Pilot had never flown small plane before day of crash, investigator’s report says

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67-year-old pilot from Kingston Peninsula held a student pilot permit

Gail Harding · CBC News · Posted: Aug 23, 2019

The Transportation Safety Board said the pilot had never flown alone in the plane other than to make taxiing runs at an airport in Sussex. (Transportation Safety Board/Submitted)

A 67-year-old man killed in the crash of a small plane at the Sussex airport last month was flying the plane alone for the first time and without a lot of experience as a pilot, according to the Transportation Safety Board.

The board has finished its investigation into the July 3 crash of the Zenair STOL CH750, but its report released Friday did not identify a cause.

Pilot Douglas Francis of Kingston bought the amateur-built aircraft in September 2017, a month after he began taking flight training on a Cessna 172, said the report by investigator Daphne Boothe.

He had a student pilot permit, and most of the 22.8 hours of flying time he’d accumulated came during three months of training in 2017,

Didn’t share plans

Since then, he hadn’t flown the Zenair much, other than making taxiing runs.

On the day of the crash, he did not tell anyone of his plans, so it’s not known where he was going or what time the plane left the airport, said the report.

Someone driving near the crash spotted the crashed plane and notified the owner of the airport. 

The plane, with the pilot inside, was found about 400 feet (almost 122 metres) from the centre of the runway in a near-vertical position. 

The investigation determined the plane was producing power when it crashed and there was fuel in the wing tanks, fuel pump and fuel lines.

While the plane had a global positioning system and a multi-function display, no data from the flight could be recovered.

The emergency locator transmitter did not activate and was found in the off position.