SALMON ARM – The student pilot who crashed a small plane on Mt. Ida above Salmon Arm last night suffered only minor injuries and walked away from the wreckage of his aircraft.
John Schutt with Shuswap Search and Rescue says he was amazed to see the pilot walk away from what was left of his Cessna 152.
Schutt says his group got the call about the crash at about 9:30 p.m., April 1, and sent in two search and rescue teams to the site on Mt. Ida, one from above and one from below.
He says a Buffalo aircraft out of the Joint Rescue Centre in Comox flew above dropping flares to light their way.
Just after midnight, they arrived at the crash site.
“Believe it or not (the pilot) was actually alright. He had some minor injuries and he was able to walk out with our SAR team,” Schutt says.
The searchers brought the pilot down to a clearing where a waiting Cormorant rescue helicopter flew him to Kelowna General Hospital.
Bill Yearwood with the Transportation Safety Board says investigators have a pretty good idea what happened. All the evidence points to human factors, not a mechanical problem with the aircraft at the time.
Yearwood says a student pilot doing a solo night flight out of the Southern Interior Flight Centre, a flying school at the Kelowna Airport. He had just done a touch and go landing at the Salmon Arm airport when he crashed on the mountainside.
“Everything was going normally until (the pilot) collided with the trees and the rising terrain,” he says. “We know a human is extremely challenged in the dark as far as perceiving three dimensions.”
Yearwood says the plane was going fairly slow on what is called the “climb out.”
“Obviously the slower speed, the angle he hit the trees, and the trees being able to absorb some of the force of the impact contributed to his escape with minor injuries,” he says.
The Transportation Safety Board has given the flight school the go ahead to clear the plane’s wreckage from the crash site.
Approximate location of plane crash on Mt. Ida near Salmon Arm, Friday, April 1, 2016.
— This story was updated at 2:03 p.m., Saturday, April 2, 2016 with information from the Transportation Safety Board.
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