...Texas Crashes Impact GA...

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In Texas last week, a string of aircraft crashes (as AVweb reported Monday) had less fortunate outcomes. While 20 fatalities in one week -- even in a state as big as Texas -- is likely to shake up any local aviation community, the impact is being felt far beyond the border. Among those who died last week were at least three pilots whose professional lives were devoted to GA businesses. Richard Fisher, the owner of Oklahoma City-based Aviation Flight Specialists, a corporate charter company, was the pilot of a twin-engine Aerostar that crashed into a house shortly after takeoff near Austin on Aug. 3. His five passengers also died. On Aug. 4, Don Brooks, the sales manager for autopilot manufacturer Century Flight Systems, died in a Piper PA-32 that struck power lines. He was a passenger in the aircraft, and the pilot also died. Joel A. Smith, 69, one of three men killed when a single-engine Mooney M-20J crashed while trying to land at the Olney, Texas, airport, had worked as a test pilot at Mooney Aircraft Co. for more than 26 years. Smith left the company earlier his year. "I believe he had more hours in the Mooney than anyone else in the world," his wife, Teresa, told local reporters. About a month ago, Smith went to work for Don Maxwell Aviation in Gladewater, Texas.