Injured Flight Instructor Offers Few Clues to East Haven Crash

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — The student pilot injured in Wednesday’s crash has spent most of the last 24 hours in surgeries or sedated. Rafayel Wassef, 20, broke multiple bones in his face, arms spine and legs, according to his father, Hany Wassef.

“His dream [was] just destroyed,” said Wassef outside Yale-New Haven Hospital. “You will never know what I’m feeling right now.”

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Rafayel Wassef began flight school in 2015 and graduated in December 2016. He started with American Flight Academy on February 3rd. Becoming a commercial pilot was the ultimate goal. Wassef logged 250 flying hours and was excited to continue on as a flight instructor.”

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“It was exciting to go to Florida. It was exciting to be a pilot,” said Hany Wassef.crash fam1 Injured Flight Instructor Offers Few Clues to East Haven Crash

The owner of American Flight Academy, Arian Prevalla, called the Wassef family early Thursday to talk about the accident and his own. Prevalla jumped from a plane that crashed on Main Street in East Hartford last October. The student is believed to have intentionally crashed the plane, initially sparking concerns of terrorism, because of the crash proximity to Pratt & Whitney facilities.

“[Prevalla] felt sorry for my son,” said Wassef. “He said he has also been in plane crash. He said he [recovered].”

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While Wassef’s family believed the plane crash to be the result of mechanical failure on the plane, no one has yet been able to explain the cause. Late Thursday, an NTSB spokesperson said he had briefly reviewed FAA inspection records and seen nothing of note.

According to NTSB records, instructional flights accounted for 168 crashes across the country. American Flight Academy had a minor accident in December when a solo student pilot hit the runway too hard. There were no injuries in that incident. The investigation into Wednesday’s crash could take as long as a year. Preliminary findings are expected next week.