The two men killed in a plane crash over the weekend just outside of Philadelphia were identified Monday as pilot Terrence Daniels, 52, and flight instructor Albert Dohring, 79.
The pair had taken off from New Castle County Airport in Daniels’ Beechcraft 55 Baron twin-engine plane, Delaware state police said. At 8:53 a.m. Sunday, about a minute into the flight, the aircraft crashed in woods west of I-95, less than two miles from the airport.
Daniels, of Philadelphia, made a distress call saying he wanted to return to the airport almost immediately after he took off and began flying northwest, Peter Knudson, a spokesperson for the National Transportation Safety Board, said Monday. Daniels and Dohring, of Middletown, Del., were pronounced dead at the scene.
The plane hit trees and the ground, coming to rest upside down with the left wing stuck in a tree, Knudson said. It largely remained intact and did not catch fire. He said investigators were not sure if the flight was instructional.
NTSB investigators expected to finish their initial investigation Monday and send the remains of the plane to a facility in Massachusetts, Knudson said. A preliminary report is anticipated within two weeks.
It was the second time a plane crashed this month in the Philadelphia area. On Aug. 8, physicians Jasvir and Divya Khurana and their 19-year-old daughter, Kiran, all of Lower Merion, died when a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza F33A crashed in Upper Moreland. Jasvir Khurana, the pilot, was licensed to fly five years ago.
Dohring was certified as a commercial pilot and flight instructor, according to federal aviation records, skilled in navigating single- and multi-engine aircraft and flying through inclement weather.
A veteran of the Delaware Air National Guard, he was an airport operations coordinator at New Castle Airport. Before that, he worked for the Delaware River and Bay Authority.
“He was respected and well-liked by those who knew him, and will be truly missed,” said James Salmon, a spokesperson for the Delaware River and Bay Authority. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during these challenging times.”
Daniels, of West Mount Airy, worked as an education administration associate in the division of federal programs at the Pennsylvania Department of Education in Harrisburg.
“He was an amazing man,” said Daniels’ wife of 15 years, Christina.
On social media, Daniels described his passions as golfing and flying his plane. He lived with his wife, a lawyer for SEPTA; their 1-year-old son, Grayson; and three pugs. He was active online, posting photos of his family.
He had served as an Army air cavalry staff sergeant. He suffered burns to his legs when a building exploded in Afghanistan and had to walk with a cane, said James Burgess, a health-care executive in San Francisco who considered Daniels one of his best friends and “a little brother.”
Daniels got a doctorate in education from Drexel University in 2017. He earlier earned his bachelor’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master’s from St. Joseph’s University.
At Drexel, Daniels wrote his dissertation on the effect student-loan debt had on African American Philadelphia students who studied at the for-profit University of Phoenix.
“To me, that said he really cared about students,” said his longtime college friend Eric Williams, who also earned his doctorate in education and served on Daniels’ dissertation committee. “He had the students’ best interests at heart.”
Amid ambition and a steadfast work ethic, Daniels was a jokester, happy to unwind and “have a good time," said Stacey Kenner, 53, who attended VCU with Daniels in the late 1980s.
“He just had his way of talking," said Kenner, a social worker who lives in St. Louis. "He would keep you in stitches. He was a good guy.”
Like others, Kenner learned from social media over the last few years that his friend had a passion for flying. Daniels posted two dozen videos to his YouTube channel under the name “Baron B55 Driver,” where he documented victories and close calls. He often recorded from the inside of a plane or strolling about the tarmac.
“I had an engine failure today,” he said in a video he recorded a year ago, on his 51st birthday. "You would think I would have enough God-given sense not to go back flying. But no, that’s not me, that’s not my style.”
He flew in another plane that day to celebrate his birthday.