The propeller of a small plane that was forced to land in a rural Saanich farm two weeks ago was found in a nearby resident’s backyard over the weekend.
Jeremy Francis was walking along the back portion of his grandmother’s property off Glendenning Road in Saanich when he saw an odd-looking object sticking out of the ground. His grandmother had asked him to clear branches off the pathways on the property after some wind storms had hit the area.
“I had no idea at that point that there was a plane crash so I was shocked when I found it,” Francis said. “I was looking for more of the plane.”
Francis said the propeller was about three-quarters of the way in the ground when he found it. He immediately took pictures of it and also contacted the Victoria Flying Club, who said he could dig it up while they were on their way over. Francis said the propeller was quite heavy and estimated it weighed about 60 pounds. He also showed the photo to his grandmother who pulled up stories about the incident on her computer.
On the morning of Feb. 18, early reports said a Cessna 172 plane in distress went down at about 9 a.m. It landed on a farm at the end of Beckwith Avenue in Saanich and was upside down on its roof. Police at the time said two people were in the plane and there were no serious injuries. The plane has the Victoria Flying Club logo on it and as well as the number C-GINH.
Greg Matte, general manager of the Victoria Flying Club, said the plane was heading northwest and was approaching Mt. Douglas Cross Road, just south of Mount Douglas Golf Course, when the propeller detached from it and the engine seized.
“The plane was basically a glider and the pilot was looking for a place to land,” Matte said. “It wasn’t a crash, it was a forced landing.”
Matte said the pilot of the plane went to the Victoria Flying Club three days after the incident to share his experience so others could learn from him. He even went flying two days after the forced landing.
“He was outstanding,” Matte said. “He did a really good job.”
The cause for the engine seizure has not yet been determined and the Transportation Safety Board of Canada is investigating. Matte said the propeller was a crucial missing piece to the investigation because the plane’s engine mount – which had the engine’s serial number on it – was located on the propeller.
The plane and propeller are now at Victoria International Airport, where the Victoria Flying Club is based.
Francis’ grandmother’s home is located about 1.5 kilometres away from where the plane ended up. He said finding the propeller was shocking and also “humbling.”
“I didn’t realize it would be such an important find,” Francis said.