Saturday, June 10, 2017

Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II, C-GDTK, Excel Flight Training Inc: Search for plane continues



Sidney Robillard, left, and Alex Simons, have been reported missing after their aircraft failed to arrive in their hometown of Kamloops, B.C., on June 8th. 


A photo of the missing Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II, owned by Excel Flight Training in Lethbridge, Alta. 



June 17, 2017: The search for the two people whose small plane went missing nine days ago on a flight from Cranbrook to Kamloops continues Saturday.

The plane was piloted by 21-year-old Alex Simons, a recent graduate of Excel Flight Training in Lethbridge, Alta, while 24-year-old Sidney Robillard, Simons' girlfriend, was the lone passenger.

Simons had rented the plane from Excel Flight Training on June 8, departed Lethbridge and arrived in Cranbrook to refuel that afternoon. The couple left Cranbrook just after 3 p.m., but never arrived at their destination in Kamloops. 

For the past nine days, Royal Canadian Air Force crews, as well as civilian pilots, have been scouring the more than 400 kilometres of mountainous area between Cranbrook and Kamloops for any sign of the plane. 

The white plane may be more difficult to spot if it landed in a snow-covered area. 

Six military aircraft are back on the search Saturday, along with seven planes from the Civil Air Search and Rescue Association.

CASARA is a group of volunteer pilots, navigators, spotters, radio operators and administration staff that assist the Canadian Forces in rescue operations.

The search for two missing B.C. residents last seen taking off in a small plane in Cranbrook is still active in its sixth day. 

The four-seater plane was expected to land in Kamloops on Thursday, but never arrived.

Cloud cover is adding to the difficult search that is being led by the Royal Canadian Air Force out of Kelowna Airport.

“The search area is 150 nautical miles long, 30 nautical miles wide, there are other areas outside of that that we are searching, but the cloud cover has returned and that is adding some challenges to the search,” said Capt. Dennis Power, 19th Wing public affairs officer.

The Civil Air Search and Rescue Association and RCAF are scouring a large region for the Piper Warrior, and the mountainous terrain is making the search quite challenging.


Story and video:   https://www.castanet.net

KELOWNA, B.C. -- The search for a Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II and two (2) souls on board that disappeared en route to Kamloops, B.C., could take weeks, says a military spokesman.

Lt.-Col. Bryn Elliott said 13 military planes and two Cormorant helicopters were in the air Sunday, conducting sweeps of a vast area between Cranbrook and Kamloops.

A Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II was reported missing Thursday afternoon after it took off from Cranbrook, in southeastern B.C.

Police said the aircraft was flying to Kamloops and two people are believed to have been on board -- pilot Alex Simons, 21, of Kamloops and passenger Sidney Robillard, 24, of Lethbridge, Alta.

Searchers have very little information about what may have happened, Elliott said, noting they know the plane originally took off from Lethbridge and stopped in Cranbrook to refuel.

He said a thunderstorm rolled through the area shortly after the plane departed and weather may have been a factor in the disappearance.

"The pilot could have chosen to do any number of things," Elliot said, adding that Simons may have flown into some valleys to try to find clearer weather.

"We try to put ourselves in the minds of the pilot with the information that we have."

Searchers working out of Kelowna have taken the plane's intended flight path and drawn an area around it, based on a variety of statistics, Elliott said.

Military aircraft are now systematically scouring that area at a variety of altitudes to try to find signs of the missing plane. Local search and rescue groups and the RCMP are assisting.

Searchers are also looking into potential sightings reported by members of the public, which Elliott said have been "very, very helpful."

The hunt will continue indefinitely, he added.

"We're going to keep searching until we've covered (the area) to our satisfaction," Elliott said.

But low clouds and heavily wooded terrain are making the task difficult, and Elliott said the search could last weeks, depending on the weather.


Original article can be found here: http://www.ctvnews.ca


The search for a missing aircraft that failed to show up on a flight from Cranbrook to Kamloops has entered its fourth day.

Mountainous terrain and poor weather hampered the search Saturday.

"We will continue to search until all stones have been overturned and all areas covered thoroughly," Capt. Gregory Clarke of the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre, told CTV.

A command centre set up at the Kelowna airport is co-ordinating search efforts, including four military aircraft plus additional civilian planes.

Alex Simons, 21, and Sydney Robillard, 24, were on board the Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II. Simons was piloting the aircraft when it went missing Thursday.

The plane left Lethbridge, Alta., and refuelled in Cranbrook, taking off at 2 p.m. 

Simons earned his pilot's licence in March from Excel Flight Training in Lethbridge, which owns the aircraft.

"He took her up around Lethbridge and other places many times and she loved it," Robillard's mother told CTV.

Search crews are focusing on the plane's flight path, plus a 15-mile zone around it.

"We are systematically searching this area from three different altitudes," Clarke said. "We start up high, searching electronically the first night. Then, continue down in a top-down approach and get down to about 500 feet in our final passes."

Original article can be found here: https://www.castanet.net


The search for a missing aircraft in central B.C. resumed Saturday morning, and has been declared a "major search and rescue" effort by local authorities.

The Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II aircraft originally departed from Lethbridge, Alta., on Thursday. It stopped in Cranbrook, B.C., to refuel, but failed to reach its final destination in Kamloops.

RCMP have identified the pilot as Alex Simons, 21, of Kamloops and the passenger as Sidney Robillard, 24, of Lethbridge.

Crews from CFB Comox began the search on Thursday until dark. The search was resumed on Friday, but eventually hampered by weather conditions. 

A search headquarters has now been established at the Kelowna airport. Two Buffalo fixed-wing planes and two Cormorant helicopters have been deployed to search the area.

Captain Gregory Clarke, the air search and rescue coordinator with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria, said there have been no sightings of the plane so far.

"We're investigating multiple leads and beacon blips, but nothing has been located," he said.

"The terrain is very challenging, with convective cloud activity, thunderstorms and rain, and really windy conditions on the day of the planned flight as well as since we've been searching."

Clarke said that the search area currently spans 686 square kilometres, an area too vast to send in ground crews.

Turbulent search conditions and lingering snow have also made it difficult to spot the plane from the air.

Roland Morton, the president of Excel Flight Training, confirmed that Simons graduated from the flight school and had rented the aircraft.

"We can confirm the aircraft C-GDTK is owned by the flight school, and was rented from us by Alex Simons, for this trip." he wrote in a statement.

"At this point we are hopeful for a good outcome, and our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the missing folks."

Original article can be found here: http://www.cbc.ca

The family of a young pilot and his girlfriend who disappeared during a flight from Lethbridge to Kamloops are holding out hope that they will be found alive and well. 

Alex Simons and his girlfriend Sydney Robillard took off on Thursday from Lethbridge, heading to be with family in Kamloops.

The plane never reached its destination and the family is getting more and more desperate as time passes.

“The longer we don’t hear anything, the worse it gets and the hope dwindles,” said Nancy Robillard, Sydney’s mother.

All contact with the plane was lost after the single engine aircraft departed from a refueling stop in Cranbook a little after 3:00 p.m. on Thursday.

Search and rescue teams, along with the military, have been searching since Thursday evening but rocky terrain and bad weather are making the operation very difficult.

“The problem is that it’s a very mountainous, very heavily treed area and there’s parts of the mountain range that extend 10,000 to 11,000 feet,” said Lieutenant Greg Menzies with the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre. “There’s still a lot of area that hasn’t been searched yet.”

Alex Simons obtained his private pilot’s licence back in March and Robillard’s mother said he wanted to become a commercial pilot.

“She loved flying with Alex. He had taken her up in Lethbridge many times. He was very passionate about flying. It was his life.”

The plane Simons and Robillard took off in was a rented Piper Warrior with the call letters C-GDTK.

Teams continue their search for the missing couple.

Original article can be found here: http://calgary.ctvnews.ca

Crews are searching for a Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II aircraft that was due to land in Kamloops Thursday but never arrived.

There were two people on board the small, light plane. The Cranbrook RCMP have identified them as pilot Alex Simons, 21, and Sidney Robillard, 24. Both are from Kamloops.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre in Victoria is leading the search with a helicopter, an airplane as well as military aircraft that joined Saturday. Spokesman Lt. Greg Menzies says the search in the mountainous, heavily treed area with shifting weather has been challenging.

 "There are parts of the mountain range that extend 10,000 to 11,000 feet," he told CTV News. "Because of the inclement that the crews are facing today, with a cloud ceiling of only 7,000-8,000 feet, there's still a lot of area that hasn't been searched yet. "

Jason Kobi, acting regional manager of the Transportation Safety Board, said the plane was last seen when it stopped for fuel in Cranbrook, B.C. Thursday. It departed Cranbrook around 3 p.m. and was supposed to land in Kamloops at 4 p.m., but never showed up.

The search and rescue mission began Thursday and continued all of Friday, but so far it hasn't turned up any sign of the missing plane or its passengers.

Simons and Robillard took off from Excel Flight Training school in Lethbridge, Alta.; their ultimate destination was Kamloops.

There has been no contact with either of them, and Cranbrook RCMP are asking anyone with information to contact local police.

Story and video:  http://bc.ctvnews.ca

Two people are missing after their single-engine aircraft went missing in the B.C. interior on Thursday.

Contact with the Piper Cherokee, travelling from Lethbridge to Kamloops, B.C., was lost after the small plane departed from a refuelling stop in Cranbrook a little after 3 p.m.

Failing to arrive in Kamloops, the Joint Search Coordination Centre (JSCC) immediately launched aircraft from 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron, attached to 19 Wing Comox.

Transport Canada’s civil aircraft register says the Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II is owned by Excel Flight Training of Lethbridge, and based at that city’s airport.

A spokesman for Excel Flight Training told Postmedia the missing plane was rented by the pilot, identified by Cranbrook RCMP as 21-year-old Alex Simons of Kamloops.

The RCMP also identified his passenger as Sydney Robillard, 24, of Lethbridge.

Many flight schools routinely rent their aircraft to licenced pilots — either to gain flight hours, for extra instruction or for pleasure flying. 

He confirmed neither person on the aircraft had any connection with the flight school.

In addition to the rugged terrain around Cranbrook, Lt. (Navy) Greg Menzies of the JSCC said inclement weather has hampered search efforts.

Suspended by darkness Friday evening, the search resumed at first light Saturday.

Hoping the couple were forced to divert to an alternate airport, Cranbrook RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk said police have contacted airfields across southeastern B.C., so far with little luck.

He asks anybody with information on the whereabouts of the plane or its occupants to contact their local police. 

The search for the aircraft and its occupants continues. 

Original article can be found here: http://www.thestarphoenix.com

Search and rescue crews are looking for a Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II aircraft with two people on board that went missing in the area of Cranbrook, B.C. Thursday afternoon.

The Joint Rescue Coordination Centre (JRCC) in Victoria said they received a call on Thursday at 5 p.m. that an aircraft was missing.

Transportation Safety Board officials say the plane left a Lethbridge, AB training facility at 9:35 a.m. and stopped at the Cranbrook airport at 3 p.m. to refuel on June 8. The plane then took off, headed for Kamloops but has not been seen since.

The JRCC crews, using a Cormorant helicopter and Buffalo aircraft, worked with local search and rescue in trying to the locate the plane. Crews searched on Thursday until nightfall and began again at first light Friday morning.

The Piper PA-28-161 Warrior II aircraft call letters are CGDTK.

Transport Canada’s airplane registry shows the plane is owned by Excel Flight Training in Lethbridge.

According to RCMP, the aircraft was piloted by Alex Simons, a 21-year-old and was accompanied by his girlfriend Sidney Robillard, 24.

The pilot’s brother, Jonathan Simons, told Global News the pair live in Lethbridge and were flying to Kamloops to visit. The 19-year-old lives there with their mother.

Jonathan said their father, Matthew Simons, was very involved with Alex becoming a pilot in the last year.

Search efforts are concentrated in a heavily treed, mountainous area between Cranbrook and Kamloops.

Jonathan said helicopters are surveying the flight path but were battling difficult weather.

Police are asking anyone with information about the missing plane and couple to contact their local police.

Original article can be found here: http://globalnews.ca

No comments: