Pilot Bill Lovse was killed Saturday afternoon when his plane crashed into a field just northwest of the Lloydminster airport.

After hitting the ground, the Cessna P210 aircraft slid about 40 metres, where it crashed into a nearby home.

Investigators say the damage to the house was minimal and the building’s only occupant was uninjured.

Lovse, who was the only occupant of the plane when it crashed, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Aircraft caught fire

Nearby resident Johanna Segberg had just finished lunch when she happened to look out the window.

“Just out the window to my left, I [saw] a really bright explosion. It was like this big bright orange bulb. It was above the treeline and had a fire streak that just zipped across going downward — and then there was a smaller fiery explosion.”

At first, Segberg said she wasn’t sure what she was looking at as she had never seen an aircraft fly that low or that close to her home in the 10 years she had lived there.

“I would have never thought it was a plane.”

Jon Lee, an accident investigator with the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, confirmed the plane did catch fire, but said it was still unknown whether the fire started before or after the plane crashed.

TSB investigation underway

Jon Lee

Jon Lee, an accident investigator with the TSB, said the investigation into the cause of the crash was still in its very early phases. (Courtesy: Newcap Television)

A team of investigators from the TSB was on site much of Sunday beginning their investigation into the cause of the crash.

Lee said the team’s first priority was collecting physical evidence such as ground scars and marks in the snow that could be damaged by freezing rain and windy conditions.

“Today is just the beginning of our investigation and we call it the field phase,” he said.

“Our emphasis today is recording all of that both in photography, video and doing illustrations and measurements.”

Lee said investigators’ first priority would be to collect information about the pilot, the aircraft and weather conditions at the time of the crash in order to rule each out as causal factors.

Lee said such investigations can involve a lengthy process. He said components of the aircraft will be collected and transported to Edmonton Monday for further assessment.

A friend of Lovse, who asked not to be named, said he believes the crash was weather-related and the pilot's death will have a big effect on the pilot community at the airport.

George Canyon releases statement

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"I have lost a dear friend who was not just an aviation buddy," said Canyon on Sunday.

Country music star George Canyon is said to be devastated after his pilot died in the plane crash shortly after dropping Canyon off in Lloydminster.

Only hours before the crash, Lovse had dropped Canyon and his tour manager off at the Lloydminster airport for Canyon's performance at the Huron Carole concert at the Vic Juba Community Theatre Saturday night.

He had been scheduled to return to Lloydminster to pick Canyon up on Sunday.

According to Canyon's publicist, the singer is "devastated and shaken" over the death.

"I have lost a dear friend who was not just an aviation buddy," said Canyon in a press release Sunday.

"We shared an interest in sports and often played hockey together. He and I have flown many times all over the place. I am devastated with the news and my prayers and thoughts are all with his family and friends."

Lovse had 25 years of flying experience and had sat on the High River airport board of directors for years. He leaves behind two daughters and a wife.