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Plane Crash: Tom Cruise Film Crew Killed in Colombian Andes

Image: Plane Crash: Tom Cruise Film Crew Killed in Colombian Andes
Men sit on a slop looking down on the wreckage of a small plane being used in the filming of Tom Cruise's latest movie in Colombia. (Fredy Builes/Reuters)

By    |   Monday, 14 Sep 2015 05:40 AM

Actor Tom cruise was not on a small plane working on his new film "Mena" which crashed in the Colombian Andes, killing two people, including a Los Angeles-based film pilot, and seriously injuring a third.

Cruise had flown along the same route in a helicopter just 10 minutes before. A trained pilot, Cruise had flown the same 1960s-era plane before and was photographed exiting its cockpit when he arrived in Colombia a month ago to start work on his new film.

An official with the aviation agency, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter, said American Alan Purwin was killed along with Colombian Carlos Berl. A third person aboard, Jimmy Lee Garland, a pilot from Georgia, was rushed to a hospital in Medellin, where he was in intensive care, reported The Associated Press.

All were experienced pilots although it's not clear which of the three were in command of the plane at the time of the crash, the official said.

On Friday, Cruise left in one of two helicopters transporting crew from the colonial town of Santa Fe de Antioquia at around 5 p.m. local time. When they arrived at Medellin's Olaya Herrera airport with nightfall approaching, and the plane didn't show up, they alerted air traffic controllers, the official said.

The Piper Aerostar-600, with tail number N164HH, went down in the mountains of San Pedro de los Milagros, reported Reuters.

"Rescue workers from the nearby municipalities were immediately dispatched. They found one person still alive who was transferred to a medical centre in Medellin and two people who died whose bodies have been recovered." said Gilberto Maso, an area disaster coordinatorg.

"Mena" stars Cruise as American pilot Barry Seal, a drug runner recruited by the CIA to try and capture the late cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar, said the AP. Seal was shot and killed in 1986 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, allegedly by assassins sent by Escobar's Medellin cartel.

The plane that crashed was similar to one Seal had flown.

Cruise's spokeswoman, Amanda Lundberg, had no comment on Friday's accident.

Purwin was founder and president of the Los Angeles-based Helinet Technologies, a company providing aerial surveillance technology to law enforcement. On the company's website, he's described as "one of the top film pilots of his generation" with a list of credits from television and major Hollywood movies such as "Transformers," "Pearl Harbor," and "Pirates of the Caribbean."

He sat at the controls of a helicopter for the first time at age 16 and two years later took his first flying job crop dusting in Indiana, according to Helinet's website.

"Alan's enduring passion for film and flying has created aerial footage loved by millions around the world," according to an online bio on the website of Shotover, an aerial cinematography subsidiary of Helinet.

In his last tweet sent Wednesday, Purwin expresses joy at landing on a dirt runway between the towering jungled mountains surrounding Santa Fe de Antioquia.

Helinet's Vice President Jack Snyder declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.

Garland, the sole survivor, is a flight instructor and manager of a regional airport in Georgia's Cherokee County, near Atlanta.

This is the second time an aviator has died while working on a film with Cruise. Famed stunt pilot Art Scholl went down in waters near San Diego while performing a nose dive during the 1985 making of "Top Gun."


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Tom cruise was not on a small plane working on his new film "Mena" which crashed in the Colombian Andes, killing two people, including a Los Angeles-based film pilot, and seriously injuring a third.
plane crash, tom cruise, film, crew, killed
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Monday, 14 Sep 2015 05:40 AM
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