The Houston resident who piloted a plane that crashed in Kingston, Ont., Wednesday night, killing all seven aboard, had recently purchased the aircraft in Texas, in part to take his family on trips.
Otabek Oblokulov purchased his green, white and gold 1965 Piper PA-32 in January, Anson Aviation, a flight school and plane rental company based in Sugar Land, Texas, wrote on its YouTube page.
Transportation Safety Board officials do not yet know the cause of the crash, which killed Oblokulov, his wife, three children and two friends who were newlyweds from the Toronto area.
Officials will comb through the wreckage, in a wooded area near Creekford Road and Bayridge Drive, over the next few days. TSB staff will also analyze weather reports, plane maintenance logs and the pilot’s training record, among other pieces of evidence, looking for clues.
In a YouTube video the school posted in May, Oblokulov credits Anson Aviation with helping him purchase his Piper PA-32, better known as a Cherokee Six.
CBC reached out to Anson Aviation on Thursday, but has not received a response.
Oblokulov glows as he describes one of the first excursions with his new plane — a family camping trip to the Grand Canyon.
“It was beautiful,” he says in the video. “It handled perfectly … we were happy.”
He pats the front of the single-propeller plane with his palm, and says with a grin that he managed to fit all the gear in the nose compartment.
“I decided I need help buying this airplane, and I need somebody who I can trust and it’s especially important because I want to take my family up,” Oblokulov is heard saying in the video.
Oblokulov’s friends, Zek Balikci and Mehmet Basti, were expecting Oblokulov for a stopover in Kingston on Wednesday.
“We were waiting for the call when they landed,” said Basti.
The call never came, and Basti figured they lost the cell signal. He learned about the crash, which happened shortly after 5 p.m. ET, online in the morning.
“We are in shock. We are just trying to understand the situation,” he said Thursday.
According to a Facebook post by Wally Mulhearn, a Texas-based pilot examiner, Oblokulov received his private pilot certificate in May 2018. CBC reached out to Mulhearn but has yet to receive a response.
Basti said Oblokulov had “pretty good experience” flying airplanes.
Oblokulov and his family, who lived Houston, along with Toronto-area residents Bobomurod Nabiev and his new wife were flying to Quebec City for the American Thanksgiving.
CBC does not yet know the names of the women and children on board.
Oblokulov’s extended family are in Uzbekistan and the newlyweds were also citizens of the Central Asian nation.
Basti said the trip was Oblokulov’s first time flying in Canada.