‘Like family to us’
Calgary university mourning death of two flight instructors
Calgary’s Mount Royal University has grounded its school aviation program fleet after a crash west of the city that killed two of its flight instructors.
RCMP said the crash happened Monday afternoon east of Highway 40, northwest of Cochrane.
They also said the accident was witnessed by another aircraft and reported to authorities at about 5 p.m.
Alberta EMS later sent out a tweet saying they had been cleared from the scene, and no one had been taken to hospital.
“Mount Royal grieves the tragic loss of two aviation instructors. At a difficult time our sincerest condolences, first and foremost, go to the families of those instructors,” Mount Royal University President David Docherty said at a news conference Tuesday.
The two-year aviation program has 60 students and, prior to the accident, had a fleet of five single-engine Cessnas and three twin-engine Technams. The two pilots were flying one of the twin-engine aircraft.
“We’re grounding the fleet temporarily and we will be working with Transport Canada to make sure we’re not putting any plane in the air,” said Docherty. “We don’t know the cause. It’s too early to say anything definitive but the planes are on the ground right now.”
Docherty said the university planes are in the air 364 days a year and both pilots were experienced. It wasn’t unusual for two pilots to be in the plane together, he said.
“They were in an area that’s a normal path for instruction to take place and it’s not uncommon for instructors to be up in a plane together.”
The names of the two pilots have not been released but the loss has shaken students in the program. Most showed up for the news conference to show their respect.
“When we found out what happened, myself and about 40 of my friends spent the night crammed into a residence room until two in the morning talking about our favourite memories from these two extraordinary flight instructors,” said Luc Sinal, president of the aviation student executive.
“It was the passion for aviation and the love of flying that brought us towards this program and these instructors only helped bring that passion out and helped us discover the love of flying we had.”
Sinal said the students spent a lot of one-on-one time with the 12 instructors in the cockpit, in the hangar and hanging out at the university.
“They become like family to us.”
Transport Safety Board and RCMP investigators work at the scene of a fatal plane crash 11km outside of Brunkild, Man., on Friday, February 10, 2017. Two men were killed in the crash.