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Aircraft Down on Gabriola Island


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Multiple people dead after plane crashes on Gabriola Island

Published:December 11, 2019

Updated:December 11, 2019 6:40 AM PSTon

A twin-engine Piper Aerostar similar to one believed to have gone down on Gabriola Island on Dec. 10, 2019.

A twin-engine Piper Aerostar similar to one believed to have gone down on Gabriola Island on Dec. 10, 2019. PNG

Online flight tracker shows a six-person Piper Aerostar disappeared north of Gabriola Island at around the time of the crash

Several people have died after a plane crashed on the north end of Gabriola Island on Tuesday evening.

“It was terrifying,” said Bette Lou Hagen, who lives about 100 metres from where the plane went down at 6 p.m., partly on Decourcy Drive on the island’s northern peninsular.

“I heard the roaring of an engine, much louder than a car engine, then a loud crash. Then a minute later an explosion.”

Hagen was sitting in her living room reading when the plane went down. She said it was ablaze by the time she went outside. She could not see much because the area has a lot of trees, and then she called the police.

The B.C. Coroners Service told Postmedia News it had been notified of “multiple fatalities” and was in the preliminary stages of its “fact-finding investigation to determine who died, and how, where, when and by what means the deceased came to their sudden, unexpected deaths.”The crash will be investigated in partnership with the Transportation Safety Board. Sophie Wistaff of the Transportation Safety Board said three investigators would be on site Wednesday morning to begin gathering information to determine what happened.

A British Columbia Emergency Health Services spokesperson said paramedics were called to the area of Ricardo Road and Decourcy Drive at around 6 p.m. on Tuesday. Ricardo Road links the main island with the peninsula.

The service said there were two ambulances on the island and about five others were transported there via a ferry. The Gabriola Volunteer Fire Department was also involved as the plane reportedly caught fire after breaking up.

While the type of plane that crashed has not been confirmed, an online flight tracker shows a six-person, twin-engined Piper Aerostar heading north from the U.S. disappeared off the tracker at around 6 p.m., just north of Gabriola Island.

Residents took to Facebook to describe the chaos and warn other residents.

Paolo Gast wrote “Wow 6:02 witnessed a plane do a low manoeuvre, then straight up, then drop and light show into ocean … sunset side of twin beach. 6:08 hearing emergency sirens … Same manoeuvre I saw of Red Bull plane do at Vancouver fireworks.”

Kristina Wray Baerg posted at 6:04 p.m., “Heard what sounded like an airplane close to the house, then a thump and the house shook! I don’t see or hear anything outside … Taylor Bay Area … Anyone else?”

Stephanie Reisler responded, “Obviously a tragedy for victims. Also traumatizing for residents of the peninsula — some of whom are elderly and are having war flashbacks and war-related PTSD. Maybe check on these neighbours once things have cleared and settled.”

Gabriola resident Blair Mann lives near the crash site and said the plane went down in a small wooded park.

“Miraculously, it missed all the homes, the houses,” said a shaken and distraught Mann. “I don’t know how he did it but he missed all the houses.”

He said his first alert to the crash came as he was watching the evening news and explosions shook his entire house.

“There were multiple explosions,” said Mann.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. Chris Manseau said Mounties are assisting with the investigation, but has not yet confirmed how many people were killed in the crash.

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Pilot killed in B.C. island plane crash identified as former TSB examiner

Alex Bahlsen was flying his own Piper Aerostar over Gabriola Island when it crashed

Rhianna Schmunk CBC News · Posted: Dec 11, 2019 7:59 AM PT | Last Updated: 33 minutes ago

First responders were called to Gabriola Island in B.C. around 6:30 p.m. PT Tuesday after a plane crashed on the northwest corner of the island. (CHEK News)

The pilot killed in a twin-engine plane crash in southwest B.C. on Tuesday night has been identified as a flying instructor and former examiner with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

Alex Bahlsen was flying his own Piper Aerostar, a twin-engine propeller aircraft, over Gabriola Island when it crashed into the island's northwest corner around 6:10 p.m. PT. Several friends confirmed his death to CBC on Wednesday.

The BC Coroners Service and RCMP both said there were no survivors from the crash, though it hasn't yet been confirmed how many people were aboard the small plane.
The coroner said there were "multiple" fatalities, but gave no numbers and no further details about the plane or its flight path.


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I met this guy once and have a family member who knew him very, very well and who was trained by him at his personal airport south of Calgary.  An exceptional pilot, apparently, as told by anyone who knew him.

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Global News has learned that there were three people aboard the small aircraft that crashed on Gabriola Island Tuesday night, leaving no survivors.

One of those people was former flight instructor Alex Bahlsen — a "pilot's pilot" with aerobatic and helicopter flying experience, who owned a flying ranch with a private runway in southern Alberta.

Sources tell Global News Bahlsen and two passengers, a couple, were flying from Cabo San Lucas in Mexico and were approaching Nanaimo when he got a radio call out that instruments had failed.

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