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Doomed flight from Snow Lake too heavy, wings covered in ice, TSB finds

The wreckage of the Cessna 208 Caravan, which crashed into the bush near the Snow Lake airport Sunday. Pilot Mark Gogal was killed.

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The wreckage of the Cessna 208 Caravan, which crashed into the bush near the Snow Lake airport Sunday. Pilot Mark Gogal was killed.

After waiting through two hours of freezing rain, Jamie Kaczmar suspected something was amiss when a Gogal Air Services pilot started cleaning off his windshield with a credit card.

Mark Gogal

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Mark Gogal

Then the pilot of another plane, the Cessna 208B he was on, started using a broom to knock the ice of the wings just before take off at the Snow Lake airport.

Minutes later on Nov. 18, 2012, the plane started lurching from side to side and up and down before the engine stalled.

"Then the pilot restarted the engine and we drove it right into the ground," Kaczmar said.

With one broken vertebrae, eight broken ribs, two collapsed lungs, a bruised heart and kidneys and a sprained ankle, he slowly – and painfully – pulled himself out of the wreckage, which was about one mile beyond the end of the runway.

The other six passengers, all of whom worked in the mining industry, did the same but the pilot wasn’t as fortunate. Mark Gogal, 40, was killed.

The Transportation Safety Board of Canada released its findings on the crash on Thursday. Peter Hildebrand, manager of regional operations investigations, said the plane was about 600 pounds over its maximum gross takeoff weight and the wings and tail were "contaminated" with ice.

"The more overweight you are, the higher the risk. If you operate with ice on your wings, the more ice, the higher the risk. If you have both of them together, the risk goes up very dramatically," Hildebrand said.

The report isn’t about laying blame or criminal or civil liability, just assessing the risks, he said. This crash didn’t have to happen, he said.

"There were risks that were incurred that certainly could have been prevented," he said.

The TSB said it reminds pilots that an "overloaded aircraft and any amount of ice on an aircraft's wings present risks to passengers, crew and equipment."

The Cessna 208 had cleared takeoff and had flown about a kilometre on its flight to Winnipeg before suddenly crashing and stopping abruptly on a slight rise of rocky ground and trees.

Following its investigation, the TSB found that passengers did not receive a briefing before takeoff, which is required so that all on board are seated and properly restrained.

It found that some passengers’ seats were partly reclined, and some passengers were not wearing their lap belts or shoulder harnesses as required for the passenger restraint systems to work as designed.

History

Updated on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 10:51 AM CDT:
Corrects typo, adds photo

Updated on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 12:12 PM CDT:
Report added.

Updated on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 12:18 PM CDT:
Archive video added.

Updated on Thursday, May 15, 2014 at 10:20 PM CDT:
Adds comments from suvivor.

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