Divers to search Lake Pontchartrain for plane wreckage

Divers to search Lake Pontchartrain for plane wreckage

Friends and family are hopeful the bodies of their loved ones will be recovered from Lake Pontchartrain Saturday, when divers will try to retrieve the small plane that crashed Wednesday with two people on board.

With brisk winds out of the north, and 2- to 3-foot chop in the lake, searchers have had to wait until conditions calmed.

"I hope that for the family's sake something can happen quickly," said Addie Fanguy, a friend of one of the victims and the manager of Landmark aviation-New Orleans.

The plane carried Aftab Rab, an aspiring pilot who emigrated from Pakistan two years ago, and Burt Lattimore, his flying instructor.

"He is a very nice guy," said Fanguy. "Very well-liked around the airport. Everyone who got to know Burt liked him as a person first."

Investigators said the plane went down Wednesday just after 8:30 p.m. about a mile northeast of Lakefront Airport.

"Of course, nobody knows what happened at this point," said Fanguy. "It's a tough situation,. Such a tragedy."

So far, no trace of the plane has been found.

Dr. Syed Rab, Aftab's brother, said the family is in shock. He said Aftab had just gotten his commercial pilots' license last month and was beginning instrument training, which would explain why they were flying at night.

"Some instructors will do it in actual conditions. That would explain why," said Fanguy.

Dr. Rab said his brother was a devoted father who thought highly Lattimore and considered him like family.

"He was a big factor out here for getting flight training going after Katrina," said Fanguy.

Fanguy said the tragedy affects everyone at the airport.

"Everyone here realizes that, for the grace of God, there goes me."

He's hoping that recovery crews get to work soon to give two families some closure.

Lattimore flew his Cessna with support from Flightline air services out of Lakefront Airport.

Flightline manager Brayton Matthews said he's heartbroken over the loss of a great friend and fellow pilot who will be sadly missed.

Copyright 2014 WVUE. All rights reserved.