An 81-year-old Surrey man says he relied on 40 years of piloting experience to land a small plane after running into trouble on a sightseeing trip from Pitt Meadows to Pemberton.
Vern Hannah says he had angled too far to the south and trapped his 1960s vintage aircraft in a dead-end valley, so he lowered the nose of the plane to increase flight speed in order to jump what he calls rock piles.
He ran out of room and speed and ended up stalling on a glacier south of Whistler on Sunday, but he and his two passengers were unharmed.
The trio was not found until yesterday but the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre says they would have been found immediately if the crew had filed a flight plan or if the plane was equipped with an emergency beacon.
“It’s a very great outcome,” said Capt.Gregory Clark with the Join Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria.
“We’re very fortunate to have found this aircraft in fairly good shape and to have found three survivors and bring them home to their families.”
The single-engine plane set out from Pitt Meadows for the flight to Pemberton Sunday morning, and was supposed to return to the Lower Mainland by noon.
A search began at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday when rescuers were advised the plane was overdue.
The RCMP contacted JRCC Victoria and a Royal Canadian Air Force CC-115 Buffalo aircraft and a CH-149 Cormorant helicopter were tasked to conduct a night search.
A second CC-115 Buffalo and a second CH-149 Comorant joined the search Monday.
All the RCAF aircraft are from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron based at 19 Wing Comox.
(The Canadian Press, CBC)