British Columbia

Wreckage of B.C. float plane found 31 years after it went missing

A two-seat float plane that went missing on June 20th, 1987, has been discovered in a remote area of Wells Gray Provincial Park, north of Clearwater B.C.

Crash site discovered in September during the search for another missing aircraft

Pilot Ernie Whitehead, left, and passenger Len Dykhuizen took off from Eagle Bay near Salmon Arm, B.C., on a fishing trip on June 20, 1987. The plane never returned. (RCMP)

A two-seat float plane that went missing 31 years ago has been discovered in a remote area of Wells Gray Provincial Park, north of Clearwater in eastern B.C.

A search team with the Joint Rescue Coordination Centre located the plane's wreckage on September 18 in the provincial park during a search for another missing aircraft from Alberta, according to the RCMP who released the information Wednesday afternoon.

A preliminary investigation determined the wreckage is from a plane that went missing after taking off from Eagle Bay near in B.C 's Shuswap region on June 20, 1987. 

Never returned from fishing trip

The white Piper Super Cub float plane left Eagle Bay, near Salmon Arm, with pilot Ernie G. Whitehead, 78, and passenger Len Dykhuizen, 55, on board. 

The pair planned to go fishing at McDougall Lake in Wells Gray Provincial Park, but never returned. Their plane was located last month near Kostal Lake, just south of their intended destination. 

"Extensive searches were conducted back at the time it went missing but yielded negative results," said RCMP  spokesman Cpl. Dan Moskaluk.

The search team that located the wreckage in September was able to rappel down to the crash site to take photographs which helped identify the airplane.

"Very remote, mountainous and rugged"

Since the discovery of the crash site, the B.C. Coroners Service and search and rescue technicians have made unsuccessful attempts to reach the site, said Moskaluk.

"It's very remote, mountainous and rugged with no roads or trails to access the location and weather conditions have hampered any recovery or search of the site," he said.

Further attempts to reach the crash site will resume in the spring.

Moskaluk said family members of the two missing men have been notified of discovery of the plane's wreckage.

"It hopefully offers them a certain degree of solace that we have discovered the aircraft and with some hope that we will be able to discover the remains of their loved ones as well," he said.

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