Plane found after disappearing en route from Calgary to B.C., coroner’s office takes over case
The day after a small plane carrying two people went missing over B.C. after departing from the Calgary area, officials said the aircraft had been discovered near Hope, B.C.
“Joint Rescue Coordination Center Victoria (JRCC) confirms it has found the Cessna 182 aircraft and two persons on board, missing since 11 a.m. on June 28, 2018,” the JRCC said in a Facebook post Friday evening. “At approximately 1:30 p.m. on June 29, 2018, the aircraft was located roughly 17 nautical miles to the northeast of Hope, B.C., in mountainous terrain.”
While the JRCC did not provide an update on the status of the plane’s occupants, its update suggested the two had died.
“This case has been passed to the B.C. Coroner’s Service and B.C. RCMP. The JRCC’s thoughts are with the loved ones of the two individuals who were aboard the aircraft.”
The JRCC said the plane was discovered by RCAF Cormorant 913 from Canadian Forces Base Comox.
The JRCC had been searching between Merritt and Hope, B.C. for the missing aircraft that had two Calgary men on board.
Global News has learned that Ken Umbach was one of the two people and was the owner and pilot of the plane.
Family told Global News that Umbach owned the plane for about five years.
Global News has confirmed the second passenger to be Terry Stewart.
The search was activated at around 11 a.m. on Thursday for the small plane that departed from Calgary’s Springbank Airport about two hours earlier.
It was flying a route to Kelowna, Hope and Boundary Bay with a planned landing in Nanaimo.
“[Its] Electronic Locator Transmitter was activated approximately 90 Nautical Miles (166 kilometres) NE of Vancouver on June 28, 2018,” the Maritime Forces Pacific (MFP) Facebook page said on Friday.
MFP added at around 11:30 a.m., “the search area has been refined to approximately 28 Nautical Miles (NM) squared to the northeast of Hope, B.C., close to the Great Bear Snow Shed.”
Weather conditions in the area, paired with the steep terrain, hampered search efforts.
“We’ve been trying to get into the area where the beacon was detected ever since then but the weather’s been such that the helicopter and the buffalo have not been able to put eyes on the search area,” Major Justin Olsen with the JRCC said Friday afternoon.
WATCH BELOW: Major Justin Olsen with the JRCC explains how weather is hampering search conditions for a missing plane in BC
Olsen said they had been working closely with Emergency Management British Columbia, who deployed ground search and rescue crews, but they determined a helicopter would be needed to access the area.
“The elevation in the area is significant — it’s between 4,000 feet (1,219 metres) and 6,000 feet (1828 metres) – the cloud cover has been quite low… there’s been rain and it’s just not been safe to have crews try to penetrate that cloud because there are such high mountain peaks in the area,” he said.
Olsen said the terrain Umbach was flying over was “a very challenging area to be flying in,” and described it as “naturally a place that people have to approach with caution,” but said every indication is that Umbach was prepared for the flight, including having enough fuel on board.
“Based on the equipment that was onboard this aircraft, this aircraft was very well equipped,” he said.
“It has a 406 beacon that was registered, it had a spot beacon on board, it had a space-based system that’s for use in the United States – they have a system that will be coming online sometime this year.
“That coupled with our radar hits, our cooperation with the cell phone providers, it means that this is a tiny search area comparative to some other searches that we’ve done. And that’s thanks to the efforts of the pilot.”
WATCH BELOW: The owner of a missing plane that left the Calgary area Thursday was well-equipped in case of an emergency: JRCC
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