The family of Alex Bahlsen, one of three people killed when a small plane went down on B.C.’s Gabriola Island, is remembering the pilot as a loving, generous and cherished family man who loved adventure.
In a statement issued on Friday, Bahlsen’s family thanked the public for their support amid the tragedy they’ve been facing since Dec. 10, when the 1982 Piper PA-60-602P he was flying crashed.
“He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather,” the statement signed Liz, Alexandra and Taryn read.
“We as a family are absolutely devastated. We knew this day could come; however, Alex always had a way of making us feel like it never would.”
The 62-year-old and his wife divided their time between their air ranch in southern Alberta and Mill May, B.C., Bahlsen’s family and friends “were fortunate to have frequent visits” because he could fly.
“We felt like he was always around as he was just a ‘short’ flight away.”
Born in Germany, Bahlsen moved to Canada to attend the University of Calgary and dabbled in many different activities in his time here, including skiing and instructing, skeleton sliding, hang gliding and flying planes.
“Alex was able to master anything; however, his true passion was flying,” the family said.
“Alex was taken from us while he was doing something he loved. He never hesitated to share the joy of flying with others and the beauty from the air that captivated him.
“Alex believed that ‘it’s always sunny above the clouds.’ This was his general outlook on life.”
Bahlsen also taught flying students from across the world and even boarded some who needed a place to stay.
Family are remembering the life a man they described as a “fun-loving, big-hearted, down to earth guy who loved people, animals, adventure and life.”
He offered his time to help with a pet rescue organization — which is also remembering him as someone “worth his weight in gold” — flying animals between Canada and the U.S. and fostering the ones that needed a temporary home.
“He knew how to ‘fix’ everything from a scratch on your knee, something broken in your house, or a computer that wouldn’t start,” the family said. “His humour was unique; a joke would often lead to needing an explanation of German expressions that didn’t quite translate to English.
The family said a celebration of Bahlsen’s life will be held at the Bomber Command Museum of Canada in Nanton later in December, and that in lieu of flowers, a memorial fund will be set up to allow others to “share his passion of flying.”