British Columbia

Botched float plane theft leaves 3 aircraft damaged in Vancouver harbour

The float planes were damaged Friday when someone tried to steal a Seair aircraft from the Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre in the middle of the night, taking it across the harbour and into the other planes.

Two planes lose wings after overnight attempted theft

A Harbour Air float plane was damaged when a person attempted to steal a Seair plane and then crashed into two Harbour Air planes at the Harbour Flight Centre Seaplane Terminal in Vancouver early Friday morning. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

On a bright February morning on Vancouver's seawall, several people stood gawking at the float plane terminal in the harbour below, wondering why a plane in the water was docked in the wrong spot and missing a wing.

The right wing of the Seair float plane had been sheared off at the base. The de Havilland Beaver was floating backwards at another company's dock, its severed wing nowhere to be seen.

"I'm wondering where the wing went. It's probably at the bottom or somewhere," said Bob McKnight, who made a special trip to the seawall after seeing photos online of the hamstrung plane. 

"It's not often you see a wingless Beaver."

A Seair float plane lost its wing when a man attempted to steal the aircraft and then crashed into two Harbour Air planes in Vancouver early Friday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

The float plane was one of three damaged Friday when someone tried to steal the Seair aircraft from the Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre in the middle of the night, taking it across the harbour and into the other planes.

Police said someone reported a man trying to take the plane from the Seair terminal at around 3:30 a.m. PT.

The suspect never took off, but managed to taxi around the corner to the neighbouring Harbour Air terminal. He then crashed into a plane owned by Harbour Air, according to a statement.

Investigators work at the Harbour Flight Centre Seaplane Terminal in Vancouver after a suspect tried to steal a float plane early Friday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A second Harbour Air plane was also damaged in the incident, bringing the total to three.

One wing on a Harbour Air plane was badly bent in the middle, its tip hanging down toward the water. The drooped section was later removed as officials investigated, leaving the de Havilland Single Otter with just a stub.

Vancouver police Const. Tania Visintin said no one was hurt in the incident. No one has been arrested, but investigators were still on scene well into Friday morning.

A Seair seaplane is pictured without its right wing after someone tried to steal it and crashed into two Harbour Air planes early Friday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

McKnight and other passersby buzzed with theories.

"I thought, 'Wow, did they get the guy? And did he know what he was doing?" McKnight said.

"Obviously [he] knew how to start it, I guess."

Harbour Air temporarily re-routed flights to the company's terminal at YVR in Richmond, but normal service soon resumed. The airline flies between Vancouver, Whistler, Seattle, the Sunshine Coast, the Gulf Islands and parts of Vancouver Island.

Seair said late Friday morning it was still rerouting its passengers to its terminal at YVR as police investigate the incident. The company flies between Vancouver and Nanaimo, as well as the Gulf Islands.

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