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Sun, Oct 16, 2005

Four Dead In Ohio Midair Collision

'Pieces Of Steel Floating In The Air'

The FAA, NTSB, and state police are investigating the causes behind a Friday midair collision of two aircraft over Rootstown Township, OH. A young student pilot and his instructor were among the four victims of the accident, according to media reports.

The father of one of the victims, John Erdovegi, said his 19-year-old son Christopher was practicing instrument flying with instructor Alan Lyons when their Cessna 172 collided under unknown circumstances with a Lancair 235.

The accident claimed the lives of those men, as well as John Plavcan and Mark Schaden onboard the Lancair, according to the Akron Beacon Journal.

Witness Don Litsinger told the newspaper he heard an explosion, and he ran outside his home to see the airplanes falling towards the ground.

There were "pieces of steel floating in the air," said Litsinger. "There were wings going everywhere."

Litsinger's son Mark, who was working nearby, said the wreckage seemed to be falling from approximately 500 feet above the ground. Both men rushed to the scene, only to find no survivors.

Erdovegi said his son began taking flying lessons after graduating high school last year, and had logged about 80 hours. Chris Erdovegi became interested in aviation after attending the Cleveland National Air Show as a child, his father said, and was studying aeronautical engineering at Kent State University.

"He was a one-of-a-kind kid," Erdovegi said about his only child. "I won't have any grandchildren."

Geauga County Airport regular visitor Amy Gibbs said Plavcan and Schaden were both experienced pilots who were familiar faces in the airport community. "They were both just so generous," she said. "They were so excited about flying and always just so open to teaching others about aviation, too."

Attorney Jim Hackenberg, speaking on behalf of his client Jim Brown, owner of Classic Auto Group, said Schaden was one of two pilots regularly employed by Brown to fly his corporate jet.

"It's tragic and shocking," Hackenberg said. "Our hearts go out to Mark's family."

The Lancair was owned by Plavcan, whose family was unavailable for comment on Friday's accident. The Cessna, a 1971 172L, was part of Akron-based American Winds Flight Academy's rental fleet.

FMI: www.ntsb.gov, www.teachmetofly.com

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