FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Windsor Locks FSDO-63
AIRCRAFT DURING APPROACH, CRASHED ONTO A STREET, THERE WERE 2 PERSONS ON BOARD, 1 WAS FATALLY INJURED, 1 SUSTAINED UNKNOWN INJURIES, THE AIRCRAFT WAS DESTROYED, EAST HARTFORD, CONNECTICUT.
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA34
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: Fatal
Flight Phase: APPROACH (APR)
The student pilot who authorities believe intentionally crashed a twin-engine airplane on Main Street Tuesday was acting increasingly erratic in the days before the crash, law enforcement sources said.
Feras M. Freitekh seemed out of sorts and, over the two or three days before the crash, was "confrontational" and "cranky," investigators said Freitekh's acquaintances told them.
The behavior, while out of character, was not so alarming to prompt his acquaintances to notify anyone, investigators said.
Law enforcement officials said Wednesday that Freitekh, 28, was flying the Piper PA-34 Seneca erratically and fought with the flight instructor, Arian Prevalla, 43, just before the crash. Prevalla was badly burned in the crash and was listed in fair condition Thursday at the Bridgeport Hospital burn center.
While authorities said Wednesday that Freitekh was distraught over his performance at the American Flight Academy at Hartford's Brainard Airport, the new information reveals more about the Jordanian national's state of mind in the days before the crash. And the findings further support the theory held by investigators that the crash near the Pratt & Whitney headquarters was intentional.
"This is looking like a suicide," an official said. The investigation is ongoing and authorities have said they have not reached a definitive conclusion on why the plane crashed.
Local, state and federal authorities have searched the Annawan Street apartment in Hartford that Freitekh shared with several other foreign flight students and planned to search his electronic devices as well. So far, they have not found anything that would lead them to think terrorism was involved.
Authorities interviewed Freitekh's roommates, and cleared them, sources said. FBI agents also interviewed several foreign students living at an Essex Street apartment owned by Prevalla and cleared them.
Neighbors on Annawan Street described Freitekh as a friendly man who always made a point to greet neighbors. Friends described him as being passionate about flying and insist he was doing well in flight school.
Freitekh attended the flight school since at least 2015, but listed his address at a home in Orland Park, Ill.
Wednesday, the chief of police in the Chicago suburb, Tom Scully, said Freitekh never lived there and had "no connection" to the community.
Scully said the Orland Hills home listed on Freitekh's pilot's license was actually owned by a friend of Freitekh's father, who worked in nearby Alsip, Ill.
The homeowner allowed his address to be used for mail that was sent to Freitekh because he did not have a residence of his own, the chief said. The Orland Hills homeowner would bring that mail to Freitekh's father, although it had been several months since a mail exchange was made, the chief said.
Scully said Freitekh's father worked for a shipping container business and essentially lived at that location. He said Freitekh and his father had never been to the Orland Hills address listed on Freitekh's pilot's license.
The aircraft wreckage was removed Wednesday night and crews from Environmental Services Inc. of South Windsor cleaned up aircraft fuel that was not consumed in the blaze and fluids from an electrical transformer. Traffic was again moving in both directions on Main Street near the crash scene on Thursday.
Prevalla, after escaping the flaming wreckage, walked into the American Eagle Federal Credit Union office at 417 Main St. to ask for help, the credit union's CEO said Thursday. He then joined several employees who ran out a back door after the crash, and was treated in the back parking lot before being taken to a hospital.
Credit union president and CEO Dean Marchessault said employees were not sure what had happened. "A couple of employees reported that they had seen a plane go by their window," he said. "Other employees that were on the ground floor ... just heard the explosions."
It was only while employees were fleeing that they saw smoke and realized there was a plane crash. Marchessault was not at the office when the crash occurred and would not allow employees who were to be interviewed.
A Jordanian Muslim named Feras M. Freitekh, originally in the U.S. on a student visa, enrolled in a U.S. flight school and then crashed his airplane in Connecticut after arguing with his flight instructor. The FBI is investigating whether this was an act of terrorism. Sources say the crash was intentional, and that Freitekh lives with three other "foreign nationals," also attending U.S. flight school.
A Middle Eastern Muslim man originally on a student visa, in a U.S. flight school? Have we learned nothing since 9/11? Apparently not. Middle Eastern Muslims are still attending U.S. flight schools in large numbers.
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