Girl pilot aged 7 killed crossing America
Friday 12 April 1996
Jessica Dubroff's single-engined Cessna aircraft plunged into a residential street a few minutes after take-off on the second day of a 6,500-mile round trip. Her father, Lloyd, who encouraged her to make the flight, was in the back seat. Jessica planned to beat the trans-continental record set by an eight-year-old last year.
But she only had four months' experience in the cockpit. The temperature at the high-altitude airport was close to freezing with heavy rain and hail. The aircraft fell steeply from about 400ft, narrowly missing several houses.
"We are not talking about a glancing blow into the ground," said an eyewitness, Ron Nimmo. "It was fairly obvious there would be no survivors."
Jessica, from Pescaredo, California, set out on Wednesday from Half Moon Bay near San Francisco. She successfully piloted the plane to Elko, Nevada, and then on to Cheyenne, a town of 60,000. She said the trip was her father's idea, but she seemed determined to complete it. "You've got to make sure you're not crashing or anything," she said. "You have to concentrate on your instruments, and look out of the window."
Because of her age Jessica was technically only a passenger handling the controls. Her instructor, Joe Reid, sat at the duplicate controls used to teach novices to fly. But Jessica, just 4ft 2in tall, used extensions to reach the pedals.
To qualify for the record, Jessica was expected to fly the plane for 40-50 hours in a week. The Guinness Book of Records listed nine-year-old Rachel Carter, of Ramona, California as the youngest pilot to cross the continent in 1994. Eight- year-old Killian Moss completed the journey last year, but Guinness stopped recognising the "youngest pilot" category for fear of unsafe flights.
Jessica's mother, Lisa Hathaway, said her daughter "died doing something she loved".
- 1 Mother fed her daughter tapeworms to make her skinny for beauty pageant
- 2 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 3 Crystal Palace next manager latest: Palace consider Ally McCoist - EXCLUSIVE
- 4 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
- 5 Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
West poised to join forces with Assad in face of Islamic State
Pamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals: 'Mice had holes drilled into their skulls'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...
£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...