Tributes soar for Ray Jackson after plane crash tragedy
THE Northern Rivers aviation community is reeling from the loss of highly experienced and well known pilot Ray Jackson, who died after a microlight plane crash at Tyagarah on Tuesday.
Mr Jackson, 59, was an instructor with Byron Bay Microlights and had long been a regular at the Evans Head Great Eastern Fly-In.
Great Eastern Fly-In president Gai Taylor described Mr Jackson as an incredibly generous, friendly and enthusiastic man who had a great love for flying.
"He was just such a great human being," she said.
"He was friendly, enthusiastic and incredibly supportive of the fly-in.
"Nothing was too much trouble. He was also very supportive of anything aviation-related going on.
"He was just very active in aviation generally in the local community, always going to things and supporting anything in aviation.
"He's going to be really, really missed."
When he wasn't flying, Mr Jackson worked full-time as a human resources manager and teacher at St Stephen's College on the Gold Coast.
He had worked there since January 2008.
St Stephen's College headmaster Jamie Dorrington said the loss of Mr Jackson was a "huge shock" that would leave a "great hole" in the school and in the community.
"Ray was the kind of teacher and colleague that everybody would like to have," he said.
"He was always optimistic, always had a smile on his face and was always prepared to help other people."
Mr Dorrington yesterday described Mr Jackson as a quintessential "Australian gentleman".
"He was the kind of person who, once you met him, you just liked him instantly," he said.
"There would be so many people on the Gold Coast and Northern Rivers who knew and liked Ray.
"I can never remember mentioning anything to Ray where it was too much trouble."
Mr Dorrington said the school would do what it could to support Mr Jackson's wife Karen, daughter Catherine and son Luke.
Hundreds of people have posted their condolences on the St Stephen's College Facebook page:
Nikki Pope: Oh, my goodness, we are shocked and saddened. What a loss. He will be very much missed. Love and best wishes to his family.
Nathan Stewart: Jacko was the best teacher. Always there, cheering us on at marathons, and such a good kayaking coach to train with. So caring and such a lad. You will be missed sir, RIP.
Jasmine Kovacs: Such a lovely man, honour to have him as my science teacher last year. My prayers go to his family and friends.
Harry Wilmot: Such a loss for the school. What an excellent teacher and fellow colleague to other staff members. My deepest thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.
Snezana Dudic: Heart-breaking news. Such a great loss. Ray was such a wonderful man and will be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with his family.
Matt Morby: A man who always smiled, while never failing to make others smile. Rest in peace, Mr Jackson.
Christine McNeill: I am in absolute shock. He was a real gentleman. I will miss his smiling face every morning and our chats. Heartfelt sadness to your family, Ray. May you rest in peace. Our prayers are with your family.
Martin Lass: A man with a good heart ... inspiring, kind, optimistic ... a tragic loss. Deepest condolences to his family and those closest to him.
Karen Innes: I have few words to express how devastating this is for our college community. Love and prayers are with Karen, family and loved ones. RIP, Silver Fox.
Graham Hyman: A very sad loss, not just to the school but to the world. Ray embodied what it meant to be a gentleman.