McKINNEY, Texas - Federal investigators took over the investigation of two planes that collided and crashed in McKinney Saturday night.
The two planes were approaching the small Aero County Airport around 5:30 p.m. Both were flying under visual flight rules and were not in contact with air traffic control.
A witness said one plane clipped the tail of the other, sending both to the ground. One aircraft fell into a storage facility. The other landed in the middle of busy Custer Road near Virginia Parkway.
Witnesses rushed to try to help and put out the fires, but three people died in the crash.
“He tried to put it out enough around the door to get to the door of the plane. Tried to open that, but I mean you couldn’t. It was so hot you couldn’t get close enough nor could you see inside of it,” said Tyler Richardson, an eyewitness.
The pilot of one plane was identified as Gregory Barber of Farmersville. He was out spending some quality time with his 18-year-old son, Timothy, who was home on leave from the U.S. Air Force Academy.
“This is profoundly sad news for all of us at the Air Force Academy. We stand ready to support Cadet Barber's family and also have resources at the ready to help cadets and staff to weather our loss,” said Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson.
News of the tragic crash quickly spread through McKinney where Greg was very active with the Chamber of Commerce. In 2008 he started Operation Appreciation, sending boxes of supplies to soldiers from North Texas.
“Greg was always full of life and sunshine and joy and what can I do to help you make a difference,” said Carol Ownby, who was part of the Operation Appreciation program.
Congressman Sam Johnson posted a message on Facebook saying in part, “I had the honor and privilege of nominating Timothy to the Air Force Academy last year. The Academy accepts only the best of the best, and I think his acceptance speaks to the fine character of both these men.”
The pilot in the other plane was identified as Robert Navar of Frisco. His family asked for privacy in their time of grief.
The National Transportation Safety Board said the investigation could take up to a year to complete. Investigators are hoping to find surveillance video from nearby businesses that might add to what eyewitnesses saw.
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