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 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 2 Amber Roof: Sister of Charleston shooting suspect Dylann Roof launches fund-raising appeal for wedding and honeymoon
- 3 'Help me I'm trapped in a factory' messages keep being found on bottles of vitamin water
- 4 Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
- 5 BP hit with record $18.7 billion fine over Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Amber Roof: Sister of Charleston shooting suspect Dylann Roof launches fund-raising appeal for wedding and honeymoon
Russell Brand condemns moment of silence for Tunisia attack victims as a 'minute of bulls**t'
Right to die: Belgian doctors rule depressed 24-year-old woman has right to end her life
Worker killed by robot at Volkswagen car factory
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
They are neither a 'state' nor 'Islamic': Why we shouldn't call them Isis, Isil or IS
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...
£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity is available to ...
£16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leading specialist i...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This role's responsibility also include operat...