Woman confirms brother was pilot in plane crash north of Port Hardy

Al McBain’s sisters found out Sunday after returning from a camping trip

The sister of pilot Al McBain confirmed he was killed in the float plane crash, on Addenbroke Island, along with three others on Friday, July 26.

Addenbroke Island is approximately 85 kilometres north of Port Hardy.

Some reports indicate the company that ran the float plane operation confirmed McBain as an employee, but did not officially identify any of the four people who died on board.

“Yes, he was the pilot,” Nathalie Chambers told Black Press. “I’m so devastated and shocked that this would’ve happened because he was a perfectionist beyond measure.”

Five people were rescued, with three sent to a local hospital and two airlifted to Vancouver.

On its Facebook page, Seair Seaplanes said, “We are deeply saddened by the devastating accident on Friday, and our hearts are heavy.”

Chambers had been camping over the weekend at the Walbran Valley when the crash occurred. There, the weather was rough, and she wonders if that was a factor in the crash.

“We experienced some really bad weather, and I think that that weather was felt all over the Coast,” she said.

She was out of wifi range while away and only found out about her brother when she returned from camping on Sunday.

RELATED STORY: Four dead after float plane crash north of Port Hardy

Following the crash, 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron out of 19 Wing Comox was called to assist in the recovery and rescue mission, responding with a Cormorant helicopter (CH-149 Cormorant) and the (CH-115) Buffalo fixed wing aircraft, and a total of 13 crew members.

Chambers said her brother’s passion for flying stems from their dad, Major James McBain, who was a pilot with 442 Transport and Rescue Squadron out of 19 Wing Comox — the very forces that assisted the recovery and rescue mission. “It was fitting my dad’s former squadron did the rescue,” she said.

Chambers said it was her dad who introduced both of her brothers into the world of aviation. “My dad was my brother’s hero and he was born to fly,” she said. “We grow up as military kids near airports and Al used to sit on my dad’s knee and watch landings and take off.”

Chambers described her brother as an extreme nature lover, who was mentally though, meticulous and perfectionist. “Safety was his first thought,” she said.

Federal investigators have since arrived on the site of the crash.

Seair Seaplanes said in a Facebook post Sunday afternoon that the company is continuing to work with authorities in any way that is helpful to the investigation.

“The safety of our passengers is our top priority and as such, we are also undertaking additional comprehensive safety measures to ensure that our aircraft meet the highest standards set out by Transport Canada,” it read. “We have now resumed our scheduled flights and will continue to get people and supplies to and from the remote areas we serve.”

Tributes on Facebook describe McBain as a passionate pilot, who cared about his passengers.

“I’ll always remember Al’s grinning welcome, his professionalism, impeccable appearance and his genuine interest when he asked what you were up to lately,” wrote Bill Gillies.

“You died doing what you loved,” wrote Rob Hilditch. “Your skills certainly saved the [five] survivors. You will be missed greatly.”



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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