‘I wanted to hug the community’: N.S. pilot pays heartfelt tribute to victims of mass killing
HALIFAX -- A Dartmouth, N.S. pilot found a unique way to pay his respects to the victims of the mass killing in Nova Scotia.
It was confirmed Monday that at least 18 people were killed in the weekend rampage, which spans 16 crime scenes in several different communities. The shooter was also killed.
As the news spread on Sunday, Demitri Neonakis says he felt the need to do something to show his support.
“This is awful, this is tragic, this is something we would never expect in a million years in a small community in Nova Scotia,” says Neonakis.
“I wanted to hug the community and the only way I could do it was by air.”
Neonakis jumped in his plane Sunday afternoon and headed in the direction of central and northern Nova Scotia.
The pilot’s flightpath was captured on radar, leaving the shape of a heart over the area of Portapique, N.S., where the tragic events first started to unfold late Saturday evening.
“It was a very peaceful flight,” says Neonakis.
“The sun had set. My partner Laura and I were in the cockpit and we were very quiet. We had the same thought; there was so much pain below us.”
Neonakis says no one knew about the flight until he was back on the ground and received a message from the air traffic controller.
“She said something I will never forget,” says Neonakis.
“She said ‘That was a beautiful flight path.’ I said, ‘You saw that?’ She said, ‘Yes, I did, it was beautiful.’ Right there I knew I wasn't alone in that cockpit, there was thousands of people with me, paying our respects.”
Neonakis’ flight path has been shared thousands of time on social media, as the heartfelt tribute resonates with those mourning the loss of life in a senseless act of violence.