Friday, January 18, 2019

American Aviation AA-5B Tiger, C-GQIJ: Fatal accident occurred June 02, 2019 in Medicine Hat, Canada

NTSB Identification: ANC19WA022
14 CFR Unknown
Accident occurred Sunday, June 02, 2019 in Medicine Hat, Canada
Aircraft: GRUMMAN AA-5B, registration:
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On June 2, 2019, at 0440 (UTC) time, a Canadian registered Grumman American Aviation, AA-5B airplane, C-GQIJ, operated by a private individual, was found after it had collided with terrain under unknown circumstances while conducting a VFR flight. A search had commenced when the airplane did not arrive at the destination, and the airplane was found approximately 17 nautical miles east of Medicine Hat (CYXH), Alberta, Canada. The pilot and two passengers were fatally injured. The flight originated from CYXH, Alberta, Canada.

The accident investigation is under the jurisdiction and control of the Canadian Transportation Safety Board. This report is for informational purposes only and contains only information released by or obtained from the Canadian government. 

Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from: 

Transportation Safety Board of Canada
200 Promenade du Portage
Place du Centre, 4th Floor
Hull, Quebec K1A 1K8
Tel.: (1) 819-994-4252
(1) 819-997-7887 (24 hour)
Fax: (1) 819-953-9586

Kerry DePape, left, and Jim Wilk were killed in a plane crash near Medicine Hat. 

Justin Filteau

A weekend plane crash claimed the lives of three residents of Moose Jaw, Sask., including two fathers who expected to see their children get married this summer.

Jim Wilk was piloting the plane that took off from Medicine Hat, Alta., on Saturday night, on the way home from his son's stag party.

Kerry DePape, the father of the bride-to-be, and Justin Filteau, a friend and well-known football player and coach, were the two passengers. All three were killed when the plane crashed about 20 minutes after takeoff.

"He was a very capable pilot, that's the saddest part," said Rob Walchuk, a friend of both Wilk and DePape, who'd taken a few flights with Wilk in the past. "Everything was about safety."

Walchuk and others said they were still having trouble wrapping their heads around the deaths two days later.

"The wedding is Aug. 10 and both fathers-in-law will not be there. It's the saddest situation," he said.

The wedding of Alyssa DePape and Justin Wilk is scheduled to be held at the Moose Jaw Armoury.

Jim Wilk always one to give back

Along with being a pilot, Wilk was a business owner, a rural councillor and an active member with the Shriners. He is remembered as a hard-working man with a one-of-a-kind personality.  

Gerald Julian, president of the local flying club, recalled a time when the airport was hit with a huge load of snow, leaving him unable to get to his hangar. He was driving to the airport and thinking of calling Wilk, who owned an excavation business, to help. When Julian arrived he saw equipment already on site and clearing the way.

"There's Jimmy leaning out with a big grin on his face and a cigarette sticking out of his mouth which was fairly typical," Julian recalled. "And I said, 'Jimmy! I was just going to see if I could phone you.'

"And he says, 'I felt sorry for you.' Closed up his door went back to clearing the snow off and he never charged me a dime for it or anything. That was, I think, a pretty typical Jimmy Wilk story."

While he never flew with Wilk, Julian said he knew Wilk's aircraft very well. It was a 1976 or '77 American Aviation AA-5B. It had been part of Moose Jaw's flying scene for its entire life, even before Wilk bought it.

"There's absolutely no reason to think that Jimmy didn't know the airplane inside out because it's essentially the only aircraft model that he ever flew," he said.

A Transportation Safety Board spokesperson said it was still too early to release details, but investigators were on scene on Sunday evening and again today, at a site about 32 kilometres east of Medicine Hat, to try to determine the cause of the crash.  

Beloved husband, father, grandfather

Kerry DePape's wife, Cheryl, said she and her husband were high school sweethearts and would have been married 35 years this summer.

"He was the best husband," she said through tears, adding he was also a beloved father to their two daughters and son, and "Papa" to their grandchild.

DePape was an "extraordinary craftsman," who built beautiful structures to make his first daughter's backyard wedding a memorable one. His second daughter also planned to get married there, she said.

"A perfect day for him would be a day out on the lake on his boat, followed by a barbecue with his family, and a steak, and a nice glass of rum with his buddies," she said.

He was dedicated to the construction business and improvements in the millwork industry, as president of R.L. Cushing Millwork Co. He was also involved in his church and was a diehard Saskatchewan Roughriders fan.

"He didn't like to miss a game, but would often share the tickets with his co-workers, and take turns so others could enjoy it as well," she said.  

Cheryl DePape expects her daughter's wedding day will be "bittersweet" without the presence of the two beloved fathers.

"But the love and the support they showed their children will carry on and it will make it a special day," she said.

A Saskatchewan athlete has been identified as one of three people killed in a plane crash near Medicine Hat, Alta.

Nancy Jewitt-Filteau says her son Justin Filteau, 26, was on his way home from a stag party. He was travelling with the father of the groom, who was the pilot, and the father of the bride. 

"He loved life, he lived life to the fullest and the fastest," she said of her son. "He was never afraid to try anything."

RCMP say at 10:15 p.m. Saturday a small plane took off from Medicine Hat airport with three people on board, headed for Moose Jaw, Sask. 

The flight was expected to take an hour and a half. When it failed to arrive, family of the passengers notified authorities.

The plane was located early Sunday morning by military personnel brought in to aid with the search.

It crashed near the hamlet of Irvine, Alta., in Cypress County, about 35 kilometres east of Medicine Hat.

There were no survivors. 

Jewitt-Filteau said her son overcame bullying as a small kid to become a leader as an athlete, winning Canadian Junior Football League championships with the Saskatoon Hilltops and playing with the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.

He also played and coached judo, just like his mom — who competed for Canada in the Olympics in the sport.

Filteau was a community leader, his mom said, participating in the Be More Than A Bystander program where athletes use their platform to encourage youth to speak up about violence against women. 

"He never figured there was anything he couldn't do, I was so proud of him," she said. "He set goals, set the bar high and worked hard to achieve them."

One of the teams Filteau coached, the Saskatoon Valkyries, held a moment of silence for him before the team's game on Sunday.

"Today, like many people across Saskatchewan's football community and beyond, our organization is devastated to have learned we have lost Justin," said Jeff Yausie, the executive director of Football Saskatchewan, in an emailed statement. 

"Our hearts are with Justin's family and friends as they come to terms with their great loss. We pray they can find comfort in their memories."

A spokesperson for the Transportation Safety Board said the plane, an American Aviation AA-5B, hit the ground roughly 20 minutes into the flight. 

RCMP said the reason for the crash is not yet known, and that police will be assisting the Transportation Safety Board, which has taken over the investigation.

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