The tightly-knit community of pilots at Pitt Meadows airport is mourning the loss of a respected peer who was killed along with his future in-laws Sunday when his float plane crashed near Peachland.
Colin Moyes’ single-engine de Havilland Beaver went went down in a wooded embankment off Highway 91, near Peachland and burst into flames around 6:45 p.m.
Witnesses to the crash said it appeared as though the pilot was trying to land on the highway, but came just short of that goal.
“The distance from the road was 500 to 750 feet,” said Troy Russell, a West Kelowna fire captain who co-ordinated the fire response on Sunday.
“You could see the direction of flight – and as bystanders have said – it looked like they made an attempt to do a landing on the highway, but efforts were hindered by the topography.”
Moyes, a West Vancouver resident, and two passenger, who are believed to be his in-laws, were confirmed dead at the scene.
According to the Canadian Civil Aircraft Register, Moyes purchased the 1966 Beaver last June.
He stored it, along with another amphibious plane in hangars at the Pitt Meadows Airpark.
Friends of the pilot said Moyes leaves behind an 11-year-old son. The 52-year-old lost his wife a few years ago and was engaged to be married to his fiancée, Alex, next month.
Chris Georgas, who owns Pacific Rim Aviation at Pitt Meadows airport, was a close friend of Moyes.
“Mere words cannot express the incredible sense of loss that the aviation community here at Pitt Meadows and across the nation is feeling at this very moment,” he wrote in a statement.
“The tragic loss of a loved one and those closest to him came in the spiritual form of a great man, father, partner, husband, relative, colleague and a gift to the world. All of us have been affected and are truly devastated.”
The Transportation Safety Board dispatched two investigators to the site to assess the wreckage and ascertain the cause of the crash.
The Beaver was involved in two accidents several years before Moyes purchased it, but Transportation Safety Board spokesperson Bill Yearwood said the previous accidents have no bearing on the crash.
“If you’ve owned a car for 50 years, I’m sure there would be some fender benders and there would be a history of repair. That’s the case here,” said Yearwood.
Four people died in the same area in 2010 when an overloaded small single-engine airplane crashed while trying to fly out of Kelowna.
“There is not much left off the plane. There is the tail, the engine and the wing tips,” added Yearwood.
“The witness information is helpful, but we will have to look at the scars on the trees and the damage to corroborate their statements.”
It will take several months to complete a report on the crash.
– with files from Kelowna Capital News