Kimberley tourism identity Troy Thomas — the pilot who died in a helicopter crash in Broome along with a 12-year-old girl — has been posthumously honoured with the Sir David Brand Medal for Tourism at the WA Tourism Awards. The experienced helicopter pilot was the owner of world-renowned tour company Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures, but died after crashing his helicopter on July 5 last year. On November 13, the tourism figure was honoured for his contribution to the industry with the Sir David Brand Medal for Tourism at 2021 Perth Airport WA Tourism Awards. Mr Thomas and his family purchased Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures in 2006, which showcases the natural phenomenon and the Kimberley region to 10,000 visitors each year. He became a much-loved Broome identity, taking celebrities such as actor Ernie Dingo and former football star 6PR presenter Karl Langdon on joy flights around the area. The business won its third consecutive gold medal at the national tourism awards in Canberra last year, just months after being inducted into the WA Tourism Hall of Fame, and in 2017 won the Sir David Brand award for tourism — the highest honour in WA tourism. Mr Thomas was also one of two founders of Swan River Seaplanes, which launched in 2017 operating luxury flights to Rottnest Island and Margaret River. He and co-founder Kristy Bailey also started Rottnest Air Express. He sold the HFSA company in 2019 but remained heavily involved in its operation, before purchasing luxury cruise liner Kimberley Quest months after. Speaking to the Broome Advertiser after the crash, WA Tourism Council chief executive Evan Hall said Mr Thomas was an “absolute legend” of the industry who had made an outstanding contribution recognised around Australia. “He was a real character that will be deeply missed,” he said. “Troy won a swag of awards on the State and national level and had made some famous speeches when he had collected his awards.” The Robinson R44 chopper Mr Thomas was flying with three other passengers on board was believed to have taken off from the Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures headquarters in Bilingurr, a suburb north of Broome, before it failed at about 2.25pm. Also featured in the awards was Willie Creek Pearls, who won the gold award in the Tourist Attractions category and bronze in the Tourism Retail and Hire Services category. Seashells Broome took home silver in the four to 4.5-star accommodation category.