Two Mount Royal University pilots are being remembered by family and friends as the investigation into Monday night’s plane crash continued Wednesday.
Jeff Bird and Reyn Johnson were identified Tuesday as the aviation instructors killed after what officials called a “routine flight” that was part of the curriculum.
READ MORE: Jeff Bird, Reynold Johnson identified as Mount Royal University pilots killed in plane crash near Calgary
Johnson’s family released a statement Wednesday afternoon, remembering him as a loving, caring, meticulous and professional man.
“As a pilot, he took pride in detail, even insisting on ironing his own shirts, not just to look professional, but because he thought that a job worth doing was worth doing right,” said the statement, attributed to his children and wife Brenda.
“He raised his two children, Luc and Maryse to also be strong and independent, passing on his eye for detail and precision.”
His family called him a “self-made man” who loved golf, skiing and carpentry.
“Reyn’s family meant the world to him. He was a proud and devoted grandpa to Isaac, Abigail and baby Jacob. The last photo taken of Reyn is of him lovingly holding his newest grandchild, born just three days before Reyn’s passing.”
Earlier Wednesday, a close friend of Bird set up a fundraising account in order to help support his young son and daughter.
Alisha O’Neill told Global News she’d known Jeffrey (Jeff) Bird for over 20 years and connected with his wife, Carly, before setting up the page.
“We are definitely going to miss him,” O’Neill said Wednesday. “He was such a great friend and brother and son, husband and father,” she said. “He mentored quite a few people at MRU and also while in the Canadian Armed Forces. He’s just going to be missed terribly by a lot of people.
“He was such a genuine, likable guy.”
Bird also leaves behind two children: Celeste, 3, and five-month-old Shane.
“The funds raised from this specific campaign will be going directly to his kids to ensure they’re set up for success in the future and will understand just how much of an impact their dad made on all of us,” reads the GoFundMe page.
Mount Royal University sets up memorial
The university invited people to sign a guestbook or leave memorial items at the Bissett School of Business on campus.
Director of the emergency operations centre Peter Davison declined to release details on who was in the second plane that witnessed the crash.
“There’s the potential that other MRU aircraft could be in the air at any given time.”
Davison said the aviation program is made up of 12 instructors and 66 enrolled students, calling them an extremely tight group. Aircraft maintenance was done by an external company, he said.
“Since our last update, Mount Royal has learned of another fatality in the history of its aviation program,” read an afternoon release from the school. “According to an archived record, Al Milne was involved in a plane crash in 1973.”
TSB officials work to clean up crash site
Investigators from the Transportation Safety Board (TSB) were working at the site of the crash Wednesday. It happened east of Highway 40 in the Waiparous area just before 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13. The small passenger plane was located in a remote area northwest of Cochrane, near Highway 40 and Highway 579.
“We’re here with the recovery crew to make sure we don’t miss any evidence that could have been hidden yesterday as we were moving the aircraft,” TSB senior investigator Fred Burow said. “Some things that we found, we have to send back to our lab in Ottawa: any electronics that we may be able to get information out of, if they survived the fire.”
READ MORE: Flight instructors killed in plane crash near Calgary were experienced pilots, says Mount Royal University president
Measurements and photos were taken before wreckage from the crash was loaded onto a flatbed truck to be taken to Edmonton for further investigation Wednesday morning.
TSB officials said the next step would be interviews at Springbank Airport, where the plane departed.
They said it could be several months before any new information is released.
With files from Global’s Kim Smith