Monday, July 3, 2017

Decades after woman jumped from a plane, skeletal remains may solve her disappearance

Landscapers discovered adult skeletal human remains alongside a wooded Palmetto Bay nature trail on June 26th.



For more than two decades, mystery has surrounded the disappearance of Christine Pascale, a troubled one-time pilot who hurled herself, without a parachute, from a small plane in an apparent suicide attempt over South Miami-Dade.

Investigators never found her body.

But Pascale’s relatives got a spark of hope last week when workers discovered skeletal remains hidden in the brush of a 22-acre nature preserve next to the Palmetto Bay Village Center on Old Cutler Road.

It might take months for forensic anthropologists to identify the skeletal remains, which were found in pieces as workers cleared out invasive plants. The bones are too old to yield DNA for testing. But Miami-Dade homicide detectives and the medical examiner’s office are exploring the possibility that Pascale’s body might have finally surfaced.

“I’m just hoping that it is her. I always wonder where she is. Even if it’s a fatality, that is still my sister’s body. I want her to have a nicer resting place,” said her sister, Michelle Pascale Venega, who spoke to a detective on Monday.

“I know it’s been some years, but I always think about what happened.”

The 26-year-old Pascale leaped to her presumed death from a Cessna on Dec. 3, 1994.

That day, Pascale hired a plane ride at the Opa-locka airport, directing the pilot to fly over Southwest 184th Street and Old Cutler Road, close to where her parents lived. Pascale told the pilot she wanted to take some aerial photographs.

Pascale jumped when the plane reached 5,000 feet, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report.

“I noticed her reaching for something on the rear seat. I assumed it was a camera … A little while later, I heard what sounded like a yell and felt wind in the cabin and noise simultaneously,” pilot Hodelin F. Rene told federal investigators at the time.

“I immediately turned toward the sound, and she was already partly out of the airplane, and when our eyes met, she jumped out.”

Pascale’s body would have plummeted at 120 miles an hour, with the young woman conscious during the free fall. It would have taken her about 15 seconds to hit the dirt or the mangroves of Biscayne Bay, experts told the Miami Herald in 1994.

Venega says she still believes her older sister “fell off” the plane.

“She was taking aerial shots and supposedly the door opened; they said it was suicide, but I don’t think it was,” Venega said. “I don’t think she was depressed. All we know is the Cessna called it in that he lost control of the plane when the door opened.”

Just days before she fell to her death, Pascale had tried jumping out of another aircraft flying over South Miami-Dade, in the vicinity of the former Burger King headquarters, a National Transportation Safety Board report says. She was unsuccessful.

Pascale’s short life was marred by mental-health problems.

Records show that would-be pilot began “as a sickly child and grew into a disruptive and violent-tempered adult, living in failure and fantasy, yelling curses and threats, arrested often for disorderly conduct and occasionally for worse things,” the Herald reported in 1994.

Pascale pretended to be a jet pilot and aviation business woman but her license only qualified her to fly a single-engine propeller-driven plane.

The Federal Aviation Administration later revoked it because Pascale lied about her medical history. Since childhood, she had lived on one kidney, and the FAA believed she was schizophrenic, dishonest, compulsive and dangerous .

Pascale’s home life in east Perinne was marked by domestic disputes and a tortured relationship with her father. Police records listed arrests for disorderly conduct, bouncing checks, cheating landlords and two felonies — sticking a man with a knife and fork and forging prescriptions for tranquilizers and painkillers. Pascale even went to jail for punching her younger sister.

“The worst call was from the FAA, telling us that Christine made a report of a missing plane that our son was on, and the plane crashed. We told them that we don’t have a son, and Christine is a very sick girl,” her father told the Miami Herald back then. “They asked us if she lied a lot, and we said she is a constant liar.”

Vanega hopes the remains are indeed her sister.

“Since there is no closure, my mom in her head thinks she is alive, and I know that’s her way of just coping with it. She thinks she had a parachute on and survived and just ran away,” Venega said. “I know it doesn’t make sense at all, but maybe just finding her it will bring closure.”

Anyone with information on the 1994 death of Christine Pascale can contact Miami-Dade’s homicide bureau at 305-471-2400.

http://www.miamiherald.com

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

http://registry.faa.gov/N707PP

NTSB Identification: MIA95LA032
The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Saturday, December 03, 1994 in MIAMI, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/31/1995
Aircraft: CESSNA 172D, registration: N707PP
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that he was in cruise flight at 5,000 feet agl and had slowed to 70 mph. The passenger stated that she was taking off her headset and moving her seat back so she could get a good photograph. The pilot heard what sounded like a yell, and simultaneously felt wind and noise in the cabin. He looked towards the sound, and observed the passenger partially out of the airplane. When their eyes met, she jumped. Review of ATC transcripts verified that the pilot departed and returned to the departure airport without any intermediate stops. Another pilot wrote a letter to the Safety Board describing a similar incident that occurred 4 days prior to the accident with the same passenger. During that flight, she unlatched the door gunner's safety belt while sitting on the floor with her feet outside the airplane on the landing gear. At the time, she was wearing a parachute with a hidden automatic opener on the reserve parachute. She was subsequently pulled back into the airplane by a safety crewmember and restrained for the return flight. The passenger's airman and medical certificates had been revoked 8/12/91 for failing to disclose a history of, among other conditions, a personality disorder and for the taking of numerous prescribed medications.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The passenger committed suicide.

On December 3, 1994, about 1246 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172D, N707PP, registered to Hodelin F. Rene, operating as a 14 CFR Part 91 aerial photography flight, reported to FAA air traffic control while in cruise flight, that his female passenger jumped out of the airplane in the vicinity of Miami, Florida. The passenger was not located and is presumed to be fatally injured. The airplane was not damaged. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Opa Locka Airport, Opa Locka, Florida, about 1 hour 6 minutes before the accident.

Charles J. Flowers, President of Flowers Air Charter, Opa Locka, Florida, stated his office was contacted on three separate occasions in November 1994, by Christine M. Pascale, who asked to rent an airplane with a pilot to take some aerial photographs. Mr. Flowers stated he was unable to support her request, and he contacted a private owner, Hodelin F.Rene, who agreed to make the flight.

The pilot, Hodelin F. Rene, stated he arrived at Flowers Air Charter, on December 3, 1994, at about 1000, and was introduced to his passenger by Mr. Flowers. Miss Pascale stated she wanted to take several pictures of a couple of houses in the Cutler Ridge area, and drew a circle around the area on an aeronautical chart. He went to Terminal One, taxied his airplane to Flowers Air Charter, and did a preflight inspection. The passenger did her own preflight inspection, and asked several questions about the operations of the right passenger door. They departed Opa Locka Airport and flew to the area previously marked on the map. He leveled off at 5,000 feet agl, slowed the airplane to 70 mph, and asked her where she wanted to go. She stated she would look outside to make sure. A short time later, she stated she was going to take off the headset and move the seat back so she could get a good shot. He then heard what sounded like a yell, felt wind and noise simultaneously in the cabin area. He looked towards the sound, she was already partly out of the airplane, and when their eyes met, she jumped out. "I was in total amazement, shock and just froze for a moment, not knowing what to do. I could not believe what had happened. After about ten seconds, I called ATC and requested a descent as I struggled to close the door." He then informed ATC that he would like to declare an emergency, that his passenger had jumped out of the airplane.

Review of communications on December 3, 1994, for the time period between 1640 UTC (1140 EST) to 1807 UTC (1307 EST) between Miami ATCT, Fort Lauderdale South Arrival/Departure Radar, Arrival/Departure Interphone, South Departure Radar, Opa Locka ATC Tower, and N707PP indicate the airplane departed Opa Locka Airport, landed at Opa Locka Airport without any intermediate stops and confirmed ATC statements made by the pilot.

Mr. Thomas D. Manning, Skydive, Inc., Homestead, Florida, wrote a letter to the NTSB on December 4, 1994, stating that Christine M.Pascale attempted to jump out of his airplane on November 29, 1994, while on an aerial photography flight in the vicinity of Burger King Headquarters, on Old Cutler Road in Miami, Florida. After landing at the Homestead General Aviation Airport, Homestead, Florida, a confrontation ensued, and the Metro Dade Police Department was called. Mr. Manning informed the two police officers who responded to the call that he thought Miss Pascale was trying to commit suicide.

Review of airman records on file with the FAA Airmen Certification Branch, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, revealed the passenger, Christine M. Pascale, was issued private pilot certificate No. 85526189, on October 22, 1990, with ratings for airplane single engine land. The Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, issued an emergency order of revocation of any airman pilot certificate or airman medical certificate held by the passenger on August 12, 1991. The airman and medical certificates were revoked for falsification of airman medical application dated March 23, 1990, October 27, 1990, and general medical condition. She failed to disclose that she had a history of the following: a. Seizures b. Personality disorder c. Uncontrolled hypertension d. Myasthenia gravis e. Asthma f. Stroke g. Steroid dependency h. Multiple allergies i. Cerebral hemorrhage secondary to ruptured aneurism j. Taking numerous prescribed medications.

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