Calgary

'Passionate' teacher, student mourned after Alberta mid-air glider collision

Alberta's amateur flying community is planning vigils to mark the loss of experienced instructor Allan Wood and student Adam Leinweber.

Vigils to be held for Allan Wood, 68, and Adam Leinweber, 18

Allan Wood, 68, was one of two people who died Friday while flying a Cu Nim Gliding Club plane. Adam Leinweber, 18, also died in the collision. (Allan Wood/Facebook)

Alberta's amateur flying community is planning vigils to mark the loss of two of their own. 

An experienced instructor and a student died Friday near Black Diamond, south of Calgary, when their glider collided with a tow plane.

They've been identified as Calgarians Allan Wood, 68, and Adam Leinweber, 18.

The federal Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused the crash. In the meantime, members of the Cu Nim Gliding Club and the general flying community have organized two vigils, in Calgary and Edmonton, to mark the deaths.

"We have an incredible safety record, and accidents like this truly are tragic," Alberta Soaring Council president Jason Acker said Sunday. "After we have had a chance to grieve and mourn, the community will come together to learn from the accident."

The Calgary vigil is at 5 p.m. MT Sunday at the Cu Nim Gliding Club's clubhouse, east of Black Diamond on Highway 7.

'Amazing instructor,' student with 'strong passion'

Wood is described as an experienced instructor, with 20 years' teaching experience at Cu Nim. 

"He started gliding late in his life. It was his birthday present for his 50th birthday," Acker said. "But he took to the sport. … Just an amazing instructor, really passionate, really engaged, huge loss for our community."

Leinweber had "such a strong passion for aviation," Acker said. He was an air cadet with 604 Moose Squadron in Calgary and was learning to fly gliders on his own time.

Last year, Leinweber took his first solo flight, and he was only a few flights away from getting his licence.

In September, he was due to begin a physics degree program at the University of Calgary.

"A fantastic young man," Acker said.

The council president says he believes Leinweber would have been in the front seat of the glider, with Wood in the back seat as the instructor.

Adam Leinweber, 18, celebrates his first solo glider flight. He died in a crash along with his instructor on Friday. (Submitted)

According to the Transportation Safety Board, the tow plane was a Cessna 182 Skylane, and the glider was a Schleicher ASK 21.

After the collision, the glider crashed to the ground, but the pilot of the tow plane performed a "difficult landing," Acker said, suffering minor injuries.

"But as expected, his wounds are psychological and emotional at this point, having gone through something as tragic as that," he said.

The collision caused the glider to crash, but the tow plane, right, did not, according to RCMP. (Justin Pennell/CBC)

Operations have ceased at Cu Nim Gliding Club to allow for mourning, the club said in a Facebook post.

The club has reported only a few incidents to Transport Canada's Civil Aviation Daily Occurrence Reporting System in the past years. In April, the club reported a glider that was extensively damaged after an attempted landing in a farmer's field. No one was injured.

Members of the community are focusing on supporting the Wood and Leinweber families, Acker said.

They're also thinking about the roughly 60 air cadets learning to fly in Gimli, Man. Many of them would have known Leinweber through the cadet program, he said.

About the Author

Rachel Ward

Journalist

Rachel Ward is a journalist with CBC Calgary. You can reach her with questions or story ideas at rachel.ward@cbc.ca.

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