Two people are dead following a plane crash near Deacon’s Corner south of Dugald Road along the eastern outskirts of Winnipeg, according to RCMP.
No information is available on their identities at this time.
Springfield Fire Department Chief Jeff Hudson confirmed Friday at about 11:20 a.m. that a Piper PA-28, which is a small passenger plane, went down around 9:30 a.m. near Highway 207. It had taken off from the Lyncrest Airport, he said.
“We get quite a number of reports of possible plane crashes because [Lyncrest] is a very busy flight centre … We take them all [seriously] but very seldom does it turn into something like this … which is unfortunate,” Hudson said.
Hudson described the Lyncrest Airport as host to a close community.
“We spend a lot of time with them, visiting their functions … I know a lot of the people personally there,” he said.
“We don’t like to attend any of these kinds of [scenes]. But … we do the best we can.”
Hudson did not confirm whether flights from the airport, which is owned and operated by the Springfield Flying Club, had been stopped.
A heap of metal in a field was visible from alongside the Perimeter Highway.
The crash site was difficult to access and could not be reached directly from the Perimeter Highway, but smoke could be seen billowing from the area, Hudson said.
“We had difficulty finding it to begin with,” he said, noting RCMP and Winnipeg Fire and Paramedic Service were first on the scene.
Emergency crews eventually secured the crash site and fire crews quickly doused what Hudson said were small flames. He then requested a STARS air ambulance but cancelled it shortly afterward.
Hudson said RCMP is investigating and the Transportation Safety Board is heading to the scene to conduct its own inspection.
‘We thought it was a car on fire’
One family who lives in the area described seeing a big black cloud of smoke on the horizon.
“We thought it was a car on fire on the Perimeter,” said Candice Sliworsky, who drove over with her family to check it out.
“When we got to the Perimeter, we saw a man on the hill pointing up to the sky, then down at the field, so we knew it must have been a plane.”
She said the Lyncrest Airport airport is nearby and it’s common to see planes overhead.
‘Most pilots accept the risks’
Jim Oke, president of the Recreational Aircraft Association of Canada, Winnipeg Area Chapter, said Friday is sad for the community, but most pilots accept the risks that come with flying.
“[We’re] a little downhearted at a tragic loss of friends, but we’re carrying on,” he said.
Oke — a retired air force pilot who has been flying professionally for more than 30 years — said pilots do not have a, ‘It won’t happen to me’ attitude.
“It’s more of a, ‘I know the risks and I’ll look after them and handle them the best I can,’ [attitude],” he said.
Still, the day is a sad one.
“We’re all here to fly for fun and enjoy ourselves and have a good time,” Oke said.
“When this happens, of course it’s very sad that somebody who came out here with the expectation of going for a flight on quite a pleasant day came to a sad end.”