On my way home from JFK late Friday afternoon and a decision to pick up a Long Island Newsday landed me the following headline upon visual:
This was an event that hit home as the pilot and student pilot on board were based out of Long Island’s Republic Airport – Farmingdale. Their school: SUNY (State University of New York) Farmingdale State University: School of Aviation. Their school entrance: The same taxiway and ramp area (Echo Ramp) where my school is: Academy of Aviation – NY Flying Club.
- Pilot Patrick Sheridan, 34, Aviation Administration Program Student, Owner of the Mooney M20J through Sheridan Air, LLC of Long Beach, New York
- Casey Falconer, 19, Student Pilot
- Evan Kisseloff, 21, (survivor)
The weather the night of the flight was a bit cloudy but visibility was normal and winds were calm. According to Newsday, the aircraft, upon lift off from the runway at Sterling, PA’s Spring Hill Airport, 10:30 p.m. EST, had an immediate engine failure sending the aircraft to straight the ground.
The accurate report was that when the aircraft lifted off, the plane stalled and the aircraft was not able to gain speed. As a result, the left wing hit a tree sending the aircraft down. Kisseloff screamed for the Sheridan and Falconer to evacuate after impact. Kisseloff miraculously escaped and fled the aircraft to a nearby residence to report the accident just in time before the plane burst into flames killing Sheridan and Falconer.
I was stunned beyond all emotion. Little did I expect, people had contacted me for information as I am also based out of FRG (Republic-Farmingdale) Like many other fatal air occurrences, many questions ran through my head as the reports and news sources only contained limited information and none from reliable aviation sources. Of course, preliminary investigations into the crash will be conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (Where have I seen that name before?) and the report will be made available within five to ten business days upon a statement issued by NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson. Something I, along with many others, will be keeping tabs on for sure.
To the affected victims’ families, friends, and classmates:
I do not have the words to tell you how sincerely sorry I am for your loss, however, the only consolation I can offer is this: Patrick Sheridan and Casey Falconer left this Earth doing what they loved doing the most – Sailing the Skies. They are now sailing a realm that is much more vast than what they were used to – The Heavens Above. You should have comfort in that. The impact they have left on everyone I am sure, is priceless. You all were very fortunate to have them in your lives.
I also do not have the words to express my apologies that you had such a traumatic experience, to say the least, and also how sorry I am for the loss of the two gentlemen that were with you. Sometimes it’s not easy to conceptualize that everything, including such tragedies and the lives that are lost as a result, happen for a reason. Perhaps this unfortunate tragedy will one day give you the opportunity to devote yourself in the pursuit of aviation safety. To create measures to help not only private pilots avoid such tragedies, but for commercial ones as well. I can not think of any other tribute which could be offered to Patrick Sheridan and Casey Falconer than that.
Our mission should be to continue the mission of safety, stronger and stronger, to prevent as many fatal air accidents from occurring to save so many innocent and priceless lives as possible.