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Donn Hubble remembered

Donn Hubble, doing what he loved - Family photo
Donn Hubble, doing what he loved
— image credit: Family photo

Donn Hubble loved planes, but the Langley truck driver never seriously thought about becoming a pilot until his daughter encouraged him.

"You're not too old," Kathy Hubble told him after she got her own pilot's licence.

She even loaned her dad the Maule plane she and her husband owned to practice with, but he soon got an aircraft of his own.

In a way, a circle was being completed because Kathy Hubble's own decision to take up flying may have been a result of her dad's deep interest in aviation.

But for all the family jokes that his plane was the "other woman" in Hubble's life, there was never any doubt that his wife Patti was his first and truest love.

After 25 years together, the couple recently repeated their vows aboard a cruise ship, with the captain doing the honors.

After that, the father of four adult children liked to say that he "married the same woman twice."

Hubble was the definition of a flying enthusiast.

He flew almost every day, and he would offer to take interested strangers up.

"He would talk to a grocery store clerk and say, have you ever flown?" his daughter says.

"He was so joyful."

One of his grandchildren, Tia, would ride with her "Papa" on many of those flights, taking a jaunt out to an airfield pancake breakfast or flying to Pender Island just to skip rocks on the beach.

Motorcycles were his other passion.

He could tell you the make, model and year of a bike just by hearing the exhaust sound.

He usually had two or three bikes at any given time, one that he was riding, and a couple others he was tinkering with, usually for friends.

It was another interest he came to share with his daughter, who became a competitive motorcycle racer.

He kept riding after he took up flying, but it was clear that his time in the air had come to count for more than his time on the ground.

He liked to hang out at the airport and talk planes with his son-in-law and other pilots.

He was an almost obsessive student of aviation, devouring books and taking every kind of course he could.

He was the most safety-conscious pilot his daughter knew, and he would nag her, nicely, to take refresher courses.

Hubble became close friends with another avid flyer, Patrick Lobsinger of Surrey.

Both men were members of the Boundary Bay Flying Club in Delta, and the older Lobsinger, who was unable to meet his pilot's licence medical requirements because of a heart condition, became a frequent passenger in Hubble's Cessna 150.

The two friends helped organize a fly past from Delta Heritage Air Park in February 2009 in honor of the 100th anniversary of the flight of the Silver Dart, the first powered flight in Canada.

They joined eight other pilots in their Cessnas, Pipers and homebuilt aircraft to recognize Canada's contribution to aviation history. Hubble was the lead pilot in the fly past.

The two also took part in a longstanding annual tradition of organizing a formation flight over 10 different cenotaphs in the Lower Mainland for Remembrance Day.

On Wednesday Feb. 9, the two men were in the air just east of Mission.

According to Transportation Safety Board Investigators, Hubble's Cessna was flying at 1,500 feet when it was rear-ended by another plane.

The Cessna crashed into Nicomen Slough.

Lobsinger, 70, died at the scene and Hubble, 60, passed away after being taken to Royal Columbian Hospital.

The pilot of the other plane managed to land safely.

A memorial service for Hubble has been tentatively scheduled for March 12 in Langley.

The family is hoping to hold it in the Canadian Museum of Flight at Langley Regional Airport.

- with files from the Abbotsford News and South Delta Leader

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