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Vicki Van Meter | Set child-flying mark, 26

Vicki Van Meter, 26, who made headlines in the 1990s for piloting a plane across the country at age 11 and from the United States to Europe at age 12, has died, an apparent suicide.

Ms. Van Meter died Saturday of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound, the Crawford County, Pa., coroner said. Her body was found in her Meadville home on Sunday.

Ms. Van Meter was celebrated in 1993 and 1994 when she made her cross-country and transatlantic flights accompanied only by a flight instructor. Her instructors said she was at the controls during the entirety of both trips.

Ms. Van Meter was a sixth grader in 1993 when she flew from Augusta, Maine, to San Diego over five days.

At the time, she was believed to be the youngest girl to fly across the United States. That record was broken by a 9-year-old girl in 1994.

In 1994, Ms. Van Meter flew from Augusta to Glasgow, Scotland, and was credited with being the youngest girl to make a transatlantic flight.

She battled dizziness brought on by high altitude and declared upon landing: "I always thought it would be real hard and it was."

Later she earned a degree in criminal justice from Edinboro University in Pennsylvania and spent two years with the Peace Corps in the former Soviet republic of Moldova.

She recently worked as an investigator for an insurance company.

- AP

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