‘One of a kind and irreplaceable’: Friends identify pair involved in plane crash west of Calgary

Friends of a 45-year-old aviation enthusiast have identified him as the pilot killed in a crash west of Calgary on Friday.

Two people were in the 1981 Mooney M20K single-engine aircraft when it crashed along Highway 1 near the Springbank Airport just after 3:30 p.m.

The collision killed the pilot and seriously injured a 22-year-old female passenger, Megan Gallagher, who was taken to hospital with serious, life-threatening injuries.

Though RCMP didn’t release the names of either people involved, friends have since confirmed to CTV News the deceased is Michael James Wilton.

Wilton was the president of FlightSimple, an aircraft sales company.

The company’s website has since posted a message saying he will be truly missed by everyone that had the opportunity to meet him.

“He was larger than life, a hero to his twin boys,” the post said. “He was well-loved for his courage, generosity and sense of humour.

“Mike was one of a kind and irreplaceable.”

 A memorial service is being planned for a later date.

Michael James Wilton has been identified as the pilot killed in crash west of Calgary on Friday, April 23, 2022. (Facebook)

Late Tuesday evening, CTV News confirmed that the passenger was 22-year-old Gallagher, a certified flight instructor who suffered critical injuries in the crash. Her father told CTV News that she had spinal surgery and will undergo facial reconstruction surgery later this week.

According to the father, Wilton was giving Gallagher a flight lesson. He said the plane belonged to one of Gallagher’s flight students, and the plan was to fly it back to Fort St. John the next day.

Instead, Wilton and Gallagher took off from Spring Bank airport and were in the air for around an hour before quickly losing altitude and crashing.

A GoFundMe page for Gallagher has already raised over $16,000 to help pay for bills and future recovery-related expenses.

Late Tuesday evening, CTV News confirmed that the passenger was 22-year-old Megan Gallagher, a certified flight instructor who suffered critical injuries in the crash. Her father told CTV News that she had spinal surgery and will undergo facial reconstruction surgery later this week.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) has taken over the investigation into the fatal crash and has since removed the wreckage, taking it to its lab in Edmonton.

Tuesday afternoon, A TSB spokesperson confirmed that the investigation is ongoing, and has been classified as a Class 4 occurrence in accordance with TSB policy.

Emergency crews respond to a fatal plane crash west of Calgary on Friday, April 22, 2022.

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