A small aircraft crashed Sunday around 12:45 p.m. at Cullman Regional Airport, killing the pilot Tyler Walker, 40, and his daughter Brooklyn, 10.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating the cause of the crash.
According to airport Manager Ben Harrison, there were multiple witnesses to the crash of the Vans RV-6 aircraft, a fixed-wing, single engine airplane. According to Vans, the RV-6 kit airplane, considered an “experimental” plane, was one of it’s most popular models. FAA records indicate that the plane Walker was piloting was deemed “air worthy” with the FAA in 2014. It was registered to Walker and Joseph Mackentepe, also of Vinemont.
Harrison said Walker and his family were well known at the airport. “They flew out of here, everyone here knows them,” he said. “A lot of them would consider them friends. They were good people. It’s a very sad time for everyone; it’s a very shocking time for everyone.”
He did not know Walker’s flight plans on Sunday.
The airport was shut down for three to four hours on Sunday, said Harrison, although the wreckage was not on the runway or taxiway. “That was out of precaution from us because we had so many emergency vehicles around,” said Harrison. Incoming flights were diverted during that time.
Walker was a graduate of Vinemont High School and Wallace Community College. He and wife Michelle had three children. Brooklyn was a fifth-grader at East Elementary School.
East Elementary Principal David Wiggins did not return phone calls seeking comment Monday, but in a tweet Sunday night he stated, “The EES family lost a child today. Our hearts are broken beyond words. We send our love and prayers to the Walker family in their time of grief."
Cullman High School Principal Kim Hall tweeted “We’re praying for the faculty and students of East Elementary. Someone once asked me, ‘What is the hardest thing about your job?’ I had one reply, ‘the loss of a student is the hardest part - Nothing else compares.’ God be with this family and the East family as well.”
Harrison said the loss of Walker and his daughter have hit the tight-knit aviation community hard. “I’ve known them for a long time,” he said. “They’ve been friends of the airport for a long time. It’s a hard day for everyone.”