Man who went to space with William Shatner dies in plane crash

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Blue Origin, tweets condolences to family of Glen de Vries

A man who travelled to space with actor William Shatner last month was killed along with another person when a small plane crashed in northern New Jersey, state police reported.

"Such a tragic loss. Warm and full of life, Glen made us laugh and lit up the room. He was a visionary, and an innovator – a true leader," Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos said on Twitter, adding he was "heartbroken".

"We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries. He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crewmates," Blue Origin said in a tweet.

"His passion for aviation, his charitable work and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired."

Both De Vries, 49, and Thomas Fischer, 54, were aboard the single-engine Cessna 172 that went down on Thursday in a wooded area of Hampton Township.

The aircraft had departed from Essex County Airport in Caldwell and was headed to Sussex Airport when the US Federal Aviation Administration alerted public safety agencies to look for the missing plane around 3pm local time. Emergency crews found the wreckage around 4pm, the agency said.

De Vries founded Medidata Solutions, a tech company, and was a trustee at Carnegie Mellon University. He travelled aboard Blue Origin's New Shepard spacecraft on October 13, spending more than 10 minutes in space after launching along with Shatner and others.

Along with De Vries and Shatner, Former Nasa engineer Chris Boshuizen and Blue Origin vice president and engineer Audrey Powers rounded out the all-civilian crew.

It was Blue Origin's second flight after Mr Bezos ventured in to space in July.

Fischer owned Fischer Aviation, a family-run flight school, and was its head instructor, public reports show.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the crash.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Updated: November 13th 2021, 2:06 PM