A young flight student knew Charlie Yates. "I saw him about 15-20 minutes before he went up," said Alexander Vanover, flight student. "He said a couple of words and I said goodbye, shook his hand, and was out the door. I'm thinking of him. I remember that plane taking off, went inside to get my sunglasses and when I came out, there were ambulances running down the runway."
Two people died in a small airplane crash just south of the Northwest Regional Airport in Roanoke on Saturday afternoon, September 22, 2012.
The FAA said the crash involved a Piper PA 28 aircraft. The wreckage is in the woods south of the airport in Denton County. It went down shortly after take off around 1:30 p.m. Airport employees said the airplane sounded like it had mechanical issues right before the crash.
The FAA told NBC DFW that National Transportation Safety Board has been notified and investigators are headed to the scene.
Charlie "Rowdy" Yates
Charlie at the stick in George Meyer's Original Little Toot
"The aircraft, when it crashed, the wings tore loose from the fuselage," said Department of Public Safety spokesman Lonny Haschel. "The fuselage was what actually went into the ground. There was not fire because the fuel was actually on the wings."
The plane's owner and pilot at time of the crash, Chris Pratt, died at the scene. The flight instructer, Charlie Yates, was taken to the hospital but DPS said he died at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.
For those of you who may not be familiar with 1950's and '60s American TV, there was a cowboy series called "Rawhide" starring Eric Flemming as trail-boss Gil Favor and a very young Clint Eastwood as tough cowhand Rowdy Yates.
As every pilot needs a 'handle,' what better one for Charlie to have than that of now Hollywood superstar Clint's Eastwood's old character, already sharing the same last name!
Charlie Yates lived his life by this philosophy:
"I pray I don't ever have to tell someone that I'm a Christian. I strive that it should be so obvious by the way I live my life that they know without being told and don't have to ask."
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let Your perpetual light shine upon him.
May Charlie's soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, through Your mercy, rest in peace. Amen.