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Funeral Thursday for Louisiana oilman killed in plane crash

May 25, 2021 GMT

SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) — A funeral service will be held Thursday for a Louisiana oilman and philanthropist who died when his small stunt jet crashed into a lake.

The service for Fred L. Phillips, whose SubSonex plane crashed Sunday into Cross Lake in Shreveport, will be at B’nai Zion Congregation in Shreveport, the family’s obituary said.

His philanthropy included The Betty and Leonard Phillips Deaf Action Center, which his parents founded. He created The Electra Churchill Foundation to focus on burns and on trauma awareness after his longtime partner, Electra Churchill, died in a house explosion and fire in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, in 2019. Phillips was seriously burned in that fire.

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“There is peace knowing that he was doing what he loved and is reunited with his true love,” the obituary said.

It said that although Phillips had dedicated his life to the oil business, his passion was aviation, and he had been a pilot since he was 19. He would have turned 74 in June.

Sonex Aircraft LLC GM Mark Schaible described the SubSonex in a 2016 news release as “an airplane that satisfies the wildest flying dreams of most pilots: to own and fly a little aerobatic jet ‘fighter’.”

The accident on Sunday is among at least five fatal small plane crashes in eight days, all of which are being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

A young crop duster died May 18 near Clayton, Louisiana; one person died Friday near Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; two died when their plane crashed on Saturday near Winterville, North Carolina; and one died Monday in a fiery crash in Vancleave, Kentucky.

The agency also is investigating the crash that killed the pilot of a military contract jet on Monday in a Las Vegas neighborhood.

An investigator arrived in Shreveport on Monday, and will be requesting radar data and other information including air traffic control communication, airplane maintenance records and the pilot’s medical records, board spokesman Keith Holloway said Tuesday.

“The investigator will also check and interview any witnesses that may be able to provide some insight on what may have occurred. None of that information is available from the NTSB currently,” he said in an email.

Several witnesses reported the crash, the Caddo Parish Sheriff’s Office said Sunday.