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Shropshire farmer, 73, killed in Canada air crash

By Lucy Todman | North Shropshire | News | Published: | Last Updated:

A poultry farmer from Shropshire has died in a plane crash in Canada.

Alan Simpson

Alan Simpson, 73, from Prees, was one of two pilots in the aircraft which crashed into a mountain in the Labrador region during "poor weather" on Wednesday.

Mr Simpson ran Alan Simpson Farming Ltd, which was one of the biggest chicken farms in the country.

He was a co-pilot on a recently purchased M350 Piper and was returning to the UK from Canada following a flight path which would take him across Iceland.

A M350 Piper, similar to the one that crashed. Photo: Bidgee

The Piper Malibu single-engine aircraft, which is registered in the United States, was about 200 kilometres from its starting point in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, en route to Greenland when it crashed.

The other pilot, believed to be a British national living in Belgium, was injured and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said it was working with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada to determine the cause of the crash.

Mr Simpson's family said he would be "deeply missed".

They said he had been flying for over 35 years and had been travelling from the US to the UK with another experienced pilot at the time of the crash.

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They added they were "eternally grateful" to the search and rescue teams that helped locate the plane.

Blizzard

"Alan was a vibrant character who lived life to the max and will be deeply missed by the extensive group of family and friends he has left behind," his family said.

Mr Simpson was a well known golfer, believed to have links to Hawkstone Park Golf Club, and enjoyed a number of sporting pursuits including diving and shooting.

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The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said weather conditions were poor at the time of the crash.

Two military aircraft, including a Cormorant helicopter, were in the area but blizzard-like conditions prevented rescue crews from accessing the crash site. A ground search and rescue team reached the pair and they were transported to hospital by snowmobile.

Major Mark Norris, from the Canadian Armed Forces Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Halifax, and who was part of the search and rescue operation, said it was "very complex and challenging" as the plane crashed in an area "beyond remote".

He said they received an alert from the aircraft's emergency transmitting beacon at 9.30am local time (13:30 BST) and teams were deployed to a mountain near Makkovik.

He said one of the men was able to send text messages to rescue teams, and, despite the weather conditions, the pair were extracted several hours later. Mr Simpson was pronounced dead in a clinic in Makkovik.

Police added that both men were pilots and an investigation was taking place to determine "who was actively piloting" at the time.

Oliver Cartwright, a spokesman for the National Farmers' Union, said the organisation was "deeply saddened" by Mr Simpson's death.

Lucy Todman

By Lucy Todman
@shroptod

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star and Shrewsbury Chronicle based in Shrewsbury.

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