- Written by Anna Junker Anna Junker
- Published: 14 February 2017 14 February 2017
Editor's note: Story has been updated to include more information about second MRU aviation instructor killed in Monday plane crash.
Mount Royal University confirmed Tuesday evening that Reynold Johnson was the second aviation instructor killed in a plane crash Monday, along with instructor Jeffrey Bird.
MRU officials indicated Johnson's career in aviation spanned more then three decades, and included working with Air Canada and then Jazz.
Earlier Tuesday, a visibly shaken David Docherty, president of Mount Royal University, identified Bird as one of two instructors who died Monday when their MRU-owned plane went down east of Highway 40 in the Waiparous area.
Bird was a Class 3 aviation instructor at MRU with a total of 1,800 flying hours. Bird’s Facebook page indicated he had joined the program in January, 2017.
“It is very, very tragic because these are individuals who are ... flying is their life and they, they wanted to teach others to fly and fulfill their dreams,” said Docherty.
Earlier in the day, Docherty spoke to Bird’s family who he said was being well-supported by other family members. Bird’s Facebook cover page shows him in a loving embrace with his wife on the dance floor at their wedding. Other pictures show their two young children.
Docherty stated that prior to joining MRU’s aviation program, Bird was stationed in Moose Jaw, Sask. as an instructor with the Royal Canadian Air Force. Before that, he was with the 408 Squadron as a helicopter pilot in Edmonton, Alta.
“They wanted to teach others to fly and fulfill their dreams.” - MRU president David Docherty
Docherty confirmed the university owned the plane, a twin-engine TECNAM, part of the aviation program’s seven-aircraft fleet. The two-year diploma program is small, taking in about 30 students each year. Students are provided lots of one-on-one time with instructors.
The university is working on a campus-based memorial where mourners will be able to pay their respects and lay flowers. As well, the university is offering counselling to students and staff. Aviation classes have been cancelled for the week, and will be made up at the end of the term, if necessary.
“We want to make sure that the instructors are ready to teach them [and] the students are all ready to get back into the planes,” Docherty said.
The university shared with staff and students a Q&A page about the plane crash, which can be accessed here.