Family Finds Plane Wreck After Search Called Off


A month after authorities called off the search, family members of one of the pilots of an aircraft that went missing in Ontario have found the wreckage. Brian Slingerland’s family chartered a plane and spent most of last Saturday searching an area near the last known position of the Piper Comanche Slingerland and his friend John Fehr had recently purchased and were ferrying back to their homes in Alberta, more than 1,500 miles west. They found the wreckage less than five miles from the point of last radar contact of the plane in Lake Superior Provincial Park.

The duo took off from Dehli, Ontario, about 100 miles west of Buffalo, New York, to Marathon, Ontario, about 100 miles north of Sault Ste Marie, Michigan, on April 14. After the plane disappeared, searchers flew about 350 hours trying to find the plane but the search was called off April 24. Authorities say they don’t know what the family did that the searchers didn’t to find the wreckage. “I’m not sure what tactics they were employing,” Ontario Provincial Police detective Trevor Tremblay told local media. “But they found the aircraft about seven kilometres from the last known point on radar.”

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  1. This really triggers the question – why did the initial search teams not find the aircraft? Details missing here. Hopefully there is some wisdom to be gained for all from this event. Also – was the crash (initially) survivable?

  2. A post someone incorrectly made in 737C ditching thread questions visibility of airplane with snow on the ground.

    From what little I see on the Internet search was hampered by poor weather and deep snow.

    I also note the difficulty of finding an airplane in forested territory, especially among conifers which are common in that location – and rugged terrain as reported by ASN for this case. Wrecks are still being found in mountain areas in SW B.C, albeit underbrush is heavy on the wet coast. Some found by hikers, some found by happenstance sighting by another airplane, some many decades later.

    The crash occurred a few km from a regular road past Old Woman Bay on Lake Superior.

  3. You need to have a newer 406 MHz ELT that works on satellite communication and provides a GPS location. You should trigger it manually if you know that you are going to have an off-field landing. Also, you should carry a personal emergency locating beacon on your person that also works on 406 MHz or one of the SPOT products that also has satellite communication and GPS coordinates (or carry both).

  4. I agree may have been hard to spot in the snow. I wonder where the body was? Did he escape the craft? Removed by preditory macrofauna?

    I also agree about personal GPS beacons and GPS based ELT’s.

    • Will be revealed I expect, depending in part on wishes of families, as mission seemed routine – ferrying an airplane they’d purchased, unlike the earlier crash in ON with criminals on board. Unfortunately TSB Canada is slow to put information on their web site.

      They were only 2 km from a road (see the map I linked to) so if alive and at least one of them able to fight through snow should have been rescued. (Good pilots flying over bush know where they are.) Alas, probably not the case.

      I remember years ago in the South Peace a classmate’s father was in an airplane that went down near a highway, in winter, one person managed to struggle out to it and someone eventually came along. All survived IIRC.

      Flying near roads and highways is good practice I think.

      Long ago I was in a survey camp not far from there, up the Sukunka, and a Bell 47G3 went into the trees very close to camp, engine quit just after liftoff. Pilots injured. Once they were extracted their fellow pilots made a beeline cross-country to a hospital, saving a bit of time over following highways as was SOP.

      (Thinking back, I have no idea why pilots did not get altitude before going above the trees, there was a wide open area they took off from. I was just the cooks’ helper.)