Muskoka To-DAILY

Veteran Bracebridge pilot and new plane owner identified as two victims of Muskoka Airport-Hwy. 11 Lake amphibian air crash Friday

Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAILY.com

GRAVENHURST — A local pilot who died in Friday’s air crash at the Muskoka Airport is being rememberd as one of the best in the business.

Ted Dirstein, 66, of Bracebridge, was checking out Allan Metivier, 48, of Stratford, on a late 1970s Lake amphibian aircraft the latter had recently bought from Lake Central Air Services here.

Elton Townsend said Dirstein, as a former crop duster and forest fire pilot, “could fly anything.”

The torn remains of a Lake amphibian airplane in which intructor Ted Dirstein and Allan Mitverein died late Friday afternoon remained along Hwy. 11 Saturday afternoon.

The torn remains of a Lake amphibian airplane in which intructor Ted Dirstein and Allan Metivier died late Friday afternoon remained along Hwy. 11 Saturday afternoon. | Mark Clairmont photos

Dirstein worked as a flight instructor for Townsend who formerly owned Lake Central Air Services.

Dirstein’s Facebook page said he did flight testing and sales at LCAS from May 2013 to April 2016.

A family member at Dirstein’s home Saturday night, said the family was “not there yet,” in wanting to talk about their loss. Police also said Sunday Dirstein’s missin brother, Bradley, had been located after going missing earlier.

Townsend, who sold the business in September 2015, had nothing but high praise for his former employee.

As did others in the Muskoka flying community who knew him, calling him “highly experienced.”

Dirstein even once owned a Lake amphibian, said Townsend, so he “really knew the plane.”

“He was highly respected,” Townsend told MuskokaTODAILY.com Saturday night, after police released the names of the deceased 24 hours after the crash.

Police say they received multiple calls about the crash on Hwy. 11 NB, south of the Hwy. 118 turnoff, as weekend commuters were northbound to their cottages.

Transporation Safety Board investigators were back at the crash scene all day Saturday combing through the debris searching for clues to the accident.

Transporation Safety Board investigators were back at the crash scene all day Saturday combing through the debris searching for clues to the accident.

When police arrived, they said they located two men who were dead.

Police say the aircraft took off from the Muskoka Airport shortly before going down.

They say the OPP are assisting the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) and the Office of the Chief Coroner with their investigations.

TSB investigators were at the scene till dark Friday and all day Saturday, where the plane remained.

The OPP Forensic Identification Services (FIS) and the Emergency Response Team (ERT) utilizing an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) has also assisted with this investigation.

A police officer at the scene Saturday afternoon  where the shattered white plane with red piping remained at the side of the highway amid strewn plane parts  said it would probably take a couple years for a final report on the crash cause to be released.

One news report says a TSB spokesperson said the plane’s wing touched down on the highway before it crashed.

But between witnesses who saw the plane go down, in the east highway ditch, and members of the local flying community who were saddened by the deaths, it appears the plane took off on the main 6,000-foot runway flying north-west.

And then there was an engine failure and the plane stalled trying to reach altitude.

It crashed while trying to return south-east to the airport, over the highway.

It crashed just a few hundred metres short, and a little south-west of the runway — and near the LCAS sales office.

The Lake amphibian plane was apparently attempting to return to the airport after experiencing possible engine failure and stalling while trying to gain altitude local pilots speculate.

The Lake amphibian plane was apparently attempting to return to the airport after experiencing possible engine failure and stalling while trying to gain altitude local pilots speculate.

Several ambulances and the Bracebridge Fire Department answered the 911 call.

During the investigation, both northbound and southbound lanes were closed and reopened fully by 10:30 p.m., said Lori Stonehouse, who works at the nearby Skyways Restaurant and who saw a “flash of light” and heard the plane crash.

Townsend said he heard that the plane “pitched up” (went nose up) and began spinning, which he said was very strange for the plane, many of which he sold over the years.

Townsend said this particular Lake amphibian was a “very good” plane for its age — in “excellent condition.”

He said he thought it may have been a 1979 model and would have had very few hours on it.

Townsend speculated that if Dirstein was checking out the new owner on the plane, that if there was indeed trouble in the air, the more experienced of the two pilots with the plane would have taken over the controls if the engine did fail and it stalled.

Earle Robinson, president of the Muskoka Flying Club, said: “I am deeply saddened by this news and recognize that Muskoka has lost a great man. My deep condolences to his family, colleagues and friends.”

He said, in an email Saturday night: “Yes, I knew Ted Dirstein. He was the chief pilot at Lake Central Air Services for many years and had over 4,000 hours of flying on the Lake aircraft.

“He and I talked a lot in the last couple of months regarding Lake aircraft, since I am looking to buy one. He was going to be my flight instructor.

“He was a great guy, honest, honourable and very easy to talk to, since he had a wealth of knowledge on these and other aircraft.” 

Local pilots at the Muskoka Airport are confident the TSB will get to the bottom of the cause of the crash.

They say all work and records on the history of the plane, and contained in mechanical and pilot log books, will be gone over with a fine tooth comb to see if there were any past problems with this particular plane.

“They’re very good,” said one pilot who didn’t want to be named.

“You can bet — they’ll know why it quit.”

The investigation is ongoing and anyone with information is asked to please call any of the following with your information: The Bracebridge OPP at (888)310-1122.

Short URL: http://www.muskokatodaily.com/?p=27721

Posted by on Jun 3 2017. Filed under Headlines, OPP. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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