FORMER Tumut deputy mayor and passionate aviator, Ben Dumbrell, has died after his light aircraft crashed near Adelong at the weekend.
Mr Dumbrell, a well-known member of the community, was found dead inside the wreckage of his KR-2 plane about 6.15am yesterday in a paddock off Califat Road, Adelong.
The crashed plane - which is believed to have come down not far from a private landing strip - was reported to police by the property manager.
It is understood officers used mobile phone tracking technology to locate Mr Dumbrell's phone. The 65-year-old's family had reported him missing on Sunday night after he hadn't been heard from since leaving home for a flight to Holbrook about 9am Saturday.
Although the cause of the crash is not yet known, it is believed to have occurred shortly after take-off.
An experienced pilot, Mr Dumbrell had flown since he was 24 and was a flying instructor with Holbrook Flight Training.
President of the Holbrook Ultralight Club, Bryan Gabriel, said there was a real sense of loss among its members.
"He was just one of the most loyal and willing members the club's ever had," Mr Gabriel said. "He was one of those men who took great pride in passing on knowledge to others."
He said Mr Dumbrell, who had been with the club for at least four years, was in the process of regaining his chief flying instructor status and it is understood he was on his way to one of its monthly meetings.
"He always liked to get here early and catch up with everyone, it'll be a big loss in many ways," Mr Gabriel said.
Mr Dumbrell spent more than a decade on Tumut Shire Council and was elected deputy mayor in 2011.
Former mayor, John Larter, said Mr Dumbrell was a wonderful ambassador for Tumut but one who was never really recognised for his contributions to the community.
"Just a remarkable person who will be sorely missed, he's going to leave a terrible void," Mr Larter said.
"What you saw was what you got with Ben Dumbrell, he was a straight shooter and as honest as they come.
"He was visionary too, he could see things for the betterment of Tumut.
"He wasn't just a token councillor, he was always pushing the boundaries to improve things."
Mr Larter said it was also a sad day for aviation, given there would be people who are critical of light aircraft.
"I'm sure if he was going to go, that would have been how he'd want to go, he loved flying," he said.
"It's just an unfortunate accident ... the last thing he would want is anything negative (to be said) of the aviation industry."
Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) investigators have been called in to examine the wreckage and are expected to remain at the crash site for up to three days.
A report is also being prepared for the coroner.