The family of a Chilliwack couple whose two-seater plane disappeared while on a flight from Edmonton has released their identities.
Geoff and Judy Pickard of Chilliwack went missing on Sept. 14 while en route home to Chilliwack after a visit with family and friends, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Pickard family.
“Our father was an experienced pilot who had flown this route many times,” according to a family statement, by brothers Matthew and James Pickard, whose parents are missing.
“He was a cautious and careful pilot,” and known to be “risk-averse” who had a history of cancelling flight plans over poor flying conditions.
“On September 14, 2018, he had repeatedly checked the weather via flying approved channels,” the Pickards said in the release put out by Maritime Forces Pacific and Victoria Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) on behalf of the family
It’s possible the weather changed quickly as they flew over the Rocky Mountains because it was clear and sunny when they left Edmonton, said the couple’s son, James Pickard, in a followup interview.
“We feel it was the main contributing factor in what happened,” he said.
After extensive efforts to find the couple and the plane, the search was officially called off on Sept. 20.
“We would like to extend our thanks to the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria and all those who were involved in the search and rescue efforts,” said the release.
“We have been kept informed of the search efforts throughout and are thankful for the commitment of those men and women who searched tirelessly for our parents.”
They decided not to release their parents’ names to the media initially while they prepared the family privately, but said they were ready to do so this week.
The last known location of the small plane was northwest of Blue River, near Murtle Lake.
There could be heliskiing, snowmobiling and other recreational activities ongoing in the area where the plane might be. The search area was focused on the section of the Coquihalla corridor from Clearwater to Valemont.
The family is still determined to find the aircraft, despite it being in a very dense area that is difficult to manoeuvre in.
“We intend to continue our search and would like to appeal to anyone flying, hiking or skiing in the area to keep a lookout for our parents’ plane,” the release continued. “Hopefully we will find it soon.”