Tributes pour in for Seair pilot after fatal Addenbroke Island crash
Friends and coworkers are paying tribute to a man believed to be the pilot of a float plane that crashed on a remote island north of Port Hardy on Friday.
The chartered flight took off from the Lower Mainland and was on its way to a remote fishing lodge when it crashed around 11 a.m. on Addenbroke Island.
Four people died and five people survived; two of them have serious injuries while the three are in stable condition.
One of the victims has been identified online as pilot Al McBain, although officials have not formally identified any of the deceased.
"[He was] a very passionate man in aviation. He was a very highly motivated individual," former co-worker Neil Diaz told CTV News. "Very sad that he passed away this way. He lived his life to the fullest."
Many on social media echoed the sentiment that McBain was a passionate and skilled pilot.
"You died doing what you love," wrote Rob Hilditch in a social media post. "Your skills certainly saved the five survivors. You will be missed greatly."
A friend who attended flight school with him in Richmond said McBain comes from a family of pilots.
"His father was a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot stationed in France," Jean-Pierre Riffard said from his home in Milwaukee, Wis. "I guess he wanted to go in the footsteps of his father and he loved flying."
Riffard said typically, pilots who are trying to become commercial airline pilots would start off as a float plane pilot, but McBain has been a float plane pilot for more than 20 years, showing his love for the job.
"He was a really dedicated pilot, very safe, not taking any risks. I don’t understand what happened in this crash … I'm sure the passengers were in the safest hands possible as he had excellent decision making."
Friends said he was a ramp worker for Air Canada and also a float plane captain for Seair Seaplanes.
The company confirms McBain has worked as one of its pilots for more than 15 years, but would not say whether he was on that chartered flight.
"We can confirm Al McBain has been a Seair pilot with the Seair family for several years," the company said in an email to CTV News.
"Out of respect for loved ones and emergency response authorities, Seair is not in the position to comment on the identities or status of any of those involved in the accident. We await confirmation from these authorities and continue to provide all possible information in order to assist during this difficult time."
The company has not confirmed its pilot was killed in the crash.
"We are deeply saddened by the devastating accident on Friday, and our hearts are heavy," it wrote in an Facebook update Sunday. "We are continuing to work with authorities in any way that is helpful to the investigation."
On Friday, Seair suspended all its flights. It has since resumed its scheduled flights.
Three investigators with the Transportation Safety Board have arrived at the crash site Sunday morning to begin its investigation.