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Fri, Mar 05, 2010

Homebuilt Aircraft Down In Canada

Witnesses Say The Jodel Broke Up In Flight

A homebuilt Jodel aircraft has gone down in a wooded area near Courtenay, Canada, killing the 75-year-old pilot/builder of the airplane.

File Photo

Unofficial sources identify the pilot as Bert Smit, the co-owner of Smit Field, which is a private airport near Courtenay. 

The Toronto Globe and Mail reports that the RCMP was called to the crash scene about 6 miles west of town Wednesday. The Mounties and the Courtenay fire department located the wreckage and Smit's body around noon.

Smit had reportedly built the Jodel over the course of the past six to eight months. He reportedly had about 10 years flying experience.  One witness told Canada's A News “a wing came off” the plane during a "high-speed turn" just before it went down. Another witness who lives in the area said it appeared the pilot was performing aerobatics when "the left wing just blew apart."

The paper reports that this accident is similar to one involving a Jodel that occurred in August in Courtenay, in which witnesses said debris was falling from the airplane as it spiraled into the ground. That aircraft went down in a residential neighborhood, but the pilot was the only one killed or injured in the crash. The Canadian Transportation Safety Board found the cause of that accident to be failure of the wing due to "wood rot and other issues,” according to TSB spokesman Bill Yearwood.

He said while it was unusual to have two accidents in the same area involving similar aircraft and circumstances, it is not known if the two are in any way related.

Jodels are constructed principally of wood from plans purchased from the company.

FMI: www.tsb.gc.ca/en/

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