An extreme sports filmmaker who loved snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing and paragliding is dead after a fatal paragliding crash near the Santa Clara River in Ventura County, Calif.
Brent Butzke, of Malibu, Calif., was flying a motorized paraglider on Nov. 20 when someone on the ground saw the craft in distress, reports the Ventura County Star. The witness called 911, but it was too late -- Butzke crashed, and first responders pronounced him dead at the scene. He was 27.
John Greynald, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara-based Soaring Association, told the Ventura County Star that motorized paragliding accidents are actually quite rare, but that it requires a lot more skill to operate than a regular hang glider.
"If enthusiasts get a motorized rig without basic training, they are basically not learning how to fly the wing that motor is attached to," Greynald said to the Ventura County Star. "If you're going to get on a motorcycle, you have to learn how to ride a bicycle."
Butzke worked as a cinematographer for The Ski Channel and The Surf Channel. On Wednesday, the company eulogized Butzke as a "talented cinematographer, passionate flyer and an overall great human being" in a blog post. The channel also noted that Butzke was someone who "loved to push the envelope" when it came to his personal actions sports hobby, but never bragged about his extreme adventures. From the post:
Working in action sports takes a certain breed of individual. Typically, one does not embark upon a career in the industry without possessing a sincere passion for extreme sport and adventure. Brent fit the bill to a “T”. He loved to push the envelope, and explore what he was capable of. He was a snowboarder, a skateboarder, a surfer, motorcyclist and flew paragliders Brent was a wild guy, but never was one to brag about his exploits. You could of course inquire about his weekend flying excursions, to which he would simply smile and reply, “It was amazing.” After looking through photos of his various exploits, there’s no question about it. This guy lived his life to the fullest, right up until the very end.
Butzke was also praised for his talent as a film editor and colorist in the feature films "The Story" (2010) and "Winter" (2011). Steve Bellamy, CEO and founder of The Ski and Surf Channels, noted that it was his work on the film "Winter" that inspired Butzke to try his hand at flying. "... He became exposed to some of the most amazing human flight footage that has ever been shot," wrote Bellamy. "Fortunately or unfortunately, that footage motivated him to try speed flying.”
On Twitter, a college friend posted this photo memorial of Butzke:
[Rest in Peace&Love, Brent Butzke] Ever since we first met in college we were instantly really good friends. instagr.am/p/SYSWNgj-Wa/— Madam Đỗ (@illicit_desires) November 23, 2012
See some of Butzke's work in the film trailer for "Winter" and check out personal photos courtesy of his Facebook profile.