Family mourns former Hitmen owner

Chuck Matson repels down a rock at Basa Blue waterfalls on a trip to Haiti. Matson, 51, was one of...

Chuck Matson repels down a rock at Basa Blue waterfalls on a trip to Haiti. Matson, 51, was one of the three men killed in a plane crash Friday.

MICHAEL WOOD, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:27 PM ET

The owner of a single-engine plane which crashed near Sundre was a man “larger than life” and a meticulous pilot coming from a family full of them, his brother said Sunday.

Chuck Matson, the 51-year-old former Calgary Hitmen owner and business tycoon, had logged more than 600 hours of flight and had recently purchased a new, twin-engine plane to replace the Cirrus SR22, to allow him to climb higher for more comfortable flights between homes in Calgary, Arizona and B.C.

“I believe it was for his 40th birthday that (his wife) Elaine gave him flight lessons,” Chuck Matson’s grieving brother Harvey told QMI Agency from his Wisconsin home.

“Our dad was a pilot, our mom was a pilot, uncles are pilots, farmers, crop-dusters, bush pilots in the north...it’s kind of in the blood,” he said.

Matson was among three men killed when his four-seater plane crashed into a grove of trees in a farmer’s field just north of Sundre, about 130 km northwest of Calgary.

A 42-year-old man from Edmonton and a 43-year-old Spruce Grove resident — identified by friends as Steve Brosseau — were also killed.

Two weeks ago, Matson told his brother a tentative deal had been struck over the sale of his plane, which he had listed in an online ad.

Chuck purchased the plane new about five years ago.

A spokesman with the Transportation Safety Board said flight records show Matson’s plane left Springbank Airport on Friday. No destination was provided in the log, which officials say could indicate the plane was making a brief, round-trip flight back to Springbank, where Matson maintained a private hangar.

Matson’s brother said he, and the rest of the family, are awaiting more information from the Transportation Safety Board.

“All I know is Chuck never did anything half-assed in his life, I don’t know what happened in that plane but it had to be catastrophic,” Harvey said.

In the meantime, Harvey and the rest of his brother’s family, including the man’s three daughters and wife, are left to grieve.

Hailing from small-town Eston, Sask., Chuck spent some years selling Ford vehicles before packing up and moving to Calgary, where eventually he began working in the oil patch.

Later on, he became one of the founding co-owners of the Calgary Hitmen, along with Theo Fleury and Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart.

Harvey called his brother a magnetic man others gravitated toward.

Following Haiti’s devastating earthquake, Harvey, a pastor, organized a relief and restructuring mission consisting of a team form the U.S. and Honduras, of which his brother was a part.

Chuck rolled up his sleeves and helped to remove rubble from damaged orphanages and built new temporary facilities.

“Chuck never left the farm” his brother said.

“He was in there like a dirty shirt, moving the rubble, helping the kids.

“Looking back, after the accident, what a gift to have that ten days was.”

michael.wood@sunmedia.ca


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