LAST FLIGHT — An ultralight aircraft, believed to be piloted by Paul J. Van Brunt, flies over the Warrensburgh Farmers’ Market at 5:45 p.m. Friday Oct. 7. Van Brunt’s aircraft crashed about 20 minutes later near his landing field in northern Warrensburg, and he died afterwards due to injuries sustained in the incident.
A local man died Friday after the ultralight aircraft he was piloting crashed as he was approaching the landing field on his property several miles north of downtown.
Paul J. Van Brunt, 56, of 1153 Schroon River Road, crashed in his single-engine ultralight aircraft at about 6 p.m. Friday Oct. 7 in a field beside Schroon River Road just north of where it intersects with Pucker St.
Police said Van Brunt crashed about 200 yards south of his landing field.
A woman in her 20s, whose family owns the field where Van Brunt crashed, described the incident the morning after the incident. She declined to divulge her name.
She said that Van Brunt, affectionately known to neighbors as “Speedo,” flew the craft regularly, often daily or several times per day.
She said she was in her kitchen talking on her cell phone when she heard the familiar noise of the ultralight craft, powered by a small snowmobile engine.
Then the engine noise suddenly stopped.
“Several moments later, I heard a really heavy ‘Thud,’” she said.
The woman added that she looked out her window, and saw Van Brunt on the ground, on his side.
A young man driving by stopped his vehicle, called 911 on his cell phone, then took a sheet-rock knife and cut Van Brunt out of the pilot’s nylon sling in which he was piloting the one-man craft, the woman said.
Van Brunt, however appeared to have extensive internal injuries, she said.
A police officer on the scene reported that Van Brunt was conscious and able to talk after the crash.
The Warrensburg Emergency Squad arrived on scene and transported Van Brunt to Glens Falls Hospital, where he later died from injuries sustained in the crash, according to the Warren County Sheriff’s office.
The cause of the crash is unknown and the investigation is continuing, authorities said. Van Brunt was a licensed pilot with decades of aviation experience.
The Sheriff’s Office is being assisted in the investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration.
According to family members, Van Brunt had a great love for flying. He had worked for Northwest Airlines and held a private pilot’s license for over 30 years. During that time, he owned many different aircraft and flew to various Caribbean islands, Canada, and many locations in the U.S.
For several years, he had worked as an automobile transmission specialist for Aamco, and had conducted seminars on transmissions and welding, teaching students on the islands of Trinidad, St. Martin, St. Lucia, and Barbados.
The woman witnessing the aftermath of the crash said Van Brunt was an interesting, accomplished man.
“Speedo had quite an engineering mind, and he was a great guy,” she said. “He was a cool guy who was ‘all about’ his sons, and he loved flying. This is quite a loss for everyone.”
Friends may call on Van Brunt’s family from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday Oct. 15 at Alexander-Baker Funeral Home, 3809 Main St., Warrensburg.
A memorial service to celebrate Paul’s life will follow visitation at 3 p.m. at the funeral home with Sister Linda Hogan, of St. Cecilia’s Roman Catholic Church in Warrensburg officiating.
People may visit alexanderfh.net for more information or to express their condolences.