Local News

Woman killed in Chatham County plane crash remembered as safety advocate

Posted June 2, 2015

— A flight instructor who taught safety courses was killed Tuesday morning when the small plane she was in crashed while attempting to land at Siler City Municipal Airport.

Barbara Harris Para, 69, and her husband, pilot Frederick Calvin Para, 72, both of Whispering Pines, were attempting to land a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza A-36 for a second time when they crashed into the woods near the runway at about 8 a.m.

"On that second attempt, then they turned the aircraft, that is when the engine stalled," North Carolina State Highway Patrol Trooper Chris Knox said. "We do have the info that the engine stalled and they had a loss of power. That is what caused the plane to go into the wooded area."

Barbara Para, a certified instructor recognized by the Federal Aviation Administration, is the first member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, based in Carthage, to die in a crash in more than a decade, said Roland Gilliam, organization president.

Barbara Para was part of several aviation groups, including one group for elite female pilots, Gilliam said.

"When they crashed, Fred called one of our members and talked to him and said they had crashed," Gilliam said. "From that conversation, it looked like they were both going to be okay."

The Paras, who Gilliam described as experienced pilots, were conscious and alert after the crash, authorities said.

The couple was taken to UNC Hospitals, where Barbara Para died. Frederick Para was listed in stable condition Tuesday evening.

The airport, which is a few miles southwest of Siler City, contains a 5,000-foot runway and full-length taxiways.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.

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  • Chad Johnson Jun 3, 2015
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