Comedian and media personality Tommy Little has penned a moving tribute to his mentor killed after a former military jet crashed into Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay.
Stephen Gale, 56, and cameramen James Rose, 30, went down in one of two Viper S-211 Marchetti planes on Sunday during a formation flight for a Jetworks Aviation promotional video about 12 kilometres west of Mount Martha.
Police confirmed on Wednesday their bodies had been found after crews located the wreckage of the plane off the shore of Mornington.
Gale, a highly experienced flyer, owned Jetworks Aviation, an Essendon Fields-based business created for the yet-to-air TV documentary Any Fool Can Fly.
Little was among student pilots to be featured in the series about a group of high achievers attempting to master flying, aerobatics and formation.
The comedian remembered Gale, a former Royal Australian Air Force member, as one of his closest mates, a mentor and sidekick in the sky.
“To put it bluntly Stephen Gale is the most intelligent man I’ve ever met in my life and our relationship was the perfect example of when opposites attract,” Little wrote on Facebook.
“An inventor, an adventurer and a heart of gold. He was a real life Tony Stark but with a flying suit instead of an iron one. His love for aviation was unparalleled.”
Little, who presents a radio show with Carrie Bickmore and was previously a co-host of Network 10’s The Project, recalled Gale’s love of his wife Tori and baby son Tommy.
“Both you and your beautiful little man were the best things that ever happened to him,” he wrote.
“To Little Tommy, losing your dad before your first birthday is something that shouldn’t happen to any baby but I promise to be the best godfather ever and constantly remind you of the tour de force that was your dad.
“Plus, your mum happens to [be] Wonder Woman so you’ll be more than fine. We got you.”
Little, who also expressed his condolences to Rose’s family, said he spoke with Gale almost every day and he would always take him flying if he ever needed cheering up.
“But now the person that could make this problem melt away even just for a second is the one person that isn’t here to do it with me,” he wrote.
“I love ya Cap. I’ll see you in the sky.”
Police continue to investigate the cause of the midair crash.