Pilot who flew singer George Canyon hours before plane crash loved to fly: friends
Published Sunday, December 15, 2013 6:23PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, December 15, 2013 8:55PM EST
An Alberta man who died in a plane crash shortly after dropping off Canadian country singer George Canyon was remembered Sunday by family and friends as someone who had a passion for his work and for flying.
Bill Lovse, 61, was piloting a small Cessna 210 which crashed shortly after taking off from the Lloydminster airport for High River on Saturday. RCMP said the plane first hit the ground, and then slid into a home. The homeowner was not hurt.
“Only got three sons and one’s gone,” Lovse’s father, John, told CTV Calgary on Sunday.
Lovse was married for 32 years and had two daughters in their 20s.
“He really worked hard for them,” Lovse’s stepmother, Dianne, said shortly after she and her husband flipped through family pictures from a Europe trip five years ago.
Lovse received his pilots’ licence about ten years ago, and friends in the aviation community say he was an experienced pilot who loved being in the air.
“That was his freedom, that he was up there and he was like an eagle … that he could soar up there and have fun,” Dennis Unguran, a friend of Lovse’s, said.
Another friend, Steff Stephansson, described Lovse as a “very cautious and well trained pilot.”
Lovse was also described by those who knew him as a man who loved his work, starting out as a civil engineer then going back to school to become a land surveyor. He then started his own company.
“The thing I liked about Bill is I'd be a little down and he was always positive,” Pat Hertz, Lovse’s brother in law, said. “He gave you encouragement and said ‘just do it.’”
As family and friends remembered Lovse Sunday, investigators arrived at the crash site just outside Lloydminster to try to determine what led to the crash.
“We have lots of information to gather on the technical aspect of the aircraft, its maintenance history also the pilots history,” said John Lee, a spokesperson with the Transportation Safety Board.
Lovse had flown Canadian country music star George Canyon to Lloydminster earlier on Saturday. Canyon said in a statement on Sunday that he was a friend of Lovse’s, and that he was devastated to learn about the tragedy.
Canyon's publicist, Anya Wilson, says the singer was dropped off with his tour manager in Lloydminster for a performance of “The Huron Carole” in the city that evening.
Wilson says Canyon learned of the tragedy at about dinner time, not long before the show.
"I have just lost a dear friend who was not just an aviation buddy, we shared an interest in sports and often played hockey together," Canyon, a resident of High River, said in the statement. “He and I have flown many times all over the place. I am devastated with the news and my prayers and thoughts are all with his family and friends."
RCMP said weather conditions at the time of the crash were poor. But Lee of the TSB cautioned that different conditions could affect pilots and planes in different ways, and might not necessarily contribute to a crash.
Lee did note, however, that there was light and drifting snow at the time and visibility was about a kilometre and a half, with a cloud ceiling of 600 metres. Winds were 25 to 35 kilometres per hour and the temperature was -19 C, he said.
Police and an official with the TSB say the aircraft belonged to J.W.L. Engineering.
With a report from CTV Calgary’s Ina Sidhu and files from The Canadian Press