A Bonanza pilot was taking a patient and his wife to Boston for cancer treatment on Tuesday morning when the airplane lost altitude and crashed into a parking lot in Easton, Mass., killing all three. The flight had been arranged by Angel Flight Northeast, which released a statement expressing sadness and sympathy. It was the third charity flight since June to end in tragedy, and prior to this summer, Angel Flight organizations, which fly about 20,000 missions per year, had never lost a passenger in their 25-year history. On June 3, a Socata TBM-700 flying for Angel Flight Central hit the ground during initial climb from Iowa City Municipal Airport; the pilot and one passenger received serious injuries, and the patient, a two-year-old girl, was killed. On July 17, a Beech Bonanza flying for Angel Flight Southeast collided with an instrument landing system antenna while climbing out from Vandenberg Airport, Tampa, Fla., and the pilot and both passengers died. "The entire Angel Flight world is saddened and surprised and shocked that this is happening all at once," Christel Gollnick, CEO of Angel Flight Central, based in Kansas City, Mo., told The Associated Press. She said that safety protocols for the groups' planes and roughly 7,000 volunteers have not changed and there are no obvious links in the three crashes this year.
She said the organization is not planning to conduct any formal review of the series of crashes. The Air Care Alliance and the AOPA Air Safety Foundation have produced a video and manual for volunteer pilots, who generally must have a minimum of 250 hours and an instrument rating to fly for Angel Flight groups. AVweb's sister publication, Aviation Safety, will publish a detailed look at the series of accidents later this year.