News

Questions linger over plane crash that killed two Federal Way pilots

By PHILIP PALERMO

The Mirror

Toni Stebar remembers her father as a loving man with a passion for flying.

While his first priority was his family, Stebar said his second love was his airplane, which the family called his mistress.

“He was very intimate with his mistress,” Stebar said. “He lived to fly, he loved to fly.”

Her father, 74-year-old Charles McCanna, was one of three men killed in a plane crash near 7 Bays Airport outside Davenport, Wash.

McCanna, Federal Way resident Brian Bollaert and Monroe resident Michael Ekholm, all pilots, were on board the four-seat experimental class plane that crashed July 1.

According to records from the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane was built in 1983 and registered to McCanna.

Stebar said McCanna’s family didn’t know he planned to take a trip to Eastern Washington that day.

“He usually buzzed the house when he took off to let us know,” she said, adding McCanna would normally circle the house a few times to get their attention. “He didn’t do it this time.”

One of his favorite things to do, Stebar said, was fly friends around the state. She said one of her fondest memories was when McCanna took her up in the plane for a flight around Mt. Rainier.

McCanna first got a taste for flying while serving in the Navy, Stebar said. After leaving the Navy, McCanna continued his hobby of flying. He retired in 2005 after working as an elevator inspector.

McCanna’s wife, Jean, has been trying to cope with the news, Stebar said.

“My mom’s taking it real hard,” she said. “She referred to my dad as her honey. She’s still waiting for her honey to come home.”

The National Transportation and Safety Board, the agency handling an investigation of the crash, has not yet released information about the cause of the crash or who was flying the plane at the time.

“We’re still gathering data on the pilots,” Air Safety Investigator Dennis Hogenson said. “All three men were pilots.”

Part of the investigation, he said, would involve looking into the amount of pilot training each person had received as well as interviewing witnesses.

“There were a number of witnesses along Lake Roosevelt,” he said.

Lake Roosevelt is a popular area along the Upper Columbia River near the crash site.

While a cause of the crash has not been announced, Stebar said her father had flown for 54 years and was quite experienced.

“He was a phenomenal pilot,” she said, “so something must have gone terribly wrong really quick.”

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