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16-year-old flight student dies in plane crash in Orange
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16-year-old flight student dies in plane crash in Orange

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Orange County Airport

Orange County Airport terminal

ORANGE — A 16-year-old flight school student pilot died Sunday in a plane crash near the Orange County Airport on Route 20.

Virginia State Police spokesman Les Tyler identified Ryan Lee McCall of Spotsylvania as the only aircraft occupant at the time of the crash.

The 1974 single-engine, fixed-wing Piper plane crashed in a field just east of the airport near a heavily wooded area around 9:45 a.m.

Reached by phone Sunday, an airport lineman said the aircraft was privately owned by the Skyline Aviation Services flight school. State police identified the owner as William Rushing III of Springfield.

A Skydive Orange employee, who arrived third on the scene, said he saw the downed plane leaking fuel and “possibly crashed nose down.”

“When I got there, the body was in an unnatural position,” said the Skydive Orange employee, who didn’t want to be identified.

Witnesses said they believe the flight school student pilot was trying to land the plane before it crashed.

Flight instructor Chris Russell with Skyline Aviation Services flight school said he has about 25 students and they range in ages between 16 and 70. Russell confirmed that McCall was a student at the flight school, which employs three veteran instructors.

State police Trooper S.E. Nelson and representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration are processing the scene to determine the cause of the deadly crash. Orange County Sheriff’s Office deputies and emergency services assisted the state police in responding to the crash.

Tyler said the state police will not be releasing any more details until Monday.

 Star-Exponent staff writer Ron Counts contributed to this story.


Virginia State Police investigators are searching for a single-engine plane that reportedly crashed near the Orange County Airport close to Route 20 Sunday morning.

State police spokesman Sgt. Les Tyler said the plane went down around 9:30 a.m. and that the incident is under investigation.

Reached by phone Sunday, airport lineman Corey Noble said the aircraft was privately owned by the Skyline Aviation Services flight school.

“It’s not on the airport property,” said Noble, who explained that the crash occurred in the vicinity of the airport.

Noble said a flight school student was operating the aircraft before the crash.

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