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One killed in plane crash at Chapel Hill airport

Posted July 12, 2010
Updated July 13, 2010

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— A small private plane crashed Monday afternoon at the Horace Williams Airport, killing the pilot and injuring two others, authorities said.

The single-engine Cirrus SR 20 crashed shortly before 3 p.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Burgen said.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators were expected to arrive in Chapel Hill to investigate the wreck. The airport remains closed to air traffic while authorities investigate the crash.

One of the passengers on the plane was Kyle Henn, the brother of a man killed Sunday in a terrorist bombing in Uganda.

Kyle Henn was taken to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill for treatment of cuts and bruises to his legs, according to his sister, Brynne Henn. He was listed in fair condition.

A friend of the company Kyle Henn works for offered the private flight to the Triangle so he could be with his family after his brother's death, according to Brynne Henn.

Brother of bombing victim in plane crash Brother of bombing victim in plane crash

Kyle told his family that he was unsuccessful in trying to pull the pilot, Tom "Pitsy" Pitts, from the plane after the crash. The plane was registered to Pitts, who lived in Wilmington, Del.

A UNC Hospitals spokeswoman said Kyle Henn and Jim Donahue were being treated at the hospital as a result of the plane crash. The News Journal in Delaware identified Donahue as the plane's co-pilot. As of Tuesday, he was in critical condition and had injuries to his legs.

Horace Williams Airport is owned by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The airport is used by private pilots as well as the state's Area Health Education Centers Program, which aims to improve access to primary health care services statewide.

UNC plans to close the airport permanently so it can become part of the planned Carolina North project.

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  • justinm Jul 13, 2010

    this is an incredibly sad scenario.

    Cirrus is praying right now that the ballistic parachute didn't malfunction i bet. The way it is stretched out and draped over the fence and with only 4 knot winds when it crashed, it seems like it had to have deployed while the plane was landing.

  • paginasecunda Jul 13, 2010

    I can't believe all the people (WRAL has done much better than the N&O today) that want to close down that airport. We never once asked them to build the buildings right next to the runway. It's a classic case of "build everything under where the planes have been flying for decades, then complain about it and get the airport shutdown" (same mindset as "move to the country to get out of the city and complain about the neighbor's pigs"). The woman in the N&O took the cake. She was complaining that we don't fly a "normal approach path" to Horace Williams, making it difficult for us. News flash. We "don't fly a normal approach path" because UNC built buildings under the standard one and complained about it! We were kind enough to change to the nonstandard one on account of UNC's stupidity.

  • paginasecunda Jul 13, 2010

    "
    The airport as had many crashes since 1933, with many by student pilots, civilian and military. President Ford was in two crashes at Horace williams -- one while in Navy Pre-Flight, the other several years later during WWII. (Ford had also taken classes in the Law School during 1938) (President GH Bush also trained there while in Navy Pre-Flight.)"

    There have been a ton of fatal (automobile) crashes on Interstate 40. Let's close that down too while we are at it.

  • Jimm57 Jul 13, 2010

    Bunch of Cirrus planes going down lately.

  • 6079 SMITH W Jul 13, 2010

    It looks like the parachute deployed...did that bring the plane down? (The Cirrus has an airframe parachute system)

  • unc70 Jul 12, 2010

    @Proud Airman, UNC will be closing the Horace Williams Airport so that the land can be developed as Carolina North.

    The airport as had many crashes since 1933, with many by student pilots, civilian and military. President Ford was in two crashes at Horace williams -- one while in Navy Pre-Flight, the other several years later during WWII. (Ford had also taken classes in the Law School during 1938) (President GH Bush also trained there while in Navy Pre-Flight.)

  • Common Sense Man Jul 12, 2010

    It's the summer, being under a weather watch is no big deal.

  • vanillagrl1 Jul 12, 2010

    Hokie94,I mis-read that too. I am glad hes ok.

  • pulstar40 Jul 12, 2010

    How bizarre, and how sad for the family. I am glad that this son survived, but it just adds to the heartache the family must be feeling. I hope for a speedy recovery for Kyle, and lots of stength and support for the hard days ahead.

  • VT1994Hokie Jul 12, 2010

    Sorry for my comment. I totally mis-read it.

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