September 22, 2018
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Pilot of plane that crashed in Greenville was ‘meticulous’ and experienced, friend says

Courtesy of Brock University
Courtesy of Brock University
Joe and Anita Robertson
By Callie Ferguson, BDN Staff
Updated:

The pilot of the plane that crashed in Greenville had flown for 10 years and was described by a family friend as “meticulous.”

Local authorities identified the three people who died in the Monday plane crash as a Canadian couple and their adult daughter.

Joe Robertson and Anita Robertson, both 58, and their daughter, Laura Robertson, 24, died around 10:45 a.m. that day when the twin-engine Aerostar plane Joe was flying crashed in a field outside the Greenville Municipal Airport, according to police and a family friend.

Joe Robertson was a prominent businessman in the Niagara region where he and Anita lived, said Carman Adair, Joe Robertson’s longtime business partner.The couple were well-known for their philanthropy and volunteer work, and lived in Niagara-by-the-Lake. They are survived by two adult sons, Adair said.

Flying had been one of Joe Robertson’s passions, Adair said. He described his longtime business partner as a dutiful aviation student who had flown recreationally for the past 10 years.

Joe purchased the Aerostar, built in 1982, within the past year. The plane was a “step-up” from the other planes he owned, Adair said. The 58-year-old recently underwent two weeks of flight training with a well-known instructor.

“I keep thinking about the wreckage of the plane and think, that can’t be Joe,” Adair said. “He was too meticulous, too fussy. … It leads me to believe this was not pilot error.”

Last week, Joe came out of retirement to become president of Amax Health Inc., the major Canadian medical supply company for which Adair is chairman of the board. In 2005, Joe retired from Henry Schein Canada, the Fortune 500 company that bought the dental supply company he started with Adair.

But Joe was “tired of doing crosswords,” Adair joked. During his retirement, he and Anita kept busy in their community, donating time and money to schools and organizations dedicated to the arts and sciences.

On Monday morning, the Robertsons departed from an airport in Pembroke, Ontario, at 9:05 a.m. and were passing over Maine on their way to Prince Edward Island’s Charlottetown Airport, according to police and the website FlightAware, which tracks flight paths. The family was headed from their lake house to visit some of Anita’s friends on Prince Edward Island, Adair said.

The Robertsons’ plane was cruising east at a steady altitude of 23,000 feet until 10:31 a.m., when they quickly lost altitude, the flight tracker shows. That’s when their flight plath started to veer southeast toward Greenville.

Around 10:40 a.m., Greenville police received a call from the Federal Aviation Administration notifying them that a plane was in distress and approaching the town’s municipal airport, which is located in the mountains beside Moosehead Lake. The pilot was reporting to air traffic control that his plane was losing power, said Terry Williams, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the cause of the crash.

With local emergency crews racing to the airport, the plane crashed in a field as it approached one of the facility’s two runways, Pomerleau said. Everyone on board died on impact.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the NTSB are conducting an investigation into the cause of the crash, which was still unknown as of Tuesday afternoon.

Investigators expect to release a preliminary report next week, but the final report could take at least a year to complete, Williams said.

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