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British tourist, pilot die in Texas plane crash near Galveston

Investigations of Texas plane crashes often start at a local level and rapidly evolve into probes involving agencies at the federal government level. Although the Federal Aviation Administration may be included in fatal airplane accident probes, the National Transportation Safety Board is the agency that examines data and issues a final report.

Authorities have offered no hints regarding the cause of a recent crash involving a P51 Mustang, a fighter plane from World War II, that is regularly featured in air shows. Two people died when the vintage aircraft fell from the sky, shortly after take-off from a Galveston airport.

Reports said the 51-year-old veteran pilot, a Denton resident, was not in contact with ground crews at the time of the accident. A 66-year-old British passenger, in Texas for a wedding anniversary celebration, lost his life after paying almost $2,000 for the ride.

The plane, named "Galveston Gal," was the property of the Lone Star Flight Museum. The aircraft’s seating had been modified to accommodate passengers.

Witnesses on boats reported the midday water crash, minutes from the airport where the tourist’s fatal flight began.

In crashes where the plane has gone down in the water, evidence that could help authorities determine the cause can be washed away. However, investigators and liability attorneys work with witnesses, the data gathered on site, air traffic controllers and the aircraft’s history and owner.

Pilot error can be the cause of an aviation accident, but it is not the only reason planes go down. Mistakes can be made in a plane’s design or in the manufacturing process. An owner may neglect to service the plane regularly or replace worn parts. A servicer can incorrectly diagnose problems with the aircraft engine. An accident may also be attributed to fuel starvation, an on board fire, pilot incapacity, weather conditions or a combination of events.

The information helps injured victims and families build personal injury and wrongful death cases against negligent defendants.

Source: khou.com, "Passenger in vintage plane crash was tourist from United Kingdom" Michelle Homer, Oct. 23, 2013

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