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Businessman Who Flew To Space With Blue Origin Dies In Plane Crash

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Glen de Vries — a health technology entrepreneur who flew into space on a Blue Origin rocket with actor William Shatner last month — died Thursday in a New Jersey airplane crash, state police officials said.

Key Facts

De Vries and Thomas P. Fischer died in a plane crash discovered Thursday afternoon in rural Sussex County, New Jersey, more than 40 miles northwest of Manhattan, New Jersey State Police spokesperson Brandi Slota told Forbes in a statement.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed a single-engine Cessna 172 — a popular small plane often used for flight instruction — crashed in a wooded area while flying from suburban Essex County to Sussex County, and a preliminary FAA report said the plane was involved in instructional activity and crashed “under unknown circumstances.”

De Vries earned a private pilot license in May, and a man named Thomas P. Fischer has commercial and flight instructor certificates, according to FAA records.

Essex County-based Fischer Aviation — a flight school that lists flight instructor Tom Fischer as the owner — says on its website that de Vries started pilot training there in 2016 (Fischer Aviation did not immediately respond to a request for comment).

Tangent

De Vries led and co-founded clinical trial software company Medidata Solutions, which was acquired more than two years ago by French company Dassault Systèmes. In a statement, a Dassault spokesperson offered “thoughts and support” to de Vries’ family and his Medidata coworkers. “We will truly miss Glen, but his dreams – which we share – live on: we will pursue progress in life sciences & healthcare as passionately as he did,” the spokesperson said.

Key Background

De Vries, Shatner and two other private citizens flew to the edge of space last month in an aircraft owned by Blue Origin, Jeff Bezos’ commercial spaceflight company. The voyage was Blue Origin’s second human flight to space. In a September statement on Blue Origin’s website, de Vries said he’s “been passionate about aviation and space for as long as I can remember, so this flight is truly a dream come true.”

Crucial Quote

“We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries,” Blue Origin said in a tweet. “His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired.”