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Pilot Of One Plane Involved In Mid-Air Crash Dies

March 3, 1986

PONTIAC, Mich. (AP) _ The pilot of a light plane involved in a collision with another plane during a landing approach died Sunday, and the planes’ two other occupants remained hospitalized, authorities said.

The aircraft were approaching Oakland-Pontiac Airport on Saturday when one dropped on top of the other, sending both planes plunging 200 to 500 feet to the ground within 100 feet of a residential area, police and witnesses said. No one on the ground was injured.

John Kirchgessner, 39, of Davisburg, who was at the controls of a single- engine Cessna 172 when its tail was clipped, died Sunday in Pontiac General Hospital, said Waterford Township police Sgt. Ron West.

The other plane was a Cessna 152 flown by Patrick Gorrie, 19, of Ortonville, West said.

Gorrie, who told witnesses who helped him from the plane that he was a student pilot, was listed in serious condition Sunday at St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Pontiac, said nursing supervisor Sharon Wilkerson.

The passenger in Kirchgessner’s plane, Anthony Palazzola Jr., 24, of the Clarkston area, was in critical condition Sunday at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak.

Meanwhile, a single-engine plane crashed into a residential area in Oakland, Calif., Sunday injuring the pilot and smashing four cars, authorities said. No one on the ground was injured, police said.

Witness Regina White said no one was in the damaged cars.

″Thank God that the people that ran up to the plane pulled the gentleman out or else he would have burned up,″ said Denise Johnson, another resident.

The pilot, whose name was not immediately available, was alone in the Cessna 172. He was taken to Highland Hospital, where he was reported in stable condition in the emergency room.

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