The Calgary man killed when his plane crashed near the Alberta-Saskatchewan border had just taken his experimental aircraft out for its first flight in five years.
Sources tell the Sun Gordon Tones, 75, had taken his kit-built BEDE – Model BD5B out for a test flight from the Provost Airport Monday when something went terribly wrong.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Roberta McKale said the micro-aircraft, a variant of which appeared in the James Bond film Octopussy, took off from the town some 480 km northeast of Calgary Monday afternoon and didn’t return as scheduled, sparking concern among the tight-knit local flying community.
“When he didn’t return, local pilots and a search party went out looking for him,” she said.
“Some local people located the collision site and alerted the RCMP.
“The pilot was found deceased.”
The search included fly overs by local pilots, but it was someone on the ground who spotted the wreckage.
The scene, not far from the airport, saw some sections of the plane entangled in a tree, next to another tree that had been splintered in the crash.
Tones was found trapped in the cockpit upside down on the ground below.
Members of Alberta’s flying community told the Sun Tones was an experienced flyer — owning a pair of planes including a Beachcraft Bonanza — who had winged down to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for 35 years for the AirVenture fly-in, which attracts thousands of pilots annually.
McKale said investigators from the Transportation Safety Board took over the scene Tuesday morning, and will be at the site investigating what may have gone wrong.
Tones’ body meanwhile has been sent to the medical examiner’s office in Edmonton to determine if any medical factors may have contributed to the crash.
His family has been notified of his death, RCMP said.
McKale said the death has rocked the local aviation community.
“The aviation society in Provost is very tight-knit and this is rocking their foundations,” she said.
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