Dead pilot's father says his son was 'meticulous' Crash survivor still on critical list

April 19, 1993|By Alisa Samuels | Alisa Samuels,Staff Writer Staff writer Peter Hermann contributed to this report.

The father of an Ellicott City man who died Saturday in a plane crash in Edgewater, said his son was a "meticulous" flier who had obtained his pilot's license just four months ago.

The crash killed the pilot, Brian Keith Duffy, 23, of the 3600 block of Rusty Rim, and critically injured his passenger, Frederickus "Fred" Johnannas Giltay, 22, of the 9400 block of Frederick Road in Ellicott City. Mr. Giltay is in the MedSTAR burn unit at Washington Hospital Center with third-degree burns over 60 percent of his body, said his mother, Linda Giltay.

The two men had been friends since childhood, she said.

Mr. Duffy was a full-time student majoring in aircraft technology and held close to a straight-A record at Catonsville Community ++ College, his father said.

"Brian was very meticulous and was a perfectionist," said George Duffy, a retired airplane mechanic. "He went by the book all the way. He wanted to be a commercial airline pilot -- that was his dream.

Mr. Duffy said he cannot believe the crash was caused by pilot error.

"My son died unnecessarily to no fault of his own, and I intend to find out why."

Officials said the two men apparently rented the plane from Hagerstown and were bound for Ocean City on a day trip.

The crash occurred shortly after 3:15 p.m. Saturday when the single-engine Piper Cherokee crashed in an Edgewater cornfield and burst into flames, Anne Arundel authorities said.

Mr. Duffy had radioed Baltimore-Washington International Airport saying he had lost partial power in the plane's engine, said authorities.

A tower official instructed him to land at Lee Airport, but a witness said heavy winds interferred as the plane tried to land.

As the plane circled over Solomons Island Road around a McDonald's restaurant, it snagged a power line, which ruptured the fuel tank, witnesses said.

The plane was on fire moments before it crashed upside down in the field, according to reports.

Mr. Duffy died instantly.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash, but officials could not be reached yesterday.

Mrs. Giltay said the men had been friends since they were both 8 years old, and had attended Mt. Hebron High School together.

For Mr. Giltay, a carpenter's assistant, the Saturday trip was to be an adventure, she said.

"It was his first trip in an airplane," she said.

She said it was "by the grace of God," and the quick reactions of rescuers that her son is still alive.

Mr. Duffy said he and his son had planned to visit a sick relative in West Virginia this weekend, but bad weather forced them to change their plans. He said his son began flying in February 1992, and obtained his pilot's license 10 months later, on Dec. 5. The same month, the two flew around the Bay Bridge together. "That was my birthday present," Mr. Duffy said.

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