Crash in Abilene Kills Former SAFB Pilot - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Crash in Abilene Kills Former SAFB Pilot

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A former Sheppard Air Force Base pilot was killed in a plane crash in Abilene.

Abilene Fire officials said the crash happened around 6:30 p.m. Sunday afternoon.

Ricky Schafer, 35, was flying his newly built Team Tango Foxtrot Four plane when it suddenly crashed into trees and brush, killing Schafer, and his brother Matthew Schafer, 28.

"Thirty seconds after takeoff is when the plane took a hard left bank,” said one eyewitness.

The two other passengers aboard, his sister-in-law, Victoria Schafer, 31, and nephew, Wyatt Schafer, 2, was taken to nearby hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Newschannel 6 reached out to a friend of Schafer's that helped the former pilot instructor build the plane. Charlie Bradberry, a Texoma resident, met the pilot three years ago through his son. Over the years, he said they became friends and recently he helped him build his new plane.

"We'd spent a lot of cold nights out here. Just doing as much as we could to get it ready to fly,” said Charlie Bradberry, a Texoma resident.

Bradberry said Schafer was an excellent pilot and believes the two people that survived the crash probably survived because of his training.

“I got into some scary situations in this airplane and his calmness and demeanor is what pulled us through,” said Bradberry. “I have no doubt that's the way he acted in the final moments of his life, saving two more people."

Bradberry said Schafer was a stickler when it came to safety and doing things right.

“He would not let me get by taking any shortcuts, wouldn't let me get by with the smallest errors. He wanted perfection and because of that I'm a better pilot,” said Bradberry.

Schafer will not only be remembered for serving his country, but also for serving mankind.

“He was a fantastic motivator, encourager and I will cherish every single hour we spent in this airplane,” said Bradberry.

The Federal Aviation Administration is in the process of conducting an investigation. The cause of the crash is still unknown at this time.

Jimmie Johnson, Newschannel 6