North Richland Hills flight instructor, student pilot killed in plane crash

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(Photo:  Facebook/ Francesca Norris)

A North Texas flight instructor and her student died after a plane crash in the Cooke County town of Gainesville.

The FAA says the Piper PA-34 twin-engine plane went down Sunday afternoon while trying to land at a small airport. Both the instructor and the student died in the crash.

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The instructor has been identified as 25-year-old Francesca Norris of North Richland Hills. The student pilot was 22-year-old Yu Qiu from China.

Norris' family says she was living her dream by flying planes and teaching others to fly when she died on Sunday in a fiery crash about a quarter-mile north of where she was trying to land. Norris was a certified flight instructor at U.S. Aviation Academy in Denton.

The plane went up in flames on impact. Qiu died on the scene. Norris was flown to Parkland Hospital in Dallas and pronounced dead Sunday night.

In a statement, U.S. Aviation Academy states, "All of our hearts are heavy...we are assisting the National Transportation Safety Board, Federal Aviation Administration and local authorities...we will also be conducting our own internal investigation."

Norris' family declined to comment Monday and instead provided a picture. A family friend says Norris graduated towards the top of her class from Birdville High School in North Richland Hills, got a pre-med scholarship to Baylor and planned to go to medical school. But upon graduation from college, she chose to follow in her family's footsteps. Her father is a pilot for American Airlines. Her brother is also a pilot.

The family friend says Norris got licensed quickly and loved being a flight instructor, saying she was passionate, bright and focused and will be missed.

It's unclear who was flying the aircraft and what caused it to go down. The NTSB is the lead on the investigation.