Two people, including a Los Angeles-based film pilot, were killed and another was seriously injured when their small plane crashed in the Colombian Andes, the country’s aviation authority said.
An official with the aviation agency, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, said the people on the plane were assigned to a movie starring Tom Cruise. He actor was not on the plane.
The official said 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.
The official said the twin-engine plane 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 from air traffic controllers.
The Piper Aerostar-600, with tail number N164HH, was the same aircraft that Cruise was photographed exiting the cockpuit from upon his arrival in Medellin last month to start working on his new film “Mena.”
The film is starring Cruise as an 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, Louisiana, allegedly by assassins sent by Escobar’s Medellin cartel. Amanda Lundberg, a spokeswoman for Cruise, had no comment on the incident.
Purwin was founder and president of the Los Angeles-based Helinet Technologies, a company that provides aerial surveillance technology to law enforcement. Purwin is described as “one of the top film pilots of his generation,” according to the company’s website. His credits include major Hollywood movies such as “Transformers,” “Pearl Harbor,” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”
He sat at the controls of his first helicopter at age 16. Two years later he took his first flying job crop dusting in Indiana, according to the Helinet 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.