Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Pilot dies in air crash

by on June 18, 2013 11:00 AM

McINTYRE — A Clarksburg-area man was fatally injured Monday evening when his ultralight aircraft hit the tops of some trees and crashed into a field of evergreen trees in the McIntyre area, authorities said.

Michael “Mickey” Grguric, 64, was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident by Indiana County Chief Deputy Coroner Jerry Overman.

Indiana County 911 dispatchers sent emergency crews to the scene along Church Street at 8:41 p.m.

State police, Citizens’ Ambulance Service paramedics and volunteers from the Coal Run and Saltsburg fire departments responded.

Initial attempts to revive Grguric were fruitless, and he died of multiple injuries soon after the accident, Overman said.

Family members consoled each other at the scene of the accident.

“He loved to fly. He was the best pilot out of that airport,” said a man identified as one of Grguric’s brothers.

Others declined to comment.

Grguric, a flier for more than 30 years, once hailed the free feelings of being alight in an ultralight plane.

“There’s nothing like it,” he said an interview with The Indiana Gazette. “It’s the best therapy you could ever have.

“If you have any type of pressure job, you just can’t get enough of it.”

In a story published in 1982, Grguric said he ordered an ultralight aircraft in a kit from a California company and that he and his wife worked 80 hours to assemble the plane.

Grguric told the Gazette that ultralight flying skills didn’t come easily.

“I practiced a lot by myself but didn’t do too good at first,” Grguric said. “I figured that if you could build it by the book, you could fly it by the book. It didn’t work out that way.”

Grguric said he took lessons from an instructor in Butler County to hone his flying skills. About 10 hours of instruction could get a flier in the air, but the accumulation of experience allowed him to master the techniques of ultralight flight.

Officials of the Federal Aviation Administration were expected today to investigate at the scene of the accident, state police said.

[See Gazette video and photos of the accident scene here.]

FAA officials did not respond this morning to Gazette requests for information about government regulations and oversight of ultralight aircraft and pilots.

At the crash site Monday evening, firefighters set up lights to illuminate the area while police and the coroner’s office investigated.

Overman said he learned that Grguric was practicing “touch and go” maneuvers and that several people saw the plane hit the tops of some trees during an ascent.

Overman reported no autopsy would be performed but toxicology tests would be conducted.

Funeral arrangements are to be handled by the Kelly Corridoni Funeral Home in Avonmore.

Chauncey Ross is the Gazette’s fixture at Indiana Area and Homer-Center school board meetings, has been seen with pen and notepad in area police stations and courts, and is something of an Open Records Act and Sunshine Law advocate. He also manages the Gazette’s websites and answers your questions about them.
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