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Pilot for Edelweiss Air identified as victim of small plane crash in Land O'Lakes

Published Sep. 24, 2012

LAND O'LAKES — The man who died Saturday morning after crashing a small plane was a Swiss citizen and pilot for Edelweiss Air, the Pasco County Sheriff's Office said.

Andreas Wendel, 48, from Bassersdorf, Switzerland, died after crashing the private plane in a field near Lake Irene Drive and Bexley Road.

He had no relatives in the United States, authorities said, but his family in Switzerland has been notified of the death.

The flight originated from Pensacola, but the plane was registered to a man in California, said Pasco sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll.

At about 3 a.m. Saturday, air traffic control lost track of the plane on radar. Someone on the Suncoast Parkway reported a flash in the woods, Doll said.

Investigators believe Wendel was flying a Cessna 172. The wreckage was spread over an area about a quarter- to a half-mile wide. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

In May, the airline Wendel worked for began weekly nonstop flights between Tampa and Zurich. It was not clear Sunday whether he was the pilot on any of those flights, or whether he was here for some other reason.

A spokeswoman for Tampa International Airport said Edelweiss Air had not notified the airport of any disruption to its schedule, but referred other questions to the airline.

A spokesman for Edelweiss Air could not be reached Sunday.