News Local

Investigator says plane that crashed near Beeton also hit hydro pole, not just wires

Bob Bruton

By Bob Bruton, Barrie Examiner

OPP officers escort the Coroner to the site of a fatal plane crash along County Road 1 (8th Line), west of Beeton, Saturday afternoon. Witnesses report a small plane clipped hydro wires while attempting a landing and crashed into a stand of trees. The male pilot, who was the lone occupant of the craft, was killed.
J.T. McVeigh Photo

OPP officers escort the Coroner to the site of a fatal plane crash along County Road 1 (8th Line), west of Beeton, Saturday afternoon. Witnesses report a small plane clipped hydro wires while attempting a landing and crashed into a stand of trees. The male pilot, who was the lone occupant of the craft, was killed. J.T. McVeigh Photo

NEW TECUSMETH – A small plane which crashed last Saturday, killing the pilot, struck a hydro pole as well as wires before impact.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB), which is investigating the crash near Beeton, said there's evidence the Glasair plane hit more than hydro wires.

“A shard of fibreglass embedded in the pole, so we know for sure, it's a fact, that the aircraft struck a pole, not only the wires,” said Mario Boulet, TSB senior investigator. “He was low, he was too low.”

Boulet said the TSB has been told by the utility company that the poles are about 50 feet long, with 10 feet in the ground, so the top wire would be about 40 feet from the ground.

OPP have not released the pilot's name. He was the plane's sole occupant.

The TSN said the amateur-built aircraft - bought in a kit and assembled, but with federal oversight – was coming from Edenvale Airport, where it had been for the last 10 decade.

The pilot was going to store it at a private, grass airstrip with some hangers, for the winter.

But shortly before 3:30 p.m. Saturday, the plane crashed into a wooded area along County Road 1 (the 8th Line) of New Tecumseth, west of Beeton. After it crashed the plane caught fire, which was brought under control by New Tecumseth firefighters.

“It was very low, abnormally low,” Boulet said. “Probably the most important question we are trying to figure out – why was the pilot that low?”

Two instruments from the plane have been recovered and are being investigated – its artificial horizon indicator and the RPM guage. There was no recorder or black box in the airplane.

“We don't know why it crashed,” Boulet said. “So far, there's no strong evidence of anything wrong mechanically with the aircraft. But that still has to be validated through some laboratory analysis (of the two instruments).

“That may give us some confirmation about ... was the engine running and giving power at the time of impact, or not.”

He said there are some witness statements that engine revving was heard just before the plane collided with the power lines.

“So we have no reason to think that the engine was a problem,” Boulet said. “Again, from witnesses statements, it seems that there was a snow squall in the area at the same time, so that could be an explanation for the pilot being so low, maybe a visibility issue.”

He said the TSB is still interviewing witnesses and collecting some documentation that the aircraft owner may have kept at home.

The crash resulted in a loss of power for more than 3,400 PowerStream customers in the Tottenham and Beeton areas.

The TSB is an independent agency that investigates incidents in the marine, pipeline, rail and air transportation modes.

bob.bruton@sunmedia.ca