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Pilot in crash survived 2009 wreck

HARTFORD, Conn. — The plane accident that killed four people in a Connecticut neighborhood was not the first crash for the pilot, a former Microsoft executive who was taking his teenage son on a tour of East Coast colleges.

The pilot, Bill Henningsgaard, 54, of Medina, Wash., was killed along with his son, Maxwell, 17, and two children who were inside a house in East Haven that was struck by the small propeller-driven plane on Friday. Police on Saturday identified the two children as Sade Brantley, 13, and Madisyn Mitchell, 1.

Henningsgaard was coming in for a landing at Tweed New Haven Airport in rainy weather when the plane struck two homes, engulfing them in flames. The aircraft's left wing lodged in one house and its right wing in the other.

Henningsgaard, a highly regarded philanthropist, was flying a small plane to Seattle in 2009 with his mother when the engine quit. He crash-landed on Washington's Columbia River. Both survived.

"I forced myself to confront that fact that the situation any pilot fears — a midair emergency, was happening right then, with my mother in the plane," he wrote in a blog post days later.

In the Connecticut crash, National Transportation Safety Board investigator Patrick Murray said Saturday that the plane was upside down when it struck a house at about a 60 degree angle. He said the pilot was making his first approach to the airport and did not declare an emergency before the crash.

"We don't have any indication there was anything wrong with the plane," he said.

The 10-seater plane, a Rockwell International Turbo Commander 690B, flew out of Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and crashed at 11:25 a.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said. Neighbors reported they did not near any engine noise immediately before the crash.

Henningsgaard spent 14 years at Microsoft in various marketing and sales positions, according to his biography on Social Venture Partners website.

He was a member of Social Venture Partners, a foundation that helps build up communities.

Officials inspect the debris on Saturday after a small plane, piloted by Bill Henningsgaard, crashed into two homes Friday in East Haven, Conn. Four people were killed in the incident.

Associated Press

Officials inspect the debris on Saturday after a small plane, piloted by Bill Henningsgaard, crashed into two homes Friday in East Haven, Conn. Four people were killed in the incident.

Pilot in crash survived 2009 wreck 08/11/13 [Last modified: Sunday, August 11, 2013 12:00am]
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