Cam Villeneuve is a recreational pilot from the Thompson Valley Sport Aircraft Club in Kamloops, BC who loves to fly year-round. He has even installed skis on his small aircraft so that he can "land everywhere, on land, on hill sides and on lakes."
In the mid-afternoon of February 1st, 2016, Villeneuve was returning to Blair Fields Airport, wrapping up a 45-minute flight. It was a beautiful sunny day and he was having fun landing and taking off from frozen lakes on the south side of Kamloops. On his approach to the landing strip, at a distance of about 3 miles, the aircraft "became very unstable and hard to control" says Villeneuve. "All of a sudden I was looking straight down at the ground from about 400 feet."
Realizing that he probably wouldn't be able to reach the landing strip, Cam was attempting to land in a nearby field when his aircraft abruptly dropped 20-30 feet. The left wing clipped the ground and the plane crash landed very hard. In intense pain, Cam worried that he might have broken his back. He was able to unclip his seatbelt and roll out of the badly damaged aircraft onto the ground, but he could not walk. "My stomach and back were hurting really badly and I couldn't stand up." In fact, Cam would find out later at the hospital that he had 3 cracked vertebrae and other internal injuries.
Cam tried to use his cell phone to call for help, but he was in an area beyond the reach of cellular networks, and his cell phone would not work. "So I pulled myself up and reached for my SPOT Satellite GPS tracker which I keep mounted in front of the windshield. I pushed the button and triggered an SOS message for help." The RCMP were alerted and an ambulance was dispatched to his location.
"I saw that there was a road nearby but I knew that they wouldn't be able to see me, so I crawled down to it and lay in the ditch. There was very little traffic on the road that day, but a young man soon came by and I asked him to drive to a place where he could get a cell signal and call for help for me." A short time later, the man returned having met the rescue vehicle that was already en route to Cam's location, responding to the emergency signal and GPS coordinates transmitted by SPOT. Emergency responders soon arrived on scene, stabilized Cam's condition and transported him to Royal Inland Hospital.
Recovering at home from his injuries, Cam is grateful for his rescue. "SPOT really works," he says and "every flyer should have one."