The parts needed for the safe flight of Paul Deane-Freeman’s ultralight were on the ground at the airport the morning the craft crash0landed on a busy Delta highway.
Deane-Freeman has publicly said his ultralight plane stalled before he landed it on Highway 91, north of 64 Avenue, at about 6:30 P.M. on Wednesday (April 22).
Deane-Freeman, 49, was taken to hospital with an injured rib. Miraculously, there were no other injuries.
“It was rush-hour traffic, so the possibilities were very big as to what could have happened, but he [the pilot] was able to bring it down in a fairly controlled yet hard landing,” said RCMP Cpl. Peter Sommerville.
The highway’s southbound lanes were closed and traffic was diverted around the area until about 9 p.m. Wednesday.
Arnold Klappe, owner of King George Airpark, where Deane-Freeman took off that morning, told The Leader he had warned the new pilot several times not to fly his ultralight.
Problems with engine overheating had to be addressed before it was safe to fly, Klappe said.
“Paul and I and my mechanic had discussions about the aircraft not being safe to fly,” Klappe said Friday. “We felt enough concern to actually give it to him in writing … a couple of weeks ago.”
A copy of that letter is being sent to Transport Canada and the National Transportation Safety Board, Klappe said.
“On Tuesday, he was playing around with the engine. I told him specifically `do not fly it.’ ” Klappe said. “On Wednesday, the day of the accident, I was gone most of the day and he chose to go fly it.”
Parts ordered to address the cooling system, Klappe said, had arrived at the airport the day Deane-Freeman took the aircraft up.
Klappe said he has since told Deane-Freeman to get his aircraft off King George Airpark and not to come back.
Klappe said in 35 years operating the field, it’s the first time he’s felt it necessary to tell someone to leave and not come back.
Klappe points out that flying ultralights is an extremely safe sport, noting that even during the rare times there is a problem, the low airspeed and steel cage makes injury extremely uncommon.
Deane-Freeman has not returned repeated phone calls from The Leader.
He told CBC News that “in the manual it says [these engines can be] subject to sudden stoppage, so I guess they mean that. They are not certified for use in any kind of aircraft, it says.”
Actually, the manual for the Rotax 582 (the engine Klappe says was in that plane), says stalling isn’t an issue specific to their engines.
“Any engine may seize or stall at any time. This could lead to a crash landing and possible severe injury or death,” the manual states. “For this reason, we recommend strict compliance with the maintenance and operation.”
The Delta Police is assisting the National Transportation Safety Board in its investigation.
~with files from CBC News