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Thu, Nov 17, 2005

Deland Pilot Will Fly Again After Settling With FAA

Still Faces Potential Criminal Charges In Skydiver's Death

Aero-News has learned William "Bill" Buchmann, the pilot involved in an airborne collision with skydiver Albert "Gus" Wing that resulted in the latter's death, has settled a dispute with the FAA over his revoked pilot license.

An unnamed official with knowledge of the case told the Daytona Beach News-Journal Buchmann's ticket was pulled for 270 days, as part of a settlement reached Monday. It is not known if that includes the three months Buchmann's license has already been suspended.

The FAA suspended Buchmann's flying privileges in August after reviewing the circumstances surrounding Wing's death. On April 23, the experienced skydiver was struck by Buchmann's DHC-6 Twin Otter (file photo of type, above) at approximately 600 ft AGL, severing the parachutist's lower legs.

The FAA alleged Buchmann -- himself an experienced pilot, with over 14,000 hours in the air -- caused Wing's death by flying the Twin Otter underneath the skydivers, and entering the traffic pattern over Deland Airport from the wrong direction. Buchmann appealed that decision, and was scheduled to have his case heard before the NTSB Wednesday -- until the settlement was reached.

"I think in a nutshell, [Buchmann] settled because he wanted to get this thing behind him," said Dr. John Wing, the late skydiver's brother. "I still don't agree that he is guilty of... any kind of criminal issues."

Although the settlement means Buchmann will soon be able to fly again, he still faces the specter of criminal charges, including manslaughter and reckless operation of an aircraft.

As was reported in Aero-News, the Florida State Attorney's office is said to be considering such charges, based on the recommendation of the Deland Police Department. Specifically, DPD officials have reportedly uncovered evidence Buchmann and Wing -- who had worked together for years -- would sometimes race each other to the ground. Family and relatives have disputed that claim.

Buchmann's attorney, Patrick Phillips, could not be reached for comment on the settlement.



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