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Vernon father and son killed in tragic plane crash loved to soar

Leonard Bradley Chapman, 56, died Oct. 16, 2015 when the plane he was piloting crashed during takeoff.
Image Credit: Contributed
November 04, 2015 - 8:30 AM

VERNON - A father and son from Vernon died doing something they both loved: going ‘wheels up’.

Brad Chapman, 56, learned to fly in his 40s and passed that passion onto his oldest son, Florian, 26, who got his pilot’s license as a teenager. As key principals in the Chapman Group of Companies, flying offered them a quick way of getting around to the company’s various work sites — but Brad and Florian, both outdoor enthusiasts, also stole time when they could to fly to remote fishing and hunting locations. When it came to balancing work, play and family, Brad and Florian were the classic example of ‘like father like son’ — both found a way to live life to its fullest in all aspects. 

Something went wrong on Oct. 16, 2015, as the pair was taking off from a gravel site near Taylor, B.C. The Cessna 207 they were in crashed and burned on the runway. Father and son didn't make it.

Brad founded LB Chapman Construction in 1989 as a one man operation and grew it into a thriving company now employing more than 50 people and boasting one of the largest gravel crushing operations in the province. Formerly a meat cutter at Safeway, Brad started the construction company with just a single excavator.

With his wife Michaela — his partner in life and in business — they raised five children on a ranch just west of Vernon. It was there that Florian, ‘Flo’ to his friends and family, learned the ethic of hard work. In his spare time, he put his heavy equipment skills to work building a state-of-the-art dirt bike track on the ranch. The Kalamalka Secondary School grad was passionate about sports and the outdoors, with snowmobiling and dirt-biking among his favourite pastimes.

The adventurous family loved to travel and have fond memories of trips to Europe and Africa. Flo’s graduation present was a month-long safari to south Africa with his brother — a trip of a lifetime that left them both with incredible stories to tell.

Travel was something Flo shared with his wife, Jillian, as well. They kept a map of the world hanging at home with coloured pins showing all the places they went together, among them Italy, Germany, Egypt and Tanzania. It was on their trip to Zanzibar in 2014 that Flo proposed. They married on Aug. 2, 2015.

Flo’s family members describe him as gentle, romantic, wise beyond his years and incredibly strong, with ‘a smile as big and honest as the sun'.

Brad was all at once the epitome of family man, businessman and community leader. He built lasting relationships with his corporate family and business colleagues that often turned into personal friendships. A successful and hard-nosed businessman, Brad wasn’t always liked by all who knew him, but he was certainly respected. He was also a champion for his community, and could be counted on to donate to local charities and initiatives around the North Okanagan.

Brad loved flying, but was aware of the potential dangers and had lost friends in plane-related accidents. Still, he never passed up an opportunity to go ‘wheels up'. In honour of his passion for flying, his family asks that memorial donations be made to Okanagan College, where funds will be used for an aviation scholarship.

A celebration of life will be held Friday, Nov. 6, at the Alliance Church at 1 p.m. to honour Brad and Flo.

Donations in memory of Brad can be made to Okanagan College, 1000 KLO Rd., Kelowna, B.C. V1Y 4X8. Contributions in honour of Florian can be made to the Hunter’s Range Snowmobile Association.

Florian Chapman with his wife Jillian.
Florian Chapman with his wife Jillian.
Image Credit: Contributed

To contact a reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at chelston@infonews.ca or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015
InfoTel News Ltd

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