Brother remembers pilot

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The brother of a pilot killed in a crash earlier this week said the two had planned to fly to Utah to visit an uncle over the weekend.

"The most ironic thing was he and I were planning a flight to visit relatives in Northern Utah this Saturday," Brian Collings said. "We were in the midst of trying to figure out how to get around the no-fly zone in Salt Lake City."

Charles Kenneth Collings, 36, was found dead Wednesday afternoon in the wreckage of an airplane he borrowed from his employer, Larry Mansberger of Mansberger Aircraft.

Jonathan Lucas Wendling, 18, a passenger in the airplane, also was killed. The pair was on a sightseeing trip around Carson Valley and Lake Tahoe.

Brian Collings said his brother has been flying for nearly a decade. Charles Collings worked for Mansberger as a part-time mechanic.

"He is considered by his friends and co-workers to be a highly skilled pilot," Brian said. "There isn't anybody who says that he is anything less than an excellent pilot. He was known to be very careful, very cautious, very thorough. Flying was his passion."

"All he did was airplanes, he loved airplanes," Collings said of his brother, who owned two aircraft.

The brothers last talked on Feb. 9 and were very close, Collings said.

He first learned there was trouble about 10 p.m. Tuesday when he was informed Charles' plane was missing.

"We hoped and prayed all night that he had set it down up there somewhere and was waiting it out, or would come hiking out," Brian said. "He loved to fly over Marlette Lake and Lake Tahoe."

When there was no word the plane had been found by the next day, Brian began to prepare for the worst.

"Then come Wednesday, after there was no sighting by noon, I started getting mentally and physically prepared for whatever was going to happen," he said.

Brian went to Minden-Tahoe Airport on Wednesday while the Civil Air Patrol was flying a search pattern looking for the missing GlasAir kit airplane.

Air patrol officials say one of their planes spotted something, but it was two ranch hands who found the wreckage Wednesday afternoon.

"They told me a plane was down with two deceased victims," he said. "They told me there were no identifications, but it was the plane they'd borrowed. That was hard."

Charles Collings graduated from Carson High School in 1983, a year before his brother. The family moved to Carson City from Reno in 1968. Brian said his mother, Betty, lives in Carson City.

Collings received his pilot's license seven or eight years ago, his brother said.

"He came from an intensive automotive background," Brian said. "He actually started flying with his friends before he got his license. He has a lot of friends in aviation. They had been taking him up. Anybody who crossed paths with my brother knew he was a top-notch pilot."

Brian Collings said the family of the plane's passenger is also in his thoughts.

"Our family's hearts and sympathies and prayers go out to the family of young Jonathan Wendling," he said.


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