Rocky Mountain House’s aviation fraternity is shaken after having lost one of its best local pilots.
Mark Chevallier, 36, a well-known single father, was killed in a crash following an aerobatic training exercise in Rocky Mountain House on Thursday afternoon.
Chevallier was the lone occupant of the Pits S1S prop plane that crashed into a wooded area near Rocky Mountain House Airport, a few kms northeast of the town.
Rocky Mayor Fred Nash, who is an avid pilot himself, said Chevallier did a lot of work behind the scenes for the aviation community.
“To me he was one of the good ones,” Nash said Friday.
“He didn’t like the limelight but he would do the work and make sure things worked and those people are rare.
“It is going to be devastating to his family, his dad, his brother and son and it is tough when someone leaves before their time.”
The Rocky Mountain House RCMP responded to the crash at about 4:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Cpl. Bob Schultz said the Pits S1S prop plane didn’t carry a lot of fuel. The plane is equipped for enough fuel to fly for 20 minutes.
Chevallier was in flight for about 15 minutes before the plane impacted the ground nose first.
“Accounts say he was over the tree line but it is not known how far from the ground,” Schultz said.
“The wreck was so bad it is one of those ones where there would be no way a person could survive.”
Chevallier, father of a five-year-old boy, worked at Chevallier Geo-Con Ltd., a company that equips GPS systems in heavy equipment used in the oilfield, agriculture and forest industries.
His wife passed away about a year and a half ago.
Chevallier was heavily involved in COPA For Kids — an aviation program that provides a flying experience for kids free of charge. He was also on the executive board for the Rocky Mountain House Airshow.
The loss of Chevallier is heavy for those who work at the small but active airport.
Barney Bert, assistant airport manager, said on Friday that the airport was closed during a Transportation Safety Board investigation.
“He was a very well-known member of the local flying community,” Bert said.
“All I can say at this point is there is no active use of the airport pending the investigation.”
“I remember all the good times and the good things that he did,” Nash said.
“My philosophy is that I hope we can leave the world after making it a better place and I think Mark left the world a better place.”
Further information will be released once the investigation into the crash is complete. Schultz said it could take the Transportation Safety Board months before a cause is determined.