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Tributes pour in for pilot from Richmond-based seaplane company

A pilot from the Richmond-based Seair Seaplanes is believed to be one of the victims of the float plane crash on a remote B.C. island on the weekend.
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Al McBain Facebook photo

A pilot from the Richmond-based Seair Seaplanes is believed to be one of the victims of the float plane crash on a remote B.C. island on the weekend.

The chartered flight took off from the floatplane base on the middle arm of the Fraser River and was on its way to Calvert Island, a popular recreational spot, when it crashed Friday afternoon on Addenbroke Island.

Four of the nine people on board died in the crash. Two survivors in critical condition were airlifted to Vancouver for treatment. The other three survivors, in serious but stable condition, were taken to a local hospital.

Although officials have not released the victim’s names, one of the deceased has been identified in Facebook posts as pilot Al McBain.

“Al made you feel important even among your peers and nothing could make you like a guy more than that," wrote Bill Gillies.

“You died doing what you loved. Your skills certainly saved the five survivors. You will be missed greatly,” wrote Rob Hilditch.

Lynda Davis, wrote: “He lived life to the fullest. Al, you will be missed.”

Investigators from Canada’s Transportation Safety Board, which investigates incidents involving air, marine, rail and pipelines transportation to improve safety, were expected to arrive at the crash site Sunday morning.

They will investigate the site and collect components of the aircraft that will be sent to the safety board’s engineering lab in Ottawa. The investigation will also look into the maintenance history of the aircraft, the pilot’s experience and weather conditions at the time of crash. There were reports of heavy rain around the time the plane came down.

The B.C. Ferries vessel Northern Sea Wolf and a coast guard helicopter responded to the crash early Friday afternoon, followed by a Cormorant helicopter and a Buffalo aircraft from 19 Wing Comox. Two coast guard vessels also responded, along with RCMP from Bella Bella, which is about three-and-a-half hours by boat from Addenbroke Island.

The Northern Sea Wolf was in the area of the crash because its route from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert passes the remote island.

The company suspended all flights on Friday following the crash. After a safety inspection of all aircraft Saturday morning, Seair, which has its head office at YVR’s south terminal, resumed regularly scheduled flights.

With files from the Times Colonist.

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