Pilot error was to blame in a 2011 plane crash in Alberta that killed two brothers, including Vernon resident Lee Sorken, according to a public inquiry’s report.
Lee Sorken and his brother, Dean Sorken, died on June 3, 2011, when the 1966 single-engine Mooney airplane they were travelling in crashed near Bashaw, Alta., a small town just east of Red Deer.
An inquiry into the crash was held this summer, and the final report was released last week.
The plane was owned by Dean Sorken, who was at the controls at the time of the crash. His brother also had a pilot licence.
The inquiry heard that the two brothers were travelling to a wedding in Alberta. Dean had picked Lee up in Vernon, where he was told that a flight to Killam because of cloud cover was “unlikely.” Dean’s licence only allowed him to fly during daylight, when he could see the ground and horizon.
Nevertheless, the brothers left Vernon that afternoon.
The plane made it to Central Alberta without difficulty, but as it began to descend, something went wrong.
The plane was later found in a crater, with both occupants dead at the scene.
“The plane had impacted the ground vertically,” the report states.
The inquiry heard that Dean Sorken only had around 500 hours of flying time, which witness Gordon Welsby deemed as “low experience.”
Welsby, an experienced pilot and flight instructor, deemed the decision to fly a poor choice that “should not have been undertaken.”
He said the pilot appeared to quickly lose control of the aircraft and was unable to rectify the situation.
The judge who heard the inquiry said Sorken’s “ultimate reason and decision for attempting this flight will never be known, although the need or want to get home for the family wedding undoubtedly played a major role.”
He said he could make no recommendations that would prevent such an accident in the future.