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Two National Geographic Filmmakers Die in Plane Crash

James Cameron (L) and Mike DeGruy during 22nd Annual Santa Barbara International Film Festival in Santa Barbara, California, United States. (Ray Mickshaw/WireImage(SYDNEY) -- Two National Geographic filmmakers, American cinematographer Mike deGruy and Australian television writer-producer Andrew Wight, died in a helicopter crash in Australia on Saturday, according to the company's website.

Wight, the owner and pilot of the Robinson R-44 helicopter, and deGruy crashed shortly after takeoff, according to a statement released by National Geographic. Police said Wight, 52, and deGruy, 60, took off from an airstrip in Jasper's Brush, about 80 miles south of Sydney, prior to the crash.

“We are grieving over the loss of these two extraordinary friends,” said Tim Kelly, president of the National Geographic Society. “Andrew and Mike were part of our extended family at National Geographic, and our hearts, prayers, and thoughts go out to their loved ones. They accomplished so much, but were taken too early, and our world is greatly diminished by their leaving it.”

The pair were in Australia working on a documentary film with award-winning director James Cameron.

Cameron released this statement: “Mike and Andrew were like family to me. They were my deep-sea brothers, and both were true explorers who did extraordinary things and went places no human being has been. They died doing exactly what they loved most, heading out to sea on a new and personally challenging expedition, having fun in the way they defined it for themselves, which was hardship and toil to achieve something never done before. They were passionate storytellers who lived by the explorer’s code of humor, empathy, optimism, and courage. Their deaths are a tremendous loss for the world of underwater exploration, conservation, and filmmaking.”

No further details relating to the crash were released.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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