‘Safety was his priority’: family members mourn loss of senior pilot killed in mid-air crash

The Canadian Transportation Safety Board will hold a news conference Tuesday morning to update the investigation into a mid-air plane collision in Ottawa’s west-end.

Two small planes collided Sunday morning over the Carp Airport, killing one of the pilots.

The Cessna-150 plane ended up on the front lawn of a home on McGee Side Road, about two-kilometres from the airport. The plane was left in pieces, the pilot, family members identify as an 82 year old Kanata man, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The man’s daughter told CTV her father may have been 82 years old but was mentally and physically strong. She says “flying was his passion” and said “safety was his priority”.

For now, the family has decided not to release the man’s name.

The pilot of the second plane, a Carp Airport employee, was forced to make an emergency landing at the Ottawa International Airport. The Piper twin-engine suffered no real damage. The Pilot and his young son both escaped injury.

The Carp Airport, like most small airports, is in “uncontrolled airspace”, it means the airport does not have an air traffic control tower; instead pilots rely on each other to radio their whereabouts.

“The fact that the airport is uncontrolled doesn't mean that it's unsafe,” says former TSB Investigator Larry Vance, “obviously they didn't see each other or if they did it was too late. They'll find out from the investigation if both of them were doing what they were supposed to be doing. I would imagine that right off the top that somebody was outside the norm.”

Vance, who is now the co-owner of private aviation investigative firm, HVS Aviation, says mid-air collisions like this one are “extremely rare”.

It’s the second air mishap in Carp in the last month. A Toronto area pilot suffered serious head injuries when his small plane narrowly missed a home on Old Almonte Road in Carp on October 16th. The plane had taken off from Carp just minutes before the crash.

Vance calls the two high profile crashes a “coincidence”, and says it has no impact on the safety of the Carp Airport.

“Everybody’s sad, you don't have to know the people to be sad,” Edmonton pilot Ken Wiseman told CTV. Wiseman, in Carp to inspect a plane for a client, says he has confidence in the industry, "you're more apt to get crunched in your car on the way back to the office than you are flying in a plane.”