Thomas Proven, FAA Employee, Injured And Paul Gardella, James Duncan Killed In Plane Crash In Fauquier County, Va.

6:29 PM, May 30, 2012   |    comments
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BEALTON, Va. (AP/WUSA) - Virginia State Police say the medical examiner has identified the two people killed in a two-plane crash in Fauquier County on Memorial Day.

According to police, the two people are 57-year-old Paul Gardella of Burke, Va. and 60-year-old James M. Duncan of Bethesda, Md. Authorities say Duncan was the pilot of a Beechcraft BE-35 that collided with a Piper PA-28 about five miles from Warrenton-Fauquier Airport in Summerduck, Va. shortly after 4 p.m. on Monday.

After the mid-air collision, the Piper PA-28 crash landed in a field with one wing sheared off. The burning BE-35 crashed in a secluded wooded area.

Miya Johnson is a neigbor of the Gardella family, "He was a very good man, wonderful family, his wife is a sweetheart. A very close knit family. it's shaken us all up. I can't even imagine if that were my husband, the father of my children. It's horrible.

Gardella was a flight instructor at Aviation Adventures in Warrenton, Va. On the company website it asks what his most exciting avaition experience would be.  He wrote, "My first aerobatic lesson. I still can't get it out of my head!"

The National Transportation Safety Board has delegated the investigation into Monday's fatal crash to the Transportation Safety Board of Canada because the planes were owned and/or operated by FAA and NTSB employees. Investigators discovered that the PA-28 was registered to an FAA employee and the BE-35 was registered to an NTSB employee. Because both airplanes were owned and/or operated by NTSB and FAA employees, NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman, in consultation with FAA Acting Administrator Michael Huerta, requested that the Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) conduct this investigation.

The owner and pilot of the PA-28, 70-year-old Thomas Proven of Broad Run, is an FAA employee. He survived the collision with injuries and is being treated at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Va.

9News Now's Bruce Leshan spoke to Proven's wife in his hospital room. She said Proven was going to be okay, but said he wasn't ready to talk to 9News Now.

In the crash, Proven was both lucky and skilled: his plane's propeller sustained little damage, which suggests he may have been without engine power and was gliding into an emergency landing. He threaded the needle between two trees to bring his plane to rest in a cow pasture. It was such a narrow hole that one of the trees sheared off his right wing.

NTSB and Canada TSB Investigators are not talking yet, but in the left side of Proven's plane's fuselage is a large square hole with what looks like red paint around it. There is also a big tear on the back side of the left wing. Both may be from the mid-air impact.


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