The people who knew and loved Brett Loftus were planning a celebration of his life for 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon (July 12) at the Boundary Bay Airport Terminal in South Delta.
The tall good-looking 25-year-old with the easy smile spent thousands of hours at the Delta airport, first learning to fly as an outstanding student at the BCIT program run by the Pacific Flying Club (PFC), then as a well-regarded instructor himself at PFC.
Langley City resident George Le Francois remembers Loftus as a considerate neighbour with an excellent sense of humour who loved flying.
Another neighbour, Tina Calder recalled a young man “full of life” who would hold the elevator for the older residents of the apartment complex where he lived.
Pat Kennedy, Chief Operating Officer at PFC, said students would “literally line up” to fly with Loftus, who served as as mentor and inspiration to his apprentice pilots.
“He was a shining light,” Kennedy said.
“He was our go-to guy.”
On a Facebook memorial web page, David Hodgson talked about “a great mentor and an even better friend” who taught him to succeed.
“Even though you are gone, every time I lift the wheels off a runway I will try to achieve everything you expected of me,” Hodgson wrote.
“I miss you buddy.”
Another writer, Kelly Friesen, recalled Loftus as a man with a “beautiful, kind and loving spirit.”
After Loftus died in a July 5 in plane crash north of Harrison Lake during a training flight with 23-year-old student Joel Nortman, BCIT temporarily suspended classes for students in the airline and flight operations program and made grief counseling available for staff and students.
BCIT issued a statement describing Loftus as an “exceptional alumnus” and a flight instructor who “touched the lives of many BCIT students and staff in an extremely positive way.”
The public announcement of the memorial service said instead of flowers, donations can be made to the BCIT Foundation in Brett’s name for the Brett Loftus Scholarship.
Loftus talked about his love of flying in his online resume, saying it is “an industry that has captured my imagination since childhood.”
He graduated the BCIT course with the “top pilot” award and began working at the flying school in May of 2009, where he specialized in advanced airmanship training
He also won awards for best private pilot written exam mark and best commercial pilot written exam mark.
Bill Yearwood, an investigator with the Transportation Safety Board, said the fatal crash occurred in mountainous terrain full of optical illusions and wind currents that challenge the navigation skills of experienced pilots.
Yearwood could not determine the cause of the crash from the on-site inspection of the wreckage, but he believes it was “operational in nature,” meaning it had to do with the performance of the aircraft in mountainous terrain.
– with files from Chilliwack Progress.