Bombardier Challenger Plane Crash Remembered

By: Stephanie Diffin Email
By: Stephanie Diffin Email

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October 10, 2010

This marks the tenth anniversary of a routine test flight gone tragically wrong, when a Bombardier Challenger 604 crashed just minutes after take-off.

It happened at the west end of Mid-Continent Airport. The plane burst into flames on impact, with part of the wreckage landing on Tyler Road. Investigators say the crash was a result of pilot error and shifting fuel.

It happened October 10, 2000, a day that still haunts one victims' wife, Carol Fiore.

"You'll be walking along or at work doing your own thing, and all of the sudden that song will come on the radio, or you'll see something, or someone will say something. And it puts you right back in that dark place again," said Carol Fiore.

Carol's husband, Eric Fiore, was the co-pilot of the plane. He was one of three men to die as a result of the crash. Pilot Bryan Irelan and engineer David Riggs died on impact. Fiore died 36 days later in the Via Christi burn unit.

"Eric was like superman to a lot of people, and superman doesn't die," said Fiore. "I couldn't even get out of bed for almost a year it was so painful. He was the one and only love of my life."

But now, ten years later, Fiore can laugh at memories of her late husband, along with some of his best friends who are also test pilots. His loved ones say they remember him as a hilarious and passionate man.

"Anything he decided to get involved in, he did it with an immediate and an intense passion," said Eric's best friend, Wayne Spriggs.

Those who knew him say it was his passion for flight that shaped who he was.

"Eric lived for aviation, he gave his life for aviation," said Carol Fiore.

Now his loved ones are honoring him through aviation. His wife has authored a book, "Flight Through Fire." His friends continue the mission he died for -- making flight safe for others.

"I think it reaffirms your dedication to the industry, to the cause. It kind of makes you more determined to go out there and do things right, do things safely, and make sure that a life didn't go down in vain," said Spriggs.

"It's something that we do, we honor aviation. Because we honor Eric when we do that," said Fiore.

Fiore also helped start two scholarships, and a fund for the Via Christi Burn Unit in Eric's name. The Via Christi fund has run out of money, and is currently looking for donations. You can learn more about these funds, or Carol Fiore's book, by clicking here.

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