Glider crashes, killing family of 3

FORT BEND COUNTY, Texas - A family, including a toddler, died on Father's Day after a glider crashed in a Fort Bend County field.

Deputies said the crash happened in a field off Highway 36 and Cougar Road near Wallis shortly before 5 p.m. Sunday.

Investigators said a glider plane -- with 68-year-old Fred Blair as the pilot, and Matilda Blair, 32, and her 3-year-old son, Andrew, as passengers -- was being towed by an airplane. The crash occurred shortly after takeoff when the aircrafts were 75 feet in the air. When the glider separated from the plane, it took a nose dive and crashed in the field.

The glider was only fit for two passengers and the back passenger rides tandem to the pilot, officials said. Investigators said the toddler may have been sitting in the mother's lap.

Brian Blair, who was Matilda Blair's husband and Andrew's father, witnessed the crash that killed his family. Fred Blair was his father.

NTSB officials said they believe either the 200-foot-long tow rope broke or was disengaged too early by the tow pilot or the glider pilot.

"It's a glider. It doesn't have a motor. So to get it off, it has to be towed by an aircraft, towed by an auto or wench. In this case, it was an aircraft," said Tom Latson, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board. "The aircraft was climbing when the tow rope broke or was pulled by one or both."

"It's actually pretty tragic to know a family, mother, son died on Father's Day," said Chalsky Michalsky, a resident who lives near the crash site.

NTSB officials were still working the scene Monday morning.

"We seen the gliders go back and forth all the time and we heard a really big boom and we came outside to see the smoke in the air and all the ambulances coming down," said Michalsky.

Officials said all the victims were related.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are inspecting the aircraft.

The glider was a ICA BRASOF, manufactured in Romania.

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