered as being kind and full of life — never missing a friend’s birthday. McKillop died on his 28th birthday, according the organizers of the campaign. Photo sourced from GoFundMe.com

McKillop, according to the online post, started as a dispatcher at Air Tindi in 2016, and was later promoted to first officer on the King Air.

“Zach loved his job as a pilot for Air Tindi,” states the post. “He had personal connections with everyone and never forgot a birthday.”

McKillop died on his 28th birthday.

Since the campaign was launched on Feb. 1, donors have pitched in more than $25,000. The money is meant to lessen the financial burden of the McKillop family by covering funeral costs and travel costs.

There is no specific fundraising target, with organizers stating “any monetary donation is greatly appreciated.”

The GoFundMe initiative for Will Hayworth, launched on Feb. 5, has already amassed over $13,000.

“The fundraiser is in support of both the Hayworth and Paquette family to aid the expenses related to this tragedy,” write the page’s organizers.

Hayworth was affectionately referred to as “Prince Will,” according to media reports, and came from a family of pilots.

Will Hayworth, one of two Air Tindi pilots killed in a plane crash near Behchoko last week. Photo sourced from GoFundMe.com

“Will impacted many of our lives in a positive way. Our community stands together as we mourn his tragic loss,” wrote one donor.

“As a fellow northern pilot I never want to hear about pilots. My condolences to the friends and family,” wrote another.

The cause of last week’s fatal crash, which is being investigated by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), likely won’t be determined for months.

You can donate to both campaigns here:

Zach McKillop:  https://www.gofundme.com/memorial-for-zach-mckillop

Will Hayworth:  https://www.gofundme.com/in-memory-of-will-hayworth

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As the Yellowknifer’s crime reporter, it’s my job to keep readers up to speed on all-things “cops and courts” related. From house fires and homicides to courtroom clashes, it’s my responsibility to be there - day or night, rain or shine. When I’m not at court gathering stories, I’m in the office, making calls to lawyers, emailing RCMP and tracking down sources. After hours, I rely on the public to let me know what’s happening and where. Entering my second winter in Yellowknife since leaving my hometown of Peterborough, Ont., in October 2017, everyday on this beat continues to be challenging, rewarding and fulfilling. Got a story? Call me at (867) 766-8288 or shoot me an email at editorial@nnsl.com.

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