Two men from Winkler, Man., were killed in a plane crash, southwest of Winnipeg Thursday evening.
Global News has learned the identity the victims as Art Paetkau, who is an experienced pilot in the area, and John Friesen, a local electrician.
The crash happened around six to nine kilometres east of Brunkild, off of Highway 305, according to RCMP.
Around 8:50 p.m., Headingley RCMP called on the scene for reports of an overdue aircraft that left the St. Andrews Airport after 6:30 pm. RCMP officers from Headingley and Carman searched for the Cessna A185F plane, which was on its way to Winkler.
WATCH: Two Winkler men died after the plane they were in crashed. Global’s Sean Leslie reports.
RCMP and the Canadian Armed Forces search and rescue teams scoured the area; snowmobiles were deployed as well. Weather conditions were poor and visibility was low, RCMP said.
The wreckage of the plane was located near Brunkild, off of Highway 305 at around 1:05 am Friday. There were two men on board, both were found dead.
One of the victims was Paetkau, 60, who is a agriculture pilot and the owner of Arty’s Air Service Ltd. in Winkler.
The other victim was 41-year-old John Friesen, an electrician from Winkler.
Global News searched the Internet with the tail number of the plane, C-FSHN. According to multiple websites, the most recent owner of the plane is Arty’s Air Service Ltd..
“He was a high-time pilot. He was the best pilot in the area,” Ed Hoeppner said. Hoeppner works with Morden Flying Club and said he knew Paetkau.
“As long as I’ve known him he was always Arty’s Air. That’s what we called him. I would have flown with him anytime… he was very experienced.”
“When there was crop dusting done before you’d think ‘well no one can do that’. Art could do it,” Jake Rempel, from Winkler, said of Paetkau’s flying.
Rempel knew both of the men, “It’s going to be a tough thing to go through. They’ll be missed, both of them will be missed by the people of Winkler.”
Hoeppner said this tragedy is a big loss for the aviation community in the area as Paetkau was very respected.
Transportation Safety Board of Canada investigates
In a statement sent by the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) Friday morning, the board said it was deploying a team of investigators to the crash.
“The TSB will gather information and assess the occurrence,” the statement read.
WATCH: Scene from the wreckage Friday morning
RCMP are also investigating crash.