WALKER COUNTY, Texas A pilot is dead after two planes collided over Lake Conroe in Walker County on Saturday.
Authorities said seven home-built, single engine planes were flying in formation near FM 1375 and Little Loop Roadaround 11:30 a.m. when two of the planes collided.
I saw the airplanes flying in formation like they do every weekend. I heard a pop, louder than normal, saidwitness Lonnie Upton. I saw one of them break out, turn around. He was losing altitude.
Authorities said one of the planes crashed into Sam Houston National Forest, starting a fire that was quickly extinguished. The pilot onboard was pronounced dead at the scene.
Late Saturday, authorities identified the victim as Dennis McRight, 69. He wasflying a single-engine RV-6.
He was a retired Continental Airlines captain and a member of the FreedomFlight Aviators, a group of retired military and commercial pilots. According to its website, the group's mission is to foster patriotism through precision flight exhibitions and to honor fallen soldiers who have given their lives.
Fellow pilots were too distraught to speak publicly Saturday as they mourned their colleague.
It's very sad. This is someone who has a family, said Erik Burse with the Texas Department of Public Safety. This is someone who's part of our community and now we no longer have them.
The second aircraft involved in the crashlanded in a small pond and the pilot, Douglas Knab,suffered burns on one of his arms, according to officials. He was flying an RV-8.
The rest of the pilots landed safely at Lone Star Executive Airport in Conroe.
The Federal Aviation Administration isinvestigating this crash. Tony Molinaro, an FAA spokesman, said once preliminary results are gathered, that information will be forwarded to the National TransportationSafety Board.