PHILIPSBURG – A 21-year-old Tennessee man who was piloting a small plane was killed due to injuries he suffered when the aircraft crashed north of the Mid-State Airport in Rush Township, Centre County.
The National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration, state police and other agencies were on the scene Monday investigating the incident.
According to a report released by state police at Philipsburg, a Piper Arrow piloted by Kaul M. Wilson took off from Springfield-Robertson County Airport in Tennessee at 10:40 p.m. Sunday. The plane was flying to Mid-State Airport.
Due to weather conditions, the pilot was using the plane’s instruments to fly, a task Wilson was licensed to do. At about 2:50 a.m. Monday, the pilot called for clearance to land at Mid-State Airport, and he was given permission to do so.
Ten minutes later, air traffic control officials lost contact with the aircraft. Police report that Wilson never closed his flight plan, that is, never notified the Federal Aviation Administration that he reached his destination. As per protocol, the state police were notified when the flight plan was not closed.
Lt. Linda Lewis of the Civil Air Patrol said two CAP members first spotted the plane from the air at about 7 a.m. Just before 11 a.m., rescuers located the aircraft in the woods.
Police did not say whether Wilson was dead when rescuers arrived, but they said three surviving passengers were transported to Altoona Regional Trauma Center.
Justin Hughes, 18, and Fayez Abdel, 33, both of Tennessee, were listed in serious condition Tuesday morning, according to a spokesperson at the hospital. A third person, Mohamed Abdel-Khalik, 31, also of Tennessee, in worse condition than the other two passengers and was listed in critical condition.
Police were assisted in their investigation and search by Stat MedEvac crews from Altoona and Clearfield, Moshannon Valley Emergency Medical Services, Philipsburg Fire Department, Milesburg Fire Department, Centre County Coroner’s office, Centre County Search and Rescue, the state Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, Mid-State Airport Authority and the U.S. Air Force.
(Photo provided by Clearfield EMA)