NH man indicted in fatal Mass. plane crash

January 30, 2012 - 5:15 PM

BOSTON (AP) — A New Hampshire pilot who prosecutors said wasn't qualified to fly without an instructor on board has been indicted on an involuntary manslaughter charge in connection with a western Massachusetts plane crash that killed his 35-year-old daughter.

Steven T. Fay, 57, of Hillsborough, N.H., caused Jessica L. Malin's death through "wanton and reckless conduct" when the twin-engine Cessna he was piloting on approach to Orange Municipal Airport after dark on Jan., 1, 2011 clipped the tops of some trees and crashed upside-down, prosecutors said Monday.

"Fay ... was neither licensed nor qualified to fly that twin-engine plane without an instructor on board" Assistant District Attorney Steve Gagne said.

According to federal investigators, Fay was certified to fly only single-engine planes without an instructor.

Fay's lack of expertise, training and supervision on the Cessna flight violated Federal Aviation Administration rules and regulations and "created a high degree of likelihood that substantial harm would result to another," Gagne said.

Fay also endangered people on the ground, Gagne said.

Malin was married with two children and had worked as a certified nursing assistant, according to her obituary. A phone listing for her husband could not be found Monday.

"I loved my daughter and I've been suffering from her loss for a year now," Fay said Monday. "I haven't been able to work and I'm making it day by day."

Fay said he been a licensed pilot for 20 years but declined to discuss the crash further.

"I don't want to say anything because I haven't found a lawyer yet and I don't know what I'm up against," Fay said.

Fay told federal investigators that he became a pilot in 1989 and resumed flying about a year ago after not flying for about six or seven years. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, Fay held a private pilot certificate authorizing him to fly single-engine planes and had completed about 500 hours of flying time as of September 2010. He had completed about 50 hours of instruction in multi-engine planes like the Cessna, but was not licensed to fly them.

Fay told authorities he had taken off from Keene, N.H., at about 4:30 p.m. on New Year's Day and decided to practice touch-and-go landings in Orange before returning to Keene.

The crash occurred about 90 minutes after sunset.

Federal investigators have ruled out mechanical failure, weather, and operator impairment as factors in the crash. Fay is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday in Greenfield, Mass. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.