Student pilot killed in plane crash near Denton Airport

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DRC/Al Key
DRC/Al Key
Emergency personnel transport the body of a person killed in the crash of a small plane out of a heavily wooded area just northwest of the Denton Airport Tuesday morning.
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A small single-engine plane crashed after an aborted landing at Denton Airport early Tuesday, killing a student pilot and injuring another student pilot and the instructor.

The plane was owned by U.S. Aviation Academy. The flight training school, based at the airport, released the names of the victims.

Xie Chengjie of Juneyao Airlines was declared dead at the scene. No further information was available about him.

Zhao Shuran of Shenzhen Airlines received minor injuries and was treated at a local hospital and released. The instructor, Michael Lin, was seriously injured and taken to a local hospital where he is being treated, according to the news release, which gave no further information about the victims.

"US Aviation Academy is cooperating fully with the FAA in the ongoing investigation of the accident," the release stated. "The academy is deeply saddened by the accident and extends its thoughts and prayers to the instructor, students and their families. The training at the academy has been temporarily suspended to allow time to inform the immediate families and other members of the company."

A representative of U.S. Aviation declined further comment Tuesday.

Denton police Officer Ryan Grelle said the Federal Aviation Administration notified police at about 2 a.m. that contact with the 1998 Cessna 172R had been lost half an hour earlier, and officers were requested to check the airport to determine whether the plane had made a safe landing.

Officers did not see a plane or wreckage at the airport but found a dazed man walking nearby, Grelle said. The man told the officers he had walked from the wreckage of the plane but he did not know which direction he came from and was confused about the number of people on the four-seat craft.

He was treated for head and leg injuries and later released.

Grelle said officers from the police department, fire department and Denton County Sheriff's Office and a Fort Worth police helicopter searched the area. At about 6 a.m. they found the wreckage about three-quarters of a mile northwest of the runway, near Masch Branch Road.

They extricated one man from the wreckage and recovered the body of the second man, Grelle said. He said the crash came after an aborted landing, but he did not know the reason for the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.

According to the U.S. Aviation Academy news release, the trip was a training flight. Grelle said the flight originated at Denton Airport, continued to Twin Oaks Airport in San Antonio and was returning when the plane crashed in a wooded area.

U.S. Aviation trains American students and international students from China, Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, Sri Lanka, Latin America and elsewhere. The company, on average, trains about 200 full-time students and about 30 to 50 part-time students. As of April, the business had 67 aircraft ranging from light sport to multi-engine turbo prop. The school works with Tarrant County College and the University of North Texas in aviation degree programs.

Staff writers Karina Ramírez and Dawn Cobb also contributed to this report.

DONNA FIELDER can be reached at 940-566-6885. Her e-mail address is

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