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‘Business-savvy, genuine’: Pilot who died in B.C. helicopter crash remembered

Rob Blair was a former majority shareholder of U.S.-based boat company
Rob Blair died in a helicopter crash east of Revelstoke on Friday, Jan. 5. (DCB Performance Marine)

The identity of the helicopter pilot who died in the crash on Friday (Jan. 5) in Glacier National Park was confirmed to be Rob Blair.

On Friday night, Blair was travelling from Calgary to Sicamous on what has now been confirmed as his private helicopter. It remains unclear what caused the aircraft to crash, but the RCMP, the Transportation Safety Board, and the BC Coroners’ Service will be investigating the incident to determine the cause. Jeff Johnston, who was a business partner of Blair’s, confirmed that he was the lone occupant and pilot of the helicopter.

“Smart, business-savvy, genuine,” said Johnston, describing Blair.

Johnson said Blair was a ‘great’ person to work for and to be a business partner with.

Blair was a majority shareholder of DCB (Dave’s Custom Boats) Performance Marine, which is based in Arizona, until last summer. Blair got involved with DCB in 2011 after he retired from his work in paving, which Johnston said helped set the course for the business on a path to success.

“DCB wouldn’t be here today if he hadn’t contributed what he did,” said Johnston.

DCB emailed a statement regarding Blair’s death.

“The news about Rob’s tragic helicopter struck a deep chord here at the DCB facility. We are deeply saddened by this sudden loss and send our most sincere thoughts and condolences to the Blair family. Rob will certainly be missed, but never forgotten,” it said.

Rob Blair was described by DCB President as a smart and savvy business partner with a passion for boating. (DCB Performance Marine)

A local point of view

On a dark Friday night with fog in the region, it didn’t take long for members of the Revelstoke community to see the signs that something bad had happened.

“I didn’t see, I just heard,” said Tina Miertsch, who was the first to post to the Revelstoke Community Facebook page about the incident.

“For the last 3 hours there has been a plane circling over town, anyone know what’s going on,” she asked in her post.

The plane overhead, Miertsch explained, struck her as odd because of how frequently it flew over the town and how dark the evening was.

“Nothing flies here at night,” she said.

Miertsch’s post to Facebook wasn’t approved until the following morning, but quickly got the attention of others in the community. She said that the aircraft continued to fly overhead for several hours into the early hours of Saturday morning.

Before Miertsch heard the buzz of the aircraft overhead, Revelstoke RCMP had been notified around 7 p.m. by the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre out of Comox that an electronic locator transponder had been activated east of Revelstoke near Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park.

After the crash on Friday, the search went on throughout the day on Saturday as Revelstoke RCMP and Revelstoke Search and Rescue tried to locate the missing aircraft. Challenging terrain and poor weather made the search for the missing helicopter and its pilot difficult.

On Sunday afternoon, the RCMP announced in a release that the helicopter had been located, but that its lone occupant and pilot, who has now been identified as Rob Blair, had died in the crash.

READ MORE: BREAKING: Pilot confirmed dead after missing helicopter found near Revelstoke