The building struck by a Beechcraft King Air B200 at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport shortly after takeoff Thursday is one of FlightSafety International’s five centers in Wichita.
Wichita has the highest concentration of FlightSafety centers in the world, the company has said. Pilots and maintenance technicians come to Wichita from around the world to train in Cessna, Learjet, Beechcraft and Hawker products.
The plane that crashed just before 10 a.m. Thursday hit FlightSafety’s Cessna Learning Center’s north building at 1851 S. Airport Road. Inside the building, pilots receive aviation training on Cessna Citation business jets and Caravan turboprops.
At any given time, about 100 employees and clients are in the building, authorities said Thursday.
They train in classrooms and inside advanced technology simulators to become type-rated to fly the Citation jets or to receive recurrent training, designed to keep pilots’ skills fresh and top of mind.
Four people died in Thursday’s fiery crash, including the pilot and three victims inside the building. Three of the victims are from the Wichita area – including pilot Mark Goldstein – and one is from another country, authorities said.
Authorities did not release information about the identities of those killed, but they did say that three were found inside a flight simulator in the building and one was found on the roof. A former colleague of Goldstein released his name to the media.
“All of us at FlightSafety International are greatly saddened by the tragic accident that occurred at Wichita Mid-Continent Airport impacting our Cessna Learning Center,” the company said in a statement. “We are continuing to work with authorities to assist them in their investigation and to ensure the safety and well being of our clients and teammates. No further details are available at this time.”
It thanked those who have been in contact.
“Your outpouring of sympathy touches and strengthens us. Every day we hear that it’s our teammates who make FlightSafety great,” the statement said. “We agree. Which makes the tragic events at our Wichita center that much more heartbreaking. Please continue to keep those most affected in your thoughts and prayers.”
FlightSafety has Cessna pilot training and maintenance learning centers housed in three buildings at Mid-Continent Airport. Its new maintenance center – which features 15 classrooms, four engine labs, an avionics laboratory and a hangar – opened last year.
Bombardier Learjet has a combined pilot-training and maintenance-training center at the airport. And Beechcraft has a pilot-training center and a maintenance-training center in east Wichita.
Every year, thousands of clients come to Wichita for training at one of the centers.
FlightSafety was founded by pilot Al Ueltschi at New York’s La Guardia Airport in 1951. He took the company public in 1968. Today, it’s owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway.
Companywide, FlightSafety employs 1,800 instructors who provide 3,500 individual courses for 135 aircraft types, according to its website. They use more than 300 simulators and have customers from 167 countries.