An investigation into a fatal plane crash near Slave Lake has concluded that the aircraft fell to the ground after hitting trees amid overcast skies.
The Transportation Safety Board issued a report Thursday on the August 2021 crash. The lone pilot, an 84-year-old man, died in the crash en route from La Crete to Slave Lake, where he had planned to take off again for a stop in Lloydminster before flying to Saskatoon.
The report says the man was planning a visual flight rules (VFR) trip, which means he would fly in weather conditions clear enough to see where the plane was going.
“The investigation revealed that the pilot called his family before departure and told them that he was aware of poor weather on his planned route, but that he would work his way around it. He had flown this route many times,” the TSB investigator wrote.
Just north of Slave Lake, the pilot changed his GPS destination to Lloydminster, and the plane turned east toward rising terrain. When the plane collided with trees in the heavily wooded area, the right wing tip broke off and it crashed to the ground.
“This impact is consistent with a loss of control of the aircraft,” the report says.
According to the investigation, there weren’t any signs of mechanical failure. The pilot was flying a four-seat plane manufactured in 1964, and there weren’t any issues found with its equipment.
The TSB investigator said pilots should plan ahead for the possibility of worsening weather conditions if they’re attempting a VFR flight, noting there have been 115 deaths over 20 years from accidents that have happened when a pilot loses sight of the ground.
It took two days for rescue crews to reach the site of the crash due to bad weather and difficult terrain. The pilot, a man from Rosthern, Sask., was pronounced dead at the scene. The pilot’s identity has not been released.