A midair collision involving two aircraft participating in an EAA Young Eagles event near Buffalo, New York, claimed the lives of the two occupants of one aircraft on Sept. 27. The pilot and passenger aboard the second aircraft suffered minor injuries in a forced landing.
News reports said Kevin D'Angelo, 59, the pilot of an amateur-built SeaRey, was returning to Buffalo Lancaster Regional Airport at about 10:25 a.m. with a nine-year-old girl aboard when his aircraft and a Cessna 172 collided. The Cessna crashed, killing pilot Anthony Mercurio, 78, and his 14-year-old passenger, James Metz, according to the Buffalo News.
D’Angelo, an area dentist who built the SeaRey, was able to maneuver the high-wing, pusher-prop aircraft to a forced landing in a field despite loss of elevator control. He and his passenger suffered minor injuries exiting their aircraft, he told news organizations. The flight was his second of the day for Buffalo’s EAA Chapter 46 event. He was unaware that a collision had caused the loss of control until he was told later what had happened, the report said.
The accident was the first fatal mishap connected with a Young Eagles event since Oct.15, 2005, when a pilot and two passengers lost their lives in a crash on landing of a Piper PA-28-140 in Everett, Washington. EAA chapters have conducted approximately a million such flights under the nationwide program, said EAA Communications Director Dick Knapinski.
"Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the pilot and passenger involved in the mishap," he said.
Knapinski said it was premature to assess the accident’s effect on future events. However, the organization would "take a look at that and see what there is to learn from it," he said.