Matthew Palmer, a 28-year-old newlywed who had worked as a ranch hand at an area rodeo, was named as one of the pilots in the Addison plane crash.
Ten people died when the twin-engine King Air 350 plane inexplicably crashed into a hangar after taking off on a trip to St. Petersburg Florida, officials said in a news conference. There were no survivors. The NTSB released several photos from the scene. You can see them here.
The cause of the crash is under investigation and not yet clear. The identity of the plane’s co-pilot with Palmer was not yet released. “What we know at this point,” said Bruce Landsberg, vice chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, in a press conference, on June 30. “There were two flight crew members, and there were eight passengers.” The Addison Municipal Airport is located about 20 miles from Dallas, Texas.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Matthew Palmer Worked as a Flight Instructor, Pilot & Ranch Hand
On Facebook, Palmer went by the name MJ Palmer. He wrote that he was a “Pilot at Blackshoe Investments,” and a “Flight Instructor at Decatur Jet Center.”
On LinkedIn, he wrote that he had worked for Blackshoe for four years and 10 months and added: “Solely responsible for the safety of the passengers aboard the airplane and the safety and success of the flight.”
In addition, he had worked as a “Ranch/Arena Hand at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo” and “Studied at ATP Flight School,” according to his Facebook page. He posted a photo of a stock show and rodeo, writing, “Saturday night, show 3 of 3. Still time to come out for the 730 show at the fort worth stock show and rodeo.”
Landsberg, of the NTSB, said he didn’t know the condition of the flight crew yet in terms of their prior experience “but that will definitely come out in the investigation. There will be a deep dive into the pilot’s background.” The aircraft had recently changed hands, authorities said.
He is a certified flight instructor, according to FAA documents, for airplane single and multiengine and instrument airplane, with medical class listed as first. The county given was Tarrant.
2. Matthew Palmer Was Married Only Last Year
On Facebook in May, Palmer’s wife, Courtney, wrote, “One year down, forever to go! Happy 1st anniversary Mj Palmer!” and shared the above video of the couple’s wedding.
“Happy Anniversary! It was a beautiful wedding!” a woman wrote in response. “Wow a year flew by!! Happy anniversary!! ??? Thx for sharing your beautiful video ?” wrote another.
The couple’s engagement photos show them posing with a plane.
3. Matthew Palmer Filled His Facebook Page With Commentary on Politics & Defending Airlines
On his page, Palmer sometimes veered into political and other commentary. He posted a photo of a sign that read, “American is the home of the free because of the brave.”
In 2017, he shared an article headlined “the problem with illegal immigration,” and wrote, “this is a very good and very simple explanation to why EVERYONE should contribute. legals, illegals, minorities, majorities, if you live here you should pay. yes the numbers might not be 100% ‘correct’ but its the principle of what is being paid for to what is actually being received.”
He also commented on the controversy that erupted when a doctor, David Dao, was dragged off an overbooked United Airlines flight. “anyone that has any issue about what happen on the United flight, read this and you will understand,” wrote Palmer. “once the authorities get called in its on the Aviation security at that point, not the airline. the security definitely could have handled it differently but at the point they refuse to get off it does become a terrorist type situation of ‘why does he really need to stay on?’ they could have but the seats werent need until the plane was boarded. the way it works sometimes is a crew will get called in last minute to cover another flight, and this was this flight gets them there as soon as they could.”
He added: “i also have issue that the other 3 people that gave up their seats are probably upset that they didnt make a big fuss about it because they wont make as much money for the lawsuits this guy is going to get to settle.”
4. Palmer Was a Certified Flight Instructor, According to His LinkedIn Page
On LinkedIn, Palmer described himself as an “airline transport professional” and said he was a “certified flight instructor” in “Aviation/Airway Management and Operations.”
He wrote that he received an Associate of Arts degree from Tarrant County College in 2013.
According to his LinkedIn page, Palmer also worked as an irrigation repair man for The Sprinkler Guyz.
“Information we have and the video that we saw was that the airplane was airborne,” NTSB’s Bruce Landsberg said in a news conference. “So, the airplane had gotten airborne and then veered to the left of the runway, and then started to roll to the left. And it was in the process of rolling when it collided with the hangar.”
On July 1, Landsberg said authorities were analyzing the cockpit voice recorder, which was recovered, and said that the plane was owned by EE Operations, LLC. He also said that the communications with the control tower didn’t seem amiss, saying, “They acknowledged takeoff. We’re not aware of any further communications between the crew” and air traffic control.” He said the flight was a personal, not commercial, one. Witness David Snell told NBC News the plane didn’t “sound right” because it didn’t have the engine power he would expect for such a plane. It was “low” and “slow,” he said.
5. The Other Victims Included a Family of Four & Business Leaders
The first victims of the Addison plane crash in Texas were named as a family of four: Brian and Ornella Ellard and their children, Alice and Dylan Maritato. On Facebook, Ornella Ellard, an interior designer, went by the name Ornella Maritato, and wrote that she is based in Plano, Texas. Her page contained photos of children doing artwork. Brian Ellard was from a ranching family and had been involved in the insurance and restaurant industry. The two children were Ornella’s kids (ages 15 and 13), and Brian, 52, was their stepfather.
Steve Thelen, managing director of JLL, and his wife, Gina Thelen, were also named as victims of the plane crash. An old profile once called Steve Thelen “king of the ‘burbs” for his ability to land deals.
The 8th and 9th victims were named as John and Mary Titus, according to WTSP-TV. The 10th victim has not yet been identified.
Alice Maritato would have graduated in 2022, and her brother, Dylan, was set to conclude eighth grade at All Saints Catholic School in 2020, the television station reported. Brian Ellard and his wife, Ornella, were photographed for a profile about his mother’s yacht; she ran a ranching business with her husband, who started a major insurance business called National Teachers Associates Life Insurance Company. Brian Ellard’s parents’ ranch, EE Ranches, “would establish itself as a breeder of world class cutting horses,” according to Boat International.
According to Fox News, Brian was “part-owner of Oak Lawn Italian restaurant Mille Lire.”
Ornella Ellard has a website that says she is a “Dallas based Architect and Interior Designer. She was born and raised in Italy where she earned a Master’s Degree in Architecture at Federico II University in Napoli and specialized in Restoration of Frescos and Stuccos, alternating her work as an architect with fascinating stints as an art restorer.”
According to his LinkedIn page, Steve Thelen was managing director of JLL, a position he had held for 11 years in the Dallas and Fort Worth area. Heavy has reached out to the company for comment. Before that time, Steve worked as executive vice president for The Staubach Company, and he was senior director for Cushman and Wakefield of Texas. Online records show he lived in Plano, Texas and was 58-years-old.
JLL sent Heavy a statement that read, “We are deeply saddened by the tragic accident that took place yesterday. Our deepest and most heartfelt sympathies go out to Steve and Gina’s family and friends during this difficult time. Steve was a valued friend and colleague to all of us, personally and professionally. They will both be deeply missed.”
According to WTSP-TV, Mary Titus and her husband, John, were identified as crash victims by the Tennis Competitors of Dallas. Mary Titus was the mixed league director.
“We are shattered by this loss as I know many of you who knew the involved families are as well,” the organization said in an email to WSP.
“Mary was a true champion for the Mixed League and she loved working with all of you. I cannot tell you how proud I am of all that she has done for TCD and how greatly she will be missed.”
Jennifer Rodi, senior air safety investigator and investigator in charge of this accident, said that her team has “walked through the scene several times this evening and observed the wreckage where it sits, the damage to the hangar…The airplane was damaged by impact forces and a post-impact fire.” She said her team was starting to gather information on scene. They will be looking into the flight crew on board, their training, knowledge and experience; the aircraft and its maintenance history; and the environment, including the weather, air traffic control environment, and any communications that took place.
The NTSB is in the fact-gathering stage. Within two weeks, they expect to have a preliminary report out. All of the background information will be included in the analysis.