As the National Transportation Safety Board begins its investigation into what caused the mid-air collision of two small planes over North Collins, the names of its victims have been released.
At three separate locations about 20 miles south of Buffalo, rest the pieces of wreckage from a Cessna 120 and a Piper PA 28. One had been piloted by Richard and Kathleen Walker of Eden, both 69 years old; the other by Paul Rosiek, 60, of Hamburg. Erie County Sheriff’s Captain Gregory Savage said all three were experienced aviators.
“We’ve spoken to some of the people who are familiar with them and, yes, they are experienced pilots,” said Savage. “It’s a regular occurrence, apparently, for them to fly somewhere on a Sunday morning. That would appear to be their routine.”
Both planes took off from the Hamburg Airport, according to NTSB Senior Investigator Robert Gretz. The Walkers and Rosiek were headed to a group fly in St. Mary, Pennsylvania, about 100 miles from Hamburg.
The planes collided around 9:20 a.m. on Sunday, with no distress call made from either aircraft. The first 911 calls came in at 9:24 a.m.
The NTSB is moving the wreckage to a secure facility in Delaware, where the planes’ mechanical systems will be examined. Gretz said investigators will also assess the pilots’ medical history, weather information, radar data, and statements made by local residents in piecing together the puzzle of what may have caused the crash.
“What we’ll probably try to do is match the witness statements with the impact marks on each other wreckages so we have factual evidence to compare with the witness statement,” said Gretz.
A preliminary report on the cause is expected to be posted on the NTSB’s website in about 10 days.