A Calgary-based pilot with more than 4,000 hours of flight experience is dead after his T-28 Trojan aircraft crashed Sunday afternoon at the Cold Lake Air Show in Alberta. Pilot Bruce Evans was flying the plane when the crash happened at around 2 p.m. on Sunday, 4 Wing spokesman Capt. Mathew Strong said.
“4 Wing and CFB Cold Lake and the Cold Lake Air Show express our condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of Mr. Evans,” Strong said in an email.
The air show, held annually at CFB Cold Lake, 290 kilometres northeast of Edmonton, features premier military pilots from Canada and around the world. The remainder of the show was cancelled after the crash.
Evans an experienced pilot
Evans, 59, was born in Marville, France where his father was stationed with the RCAF.
According to his Cold Lake Air Show bio, Evans developed an interest in aviation from an early age. In 2007, he purchased his T-28B Trojan — the plane he was flying at the time of Sunday’s crash.
He went to Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., where he would commute from his hometown of North Bay, Ont., in a Cessna 172 aircraft.
A geologist by trade, Evans was the president and CEO of Firefly Airborne Surveys. The company provided airborne surveys for the mineral and oil and gas sectors, government agencies and special interest groups.
Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland was at the air show with his family when the plane went down.
“I just saw the small explosion when the plane impacted the ground. He was doing his manoeuvres sort of left of us and obviously lost control of his plane and crashed into the tarmac,” Copeland said.
He said that the crowd was silent after the crash, which happened “quite a distance” away from spectators.
The weekend air show attracted around 20,000 people to Cold Lake, a community that Copeland said is “fully behind” the men and women who serve in the air force and the military.
“I think everybody’s proud of the men and women that are pilots, whether private or flying for their country. They’re really brave individuals,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that today’s events happened. I think everybody’s heart is really sunk.”
The Transportation Safety Board of Canada has sent a team of investigators to Cold Lake to assess the crash. An investigation into the cause of the crash is currently underway, the Department of National Defence said in a media release.
St. Albert city councillor Cathy Heron also attended Sunday’s air show, saying she heard a bang and witnessed the aftermath of the crash.
“I just turned my head right at the end,” she said. “[The pilot] must have been performing something in the air like a loop and then he went just nose first into the ground. It’s really horrific. The plane was pulverized.”
Heron said the plane landed near some buildings, away from the runway, and that ambulances arrived shortly after the crash.
“At first you think it’s part of the show, but it’s not,” she said. “There’s been lots of good aerobatics all day today and they pull up right at the end, but this guy just didn’t pull up.”
Alain Fontaine said the crash happened “a distance” away from where spectators stood. He said spectators were told to leave after the crash.
“I guess he just came in too shallow, too quickly, and it crashed against the nose,” Fontaine said. “There was a little bit of smoke.”