C172 Crash-Florida Keys

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They showed Egon's and Piers' pictures on the tv this morning and quoted the RW website. They also said that the Coast Guard has called off the search. Unsure ***

Yeah, they called me at Vigil yesterday looking for information or for leads. I don't trust the mass media enough to have wanted to give an interview and definitely was not going to give out anyone's phone number. I also didn't have it in me emtionally to talk to the guy. Then I saw that they just pulled everything off the RWS website and wondered if I should have said something so the story would have had more meaning. Damned if you do, damned if you don't situation. Oh well, the people who really care know how great these 4 people were.

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From The Orlando Sentinel today:


4 Volusia sky-diving pals identified in Keys plane crash
By Etan Horowitz
Sentinel Staff Writer

August 2, 2005

Four Volusia County friends who bonded while sky diving out of airplanes were identified Monday as the victims of a weekend plane crash off the Florida Keys.

It was unclear why the four sky divers were in South Florida, but several friends thought they were there to go sailing.

Their rented single-engine Cessna 172 crashed into the water shortly after takeoff Saturday night but wasn't discovered until Sunday morning.

News of the deaths quickly spread around the country through a network of sky-diving enthusiasts.

Three of the victims were originally from South Africa, and one was a junior at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach. All were active in Central Florida's sky-diving community.

The plane took off Saturday morning from New Smyrna Beach Municipal Airport and was piloted by Krystal Koch, originally of Valparaiso, Ind. Koch was a 21-year-old junior aerospace-engineering major at Embry-Riddle and was working at NASA in a co-op program, school officials said.

Two of the victims, Egon Sussmann and Piers Littleford, shared a house in DeLand and worked together at Relative Workshop, a DeLand company that manufactures sky-diving equipment, friends said. The other victim, Bruno Asmann, 37, lived in Port Orange.

Officials with the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, and naval-aviation authorities are trying to figure out why it took nearly 11 hours to determine that the plane had crashed.

About 9:15 p.m. Saturday, the plane left Key West bound for Marathon and eventually back to New Smyrna Beach. Minutes later, a caller to the Monroe County Sheriff's Office reported what he thought was a plane crash. Shortly before 10 p.m., the Coast Guard began investigating, but the search was discontinued after boaters in the area reported seeing only thunder and lightning, Petty Officer Dana Warr said.

At 8:13 a.m. Sunday, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer spotted an aircraft wing, wheel, seat and the logbook in waters near the airport. The bodies of two men were recovered. One was identified as Sussmann, and another could not be immediately identified. The search for the other two bodies continued Monday.

A spokeswoman with the Federal Aviation Administration could not say how many hours Koch had logged, but her license indicated she had a fairly high level of training. She was licensed to fly passengers for hire in a single-engine plane, and she was instrument-rated, which allowed her to fly in inclement weather.

"You definitely have to have a higher level of proficiency for instrument flying," the FAA's Holly Baker said.Koch served for two years as vice president of the Embry-Riddle sky-diving club and was always on the go, doing "800 million things at once," said Jerry Reitano, who served as president of the club when Koch was vice president. But despite her busy schedule, she always made time to help out friends, Reitano said.

Koch was featured in an April Orlando Sentinel article about the risks of sky diving and the recent death of sky-diving photographer Albert "Gus" Wing III. Wing, 50, a legendary aerial photographer, was killed in a collision with an airplane. Koch told the Sentinel that Wing's death did not prevent her from continuing to sky-dive.

"It's an absolutely delicious feeling, probably the most freeing experience I ever have," she said. "As soon as I hit the ground, I can't wait to get back up again."

She said one of the things she loved about sky diving was that it allowed her to meet people from diverse backgrounds, calling the sky-diving community "an extended family."

Some of the victims had worked at the Atlanta Skydiving Center, said Mike Gruwell, staff manager of the center. Gruwell stayed with Littleford and Sussmann in their DeLand house about six months ago, and he called Sussmann on Friday to thank him for selling him a new sky-diving rig.

"They were good guys to be around," Gruwell said. "We spent a lot of time together. Sky diving is more about spending time together after the jump than during it."

Gruwell said both Sussmann and Asmann had logged more than 1,000 jumps. Sussmann was certified as a tandem instructor, and he was certified to train people to be tandem instructors, a distinction shared by only about 100 people in country, Gruwell said.

Jim Vance, an instructor and videographer at the Atlanta center, said he received a text message from Asmann on Thursday saying he was heading to the Keys for a sailboat ride.

"Some people didn't get along with Bruno, but he would bend over backward to get along with you," Vance said.

On Monday, the company where Sussmann and Littleford worked posted a message on its Web site encouraging people to e-mail their memories of the four victims.

"Egon and Piers were a dynamic duo within Relative Workshop that will be deeply missed and impossible to replace," the message said. "Where one went, the other was sure to follow."

Reitano, 22, who served with Koch in the sky-diving club, said he got a call about the accident Sunday. Although he is at his home in the Philadelphia area and had just returned from training with the Army, he was quickly notified.

"It's a close-knit family, so when something goes down, the phones start ringing all over the country," Reitano said.

Maya Bell and Aline Mendelsohn of

the Sentinel staff contributed to this report. Etan Horowitz can be reached at [email protected]

or 386-851-7915.
She is Da Man, and you better not mess with Da Man,
because she will lay some keepdown on you faster than, well, really fast. ~Billvon

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So I was going through my emails back and forth from Egon last month and I came across 2 pictures of the whole group that he sent me - teasing me that I wasn't there to be a part of the GBLM (Green Bottle Liberation Movement) :)
This is how they'd want to be remembered...I'm sure of it.

To the mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders. ~ Lao-Tzu

It's all good, they're my brothers ~ Mariann Kramer

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So who is going to organize a tracking dive or some sort of memorial jump for them? The sooner the better. I'll take care of it here in Titusville. I'd like to see it Nationwide for that bunch. Thanks for jumps we had, and ones yet to come guys...

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Egon lived every minute to its fullest. He walked with a grin and the kind of energy that people gravitated towards.

He will be missed. My life was forever changed by his influence. I know Hollister, CA has not been the same since his stay. He defined the skydiving lifestyle.

The next cold beer and flaming footie match is for you.


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I was introduced to Egon in Rantoul last year. As soon as he heard i was South African he made a point to make me feel welcome and to introduce me to every other Saffa running around.
Eternal blue skies my friend, i'll be toasting you round the fire this weekend. My sincerest condolences to family and friends.

Advertisio Rodriguez / Sky

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Hi Skydivers

This email is a tribute to Piers Littleford. (one of the skydivers killed in the recent crash in Florida Keys whose next of kin have been notified by now)

He was a man who I first met in 1997 at Citrusdal (South Africa) and dealt with before then as a supplier of equipment to the drop zone. (Cypresses and the like.) Piers was always incredibly helpful and well informed. I found him to be exceptionally intelligent with a well educated mind and often found ourselves discussing a surprising variety of topics ranging from Physics to Shakespeare. I found him to be a man of extraordinary depth and character.

Piers my friend you will be missed by all of us and especially I will miss arriving at the drop-zone on the occasions I would be there and seeing you there and looking forward to the discussions we would have over a cold one or otherwise.

Until we meet again a few well known words by John Gillespie Magee….

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;

Sunward I have climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and
Soared and swung

High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there,
I've chased the shouting wind along,
And flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.

Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew.

And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
the high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Paul Bailey

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Although I had never met these four wonderful individuals, there have been many posts here that have made me cry. The last line of this report, especially. Fly on....




Friends mourn student pilot

Staff Writers

Last update: August 03, 2005

Students painted the "spirit rock" at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University burgundy Tuesday after authorities confirmed that a classmate's body was found after a plane crash near Key West.

N-J/Jessica Webb
Crystal Passman places flowers at a memorial for classmate Krystal Koch at the ERAU spirit rock.
Friends took solace that Krystal Koch, 21, died doing what she loved in a place she loved. Koch was an "amazing pilot," classmate Ken Chatham said. Her personality as a free spirit matched the island's attitude.

"She was from Indiana, but she was Key West," said pal Crystal Passman.

Monroe County sheriff's spokeswoman Becky Herrin said the remains of a woman, who officials believe is Koch, were found floating near Key West about 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. There were three passengers aboard.

A little more than three hours later, the wreckage of the downed Cessna 172, with an occupant inside, was located on the ocean floor about a mile off Boca Chica Key, Herrin said.

The Coast Guard had called off its search Monday night, but sheriff's officials responded to citizen reports of the body and the wreckage, Herrin said.

Koch of Daytona Beach was piloting the plane when it took off about 9 p.m. Saturday from Key West International Airport. The plane crashed a short time later.

Flying with Koch were Egon Sussmann and Piers Littleford, both 31, and Bruno Asmann, 37. All three men were natives of South Africa and were roommates living in Ponce Inlet, co-workers said.

Asmann was described as a "happy-go-lucky" person who was always ready to assist fellow sky divers.

"He went out of his way to help others," said Mike Gruwell, of Atlanta Skydiving Center in Atlanta, where Asmann used to sky-dive.

The wreckage will be turned over to the National Transportation Safety Board to determine a cause of the accident, NTSB investigator Tim Monville said Tuesday.

The two other bodies were found Sunday, but only Sussmann's identity has been confirmed. Herrin said the medical examiner will make the final identification.

Koch had been flying since she was 14, according to her instructor Donna Stevens of DonnAir Aviation in Valparaiso, Ind. She was rated as a commercial pilot with a single engine and instrument certificates.

"She loved to fly," Stevens said. "She got her license when she was 18."

Koch had curly blond hair, grass-green eyes and a penchant for making her own clothes. She also tried to draw friends into her love of sky diving.

"We were going to go sky-diving this year (to celebrate their birthdays) to get me over my fear of heights," Passman said.

Passman said she saw Koch a couple of days before she left for the Keys.

"She told me about flying to South Africa with her boyfriend (Littleford) for his sister's wedding," she said. "She was supposed to graduate this December."

In a vigil at the spirit rock, students laid roses, her portrait and a candle. They remembered Koch as a rare female engineering student who wore a ponytail on top of her head and organized Iron Man cooking contests with college food ingredients like Ramen noodles.

In a tearful prayer, Passman said, "Please (God), give her a pair of wings that kick ass."

Don't tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon

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It's not exactly a secret. The news went around Summerfest pretty quickly yesterday.

Wish someone had brought the news to me. Kirk and I just heard tonight, and we're devastated. I didn't know all of them, but one of them I count as a really good friend.

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