Wings Magazine

Tofino crash claims 25-year-old pilot and his father

Dec. 16, 2013, Tofino, B.C. - The 25-year-old Picture Butte pilot who died with his father in a plane crash Saturday near Tofino didn't have a lot of experience but was licensed, according to search and rescue officials.

December 16, 2013  By CBC News

Mike Vandenberg and his 51-year-old father, Jurrie, apparently crashed while approaching the Tofino airport during bad weather. The wreckage of their Cessna 421 B was found on Vargas Island, a short distance northwest of Tofino, on Sunday after bad weather forced rescue crews to stop searching on Saturday.




"He didn't have a lot of hours under his belt but was sufficient,"
said Capt. Ray Jacobson with the Canadian Coast Guard's Joint Rescue
Co-ordination Centre in Victoria. "I think he was new to this particular


The family owns Porcupine Corral Cleaning in Picture Butte and is well-known in the town.


According to a former mayor, the announcement of their deaths was made Sunday morning at a local church.


He says prayers were said for the family and that members of the community are still processing the news.


The family declined to comment when contacted by CBC News.


Rescue crews, including a Cormorant helicopter, were forced to stop Saturday afternoon because of bad weather.


According to Jacobson, thick fog and low-lying clouds were probably a big factor in the crash.


"Weather certainly appears to be the No. 1 factor," he said.


Combined with what Jacobson described as "limited approach aids" at
the Tofino airport, it's possible those factors are what brought down
the plane. 


Officials from the Transportation Safety Board of Canada are expected
to arrive in Tofino Monday and their investigation will determine the
cause of the crash.

RCMP on Vancouver Island said the flight plan that had been filed
indicated that the small, two-engine Cessna 421 B aircraft left
Lethbridge for Tofino, with a stop in Abbotsford, B.C., Saturday


The search began shortly after 3:30 p.m. PT Saturday when the
plane dropped off radar near Tofino. No beacon signal was detected
and bad weather, poor visibility and the approaching nightfall hampered
the effort.


Jacobson said around 9:30 a.m. Sunday morning, the crew aboard
a Canadian Forces Cormorant helicopter from Royal Canadian Air Force's
19 Wing Comox spotted the crash site, which is
 approximately 600 metres from the south side of Vargas Island.


Four search and rescue technicians were lowered from the helicopter
onto the island, and found the wreckage in a treed area at what appeared
to be a large impact crater. Jacobson said it took the technicians an hour to positively identify what was left of the plane as the wreckage of C-GFMX, the missing plane.


"There's nothing left," Jacosben said, adding that the father and son, whose remains were also located, would have died instantly.


Tofino RCMP Cpl. Andrew Waddell said officers who were on the ground on Vargas Island found only fragments of the plane.


"It appeared to be just the rear tail; the elevator and rudder and
the tail light, and that's about it," he said. "And then odd pieces of
airplane aluminum scattered around — but not even a great amount of it,
just some of it."

The family of the father and son live in Picture Butte, Alta.,
which is roughly three hours southeast of Calgary, according to
Lethbridge RCMP.

The Cessna 421 was registered to an Edmonton company.


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