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

Shown is Quality Foods at 319 Island Highway in Parksville. The Island-based grocery chain announced on Jan. 25 it made a $2-per-hour pay premium, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: Quality Foods makes $2-per-hour employee pay premium permanent

Island-based grocery chain had extended increase twice in 2020

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)
Modelling of predicted transmission growth from the B117 COVID-19 variant in British Columbia. (Simon Fraser University)
COVID-19 variant predicted to cause ‘unmanageable’ case spike in B.C: report

SFU researchers predict a doubling of COVID-19 cases every two weeks if the variant spreads

The Brucejack mine is 65 km north of Stewart in northwestern B.C. (Pretivm Photo)
B.C. mine executives see bright gleam in post-COVID future

Low carbon drives demand for copper, steelmaking coal

Most Read