A businessman died in a tragic accident after his light aircraft crashed in thick fog.
Experienced pilot Gerrit Van Oortmarssen, 65, who was known as Gerry, was flying alone from Shoreham to Hungary when he crashed in Austria shortly after losing radio contact.
It is believed Mr Oortmarssen, of Kingsway, Hove, lost control of his Piper PA-46 Malibu aircraft as he approached a small airfield near Vienna on Sunday afternoon.
Mr Oortmarssen lost contact with air traffic controllers close to the 800m Lindkogel hill.
Wreckage from the aircraft was strewn in dense woodland near Baden, 20 miles south of Vienna.
The search for Mr Oortmarssen’s aircraft by emergency services, including the fire brigade, police and mountain rescue teams, was hampered by the fog.
Mr Oortmarssen, who was Dutch, was a regular flyer to Europe on business trips in his role with Elekta, a company which develops tools and treatment planning systems for radiation therapy and surgery for treating cancer and brain disorders.
He was head of business region Asia and a member of the Crawley-based company’s executive committee.
Speaking from Elekta’s head office in Sweden, vice-president Peter Ejemyr said: “Gerry was a very energetic, fun and positive person to be around. He had a fantastic attitude and a tremendous way of making very strong and long relationships with clinicians around the world.”
Mr Oortmarssen joined the company in 1997 after previously working in the medical technology industry.
During his time at Elekta he held various roles, including head of business in Europe and global head of sales marketing. He had lived all over the world.
Mr Ejemyr said: “At 65 he was now starting to plan for his retirement, which makes the loss of Gerry even more sad.
“Gerry loved flying and often piloted his own plane. He had a remarkable career and will be missed by many in the company.”
Mr Oortmarssen was married to Joni and the couple were known to have children.
John Haffenden, manager at Shoreham airport, said: “We were very sad to hear of Gerry's death.
“He was a pilot who flew out of Shoreham to destinations all over Europe on business trips. He had been flying from here for about 15 years and always had a smile on his face. When something like this happens it really brings home to you fact that flying is only as safe as it is.
“There are risks involved and the weather invariably plays its part.
There is a sombre mood at the airport today.”
Leave your tributes to Mr Oortmarssen below.