HAMPTON TOWNSHIP, NJ – A man who traveled to space with William Shatner last month was killed along with another person when the small plane they were in crashed in a wooded area in northern New Jersey, according to state police.
Former space tourist Glen M. de Vries, 49, of New York, and Thomas P. Fischer, 54, of Hopatcong, were aboard the single-engine Cessna 172 which crashed Thursday.
De Vries was a qualified private instrument pilot and Fischer owned a flight school. Authorities did not say who was flying the small plane.
The plane had left the Essex County Airport at Caldwell, on the outskirts of the New York area, and was heading for Sussex Airport in rural northwest New Jersey when Federal Aviation Administration alerted public security agencies to search for the missing plane around 3 p.m.
Emergency crews found the wreckage in Hampton Township around 4 p.m., the FAA said.
De Vries, co-founder of a tech company, took a 10-minute flight to the edge of space on October 13 aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft with Shatner and two others.
“It’s going to take me a while to be able to describe it. It was amazing, ”said de Vries as he had his Blue Origin“ astronaut wings ”pinned to his blue flight suit by Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.
“We are devastated to learn of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries,” Blue Origin tweeted on Friday. “He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and his teammates. His passion for aviation, his charitable work and his dedication to his profession will long be revered and admired.
De Vries co-founded Medidata Solutions, a software company specializing in clinical research, and was vice president of life sciences and healthcare at Dassault Systèmes, which acquired Medidata in 2019. He was involved in a sale. auctioned for a seat on the first flight and purchased a seat for the second trip.
De Vries also served on the board of trustees of Carnegie Mellon University.
Fischer owned the Fischer Aviation flight school and was its chief instructor, according to the company’s website.
The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.