Pilot who died remembered as mentor who loved to fly

A funeral was held in Manitoba on Thursday for Paul Rosset, the pilot killed in a helicopter crash in southwestern Yukon last week.

Common-law partner says her only consolation is that Paul Rosset died doing what he loved

Paul Rosset's common-law partner, Jennifer Wallroth, said he was humble, hard-working and always helping friends and family. (Photo courtesy of Brad Kickham)

A funeral was held in Manitoba on Thursday for the pilot killed in a helicopter crash in southwestern Yukon last week.

Paul Rosset, 56, called Yellowknife home. He was from a large francophone family in St. Claude, Man., and moved north three decades ago.

He worked first as a maintenance engineer at NWT Air on Hercules aircraft, and then in the maintenance department at Latham Island Airways. He later became a pilot at Air Tindi in the 1990s flying Twin Otters and Turbo Beavers.

"More than a pilot, more than a captain, because he was a flight engineer, he was a maintenance engineer. He owned airplanes and he flew airplanes," said Bob Schnurr, who worked with Rosset at Air Tindi.

Schnurr called Rosset one of the most experienced northern aviators he knew.

"Sometimes bush pilots of the old days were seen as high risk-takers. Paul was ahead of his time. He was very professional; he knew the risks and understood the risks and was very professional carrying out his duties."

During Rosset's three decades in the North, he was a mentor to dozens of young pilots who began their careers in Air Tindi's Twin Otter planes.

"Paul took the time to teach them, explain why things are done the way things are done. There's a lot of people that owe Paul that learning," said Schnurr.

Rosset's common-law partner Jennifer Wallroth said he "lived, ate and breathed" flying. She described Rosset as a hard-working, humble man who called himself a "prairie dog". She said he also loved hunting and fishing and was always helping friends and neighbours.

"My only consolation, really, is that he wanted to fly helicopters for so long," she said. "He was doing what he loved when he died."

Rosset was flying a R44 Raven II craft which was owned by Horizon Helicopters, carrying two researchers on a grizzly bear survey for the Yukon government. The helicopter crashed on the southeast slope of Nares Mountain in southwestern Yukon July 10.

One of the researchers was badly hurt with spinal injuries and medevaced to Vancouver. The other researcher was not seriously injured. Neither have been named.

The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.