LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com/AP) — A small plane assigned to the crew of a movie starring Tom Cruise crashed in the Colombian Andes on Friday, killing two people, including Los Angeles-based film pilot Alan Purwin, and seriously injuring a third, the country’s civilian aviation authority said.
An official with the aviation agency said Cruise was not on the aircraft.
The official said Purwin was killed along with the Colombian Carlos Berl. A third person aboard, American pilot Jimmy Lee Garland, was rushed to a hospital in Medellin, where he was in intensive care.
The official said the twin-engine Aerostar ran into bad weather late Friday afternoon after taking off from the colonial town of Santa Fe de Antioquia for a short flight to Medellin. No emergency was reported to air traffic controllers.
Cruise, a trained pilot, arrived last month in Medellin to film a movie called “Mena” about American pilot Barry Seal, a drug runner recruited by the CIA to try and capture the late cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar. Seal was shot and killed in 1986 in Baton Rouge, La., allegedly by assassins sent by Escobar’s Medellin cartel.
Purwin was founder and president of the Van Nuys-based Helinet Technologies, a company providing aerial surveillance technology to law enforcement. The company’s chief operating officer, Jack Snyder, confirmed that Purwin had died.
On the company’s website, Purwin’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 first helped his dad fly a Cessna airplane at age 5, according to reports, and first sat at the controls of a helicopter at age 16. 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 posted Wednesday, Purwin expresses joy at landing on a dirt runway between the towering jungled mountains surrounding Santa Fe de Antioquia.
“On behalf of the production, our hearts and prayers go out to the crew members and their families at this difficult time,” Universal Studios said in a statement.
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