Helicopter crash victim Troy Thomas will leave behind ‘amazing legacy’ in Kimberley tourism
Kimberley tourism icon Troy Thomas — the pilot who died in a tragic helicopter crash in Broome along with a 12-year-old girl — has been remembered as an industry pioneer and will leave behind "an amazing legacy".
The experienced helicopter pilot was the owner of world-renowned tour company Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures.
The crash on Saturday claimed the life of the 40-year-old and a 12-year-old close friend of his daughter Mia Thomas.
Mia, 12, was last night in a serious but stable condition in Perth Children’s Hospital after surviving the crash of her father’s Robinson R44 helicopter.
Speaking to The West Live host Jenna Clarke on Monday, Tourism Council of WA Evan Hall described Mr Thomas as a trailblazer who showcased WA both nationally and internationally.
He created one of Australia's great bucket-list tourism experiences and it's an amazing legacy.
“My relationship with Troy is mainly through the tourism industry where he was an absolute legend," Mr Hall said.
"He was certainly famous at our annual tourism awards, he swept up the awards for many years. He led the charge to for Western Australia into the national tourism awards where he picked up a swag of awards over the last couple of years.
"Without a doubt Australia's best tourism experience, according to the national tourism award over the past couple of years.
"We're always proud to see Troy get on the stage, often with his daughter Mia, and to tell their story about the great experiences that they created.
"He created one of Australia's great bucket-list tourism experiences and it's an amazing legacy."
Mr Hall said he had questioned if the establishment of Mr Thomas' award-winning business would have been possible in today's environment.
"I've wondered whether or not it could actually be done these days. It took a time and a place and certainly a person like Troy to do it," Mr Hall said.
"It's not easy to get to. I understand the family business had been in aviation and he started out very young doing charter fishing but he was really the person to get out there with seaplanes.
“They've also got a houseboat out there for boating through the Horizontal Falls themselves.
"It's the sort of place you can only get to by flying in a seaplane, that's what makes it so unusual and so remote.
“It took that expertise in aviation. There was this part of the world that no one really visited and he created this whole operation.
"It's an amazing experience. It's really about the remoteness and obviously the beauty of the area.
"It's a great experience and people travel around the world to do it."
When asked how people could best honour Mr Thomas’ legacy, Mr Hall urged West Australians to appreciate and support the tourism industries leaders who have a life-long passion for showcasing the State.
"Often when we travel we in Western Australia we'll go to places like Broome and we'll kick back but we don't do those great tours and experiences like the whale sharks, like the horizontal falls.
"I think the best thing you can do is to put it on your bucket list and go out there as soon as possible.
"We have so many wonderful things to offer in WA and they have been crafted by our amazing landscape but also our pioneers and adventurers who have just created these get experiences."
The support will be there and we will get through it. I think that's the strength of a small community.
Broome deputy shire president Desiree Male said the loss of Mr Thomas and his 12-year-old passenger had sent shock waves through the northern community.
"It has been a very sad and tragic weekend. Obviously, we do have the loss of a well-known tourism operator over the weekend and a young girl 12-year-old in a helicopter accident and the town is mourning.
"I do know that the strength and the support will be there and we will get through it. I think that's the strength of a small community.
"When you do lose someone that you all know... just being there for each other and coming together is so prominent in small communities and we definitely are like that here in Broome."
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