Tributes paid to local pilot and German exchange student who died in Yorkshire Dales helicopter crash

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Tributes have been paid to a pilot and a teenage German exchange student who died when a helicopter crashed into a North Yorkshire field.

Police confirmed Ian Macdonald, 66, died in the crash near his home in the village of Burton in Lonsdale shortly before midday on Monday.

The other person who died was 16-year-old student Admarsu Birhan, who locals said had been living with a nearby family for the last three months.

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Ian's heartbroken partner was today consoled by well-wishers following his death.

Ian Macdonald, 66, and 16-year-old student Admarsu Birhan died after a helicopter crashed in North YorkshireIan Macdonald, 66, and 16-year-old student Admarsu Birhan died after a helicopter crashed in North Yorkshire
Ian Macdonald, 66, and 16-year-old student Admarsu Birhan died after a helicopter crashed in North Yorkshire

Julia Smith uploaded a sweet photograph of herself and Ian on social media, which was then flooded with messages of condolence from friends and family.

Her mother Audrey wrote on social media: "With great sadness my daughter Julia's partner Ian has been killed in a helicopter accident on Monday 20th June - love from all of us."

One Facebook user replied to Julia's photo with: "Thoughts and prayers are with you Julia."

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Another added: "So sorry to hear this sad news Julia and Family... Thinking of you all"

A further user said: "How absolutely heartbreaking for you and your family sending huge hugs and love."

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UK Chief Executive of World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF), said the organisation was "devastated" to learn of Admasu's death.

She said the helicopter ride was meant as a "treat" for the exchange student just before he returned to Germany - adding that it was unthinkable that this "generous gesture" could end in such a tragedy.

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She said: "WWOOF UK is devastated to learn of the fatal accident involving one of our young members, Admasu Tefera.

"Admasu was on a WWOOFing visit from Germany and was keen to learn about nature, ecology and sustainable growing.

"We understand he had been such a likeable and helpful young man that his host (with parental agreement) arranged for him to have a helicopter flight as a treat, just before his return home.

"That such a kind and generous gesture should end in this tragedy is unthinkable.

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"Our most profound condolences go out to his family and friends, and also to the heartbroken host who arranged the trip."

According to reports, Ian was coming in to land his own Guimbal Cabri G2 aircraft near his home when the crash happened in a field near the village, which is close to the border with Lancashire and Cumbria.

North Yorkshire Police said: “The investigation into the full circumstances surrounding the helicopter crash near Burton in Lonsdale continues.

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“We can now provide the names of those who we believe to be the two people who sadly died in the crash.

“We believe they were local man 66-year-old Ian Macdonald and 16-year-old Admarsu Birhan, a German national.

“Formal identification is yet to take place.”

On Tuesday the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said it had sent a team to the crash site.