Young Eagles Crash Ends in Tragedy

What started as a fun-filled Young Eagles event on Saturday at the Buffalo-Lancaster Airport in Lancaster, New York, with philanthropic pilots giving rides to young potential aviators, ended in tragedy as a Cessna 172 and an experimental Searey collided. The pilot of the Cessna and his 14-year-old passenger died in the crash that resulted from the collision while the pilot of the Searey and the 9-year-old who was riding along survived a forced landing with minor injuries.

The Searey pilot, Kevin D'Angelo, told The Buffalo News his airplane was severely damaged in the collision. "The only way to control it was to crash into trees and bushes," he said. "It was basically a forced crash, smashing into the trees as a brake."

After the violent crash landing, D'Angelo looked at his passenger. "She was looking at me like, 'Was this a normal landing?' Not a tear in her eye. She was a trouper." The two walked away from the airplane and were picked up by a person on an ATV.

Young Eagles flights have enjoyed a good safety record since the program started in 1992. Nearly 1.9 million children have received rides during nearly one million separate flights conducted by more than 45,000 pilots, the Experimental Aircraft Association said. Only one prior fatal accident has resulted from a Young Eagles flight, which occurred when a Piper Cherokee crashed near the Everett/Snohomish County Airport in Everett, Washington, in 2005, killing all three people on board.

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Pia Bergqvist joined FLYING in December 2010. A passionate aviator, Pia started flying in 1999 and quickly obtained her single- and multi-engine commercial, instrument and instructor ratings. After a decade of working in general aviation, Pia has accumulated almost 3,000 hours of flight time in nearly 40 different types of aircraft.

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