Plane crash

A Texas Department of Public Safety trooper is on the scene where a twin-engine Piper PA-34 crashed Sunday a quarter-mile east of Gainesville Municipal Airport’s Runway 18. A U.S. Aviation Academy student pilot and instructor were killed.

Two people died Sunday after a small aircraft, which took off from Denton, caught fire during landing at Gainesville Municipal Airport, officials say.

The twin-engine Piper PA-34 crashed a quarter-mile east of Runway 18 as it prepared to land at about 4 p.m., Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.

The plane, which had two people on board, burned after impact, he said.

Yu Qiu, 22, a U.S. Aviation Academy student from China, died at the scene, said Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Mark Tackett.

Flight instructor Francesca Norris, 25, of North Richland Hills, was flown to Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas where she died late Sunday night, Tackett said.

“All of our hearts are heavy as we collectively mourn our student and friend,” said Justin Sykes, the assistant chief financial officer for Denton-based U.S. Aviation Academy, in a statement obtained by the Gainesville Daily Register. “Our hearts are with our student’s and instructor’s families, friends and loved ones.”

According to, the plane departed at 2:40 p.m. from Denton Enterprise Airport. It was scheduled to land in Gainesville at 4 p.m.

A passerby reported the crash to the Cooke County Sheriff’s Office at about 4:20 p.m. and DPS troopers responded to a pasture north of the airport, where the plane was found, the Daily Register reported.

The cause of the crash has not been determined.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident, Lunsford said.

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