Two men were killed when their homemade plane crashed into a golf course on Vancouver Island Saturday night.
Gerald Thom of Lake Cowichan and Michael Weir of Salt Spring Island had been friends for nearly 30 years and spent the past four years building the plane, according to CTV Vancouver.
Witnesses said the plane came down on the 14th hole of the Cottonwood Golf Course shortly after take-off from the Nanaimo airport at around 7 p.m.
“It pretty much nose-dived straight out of the sky down into the ground and obviously upon impact it was obviously devastating for what happened to the people inside,” said Trent Kaese, owner of the Cottonwood Golf Course.
Ron Gueulette is the chief of the Cranberry Fire Department and said the plane crashed near the airport.
“All that I was told is that it stalled on takeoff and crashed near the end of the runway,” he said.
Both Weir and Thom came from flying backgrounds and the plane was registered for flight in December 2013. Weir’s wife Joyce said it was a passion project for the two men.
“They were so passionate about it and they were together and they were doing what they loved to do,” she said. “I think that’s how we’ll remember it, sad and tragic as it is.”
The Avid Amphibian plane can take off from either land or water and is assembled from a kit. Joyce admitted she did get nervous when her husband flew that plane but was aware of the risks.
“We’re not unaware of these things and I learned a long time ago just not to fret about it,” she said. “It’s happened and now I have to deal with it.”
Bill Yearwood is the Transportation Safety Board regional manager for aviation investigation. He said homemade planes are required to be inspected.
“There is some level of inspection etcetera, even for these home built aircraft,” he said.
According to Yearwood, the plane would have been inspected once it was complete, but likely not again since then.
“The damage that’s there right now is consistent with impact that’s very steep, a dive towards the ground which is consistent with a loss of control at some point during the flight,” he said.
The Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash and Yearwood said the weather was good at the time.