Dr. Bill Phipps, 71, is listed in stable condition after his stunt plane crashed during an airshow at the Nanaimo airport Saturday.
Dr. Phipps suffered significant facial and internal injuries as well as broken bones after his plane nose-dived into the ground during his eight minute opening performance at the Wings and Wheel event and was taken to Victoria Hospital.
Hundreds of people had gathered for the first air show hosted at the Nanaimo airport in three years, when the tragedy unfolded. Out of respect for the family, the rest of the airshow was cancelled and airport authority closed the airport to all incoming and outgoing air traffic.
According to Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokeperson, the plane was destroyed on impact and no other else was injured or involved.
“The BC Ambulance as well as Cranberry Fire and Rescue were quickly on scene and were able to remove the male from the carnage,” he said. “ Transport Canada is assuming the lead role in this investigation and the RCMP will be assisting.”
Nanaimo Flying Club President Barbara Riddy said the pilot had just undergone a medical exam before the show and was in peak condition before taking to the sky.
“For them to perform, they have to produce a valid medical certificate, and the medicals that Transport Canada gives you are quite rigorous,” she said.
Riddy didn’t divulge any name but said the pilot is an experienced, well-known performer whose airman-ship is second to none, and that age would not have played a factor in Saturday’s crash.
“He’s a rock-solid performer,” she said.
The Nanaimo Flying Club is now considering whether it will continue to hold the airshow annually or every two years.
“There’s a lot of paperwork you have to do with Transport Canada, people don’t realize how much work is involved,” she said.
Riddy thanked spectators for their patience and understanding during the tragic ordeal.
“The public was super,” she said. “There was nobody that went beyond the barriers, they all listened and were understanding when the show was cancelled.”