TSB say plane that crashed on Gabriola Island was flying from California to Nanaimo

TSB say plane that crashed on Gabriola Island was flying from California to Nanaimo

The Transportation Safety Board has confirmed the small plane that crashed on Gabriola Island was travelling from California to Nanaimo.

The Transportation Safety Board (TSB) said Wednesday evening that based on preliminary information, the aircraft was a private/pleasure flight and that the point of departure was Eastern Sierra Regional Airport (KBIH) in Bishop, California and the destination was Nanaimo, British Columbia (CYCD).

“The aircraft was in the process of conducting an instrument approach to Runway 16 of Nanaimo Airport when the collision with terrain occurred. TSB on-site investigation activity will continue tomorrow with data collection and site survey,” a statement from TSB said.

Shortly after 6 p.m. on Dec.10, emergency crews responded to reports of a possible plane crash on Gabriola Island. There were no survivors in the crash.

Maritime Forces Pacific and the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria said that three people were on board the small aircraft.

READ MORE: ‘You’re just looking for survivors:’ Witnesses describe moments plane crashed on Gabriola Island

The TSB said Wednesday that investigators had done a preliminary survey of the accident site, which is currently under the control of the BC Coroners Service and the RCMP.

According to the TSB, the aircraft was “extensively broken up due to high impact forces.” The TSB was not able to determine the aircraft registration and work will continue tomorrow to verify the registration.

The BC Coroners Service said Wednesday that members of its special investigations unit had arrived on Gabriola Island to begin working on determining the identifies of those who died and the circumstances that led to their death.

BC Coroners Service identification specialists, in co-ordination with the Transportation Safety Board and RCMP, is gathering information from the scene to establish the identities of the deceased.

According to the BC Coroners Service, confirmation of the number of deceased and their identities will occur once identification has been definitively established and their family members have been notified. This process could take several days.

The BC Coroners Service and RCMP have confirmed there are multiple fatalities but have not said the number of people who have died. The TSB has also not identified anyone who was on board the plane.

READ MORE: Pilot killed in Gabriola Island plane crash identified as flying instructor

However, friends have identified the pilot killed in the crash.

Alex Bahlsen was born in Germany and moved to Cayley, Alta., around 30 years ago, Rasmus Rydstrom-Poulsen said Wednesday.

About a year ago, he moved to Mill Bay to live with his wife.

“He was a kind, caring, very intelligent, adventurous and fun guy – very talented,” said Rydstrom-Poulsen, who is in contact with Bahlsen’s family.

Flying was a passion for Bahlsen, who was a flight instructor, charter pilot and owned an airstrip before leaving Alberta.

He was also a proud grandfather and “very good friend,” who kept up with the latest technologies, he said.

Michael Tumbach, manager at NXT LVL Motors Inc. in Cayley, said Bahlsen would let the company host private car racing events on the airstrip.

“Alex would actually shut down his airstrip and let us drag race on it,” he said.

Bahlsen was a generous man and always invited guys from the shop into his house, he said.

“He was always willing to help out and make sure everyone else had a good time.”

The shop took care of Bahlsen’s personal vehicles, including a snowplow for the strip, Tumbach added.

Gabriola Island, which has a population of about 4,000, is a 20-minute ferry ride east of Nanaimo.

With files from The Canadian Press


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