Owner of Fischer Aviation NYC man who traveled to space dead in Hampton

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The owner and head instructor of Fischer Aviation, a family-run flight school in Essex County, and a New York City man who joined actor William Shatner on a trip to space last month have been identified as the two people killed in a plane crash in Hampton on Thursday, state police said. Thomas P. Fischer, 54, of the Jefferson portion of Lake Hopatcong, a second generation flight instructor, was killed along with Glen M. de Vries, 49, of New York City, according to Trooper Brandi Slota, a New Jersey State police spokesperson. The Federal Aviation Administration alerted public safety authorities around 3 p.m. Thursday that the single-engine Cessna 172 went missing near Kemah Lake. Emergency crews found the wreckage around 4 p.m. Police said the aircraft was on its way to Sussex Airport from Essex County Airport in Caldwell. Maria Njoku, a spokesperson for the FAA, said Friday a preliminary report on investigators’ findings of why the plane may have crashed will be released in roughly a week. An initial report on the FAA website shows the aircraft was “destroyed” in the crash, which occurred “under unknown circumstances.”Dave Gunderman, Hampton’s fire chief, and Steven Sugar, Stillwater’s fire chief, said in a joint statement Friday the aircraft was located about 1,800 feet into the woods after being spotted by a New Jersey State Police helicopter and a civilian aircraft. Crews used UTVs, chainsaws and the Jaws of Life to cut a path into the woods, where Fischer and de Vries were found deceased inside the severely damaged plane and their bodies were removed Thursday evening, the chiefs stated. Machinery was brought in Friday to remove the aircraft, which was hauled away via truck around 6 p.m. It is believed the aircraft was brought to Aeroflex-Andover Airport. The Carnegie Mellon University trustee and founder of Medidata Solutions, a tech company, de Vries traveled into space on Oct. 13 aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft, fulfilling an apparent life-long dream.”We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries,” Blue Origin said in a statement Friday. “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.”de Vries began his private pilot training with Fischer in February 2016, according to the Fischer Aviation website. He often posted on his social media about his flights and purchased his own single-engine Diamond aircraft in 2020. In an Instagram post in early October, de Vries displayed an FAA-issued Pilot Proficiency badge while posing with his plane at Essex County Airport. The badge is given to pilots who maintain proficiency in flight basics to help mitigate accidents due to pilot errors, lack of proficiency and faulty knowledge, according to the FAA website.

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