Pilot recounts St. Lawrence River crash in Iroquois

What was suppose to be a leisurely flight became anything but for Graham Lake resident Greg Burgess. Burgess flew the Volks plane that crashed into the St. Lawrence River west of Iroquois beach on August 8th.

“Happy to be alive,” said Burgess in a phone interview with The Leader.

“I got a couple of scratches on my hand but otherwise I’m OK.”

Burgess, who flies out of the Brockville Municipal Airport, had planned ahead to fly from Brockville to Iroquois, then Iroquois to the Morrisburg airport at Upper Canada Village, then return home.

“The engine quit on me on climbout,” said Burgess of his take off from Iroquois.

“I was going to land but there were too many birds on the runway. I had no choice to go into the water.”

Burgess explained that it was a split second decision what to do.

“The main thing you want is not to hurt anyone on the ground. You hope you can make it to a reasonable area to land. If you cannot hurt anyone that’s a good thing.”

The reason for the engine failure is till a mystery for Burgess.

“It runs now. I can’t figure out why it stopped working. I won’t be flying it until I know why it happened.”

The Volks plane is an amateur-built craft completed in 1979. Burgess has flown the plane many times and is in the process of assuming ownership of it.

“It’s still officially registered to the seller, but it’s just waiting for paperwork to catch up.”

The plane currently sits in hanger space loaned to him at the Iroquois airport.

“The people of Iroquois and area were just fantastic,” said Burgess.

“From the emergency services, the lifeguards who swam out, to the community at large. It was really great.”

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