Victims of a Sunday crash of a small plane near the Boonville, Mo., airport have long Wichita ties, neighbors said.
Those who knew the pilot say aviation has lost a good pilot and a good soul.
Charles Sojka of Salina, the pilot, died in the crash about 9 a.m. Sunday, the Missouri Highway Patrol said.
Three passengers were taken to University Hospital in Columbia, Mo., said Highway Patrol Sgt. Paul Reinsch.
He identified the surviving passengers as Sojka’s wife, Brenda Schewe, 56, of Salina, and her children, Kathryn Taylor, 25, of Wichita, and Jacob Taylor, 23, of Kansas City, Mo.
The plane was en route to Kansas City from St. Louis, Reinsch said.
Nick Solomey, a professor of physics at Wichita State University, knew the family well; they were neighbors, he said. Charles flew all the time and taught aircraft maintenance; Brenda, Sojka’s wife, is a doctor, he said.
“It was sad to hear that her husband Charles died piloting the plane,” Solomey wrote in an email. “He was a good neighbor … cheerful, saying hello and helping. Until four months ago they all lived in Wichita next to me.”
Brenda Schewe is a doctor of internal medicine. From 1991 to 2010 she taught as an assistant professor of internal medicine at the University of Kansas School of Medicine in Wichita. She is still part of the volunteer faculty there, KU officials said.
Sojka worked in aviation maintenance for Kansas State University at Salina. His wife, who practiced in Wichita and El Dorado, decided recently to sell the Wichita home to be closer to her husband in Salina, Solomey said.
Sojka went to work in Salina about 10 years ago as an instructor in the Salina school’s maintenance training program, said Kurt Barnhart, associate dean at the K-State school.
About two years ago Sojka took up the job of chief of flight maintenance, working on the airworthiness of the school’s training planes, Barnhart said.
“He did a great job for us here and was a great guy with a lot of talents and a lot of FAA certificates,” Barnhart said. “He was a pilot as well as an aircraft mechanic, which helps a lot in communicating with pilots. He was a real asset and will leave a real hole in what we do. He loved to fly and would bend over backward to help anybody.”
The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash, the Missouri Highway Patrol said.
Contributing: Associated Press