A businessman who traveled to space with William Shatner last month was killed along with another man when the small plane crashed in a wooded area in northern New Jersey, state police said.
The space tourists, Glenn M. de Vries, 49, of New York City and Thomas P. Fischer, 54, of Hopatkong, were aboard the single-engine Cessna 172 that went down Thursday.
De Vries was an instrument-rated private pilot, and Fischer had a flight school. Officials did not say who was operating the small plane.
The aircraft took off from Essex County Airport in Caldwell, at the edge of the New York City area, and was headed for Sussex Airport in rural north-west New Jersey. The Federal Aviation Administration alerted public security agencies to search for the missing plane around 3 p.m.
The FAA said emergency workers found the debris in Hampton Township around 4 p.m.
De Vries, a tech company co-founder, made a 10-minute flight to the edge of space aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft with Shatner and two others on October 13.
“It would take me a while to describe it,” said De Vries, pinning his Blue Origin “Astronaut Wings” by Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos on his Blue flight suit. It was incredible.
“We are shocked to hear of the sudden demise of Glenn De Vries,” Blue Origin tweeted on Friday. “He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and his fellow teammates. His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be respected and admired.”
De Vries co-founded Medidata Solutions, a software company specializing in clinical research, and was vice president of life sciences and health care at Dassault Systems, which acquired Medidata in 2019. He participated in the auction for a seat for the first time. Took off and bought a seat on the second trip.
De Vries also served on the board of Carnegie Mellon University.
According to the company’s website, Fisher Flight School was the owner of Fisher Aviation and its chief instructor.
The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating.