A Duncan pilot is counting his blessings after his Volmer VJ-22 Sportsman seaplane flipped while launching Sunday afternoon on Cowichan Lake.
Pilot John Howroyd and his passenger daughter suffered nothing more than minor injuries when the custom-built amphibian aircraft caught a wave when attempting to take off and flipped over at about 1:30 p.m. Sunday in Marble Bay.
“We were just departing and went through a boat wake. That was enough to trip the plane up and we ended upside-down in the lake,” Howroyd told the Lake Cowichan Gazette’s photographer Malcolm Chalmers at the scene.
“We were almost off the water, so close, probably another second or two and we would have been in the air and this wouldn’t have happened.”
The amount of boaters on the lake on the long-weekend Sunday was both fortunate and unfortunate for the pilot.
Police confirmed one of the aircraft’s wheels caught a boat wake, causing the plane to overturn.
On the other side of the coin, there were many witnesses and folks ready to assist with the rescue in a matter of seconds.
“With the wonderful help from all these people and the good Lord looking down on me…. I am so happy,” said Howroyd.
He received little more than a black eye and a small cut on his cheek. His daughter only received a cut on her arm.
“The owner — and experienced pilot — a 68-year-old (Howroyd), freed himself right away,” stated Lake Cowichan RCMP Cpl. Warren Potter in a press release. “Fortunately a retired Vancouver PD member was in the area and was able to free the (44-year-old) North Saanich (passenger) who had been upside-down but had a little air left in the cockpit.”
The plane received minimal damage and was towed to the beach by local boaters.
“I don’t mind the airplane, we can always rebuild it again,” Howroyd told Chalmers. “It looks bad but it’s not that bad. It’ll fly again.”