Devout Sydney seaplane tragedy pilot 'felt closer to God' while taking to the skies
The pilot of a seaplane that crashed near Sydney on New Year's Eve killing five Britons was a devout Christian whose faith was reinforced through flight, according to his mother.
Gareth Morgan, 44, had more than 10,000 hours flying experience, the majority in seaplanes, and had flown in the High Arctic of Canada, the Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia and Australia during a 20-year career.
As well as flying seaplanes around the world he also took part in missionary work in Mexico and Africa, and his mother Orlis Morgan, said his religion had also played a role in him becoming a pilot.
"He was a devout Christian and I believe that being in the air made him feel closer to God," Mrs Morgan told a memorial service, reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.
His father, Dudley Morgan, told the service a bible had been found on the passenger seat of his car after police divers recovered his keys from the crash scene.
Mr Morgan was born in Paddington, a suburb of Sydney, before moving to Canada as a youngster.
A promising footballer growing up in Vancouver, he played for Canada under 19s in the Pan-Am Games in 1991 and trialled for Liverpool in the UK, although he chose to pursue a career as a pilot.
He earned an aviation diploma from the University of the Fraser Valley, according to an obituary on legacy.com.
Mr Morgan's first flying job was with Tweedsmuir Air, flying seaplanes in the backcountry of Northern British Columbia.
Mr Morgan also flew seaplanes to Herschel Island in the Beaufort Sea off the Yukon coast, Inuvik in the North West Territories and Baffin Island in Nunavut.
After flying seaplanes for Harbour Air out of Vancouver he returned to Australia.
In 2011 he joined Sydney Seaplanes, a company providing exclusive excursions for visitors to the coastal city.
Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith are reported to have flown with the company, while Pippa Middleton and her husband James Matthew took an excursion their honeymoon.
Mr Morgan was employed by the operator until 2014 before relocating to fly in the Maldives.
He returned to Australia in May 2017 and resumed work with the company after undertaking a number of checks.
Aron Shaw, chief executive of Sydney Seaplanes, said Mr Morgan was "deeply respected and liked by me and all of the team here as a man and as a pilot".
"He flew my family and I to Palm Beach just before Christmas," he said.
A Facebook page called Gareth Morgan - Man After God's Heart set up following the crash described Mr Morgan as a "friend of God and a friend of many".
A fundraising page said the pilot was a passionate adventurer who had a "quiet, kind, caring and steady nature".
"Gareth wholeheartedly pursued his relationship with God and remained single-focused in his passion for flying," it said.
According to his obituary, Mr Morgan participated in mission trips to build homes for destitute people in Ensenada, Mexico and carried out mission work at an orphanage in Pemba, Mozambique.