Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

November 18, 2012

Cherokee County crash takes life of Jacksonville woman, a pilot

The FAA is investigating the death of this pilot, believed to be flying alone

Ben Tinsley
Jacksonville Daily Progress

JACKSONVILLE — A 60-year-old Jacksonville woman  recently honored by the Cherokee County Pilots Association  for her first solo flight was killed Sunday afternoon when the single-engine airplane she was piloting crashed at the local airport, authorities said.

The Federal Aviation Administration has begun a preliminary investigation into the death of Debra Sue Birch, confirmed Trooper Jean Dark, public information officer with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Authorities say Birch  was flying a fixed wing Jabiru light aircraft when the incident took place shortly after 4 p.m.

Dark said Sunday she was not at liberty to release further details about the crash or speculate as to its cause.

"That's all the information I can release right now," she said Sunday night.

  Birch had just been congratulated  by the Cherokee County Pilots Association on their Facebook page for her inaugural, Nov. 7,  flight. She was shown on that page standing by a single-engine plane.