Frank Schmidt dies in Laytonsville plane crash

The plane came down near Davis Airport in Montgomery County. Photo: Mike Rudd

The investigation into what caused a single-engine plane to crash Monday night near Davis Airport in Montgomery County, killing a highly experienced 79-year-old pilot, continued Tuesday.

The victim of Monday's plane crash in Laytonsville has been identified as Frank Schmidt, a flight instructor at Davis Airport who had logged more than 18,000 flying hours, airport officials say.

Schmidt was killed and Allen Rothenberg, 83, was injured while trying to land a small plane at the Montgomery County airport on Monday. Rothenberg was flying the aircraft.

Fire crews were called to the 23600 block of Pocahontas Road at 7:30 p.m. Monday on reports of the crash. The single engine, four-seater plane crashed into a wooded area on the edge of the airport.

On Tuesday, officials towed the wreckage from the 1964 Beech Musketeer away for examination and investigation.

"We have one witness that we talked to that reported that the airplane pulled up the right wing, dipped, then spun to the right and to the ground," NTSB investigator Ralph Hicks said.

Schmidt was a fixture at the Montgomery County airport, where he at times served as the facility's manager and chief flight instructor.

"He would put other before himself all the time and he cared more for others than he did for himself," Debbi Dreyfuss, a former student of Schmidt, said.

Witnesses say they could hear the crash from a mile away.

"We watched him take off it appeared he didn't get much higher than 40 or 50 feet by the end of the runway and he was very slow and it looked like he wasnt going to clear the trees and spun to the ground," eyewitness Robert Schapiro said.

Other friends and former students lauded Schmidt as one of the finest pilots and people they knew.

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"He had been known to have 18,500 flight hours (and) incredibly experienced; I was one of his last students," said airport mechanic Dennis Stiles.