An investigation is underway into a plane crash that killed two aviation instructors on Monday and a memorial has been set up on campus for students to honour them.

Jeff Bird and Reyn Johnson were killed when the twin-engine TECNAM plane they were in crashed in a wooded area northwest of Cochrane.

The wreckage was located off of Highway 40, near Waiparous, and Transportation Safety Board officials are now investigating to determine what caused the plane to go down.

The TSB dispatched a team from Edmonton to investigate and they conducted a field survey on Wednesday.

“So we’ll follow all legislative compliance and in relation to that we will conduct an internal review, an internal investigation of the incident. That will come in the future when all other regulatory bodies have completed their investigations,” said Peter Davison, the Director of the Emergency Operations Centre at MRU.

Bird and Johnson were both experienced pilots and instructors in Mount Royal University’s Aviation Program and were flying in an area that is normally used by the school for training.

Students in the program say they were close to both men and that they were ‘extraordinary instructors’.

“The aviation program is an extremely tight group and all of the information coming back from the students was how close they were to all of their instructors and both of these individuals were certainly in that category,” said Davison.

The family of Reyn Johnson released a statement on Wednesday saying…

“When you think about Reyn, two things come to mind: He was loving and caring and he was also meticulous and professional.

He was thorough and prepared in his approach to both life and work. No task was too small to deserve his care and attention. As a pilot, he took pride in detail, even insisting on ironing his own shirts, not just to look professional, but because he thought that a job worth doing was worth doing right. He raised his two children, Luc and Maryse to also be strong and independent, passing on his eye for detail and precision.

Reyn lived life. As a self-made man, he pursued his hobbies of golf, skiing and carpentry with enthusiasm and joy.  He loved to learn and to encourage that in others – his friends, family and students.

Reyn was generous, fun-loving, kind and committed to his family and many friends. Although he was a private person, he was also very open, and he valued time with those he cared about. He and Brenda and their children, Maryse and Luc, created a home that was loving and welcoming to others. Their life together was a foundation of love and strength for their family, church, friends and community.  

Reyn’s family meant the world to him. He was a proud and devoted grandpa to Isaac, Abigail and baby Jacob. The last photo taken of Reyn is of him lovingly holding his newest grandchild, born just three days before Reyn’s passing.”

The university grounded its planes following the crash and officials say this is the second fatality in the program’s history. According to the school’s archives, Al Milne was killed in a crash in 1973.

Officials say aviation specific classes have been cancelled at the school for the rest of the week.

Mount Royal’s aviation program was started in 1970 to train commercial pilots and there are currently 66 students enrolled in the program.

A memorial and guestbook have been set up for students at the Bissett School of Business.