Feras M. Freitekh: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Feras M. Freitekh. (Facebook)

A 28-year-old Jordanian national who was studying to become a pilot died after crashing a small plane Tuesday afternoon in Connecticut, and the instructor pilot who survived the crash said it was intentional.

Feras M. Freitekh, of Hartford, has been identified as the student pilot who died in the crash on Main Street in East Hartford, CBS News reports.

The crash occurred near Pratt & Whitney, a defense contractor that makes jet engines for the military.

Local and state police, along with several federal agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, are now investigating the crash.

The NTSB said its initial investigation showed the crash was an intentional act. The FBI will be taking the leading role in the investigation. A motive has not yet been determined.

“In light of that information and in accordance with established procedures the NTSB is in the process of transferring the lead for the investigation from NTSB to the FBI,” the NTSB said in a statement. “The NTSB stands ready to support the FBI’s investigation should a request be made for agency expertise.”

A high-ranking law enforcement source told the Hartford Courant there was an argument between the student pilot and the instructor prior to the crash. The source said the student pilot said he didn’t want to fly the plane any longer, but it was not clear why, according to the Courant.

Another source told the newspaper that Freitekh began flying erratically and the instructor struggled to gain control of the plane.

The plane crashed just before 4 p.m. There were no serious injuries to anyone on the ground.

The surviving flight instructor, identified by the Courant as Arian Prevalla, was able to get out of the plane after the crash and is expected to survive.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Freitekh Came to the United States in 2012 on a Temporary Visa for Flight School & Had a License to Fly a Single-Engine Plane

Feras Freitekh, who died in the crash, came to the United States from Jordan in 2012 on a temporary M-1 visa for flight school, CBS News reports.

His immigration status was later changed to an F-1 visa and he studied at a language school in Toledo, Ohio, the news network reports, before it eventually went back to an M-1 visa.

M-1 and F-1 visas are both student visas, according to the State Department.

On his Facebook page, Freitekh uses the name Rafael Majdi Feritekh. Friends commented on a photo showing Feritekh kissing the nose of a plane, offering condolences.

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Feras Freitekh pictured on his Facebook page.

“May God have mercy on him and take him to heaven, Lord,” one friend wrote, in Arabic.

Another wrote, “God have mercy on you the best pilot. Final resting place heaven if god willing.”

A third friend wrote about the crash on his Facebook page, saying, “RIP Bro, we had fun times flying together in flight school, never expected this…Never expected you to die in a plane crash…still cant believe died doing what you loved.”

The 28-year-old Freitekh has also lived in Orland Hills, Illinois, about 35 miles away from Chicago, the New York Times reports.

He began living there in April 2013, the Hartford Courant reports.

Freitekh obtained a private pilot certificate on May 29, 2015, and was licensed to fly a single-engine plane, according to the Times.

A cousin told the Courant Freitekh came to the United States to pursue his dream of becoming a pilot.

“He was a good person, kind and helpful. He wasn’t religious at all. He was open-minded,” the cousin said.

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2. The FBI & Local Police Raided an Apartment in Hartford Where He Lived With 3 Other Foreign Nationals Also Studying to Become Pilots

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Feras Freitekh behind the controls of a plane in a photo from his Facebook page.

The FBI and local police raided an apartment on Annawan Street in Hartford, Connecticut, as part of the investigation, WVIT-TV reports.

Neighbors told WTIC-TV that four men lived together in the apartment targeted by police.

Sources told the Hartford Courant the three other men who lived there were also foreign nationals studying to become pilots.

Hartford Police remained at the scene Wednesday morning. Lieutenant Brian Foley, the Hartford Police spokesman, said it was connected to a law enforcement investigation, adding that the scene is “safe and not active.”

Foley said police had been at the scene through the night and “no suspects (are) at large,” and “no residents are in danger.”

Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy cautioned against jumping to conclusions.

“As a nation, we have all had to adjust to a new reality,” Malloy told reporters, according to the Courant. “When events such as this occur, we recognize that people almost automatically wonder if someone meant to do us harm. But we must exercise caution about jumping to conclusions before discovering and considering all of the facts.”

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3. Police Called the Pratt & Whitney Plant Near the Crash ‘Critical Infrastructure’

The crash happened near a major defense contractor, Pratt & Whitney, which manufactures military and commercial jet engines. East Hartford Police Chief called the company’s plant “critical infrastructure,” the Hartford Courant reports.

Police said the FBI was contacted because of the proximity to Pratt & Whitney.

The aerospace contractor issued a statement after the crash Tuesday:

We are aware of the incident that occurred this afternoon on Main Street. Our thoughts are with the people affected. It does not appear at this time that any Pratt & Whitney employees or contractors were involved. Additionally, there is no impact to our operation here in East Hartford other than restricted traffic flow to the facility’s main entrance on Main Street. We stand ready to assist local officials as needed. Additional queries should be directed to the appropriate local officials.

Police said they have not ruled anything out as far as a possible motive for the crash. They said they could not comment about whether terrorism is being investigated.

“Terrorism is a criminal act,” East Hartford Police spokesman Lieutenant Joshua Litwin said at a press conference. “There is a lot of criminal investigators on scene. Nothing has been ruled out.”

According to police, investigators have also not ruled out that the crash could have been accident, despite the claims from the surviving pilot that it was intentional.

The investigation remains “extremely active,” police said.

4. The Piper PA-34 Twin-Engine ‘Dropped Like a Rock’ Before the Fiery Crash

The Piper PA-34 twin-engine plane took off Tuesday afternoon from a flight school at Brainard Airport, not far from the scene of the crash, WFSB-TV reports.

The plane was making its final descent back to Brainard Airport when the crash occurred, the news station reports.

It struck a utility pole on Main Street in East Hartford during the crash, and then burst into flames.

East Hartford Police spokesman Lieutenant Joshua Litwin said there are two sets of controls on the plane, but it is not clear who was in control at the time of the crash. Litwin said both men on board the plane would have been able to take control.

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A Piper PA-34 twin engine plane similar to the one that crashed in East Hartford. (Adrian Pingstone/Public Domain)

Jonathan Rucker told the Hartford Courant he saw the crash.

“I hear planes every day,” he said. “I heard a plane, then I didn’t hear anything. I looked up and the plane was just tipping over. It tipped to the left and dropped straight down. There was a loud bang, smoke and flame. It tipped to the left and just dropped like a rock.”

Another witness, Frank Crandall, told the Courant, “I saw the plane hit the power lines, go into a power pole and then hit just before a minivan and burst into flames. I thought the power lines were going to come down, so I gunned it.”

Part of Main Street near the scene of the crash remained closed Wednesday morning.

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5. The Pilot Who Survived the Crash Suffered Serious Burns & Remains Hospitalized

The instructor pilot who survived the crash was hospitalized with serious burns, CBS News reports.

He was identified by the Hartford Courant as Adrian Prevalla.

Officials say he is cooperating with the investigation.

He runs the Hartford Jet Center, according to his Linkedin profile. The flight school is based at Hartford-Brainard Airport, where the plane took off from on Tuesday.

Two people who were in a car near the scene of the crash were taken to the hospital after they were traumatized by what they saw, police say. But they were not injured.

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  1. Just like Comey’s FBI covered for Hillary’s e-mail scandal, the FBI and local law enforcement are suppressing news of likely radicalization of this Muslim immigrant because it could have a massive effect on the November 8 election.

    • I know, huh. This reminds me of Trump’s video oppressing women and sounding like a sound-bite from the 1800s. He’s having the same kind of crash and burn.

    • Absolutely Agree…but this story does not all add up-Like why do this young man’s friends all say that he loved to fly, and it was his life long dream…So, then why is this (also Arab|Jew?) flight instructor now saying otherwise???

  2. How stupid can are Country get? Three more foreign mid eastern “students”!!! Give me a break. let’s elect HRC and watch the USA explode with”refugees” and show the world just how stupid we are.

  3. Are you kidding me? We are still allowing foreigners from the Middle East to come here to study piloting planes? Are there a bunch of idiots running this country or what? Wasn’t ANYTHING learned from 09/11 ? I am out of my mind in disbelief !

    • first of all what does 9/11 has to do with this accident?? second thing i personally knew the guy who died in that plane, and if there’s one thing he loved more than planes and his homeland, it was the US. so there’s no need to jump to conclusions or accuse anybody of terrorism, he was a good guy, all he cared about was planes and online games….. may his soul rest in peace

    • Your number one stupid still believing muslims flew that. 9/11 was a false flag to start wars, if this start wars then it accomplishes the same thing, if it doesnt then it doesnt have anything to do with it. The angle of a defense contractor might have also some budget angle to get contractors more money. They dont even say how close they were to the plant so another BS.

  4. Pratt if directly over the Brainard traffic pattern. Its also has a abandoned runway still functional very close to the crash site. A engine failure in the Pattern is very likely going to put one on or near Pratt under any conditions. I have well over 300 landing at this airport. This whole thing smells fishy. The flight instructor was forced out of the last airport he managed after 18 month on a five year contract. SO there are question for him. . I am just saying a lot of Hartford pilots are talking about this and many don’t buy the crazy student story just yet

    • Just another cover up of the FBI. If this guy loved flying so much then why did he want to die so much? How many more Foreigners are we going to allow to fly Planes over our populated cities? They just need (1) Plane with a Dirty B_ _B and Chaos.

  5. No lessons learned from 9/11. Just how many are here taking flying lessons? We have 44 missing Afghans here that were being trained by our military, some fighter pilots, AWOL. We are training them here to kill us! This is insanity! Pray for our country!

  6. I knew this guy personally, we weren’t the closest of friends but I specifically remember having a conversation with him about my religious views which are some what taboo and offensive from Jordon’s perspective most people I discuss religion with seem to get offended or get annoyed by my opinions. But he didn’t at all which makes me highly doubt that he was anywhere near being a religious extremist. As far as I am concerned all these people commenting on how he was a terrorist are assuming or speculating. Allah yr7mk dupstylez.

  7. til I looked at the paycheck 4 $6935 , I have faith …that…my father in law actualey making money in there spare time on their apple laptop. . there neighbor haz done this 4 less than ten months and as of now repayed the depts on there villa and bought Renault 5 .
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  8. Remember when getting the FBI involved was something actually beneficial to the nation? Bleach team, false narrative squad and a hot line to the DoJ all in place and operational.