The pilot who died in the Saturday afternoon plane crash that killed race-car driver Ted Christopher en route to a competition at Riverhead Raceway was a Long Islander who had a longtime friendship with the driver, a Connecticut police spokesman said Monday.
North Branford police Lt. James Lovelace identified the pilot as Charles Patrick Dundas, 81, of Hauppauge. He said Dundas had flown Christopher many times before.
“From what I’ve been told he was a very well-experienced pilot who had a long friendship with the driver,” Lovelace said.
Dundas was a veteran pilot who held ratings for commercial multi-engine aircraft, including the DC-9, Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 and other heavy aircraft, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Investigators believe the two were headed from Robertson Field in Plainville, Connecticut, where Christopher, 59, lived, to Gabreski Airport in Westhampton Beach, but the destination airport has not yet been confirmed, Lovelace said.
The Mooney M20C aircraft owned and piloted by Dundas was hangered at Gabreski, which is not far from where Christopher was scheduled to compete in a modified division race Saturday night, Lovelace said.
Officials at Riverhead Raceway paid tribute to Christopher Saturday night, including a ceremonial lap by the orange No. 82 modified car in which he was scheduled to compete.
The FAA said the single-engine plane crashed into a wooded area on the North Branford-Guilford border near New Haven early Saturday afternoon. The National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the cause of the crash, said the right wing was sheared off on impact.
The NTSB investigator, Aaron McCarter, said in a televised statement from the scene that a preliminary report was expected in seven to 10 days and that a more definitive incident report would likely be issued in 12-18 months. The NTSB, citing the ongoing investigation, would not cite an area of focus Monday.
Christopher was a widely known modified division race driver in the Northeast who had 109 division wins at Stafford Speedway in Connecticut, where he also was a nine-time division champ. He had another 99 wins at Thompson Speedway and 47 at the New London-Waterford Speedbowl.