Shropshire man died when plane crashed into Canadian hill in bad weather

A Shropshire pilot was killed when the plane he was a passenger in crashed into a Canadian hill in bad weather, an investigation report has confirmed.

Alan Simpson died in the crash
Alan Simpson died in the crash

Alan Simpson, 72, from Prees, died in the crash, which happened southeast of Makkovik Airport, in Newfoundland and Labrador, at 7.23am on May 1 last year.

Mr Simpson, who had been flying for more than 35 years, had bought the M350 Piper light aircraft with another person and they had hired a pilot – a British national living in Belgium at the time – to fly it back to the UK.

The pair had been flying from Goose Bay Airport, Newfoundland and Labrador, to Narsarsuaq Airport in Greenland when the crash happened.

The official air transportation safety investigation report carried out by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, says the plane was likely flying on auto-pilot for part of the route.

It says that the pilot was familiar with the route and intended to follow a 'visual flight rules' plan and manoeuvre around weather and terrain while remaining clear of clouds.

The report states: "The aircraft climbed to 2,000 feet above sea level and proceeded on a direct track to destination. The altitude and heading did not change significantly along the route, therefore it is likely that the autopilot was engaged. At 0816, the aircraft collided with a snow-covered hill 2,250 feet in elevation."

Snow

The findings of the report conclude that Mr Simpson died in the crash, while the pilot was seriously injured.

It also details how a specialist team took four hours to rescue the pilot because bad weather had ruled out an air rescue.

It stated: "The impact happened approximately 200 feet below the top of the hill. The aircraft came to rest in deep snow on steep sloping terrain. The aircraft sustained significant damage to the propeller, nose gear, both wings, and fuselage. Although the cabin was crush-damaged, occupiable space remained. There was no post-impact fire. The ferry pilot was seriously injured and the co-owner was fatally injured.

"Air search and rescue were dispatched to the area; however, by that time, the weather had deteriorated to blizzard conditions and aerial rescue was not possible. Ground search and rescue then deployed from the coastal community of Makkovik and arrived at the accident site approximately four hours later because of poor weather conditions and near zero visibility. The ferry pilot and the body of the co-owner were transported to Makkovik by snowmobile. The following day, they were airlifted to Goose Bay Airport."

After the crash Mr Simpson's family said he would be "deeply missed", and added they were "eternally grateful" to the search and rescue teams that helped locate the plane.

His business Alan Simpson Farming was one of the biggest chicken farmers in the country.

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