Plane Crash in East Haven Creates Talk Across Connecticut

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by Sarah Willson

When it was revealed that the planes involved in the crashes in East Haven last Wednesday and in East Hartford last October were owned by the same man, Central Connecticut State University senior Julia DiSapio felt uneasy and confused.

“I think that he should have gone through most tests and regulations,” said DiSapio, referring to the aircraft owner, emphasizing that the Federal Aviation Administration should have done more to investigate the former situation before putting a plane back in the air.

According to East Haven police officials, after a plane went down last Wednesday, Feb. 22, one man was killed and another was critically injured.

DiSapio expressed her concern over the fact that this has been both the aircraft owner’s and the Connecticut Flight Academy’s second crash within the past four months.

According to family members and the East Haven Police Department, the man killed in the crash was 31-year-old Pablo Campos Isona, East Haven resident and flight student.

The person in critical condition has been identified as Rafayel Hany Wasser, a 20-year-old resident of New Haven and a known flight instructor at Connecticut Flight Academy. Wasser is currently being treated at Yale New Haven Hospital.

It is believed that both people involved in the crash were the only two people on board when the Piper PA-38 Tomahawk went down.

According to senior air safety investigator Robert Gretz, from the National Transportation Safety Board, the pilot and student involved in the crash were doing practice take-offs and landings, known as “touch and go’s,” when an unidentified emergency was reported.

“They reported a generic emergency, a mayday, but they weren’t specific, and in trying to get back to the airport, the aircraft nosed down into a swamp area,” said Gretz.

It is unsure as to who was controlling the aircraft when the crash took place.

Due to the fact that it was a dual-controlled aircraft, it is possible that both pilots could have been simultaneously controlling the plane.

Officials plan to look into who was piloting the aircraft when it went down as part of the investigation.

The demolished aircraft, which crashed into swampy waters outside of airport property, was found 25 yards south of Runway 2.

A recovery company from Delaware paid a visit to East Haven on Thursday, Feb. 23, to remove the plane from the swamp and has shipped it over to Delaware in order to further investigate what could have gone wrong during the final moments before the crash.

The NTSB stated that their “preliminary report” could be released as soon as March 3, but their final report could take up to a year.

According to meteorologists, there were no known weather problems that could have played into the crash.

According to WTNH Connecticut, only 12 percent of fatal airplane crashes are weather related. 53 percent are due to total pilot error.

Officials said that muddy, icy conditions, tall grass and up to two feet of water made it difficult for fire crews to locate the aircraft.

It has been roughly four years since East Haven has seen a plane crash, when a small aircraft crashed into two homes, leaving four dead.