Angel Flight Crash Leaves 2 Dead. UPDATE: Victims Identified as Vietnam Vet and Wife
The passengers killed in a plane crash in upstate New York Friday have been identified as a Former Marine Vietnam Veteran and his wife. The twin-engine plane went down west of Albany, shortly after 5 pm. The plane was flying for the non-profit Angel Flight and the crash left 2 dead while the search for the pilot continues. It went down in a wooded area in Ephratah and the main part of the fuselage sank into a pond. Divers are waiting for daylight to inspect the wreckage.
The plane, a twin-engine Piper PA 34, was flying from Bedford, Mass. to Rome, NY with three people on board. None of three on board have, so fa,r been publicly identified. One witness reported hearing something that sounded like engine failure, followed by an explosion. The woman, who did not wish to give her name, described seeing “pieces of airplane coming out of the sky.” The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will be investigating the circumstances of the crash.
According to the Associated Press, a volunteer pilot said Sunday that he had served in Vietnam around the same time as one of the crash victims ”"We were both former Marines and had been in Vietnam pretty close together in time,” said Terence Kindlon, an Albany attorney and volunteer pilot for Angel Flight . “We hit it right off. He was a nice guy.” Kindlon, 66, said that he and another pilot, Dale Thuillez, had flown the man and his wife – who was also killed in the crash – to Boston on Friday morning. He said the man was being treated for glioblastoma, a brain cancer.
Crash investigators returned to the site Sunday and will attempt to recover most of the wreckage over the next few days. Parts of the aircraft were scattered over a wide area, with some pieces being found as much as five miles away from the spot where the plane went down.
Angel Flight is a non-profit, volunteer organization that provides transportation for those with medically related needs. It was founded by pilots and is mostly supported by the pilots themselves, who donate their time and the use of their planes. They also receive donations but operate completely free of government funding. Recipients of Angel Flight services are charged nothing. Similar organizations exist across the country and together they form a network known as the Air Care Alliance.
Angel flight vets all of its pilots; requiring them to be, not only licensed, but also be current on their training and knowledge of their specific aircraft. They are required to have at least 250 hours Pilot In Command (PIC) time, with at least 50 hours within the three months prior to them applying to fly for the organization. Angel Flight operates as a number of regions and the plane that went down was operating for the northeast group. Angel Flight Northeast told the Associated Press that the group has flown approximately 60,000 flights – covering more than 12 million miles – since its founding in 1996.
The President and founder of Angel Flight Northeast, Larry Camerlin, issued a statement, in which he said “We all offer our thoughts and prayers to the families of those affected. Our volunteer pilots are the most compassionate and generous individuals who donate their time, aircraft and fuel to transport patients and loved ones for free to essential medical care that would otherwise not be readily available to them. There are no words that can adequately express our sorrow.”
Written by Graham J Noble