Blue Origin Astronaut Killed in Small Airplane Crash

Company ‘devastated’ by loss of Glen de Vries, who flew into space with actor William Shatner.

Blue Origin astronaut Glen de Vries has died in a single-engine airplane crash, police reported Friday.

De Vries, 49, was killed Thursday when a Cessna C172 went down near Lake Kemah, New Jersey, according to New Jersey State Police.

Two people were aboard the airplane, according to an FAA statement. The second person, identified as 54-year-old Thomas P. Fischer, of Hopatcong, New Jersey, also was killed, according to New Jersey State Police.

Fischer was the owner and flight instructor at Fischer Aviation, a New Jersey flight school, the New Jersey Herald reported. Calls to the school went to voice mail.

Blue Origin released a statement on de Vries’ death on Twitter.

“We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries. He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crewmates. His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired,” the statement said.

The FAA said the aircraft went down in a wooded area of a state park near Lake Kemah Thursday around 4 p.m. ET. The Cessna had departed Essex County Airport (KCDW) in Caldwell, New Jersey, and was headed to Sussex Airport (KFWN) about 50 miles away, the FAA said in a statement.

De Vries’ space flight took place October 13, when Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft blasted off from the company’s launch facility in West Texas. He was joined on the mission by actor William Shatner, Blue Origin executive Audrey Powers, and Dr. Chris Boshuizen.

FAA records show that de Vries was certified as a private pilot with an instrument rating. His certificate was issued in May of this year, according to FAA’s database.

De Vries was vice-chair of life sciences and healthcare at Dassault Systèmes and co-founder, Medidata, according to a previous Blue Origin news release.

He co-founded Medidata Solutions in 1999, the world’s most used clinical research platform. He also served as a trustee of Carnegie Mellon University and was an instrument-rated private pilot.

“I’ve spent my entire career working to extend people’s lives. However, with limited materials and energy on Earth, extending our reach into space can help humanity continue to thrive,” said De Vries ahead of the space flight.

“Furthermore, astronauts can experience the ‘overview effect,’ gaining a new perspective on how fragile and precious our planet, those resources, and our civilization are. Playing a part in advancing the space industry and one day making those resources and that understanding available to everyone, is an incredible opportunity.

“I’ve been passionate about aviation and space for as long as I can remember, so this flight is truly a dream come true.”

According to FAA records, the plane’s registration number was N90559 – a Cessna 172 Skyhawk model, manufactured in 2011.

The crash is under investigation by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.


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