A flight instructor and his student pilot flying out of Boundary Bay Airport were killed in a plane crash in the Fraser Valley this week.
The two men from the Pacific Flying Club were in a Cessna 152 when their two-seat plane went down in mountainous terrain north of Harrison Lake late Tuesday afternoon.
The pilot has been identified as Brett Loftus of Langley, 25, and the student as 23-year-old Joel Nortman from Vancouver, according to the RCMP's Upper Fraser Valley regional detachment.
Search-and-rescue crews used helicopters to reach the crash site late Wednesday afternoon to retrieve the two bodies, which were transported to the airport in Chilliwack for a preliminary examination by the coroner before being sent to Royal Columbian Hospital for further examination, according to the RCMP.
The Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the crash, said the plane sent an emergency locator transmitter signal. The cockpit didn't have a voice or data recorder.
"This was absolutely a tragic accident," said Cpl. Tammy Hollingsworth. "The families and friends of these two men are understandably having difficulty dealing with their losses and are asking for their privacy."
The coroner's investigation will determine if autopsies will be performed. At this time there is nothing to indicate this plane crash was criminal in nature, therefore the Transportation Safety Board and the B.C. Coroners Service now have full conduct of the investigation, according to the RCMP.
The accident has left staff and students and the Pacific Flying Club and the wider community of Boundary Bay Airport stunned.
Noting the pilot was highly experienced and skilled, the Pacific Flying Club's Pat Kennedy told the Optimist, "The staff and students are taking this very difficultly because he (pilot) was recognized as a leader among his peers.
"We don't have answers to a lot of questions at this point and that's very troubling."
She said student pilots and instructors forge lifelong friendships.
Originally formed in 1965, the Pacific Flying Club has been, since 1985, located at Boundary Bay Airport, one of the busiest airports in Canada.
The Pacific Flying Club's website states it is recognized as an industry leader in flight training, having a fleet of 25 aircraft and three simulators.