‘Like fam­ily to us’

Cal­gary univer­sity mourn­ing death of two flight in­struc­tors

Cape Breton Post - - CANADA - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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.”

CP PHOTO

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.

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