Victims of Anne Arundel plane crash identified

Texas A&M professor and girlfriend were en route to New York

December 11, 2006|By Arin Gencer | Arin Gencer,sun reporter

Two people killed Saturday evening in the crash of a small airplane near Edgewater were identified yesterday as a man and woman from Texas.

Timothy Kramer, 49, of College Station and Deborah Giant, 50, of Bryan were the occupants of the single-engine Cessna 210 that crashed between two small hills by Beards Creek, a few hundred yards short of Lee Airport's runway, Maryland State Police said.

Kramer was a civil engineering professor at Texas A&M University, said Lane Stephenson, its director of news and information.

Although the cause of the accident shortly before 6 p.m. had yet to be determined, preliminary information indicated the plane clipped some treetops as it approached the airport, police said.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigation is under way, authorities said.

"I am not aware of any distress signals" coming from the plane before the crash, said Arlene Murray, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration. The aircraft was registered to DDT Aero Inc. in College Station, she said.

The plane left Texas A&M's Easterwood Airport about 9 a.m. Saturday, and made a stop at Warren County Memorial Airport in McMinnville, Tenn., before heading to Edgewater, officials said.

Van Lee, manager of Lee Airport, said he received a call yesterday morning from a person who appeared to be a friend of Giant, indicating that Kramer and Giant had planned a visit with friends in the area for a couple of days before heading to New York.

Kramer had been a pilot for about 20 years and had "thousands of hours" in the air, said his brother, Kent Kramer, who was reached in Texas yesterday. He had been flying to New York with his girlfriend of one month, Giant, intending to see an opera, the brother said.

Timothy Kramer's personal Web site, in addition to listing professional accomplishments, includes a click-on cartoon airplane to access his pictures of airplanes and aerial views - among them the Statue of Liberty and the pre-2001 World Trade Center in New York.

"This is just a terrible way for him to go," Kent Kramer said. "He loved flying; he loved his airplane. He would have been the last person I would have expected to have a landing accident like this."

The wrecked plane remained at the crash site yesterday, the casing around its engine open and wings broken. A torn map, a small black tire and pieces of green glass were among the debris strewn around it. A loose metal flap creaked in the wind.

Saturday's accident came after a fatal crash in July, when a small plane coming in from Ocean City, N.J., failed to land on the runway at Lee, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report.

Activity had returned to normal yesterday at Lee, private planes taking off from the runway periodically, the drone of their engines fading as they flew into the clear skies of a balmy afternoon.

Longtime pilots there were adamant that Saturday's crash was no indication of the general safety of such aircraft - and underscored the importance of continual flight safety training.

"Aviation, just like any activity involving machines, has risks - but they can be avoided," said Jim Diehl, who keeps his Piper Cherokee Archer at Lee. One of the challenges with "itinerants," or people passing through, Diehl added, is a lack of familiarity with airports other than their home base.

"With a small airport, you need to be aware of the surroundings," said Diehl, who also said he has been flying for nearly 40 years. "At nighttime, there are many things around here you cannot see."

Airport manager Lee agreed, adding that every airport has its little differences - a tree here, a light there.

"A proficient pilot would certainly know all that before you go anywhere," Lee said. "We preach safety, safety, safety."

However, Diehl and others said, it was impossible to speculate on what happened.

"There are so many factors involved in this as far as weather, visibility, winds, mechanical problems," said Peter Friedman, a safety counselor with the FAA Safety Team.

For the past couple of years Friedman he has given FAA-approved pilot safety lectures for Lee Airport. The next one is scheduled Jan. 25, he said.

"We have to stop things like this from happening," Friedman said. "It is just a terrible tragedy."

arin.gencer@baltsun.com

Sun reporter Kelly Brewington contributed to this article.

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