Stewardson Inlet is just north of Hot Springs Cove, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Stewardson Inlet is just north of Hot Springs Cove, on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Deceased pilot was longtime member of Island flying community

Transportation Safety Board had to move wreckage from remote location

The Vancouver Island pilot who died in a crash north of Tofino just before Christmas was a seasoned flier and longtime member of the Courtenay Airpark Association.

Hal (Heinz) Schulz, in his 70s, was a veteran pilot from Comox who took out his plane regularly from the Courtenay Airpark.

“He was probably our single most-active pilot. He flew almost every day,” said friend and fellow pilot Darwin Dzuba. “He’s also probably one of our longest-standing members.”

Dzuba, who serves on the Courtenay Airpark Association’s board of directors, and had his hangar next to Schulz’s, says Schulz was a member of the association and the local flying community for many years.

“I remember him telling me that when he first started flying out of the airpark, it was a gravel strip,” he said. “That was a while back.”

Schulz had been working on contract in an aircraft modified with oxygen for high altitudes, to collect air samples for the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used for weather modeling.

“They use private pilots from all over North America to get air samples,” Dzuba said.

In recent years, Schulz also submitted aerial photos to the Comox Valley Record of events such as the annual herring run in the region.

“He was always very accommodating when it came to sharing photos with the paper,” said Record editor Terry Farrell. “First day of the herring run, he’d be in the office by noon with photos.

“The first time I met Hal was in 2014, during the huge flood we had in December of that year. He came by the office with his camera memory card full of photos showing aerial views of the flooded areas of Courtenay.”

RELATED STORY: Herring run lights up the ocean

RELATED STORY: Storm relief financial assistance available

Schulz had been flying Saturday, Dec. 21 and was due back around 1:30 p.m. but never arrived. Comox Valley RCMP were notified around 4 p.m. that he was missing. Police contacted several airports on Vancouver Island, but Schulz had not turned up at any of them.

19 Wing Comox confirmed its search and rescue division was called in to help. SAR Tech members from 442 Squadron out of Comox arrived on a Cormorant helicopter at the site and a ground crew found the missing Cessna 172 shortly after 9 a.m. the following morning at Hot Springs Cove near Sydney Inlet Provincial Park.

The park lies northwest of Tofino.

Also on Dec. 22, the BC Coroners Office confirmed there was one fatality in the crash.

RELATED STORY: Vancouver Island plane crash victim was from the Comox Valley

Dzuba had heard the wreckage from the crash was moved because of the remoteness of the site.

“Now we just need to wait for the Transportation Safety Board to do their investigation to determine the cause,” he said.

The Transportation Safety Board clarified it is the responsibility of insurers if any wreckage is moved from the site to conduct the investigation. The TSB will also have a team fly to the site as soon as possible, then determine the level of investigation.

“The first step was to recover the wreckage,” says TSB spokesperson Alex Fournier. “The next step is to decide what we’re going to do.”

(Note: This story has been edited since first posted to clarify the TSB’s and insurers’ roles in the investigation.)



mike.chouinard@comoxvalleyrecord.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Cowichan Valley Arts Council is offering courses in drawing May through August 2021. (Submitted)
A&E column: Art is everywhere in the Cowichan Valley

What’s going in the Cowichan Valley arts and entertainment community

The CVRD introduces new app to contact residents during emergencies, a tool that chairman Aaron Stone says will improve communications. (File photo)
CVRD launches new app to spread information during emergencies

Cowichan Alert is a free app that can be downloaded onto smartphones, computers

A B.C. Centre for Disease Control map showing new COVID-19 cases by local health area for the week of April 25-May 1. (BCCDC image)
Vancouver Island’s COVID-19 case counts continue to trend down

Fewer than 200 active cases on the Island, down from highs of 500-plus earlier this spring

The Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors in July 2021. (Malahat SkyWalk photo)
Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors this July

Highly anticipated attraction will take guests 250m above sea level

FILE PHOTO
Editorial: Time to roll up our sleeves and pitch in

They’re just not quite sure they want to get a vaccine — yet

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Starting Tuesday, May 11, B.C. adults born in 1981 and earlier will be able to register for a vaccine dose. (Haley Ritchie/Black Press Media)
BC adults 40+ eligible to book COVID-19 vaccinations next week

Starting Tuesday, people born in 1981 and earlier will be able to schedule their inoculation against the virus

Parks Canada and Tla-o-qui-aht Tribal Parks dig the washed up Princess M out from sand along the south shore of the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. (Nora O’Malley photo)
Rescue attempt costs man his boat off Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Coast Guard response questioned after volunteer responder’s speedboat capsizes in heavy swells

Al Kowalko shows off the province’s first electric school bus, running kids to three elementary and two secondary schools on the West Shore. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
B.C.’s first electric school bus making the rounds in Victoria suburbs

No emissions, no fuel costs and less maintenance will offset the $750K upfront expense

Road sign on Highway 1 west of Hope warns drivers of COVID-19 essential travel road checks on the highways into the B.C. Interior. (Jessica Peters/Chilliwack Progress)
B.C. residents want travel checks at Alberta border, MLA says

Police road checks in place at highways out of Vancouver area

Victoria police say the photo they circulated of an alleged cat thief was actually a woman taking her own cat to the vet. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Photo of suspected cat thief released by Victoria police actually just woman with her pet

Police learned the she didn’t steal Penelope the cat, and was actually taking her cat to the vet

The Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent sails past a iceberg in Lancaster Sound, Friday, July 11, 2008. The federal government is expected to end nearly two years of mystery today and reveal its plan to build a new, long overdue heavy icebreaker for the Canadian Coast Guard. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver, Quebec shipyards to each get new heavy icebreaker, cost remains a mystery

Vancouver’s Seaspan Shipyards and Quebec-based Chantier Davie will each build an icebreaker for the coast guard

Findings indicate a culture of racism, misogyny and bullying has gripped the game with 64 per cent of people involved saying players bully others outside of the rink. (Pixabay)
Misogyny, racism and bullying prevalent across Canadian youth hockey, survey finds

56% of youth hockey players and coaches say disrespect to women is a problem in Canada’s sport

Most Read