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Colin Moyes

The pilot of a privately owned float plane that crashed in southern British Columbia on Sunday evening, killing all three people on board, is being remembered as a funny, spirited man whose passion was flying.

Colin Moyes flew several times a week and would "beam ear-to-ear" upon arriving at the Pitt Meadows Airpark, where he kept his two amphibious float planes, said property developer Brandon Warner.

Mr. Warner said he sold Mr. Moyes several hangars since meeting him more than three years ago.

"He was one of the good guys," Mr. Warner said. "He loved being around the airplanes. He was always in a good mood. I guess that's what the airplanes did to him."

Mr. Moyes, who was in his early 50s, was an "active flyer" who was in his plane every couple of days, Mr. Warner said. Mr. Warner did not know how much experience Mr. Moyes had, but noted "he had enough hours behind him. He was definitely not a rookie."

Friend Dale Floyd, owner of Coast Dog Aviation, described Mr. Moyes as a "safety-conscious" pilot.

"He had a fair number of hours," said Mr. Floyd, who flew with Mr. Moyes two weeks ago. "He was all fully trained up on that type of airplane. He was competent and safe."

A coroner and two Transportation Safety Board investigators arrived at the crash scene Monday morning. A special coroners team was then sent in to extricate the bodies, delaying the investigators' assessment of the wreckage and damage to nearby trees until early Monday evening, said TSB spokesman Bill Yearwood.

Mr. Moyes and two passengers died Sunday after the de Havilland Beaver aircraft they were in went down just before 7 p.m., only minutes after takeoff from Okanagan Lake, near the community of Peachland, 25 kilometres southwest of Kelowna.

The aircraft was heading back to Pitt Meadows, about 40 kilometres east of Vancouver, when it slammed into a steep, wooded hillside along Highway 97C and caught fire.

The floats on an amphibious pontoon plane typically help absorb the impact in a crash, even into land, "but, you know, there's only so much they can do," Mr. Yearwood said.

Five people were originally expected to be on board, but only four boarded and one was left in Kelowna before the crash, Mr. Yearwood said.

"We know the aircraft was returning [to Pitt Meadows]and it was close to the summit of the pass," Mr. Yearwood said, "but there is no information to help us, at this point, as to what the pilot was experiencing."

The TSB investigation is expected to take several months.

With a report from The Canadian Press