NEWTON, N.J. – A New York City man who joined actor William Shatner on a trip to space last month and the owner and head instructor of Fischer Aviation, a family-run flight school, have been identified as the two people killed in a plane crash in Northern New Jersey  on Thursday, state police said.

Thomas P. Fischer, 54, of the Jefferson portion of Lake Hopatcong, a second generation flight instructor, was killed along with Glen M. de Vries, 49, of New York City, according to Trooper Brandi Slota, a New Jersey State police spokesperson.

According to Fischer Aviation, de Vries started his private pilot training in February 2016.

The Carnegie Mellon trustee and founder of Medidata Solutions, a tech company, de Vries traveled into space on Oct. 13 aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft, fulfilling an apparent life-long dream.

Fischer received a call from the flight school asking for comments on Thursday.

Around 3 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration alerted authorities that the Cessna 172 single-engine aircraft had gone missing close to Kemah Lake. Around 4 p.m., emergency crews discovered the wreckage. 

According to police, the plane was headed towards Sussex Airport via Caldwell’s Essex County Airport.

Maria Njoku (FAA spokesperson) stated Friday that an initial report by investigators on the reasons the plane might have crashed will be published in approximately one week.

The aircraft was “destroyed” in the crash, which occurred “under unknown circumstances,” an initial report by the FAA states. 

The unusually quiet Kemah Lake community was an active scene Thursday evening, as local firefighters used UTVs to assist authorities into an illuminated tract of the heavily wooded Bear Swamp Wildlife Management Area off Fenner Road.

Investigations are being conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board (FAA) and the Federal Aviation Safety Board (NTSB).

Follow Lori Comstock Twitter: @LoriComstockNJH



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