Saturday, September 24, 2016

Zenair CH 601 Zodiac, C-FSDN: Fatal accident occurred September 24, 2016 near Guelph Airpark, Ontario

The man killed Saturday when his small airplane crashed near the Guelph Airpark is being remembered for his dedication to his family, his field of research and his community.

Alfred Brunger, 63, was the sole occupant of the ultralight plane that crashed in a treed area off Watson Road in Puslinch Township.

Many members of the congregation at his church, Waterloo’s Mount Zion Lutheran Church, learned of his death from their pastor at Sunday morning’s service – prompting what Karen Gastmeier described as a “stunned silence” from the crowd.

“It was like this news was just simply incomprehensible,” she said. “We cannot figure out what it’s going to look like around here without him.”

Gastmeier is the chair of Mount Zion’s church council. Brunger was its vice-chair, involved in everything from its guitar choir to its community garden and tree-planting programs.

The environmental initiatives were a natural extension from the nearly 40 years he spent researching solar energy.

Doug McLennan, who now lives and works in Ottawa, says he and Brunger started their research careers together in 1977.

“They were only looking for one research engineer, but fortunately they changed their mind and decided to hire two people,” he said.

After eight years working together at the University of Toronto, Brunger left for the University of Waterloo, where he spent years as a professor.

But he and McLennan kept in touch and remained friends, often turning to the other for professional assistance.

“I knew I could always rely on Alfred for technical advice on just about anything,” McLennan said.

As McLennan tells it, Brunger’s passion for solar projects ranged from the scientific – helping develop a test standard now used around the world, for example – to the consumer-focused, like a device that cooked hot dogs using solar energy.

The Transportation Safety Board continues to try and determine exactly what caused the crash that killed Brunger.

A three-person team arrived in Puslinch on Sunday, and was expected to continue its work around the site for several days.

Ewan Tasker, the TSB’s regional manager of air investigations for Ontario, says investigators have already determined that nobody could have survived the crash.

The questions left to answer surround the moments before the aircraft apparently lost control, entered a “very steep” descent and struck a number of trees before coming to rest.

“Sometimes there are pieces of the aircraft missing, but in this case there was nothing obviously out of place,” Tasker said.

As of Monday morning, investigators had not figured out if the plane was built by its manufacturer, or if Brunger put it together himself. Neither scenario is uncommon.

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Wellington County OPP is investigating an ultralight plane crash that killed the pilot Saturday afternoon.

Police say, Alfred Brunger, 63, of Waterloo was the lone occupant of the aircraft and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The crash happened around 3:45 p.m. in the area of Watson Road between Arkell Road and Stone Road, in Puslinch Township, not far from the Guelph Air Park Airport.

Raymond Burigana lives nearby and says he was in his backyard when the crash happened. 

“The sirens were crazy for 20 minutes, 25 minutes there were just more and more and more sirens," says Burigana.

Along with OPP, Guelph Wellington EMS, and members of the area fire department responded to the crash.

Wellington County OPP Constable Kevin Martin says they're not sure yet if the plane was trying to land or had just taken off.

The manager of regional operations for the Transportation Safety Board Ewan Tasker, says their initial findings indicate that the plane came in quite steep. 

“The aircraft came in very steep and very fast which would suggest it was out of control at that point,” says Tasker.

Investigators have removed the engine, propeller and a number of avionics. Tasker says those pieces have been taken back to TSB office in Richmond Hill for further investigation.

Their next step will be interviewing the witnesses who saw the plane go down as well as Brunger’s family.

David Woodhall, a friend speaking on behalf of the family, says they believe Brunger was on his way home to land at the Region of Waterloo International Airport.

Woodhall says the 63-year-old was an early pioneer in solar power and started the Midnight Sun Solar Car Team at the University of Waterloo.

He says Brunger was a mechanical engineer who built the ultralight plane himself, and would often time fly the plane to the family cottage.

Woodhall says Brunger was a brilliant, innovative and inventive person, with a love for life.

A member of the Mount Zion Lutheran Church in Waterloo says it was Brunger who managed the finances for the refugee program.

Brunger is survived by his wife Joan and their three adult children Elizabeth, Grace and Dan.

Wellington County OPP has confirmed that the sole occupant of an ultralight plane died in a crash Saturday afternoon.

The incident happened around 3:45 p.m. in the area of Watson Road between Arkell Road and Stone Road not far from the Guelph Airpark.

Along with OPP, Guelph Wellington EMS, and Guelph Fire responded to the crash.

Wellington County OPP Constable Kevin Martin says they're not sure yet if the plane was trying to land or had just taken off.

According to Martin the Transportation Safety Board has been notified and will be coming to the scene to assist with the investigation.

OPP have called in their Forensic Identification Unit to collect as much evidence as possible.

The identity of the person is being withheld pending notification of family.


Puslinch Fire and Rescue and Wellington County OPP are on the scene of a small plane crash southeast of Guelph.

An OPP Forensic Identification Unit is also on scene.

There are unconfirmed reports that one person is dead.

The small plane went down approximately half km into the brush just east of Watson Road South, half way between Stone Road and Arkell Road.

Emergency services are using ATV to access the site.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Our thoughts are with Alfred and his family from your friends and fellow pilots at YKF. Godspeed