Jeannette, PA Skydiving Plane Crash, Jun 2003



Jeannette, Pa. (AP) - A Black Lick man was one of four people killed in the crash of a single-engine skydiving plane Sunday in Westmoreland County.
DAVID RAY, 49, of Black Lick, and three other men, including the pilot, died in the crash, according to the Westmoreland County coroner's office.
RAY was a skydiving student of Chuck Bryant's Skydive Boquet in Greensburg.
RAY graduated from Blairsville High School in 1972 and was employed as a U.S. Postal Service rural carrier working from the Indiana post office.
The National Transportation Safety Board was to begin investigating today what caused the crash.
Witnesses told authorities they heard the Cessna 205's engine sputter and cut out before the crash about 1:15 p.m. Sunday at the Greensburg-Jeannette Regional Airport.
The aircraft apparently clipped four trees when it crashed about 100 feet from the runway, said Ron Supancic, chief of the Claridge Volunteer Fire Department.
The plane, built in 1963 and designed for up to five passengers, was being used for a skydiving operation. Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Salac said. The Cessna had taken a skydiving flight earlier in the day and was on its second flight when it crashed, authorities said.
The plane is registered to CHARLES E. BRYANT of Greensburg, Salac said.
BRYANT, 61, was among the dead, Westmoreland County Coroner Kenneth A. Bacha said.
The coroner's office did not identify the pilot, a 52-year-old Pittsburgh man, because relatives had not been notified, but said the other victim was TERRY BLANISH, 52, of West Newton.
"My world has fallen apart," said Marta Goodlin, 48, who was to marry BLANISH next summer in Switzerland. BLANISH had 15 years skydiving experience and was approaching 2,000 jumps, she said.
BLANISH, the father of three children, planned to spend Father's Day skydiving before meeting Goodlin for a boating trip, Goodlin said.
BRYANT'S son, Rodney, 37, said his father, who retired as a machinist about a year and a half ago, had 30 years of skydiving experience and had made more than 3,000 jumps.
BRYANT had operated Chuck Bryant's Skydive Boquet in Greensburg for about 10 years and had the plane for about the same amount of time, his son said.
"That airplane was one of the best-maintained jump planes in the sport,"
Rodney Bryant said. The pilot was experienced and had made skydiving flights with his father before, he said.
All died of blunt-force trauma, Bacha said. An autopsy was to be performed on the pilot, as were toxicology tests required by the FAA, he said.

Indiana Gazette Pennsylvania 2003-06-16