The engine of the downed Forest Protection Limited aircraft sits several metres away from the crash site in a wooded area near the Miramichi Airport on Friday April 23, 2010, in Miramichi, N.B. An experienced pilot is dead after his water bomber crashed Friday not long after taking off in northern New Brunswick. Photo by The Canadian Press
An experienced pilot is dead after his water bomber crashed Friday not long after taking off in northern New Brunswick.
The plane's operator, Forest Protection Ltd., confirmed the death of Ron Clowes, in his early 60s, of Grand Falls, N.B.
Managing director David Davies said he had no idea why the plane crashed just before 2 p.m.
"It took off from Miramichi Airport and was well into the air - and then something went wrong and it came into the ground," Davies said in an interview.
"People here are in shock because this pilot was well-known, has been with us for a long time, and we certainly express all of our sympathies to the family and friends."
Davies said Clowes was the only person on board.
He said Clowes had been with the company for about a decade, but also had many more years of prior flying time under his belt.
Clowes was conducting a practice flight on the TBM Avenger aircraft at the time of the crash.
Davies said the accident will be investigated by the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.
"This aircraft just had a fresh, what we call annual on it," said Davies. "All through the winter it was inspected, was in airworthy condition, and we've not had this problem before."
Forest Protection is a joint government-industry company that does aerial fire protection, insect control and herbicide programs.
Cpl. Todd Chadwick of the Miramichi Police Force said officers were taking statements from people who witnessed the crash.
Chadwick said the plane was broken into a number of pieces, but did not appear to show any sign of a fire.
He said police were not able to comment on a possible cause of the mishap.