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Cattaraugus County

April 9, 2021 - 1:33pm
posted by Virginia Kropf in news, notify, Genesee County Airport, Cattaraugus County, crash.

A pilot killed in a small plane crash Wednesday at Great Valley Airport in Cattaraugus County was well known at the Genesee County Airport.

William Mandelare, of Brockport, a former flight instructor at Genesee County Airport, died in the crash, which seriously injured Raymond Groetsch, also of Brockport. Groetsch, who also frequently flew in and out of Genesee County Airport, is reported in critical condition. 

Mandelare, 80, was an experienced pilot who taught Batavia flight instructor Pete Lockner and gave him his commercial license in 1982, Lockner said this morning. 

Jeff and Carol Boshart, who own the aircraft maintenance shop at Genesee County Airport, also knew Mandelare well.

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of such an enthusiastic member of the aviation community,” Carol said. “Bill used to often hang out at the airport and talked to all the pilots here. He taught tons of people to fly, many of them out of Genesee County.”

Lockner is also saddened by the news. He said Mandelare retired in 1982 as a mechanical drawing teacher in the Greece School District. He came to Genesee County Airport to be a flight instructor for Dick Drilling, who ran the airport at the time.

Initially, authorities were uncertain as to who was flying the plane, but it is now reported that Groetsch told authorities he was the pilot.

Mandelare, who was a short man, was known as “Little Bill” to his friends. Lockner speculates that his diminutiveness could have contributed to the crash which killed him; he may not have been able, as copilot, to reach over and commandeer the plane once trouble was apparent.

Lockner speculated as to what could have happened.

He said Mandelare always used a little seat when flying so he could reach the pedals, and that when in a plane, he always insisted on riding right seat. If he wasn’t flying the plane and didn’t have his seat, he it is unlikely he would have been unable to assist the pilot in an emergency, Lockner guessed.

Lockner described the Cessna 177 Cardinal as a tricky plane to fly. That model has a stabilator in the horizontal tail, rather than an elevator. That means when landing, the plane as to be put in a nose-up position to adjust the pitch.

If the pilot forgot to readjust the pitch when taking off, the plane could have been in too sharp a nose-up position, causing it to stall. When a plane stalls, the left wing always drops and hits the ground first, and then cartwheels, which is what it appears happened in Mandelare’s case. 

Lockner himself has been flying since 1981 and has been giving flight instruction since 1986, so is familiar with the configuration of many aircraft.

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