Skip to content

EXCLUSIVE: Pilot’s family discovered missing airplane

Relatives of one of the two pilots who disappeared last month in northern Ontario were aboard the chartered aircraft that spotted the wreckage on Saturday

The wreckage of a small plane that vanished last month in northern Ontario was discovered by family members of one of the missing pilots, who chartered a private aircraft to conduct their own search, SooToday has learned.

Members of Brian Slingerland's family were aboard the chartered aircraft when the downed plane was spotted Saturday in Lake Superior Provincial Park, near Old Woman Bay, confirmed Detective Constable Trevor Tremblay of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).

"I'm not sure what tactics they were employing," Tremblay says. "But they found the aircraft about seven kilometres from the last known point on radar."

Tremblay says the family members had been flying for most of the day Saturday when they came across the wreckage in a heavily wooded area. An OPP helicopter was searching nearby and "put boots on the ground to confirm within minutes," he says.

The bodies of both men have been retrieved from the crash site. Their families have requested privacy at this time.

Slingerland and his friend John Fehr, the two occupants of the recently purchased Piper Comanche, were from Alberta and both had private pilot licences. Bound for Alberta, the pair took off from Delhi, Ont. and were scheduled to land in Marathon when they vanished.

After they disappeared from radar on April 14, more than 350 hours worth of search and rescue efforts were devoted to finding the missing plane before the mission was eventually called off on April 24.

The Transportation Safety Board confirmed they are currently in the field phase of the investigation, meaning they are gathering data, documenting the accident site, and taking pictures.

Although the crash site is near the highway, it is difficult to reach. "The area is heavily wooded and a bit swampy nearby," Tremblay explains. "The crash site was very isolated and small. The plane suffered catastrophic damage in the crash."

The TSB is in the early stages of the investigation, and the cause of the incident is unknown at this time.

"The TSB is taking the investigation from here," Tremblay says. "The wreck will be removed in the near future by the insurance company."