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Telfer director crashes small plane while on fishing trip with grandson

Telfer School of Management director Michael Miles said he’s lucky to be alive after crashing a small plane while on a fishing trip with his grandson.

Miles, 64, and 12-year-old Wesley were both unharmed after the incident Sept. 28. The pair headed out for a day of fishing on Pike Lake, near Fort Coulonge in the Pontiac, when their five-seat Maule Rocket M7 started to pull to the right, a common issue because of the direction of the propeller spin.

“There was still a lot of fog on the river, so we waited for about 20 minutes, and the fog started to clear off on one side,” he said. “We started to take off on the clear side of the river, but the plane pulled to the right and got pulled into the fog. I tried to pull it back. I should have just turned off the engine and shut it down at that point, but I tried to pull it back to the clear side of the river. By the time I got the power off, I was on the other shore, and the wing just clipped the branch of a tree, and that circled the plane and I ended up there on shore.”

Miles, who is a professor at Telfer and the director of its master of business administration program, learned to fly as a gift to himself after completing his PhD and has been flying for more than 14 years. He said he was not yet airborne when the wing hit the tree, but was nevertheless travelling at approximately 65 kilometres per hour. He said the outcome would have been very different had he been airborne.

“It’s a study in complexity. You’re doing everything in three dimensions. You’ve got speed, wind, the engine, and the lift,” he said. “It’s very complex, and when you get it down, it’s so cool to be balancing on that complexity.”

He said that although the plane will likely take the entire winter to be fixed and inspected, it is well insured and the crash will not deter him or Wesley from flying again as soon as they are able.

“The first question he asked when we got out of the plane was, ‘Can we take some pictures so I can take them to school on Monday?’” said Miles. “Neither of us were shocked, it just happened so fast.”

Miles said the crash would definitely be brought up in future lectures.

“I teach a course in management, and I’m going to introduce a new element to my course called risk management,” he said.