An Emerald Pacific Airlines helicopter crashed in Taiwan’s Hualien this afternoon, killing three passengers – including Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above (看見台灣) director Chi Po-lin. He was 52.
According to local media reports, the Emerald Pacific helicopter took off around 10:40 this morning on Chi’s third scouting flight of the day. The helicopter lost contact around 12:20 pm when it crashed near the coast of Fengbin in Hualien, killing all three passengers. Emerald Pacific confirmed that Chi, his assistant Chen Kuan-chi and pilot Chang Chih-guang were onboard.
Causes of the crash remain unknown at this point. Witnesses told local media that the weather in the region today was fine, with nearly no wind. Since there is no black box on the helicopter, it will be difficult for authorities to determine the exact circumstances that led to the crash.
Chi’s Above Taiwan Cinema Inc. has released a statement confirming Chi’s death.
Emerald Pacific Airlines also provided aerial support on the first film. This is the 23-year-old airline’s fifth incident, and the one that has resulted in the highest casualty.
Chi had just held a press conference earlier this week announcing the start of production for a follow-up to his documentary Beyond Beauty: Taiwan From Above. The film was set to begin production some time this year for a 2019 release.
Chi began his career at the Taiwan Area National Expressway Engineering Bureau, where he filmed highway construction projects from the sky. An aerial photography enthusiast, he also rented helicopters for his own aerial photography projects. His photos have been featured in local nature magazines and photography exhibitions in Taiwan.
In 2012, he made Beyond Beauty partly out of his own pocket. The aerial documentary highlighted Taiwan’s natural beauty and the challenges facing its natural environment. The film set a box office record for homegrown documentaries and won the Golden Horse award for best documentary.
Chi is survived by his wife and two children.