An Army National Guard pilot has died from his injuries after a small plane he was piloting with his brother on a trip to scatter his father's ashes crashed into a Massachusetts pond.
Thirty-four-year-old Scott Landis died from his injuries at Massachusetts General Hospital following the Friday afternoon crash near Cranland Airport in Hanson, the Plymouth district attorney's office announced Saturday.
"Scott had really grand plans for him and his family, and it's gone," said close friend Adam Proulx.
Scott's brother, 29-year-old Patrick Landis, was a passenger in the single-engine plane and remains in critical condition at Tufts Medical Center.
"He's in bad, bad shape," said Proulx. "He suffered a lot of injuries as a result of the crash. He's paralyzed from the waist down. Doctors are very confident he's never going to walk again."
Scott Landis, an experienced helicopter pilot who flew Blackhawks with the Army National Guard and a father of a one-year-old boy, had been on leave from a tour of duty in Kosovo because his father passed away. He was expected to return to duty on Saturday.
"From what I understand, they were coming back from spreading the ashes," said Dan Conway, the victims' uncle.
Peter Oakley, owner and manager of Cranland Airport, described Scott Landis as the "salt of the earth" who flew often. A few days ago, Scott Landis flew his son and wife to Martha's Vineyard for lunch, Oakley said.
Proulx said he believes the pilot did all he could to prevent the accident.
"We are all confident that he did the best that he thought he could do with what he was provided with altitude and speed," Proulx said. "It just didn't work out."
Oakley said Scott Landis took off and he could hear the engine fail.
"I saw the video and you could hear the engine failure on takeoff," Oakley said. "The engine started slowing down, and he started to turn to come back, and then you heard the engine drop off and you could see the plane go in."
Because of the signifcant damage to the front of the plane, firefighters had to remove the brothers after they became trapped in the water.
"It was heavy, thick brush that we were working with, and mud conditions, along with aviation fuel in the water, so Hanson Police and Hanson Fire worked together to extricate him," said Hanson Fire Deputy Chief Rob O'Brien. "They did have to use sawzalls and hand tools to remove part of the aircraft."
FAA officials say that the aircraft was an Aeronca 7AC Chamption. The plane's owner lent the plane to Scott, according to the owner's brother.
"That's a tandem aircraft where the pilot sits in the front and the passenger sits in the back, that's why I believe his brother didn't have as serious injuries," Oakley said.
A GoFundMe page has been set up for the family.
The ashes of the father were recovered by the Hanson Fire Department. Other pilots have offered to complete the family's wishes.
Federal and state authorities are investigating the cause of the crash.
The National Safety Transportation Board said its investigators arrived to the scene of the crash Saturday. They expect to have a preliminary report within seven to ten days.