VANCOUVER – Michael Weir and Gerald Thom had been friends for 28 years.
Both loved to fly and last year built an amphibious plane together on Salt Spring Island.
They were in that plane on Saturday night when it crashed shortly after takeoff at the Cottonwood Golf Course in Nanaimo. There were golfers on the course at the time, but luckily no one was injured.
They flew their aircraft for the first time in December after it had been inspected twice by Transport Canada.
Both men died in the crash and at this time it is not known who was flying the plane.
Weir’s wife said he is a long-time pilot and a former scienece teacher in Jasper. He leaves behind four children – one of whom is a pilot for Sunwing Airlines in Europe.
Thom, 51, and Weir,72, met while working on a hatchery restoration project.
Thom, a resident of Youbou, was also the president of the Cowichan Lake and River Stewardship Society and won the Citizenship of the Year award in 2013.
Bill Yearwood with the Transportation Safety Board said the aircraft took off from the Nanaimo Airport in Cassidy at about 7 p.m.
“We do know there were several witnesses at the golf course so we’re anticipating to get some information from those witnesses and the local RCMP is gathering statements and information for us,” said Yearwood.
“The aircraft impacted the ground at a very steep angle. It’s consistent with a loss of control.”
He added that the aircraft was only flying at about 200 feet and that the weather was clear when it crashed.
The Transportation Safety Board and the RCMP are now investigating and say in the early stages of the investigation it appears engine failure may be the cause.