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Report on 2022 fatal central Alberta plane crash released

Pilot and passenger died after ultralight plane crashed near Didsbury in July 2022
Transportation Safety Board of Canada has released its investigation report on a crash that claimed the pilot and passenger of an ultralight aircraft near Didsbury on July 13, 2022. (Photo from TSB)

The crash of an ultralight aircraft that killed the pilot and lone passenger in central Alberta last July was captured on smartphone video taken inside the cabin, says a Transportation Safety Board of Canada report that was released Wednesday.

The video helped investigators determine the aircraft spun into the ground after the pilot could not recover from a spin after intentionally stalling the plane under power.

The crash of the Zlin Savage Cub happened about 10:10 a.m. on July 13, 2022, about 15 minutes after it took off for a recreational flight from a private airstrip about 13 km east of Didsbury, says a Transportation Safety Board of Canada report released on Wednesday.

The pilot, Royal Stewart, 69, of Didsbury, and his 65-year-old friend from New Zealand, Lewis Stronge, died in the crash.

Safety board investigators determined from the flight patch captured on GPS that the plane had been flying at various altitudes up to 1,100 feet.

“In addition, the investigation obtained a smartphone video of the last minute of the flight recorded from inside the aircraft,” says the report that was released Wednesday.

The video showed the pilot put the plane into an intentional power-on stall at 1,100 feet.

“A successful recovery was made followed by a transition into another power-on stall at 900 feet AGL (above ground level) with a steeper nose-up attitude. At the point of the stall when the nose dropped, the left wing dropped as well, and the aircraft entered a left spin.”

The aircraft was falling at an average rate of 3,300 feet per minute and it was spinning at a rate of one full revolution every four seconds.

The plane hit the ground in a shallow dive about 1.3 km away from the airstrip. The impact pushed the right main landing gear into the aft cabin and the left gear was bent to the side of the fuselage. Both wing struts collapsed with the left wing coming to rest on the ground.

Pilot and passenger were found dead at the scene. Since getting his flying licence in October 2013, the pilot had 449 hours of flying time, including 430 hours on the Zlin Savage Cub.

The aircraft was not equipped with an emergency locator transmitter, which is not a requirement for this type of plane.

Family members of the pilot began searching for him at about 3:30 p.m. A local pilot spotted the wreckage about 4:30 p.m. and first responders arrived on scene about 5:15 p.m., seven hours after the crash.

While the pilot used a smartphone application to track his location it was not used to locate the plane.

In the safety messages part of the report, TSB reminds pilots that stalls should be conducted at an altitude from which a safe recovery can be made.

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