Two Mount Royal University instructors were killed in a plane crash near Waiparous on Monday.
Cochrane RCMP, with assistance from military and civilian aircraft, responded to reports of a plane crash on Feb. 13 at approximately 5:55 p.m. after another aircraft pilot reported seeing the crash east of Highway 40.
Less than five hours after the crash was reported, Cochrane RCMP confirmed two individuals flying a TECNAM twin-engine aircraft were killed.
Both of the victims were experienced pilot instructors from the Mount Royal University’s fleet and were on a routine flight.
Jeffery Bird, one of the instructors killed, was an experienced pilot who joined the university as a Class 3 flight instructor with a total of 1,800 flying hours.
Bird’s previous experience included working as a pilot instructor with the Royal Canadian Air Force in Moose Jaw, Sask., and he was also a helicopter pilot in Edmonton with the 408 Squadron.
The second instructor was Reynold Johnson, an alumnus of the University of Lethbridge, Johnson had a 35-year career in aviation with Air Canada and then Jazz.
“As a community, we are still very much grieving the tragic loss of two experienced pilot instructors … There were no students on board. However, we know the impact is being felt by everyone across campus, especially the students who studied under these instructors, and were colleagues,” Dr. David Docherty, president of the university stated in a news release.
“Our foremost concern remains with the families of the deceased and the aviation community.”
The University said that the flight was a routine training flight from the Springbank Airport within the Springbank flight practice area.
Condolences were also expressed by the Cochrane RCMP and MLA Cam Westhead who wrote on social media that his “thoughts are with the family, friends, colleagues and students of the Mount Royal instructors killed in (the) tragic plane accident.”
Mount Royal University’s aviation-specific classes were cancelled for the remainder of the week and the Mount Royal fleet was voluntarily grounded until further notice.
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada is the agency responsible for investigation of aircraft crashes. The investigators started examining the scene on Tuesday once there was daylight.