A 73-year-old British man has died after the U.S.-registered Piper PA-46 Malibu he was a passenger in crashed Wednesday on a mountain slope near Makkovik on the east coast of Labrador. The 47-year-old pilot, a Belgian national, was seriously injured and is in hospital in Goose Bay, N.L.
The aircraft went down about 74 kilometres southeast of Makkovik, which works out to about 300 km into its flight from Goose Bay/Happy Valley airport (CYYR) to Greenland.
Rescuers were able to establish two-way communication with the pilot, who remained conscious after the crash. Both an RCAF Hercules and a Cormorant search and rescue helicopter reached the area Wednesday evening, but bad weather kept them from getting close.
“We tried to get our Cormorant helicopter into the site, but the weather prevented us from getting anywhere near it,” Maj. Mark Gough of Maritime Forces Atlantic was quoted in the National Post. “Even the ground search and rescue team had a difficult time in reaching the site.”
According to Maj. Gough, rescuers from Makkovik reached the crash site, located about 400 metres above sea level, by snowmobile and transported the victims to Makkovik in blizzard conditions. However, the inclement weather prevented the Cormorant from landing at Makkovik until Thursday morning, at which time it transported the victims to Goose Bay, reaching the medical centre there at about 05:00 local time. In the meantime, the British man succumbed to his injuries.
The rescue team included an RCMP officer and eight volunteers from Makkovik, including two members of the Makkovik Canadian Rangers.
Photo courtesy of Piper Aircraft, Inc.