Flight instructors, student pilot killed in plane crash on Greenfield-Leyden line

Investigators returned to Oak Hill Road Monday to collect debris and continue investigating a plane crash that killed all three on board Sunday morning.

Investigators returned to Oak Hill Road Monday to collect debris and continue investigating a plane crash that killed all three on board Sunday morning. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

Investigators returned to Oak Hill Road Monday to collect debris and continue investigating a plane crash that killed all three on board Sunday morning.

Investigators returned to Oak Hill Road Monday to collect debris and continue investigating a plane crash that killed all three on board Sunday morning. STAFF PHOTO/CHRIS LARABEE

By CHRIS LARABEE

Staff Writer

Published: 01-15-2024 11:49 AM

Modified: 01-16-2024 11:45 AM


GREENFIELD — Authorities on Monday identified the three victims of the fatal plane crash on the Greenfield-Leyden line on Sunday.

Fredrika Ballard, 53, of Southwick, William Hampton, 68, of Indian Orchard, and Chad Davidson, 29, of Woodstock, Connecticut, were killed when a Beechcraft 55 Baron Twin-Piston plane crashed in a small clearing in the woods within the Leyden Wildlife Management Area, according to Massachusetts State Police.

Ballard was the owner of the Fly Lugu Flight School in Westfield. Hampton was a flight instructor for Fly Lugu and Davidson was a student pilot.

In biographies on Fly Lugu’s website, Ballard was described as a “second-generation pilot,” who returned to flying in 2016 and earned her flight instructor rating in August 2019. Hampton had spent decades flying planes and tallied more than 13,600 flight hours and had “taught hundreds of students how to fly airplanes, seaplanes, gliders, helicopters and balloons.”

On the scene Monday, government agencies were present on Oak Hill Road collecting debris for the investigation and preparing to move the plane to another location, as a State Police trooper sat nearby. A truck and trailer registered to Clarksville, Tennessee-based aircraft recovery and transport company AMF Aviation also was at the scene.

The plane, with tail number N7345R, was owned by the Fly Lugu school, and was located Sunday at approximately 12:33 p.m. The three occupants, all of whom were within the crashed plane, were found dead when Greenfield firefighters and American Medical Response paramedics arrived at the crash site, according to state police.

State Police detectives assigned to the Northwestern District Attorney’s Office determined that the plane had departed from Barnes Airport in Westfield at approximately 11:06 a.m. Troopers confirmed that the three victims were the plane’s only occupants.

Troopers from the State Police Crime Scene Services Section processed and documented the crash site. The victims were removed from the wreckage by firefighters and transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner.

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Authorities began searching for the crash site at approximately 11:30 a.m. after Greenfield Police/Fire Dispatch received 911 calls from dog walkers in Leyden and Greenfield reporting a plane that appeared about to crash.

Federal Aviation Administration Aviation Safety Inspectors also responded to the crash site yesterday and a National Transportation Safety Board investigator is expected to arrive today.

A Trooper from the Shelburne Falls barracks remained on scene at the crash site overnight to ensure scene security.

The crash remains under investigation by Massachusetts State Police, Greenfield Police, the DA’s Office, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

A spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety board said a preliminary report containing factual information gathered during the investigation’s initial phase will be released within the next 30 days. A full report, which includes a probable cause of the crash, as well as any other contributing factors, is expected within 12 to 24 months.