Pilots' families wait for answers in Mount Royal University plane crash

"Today has been an extremely hard day for everyone here on campus", Docherty said Tuesday.

"We are deeply saddened by this news and extend our most honest condolences to family and friends and to the Mount Royal University community", said Linthwaite.

Lieutenant-Colonel Brian Dunsterville, speaking on behalf of 15 Wing Moose Jaw, described Bird as a "well-liked instructor pilot, who was known by all for his unwavering positivity and kindness".

Bird was formerly a pilot instructor with the Royal Canadian Air Force, stationed in Moose Jaw, Sask., who also served as a helicopter pilot in Afghanistan with the Edmonton-based 408 Squadron.

"While Jeff was undoubtedly a dedicated pilot and officer, he will be most remembered as a proud family man, whose true love was his family".

"He always had time for you", Sinal said.

Docherty said there will be a "pop-up memorial" for students and others to lay flowers and leave "expressions of love" so that students can get together and celebrate the lives of the two pilots, in concert with their families.

"The aircraft was flying in an area where a lot of flight training does occur and it's an area where you don't have to be in continual contact with air traffic control", Lee explained.

David Docherty said they want to do everything they can to make sure students are ready to fly again in their own time.

O'Neill said while Bird had just recently started his position as a flight instructor at the university, he was passionate about the job and was enjoying teaching. Will it come up to pilot error, will it come up to bad maintenance of the plane?

The president said the 30-student program is a close-knit community, with many living together in residence. Most showed up for the news conference to show their respect.

Luc Sinal, the president of the aviation student executive, said about 40 students gathered Monday night after hearing the tragic news to talk about their favourite memories of the two "extraordinary flight instructors".

Docherty said the program will continue, but the university is willing to extend the academic year for students to reach their required number of instruction hours if necessary.

A memorial will be held for Bird at 2 p.m. on February 19 at the Bella Concert Hall at Mount Royal University.

"Very much a family man, who really, really cared for Carly and his two kids, so that was his world", said O'Neill.

Docherty said Mount Royal will be working with Transport Canada in its investigation of the crash.

RCMP said earlier Monday that the crash had been witnessed by another aircraft and reported to authorities.

"They discovered the site and unfortunately both of the people on board were killed", he said.

  • Leroy Wright