Tea Party airshow altered after biplane crash

  • Jun. 5, 2011 7:00 p.m.

Airshow participants and Oak Bay Tea Party organizers’ thoughts were with a veteran airshow performer yesterday, after well-known pilot Bill Phipps of Campbell River crashed his biplane during the Wings and Wheels event at the Nanaimo airport.

Phipps, 71 and a highly experienced aerobatic pilot who has performed in past , was scheduled to fly in the Tea Party airshow today (June 5). He suffered internal injuries and broken bones and was airlifted to Victoria General Hospital following the crash.

“He was going to be our first act today in the show,” said Oak Bay Tea Party Society secretary Sandy Germain, who took a ride with Phipps in the custom-made biplane last summer.

“We got up to 4Gs in his plane, doing barrel rolls and hammerheads and that kind of thing,” Germain said.

Phipps, a practising doctor in Campbell River, built the plane himself. The plane was destroyed by the crash and the rest of the airshow was cancelled.

The Tea Party airshow schedule was altered in the absence of Phipps and a Canadian Forces Cormorant helicopter, which was called out on duty at the last minute. A Canadian Forces Sea King helicopter crew agreed to do an extended rescue demonstration in their place.

Germain said the plan is to dedicate the airshow to Phipps. Start time for the show is 2 p.m. over Willows Beach.

editor@oakbaynews.com