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Local flight instructor dies in Illinois crash

By Staff
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Jim Gross, 66, of Madison, a veteran pilot and flight instructor for Blackstone Aviation of Hartselle, died Nov. 9 when the twin-engine Piper Apache he was flying crashed in a field in Bloomington, Ill.
Gross was flying cargo from Peoria, Ill. to North Carolina when the accident occurred, according to Stoney Powell, fixed base operator of Hartselle's Rountree Field and owner of Blackstone Aviation.
A report of the accident published in the Nov. 10 edition of The Pantograph, a daily newspaper published in Bloomington, placed the time of the crash at 9 p.m. The crash site was about one and one-half miles from the Central Illinois Regional Airport.
A control tower operator at the airport reported he was in contact with Gross prior to the crash. He said the pilot reported that one of his engines was running rough. Subsequently, he was cleared for a landing but declined to make an emergency declaration. When contact was lost emergency equipment was dispatched to the scene.
Powell said Gross left Rountreee Field at approximately 5 p.m. He later landed at an airport in Peoria, Ill. where he loaded cargo and continued his flight bound for North Carolina. Bloomington is approximately 35 miles east of Peoria.
"We just don't know what happened when Jim left Peoria," said Powell. "This is a big shock to all of us. Jim was a good pilot, a good friend and a good guy."
Gross was a qualified twin-engine pilot and flight instructor and had been associated with Blackstone Aviation on a part-time basis about four years.
An investigation of the accident is being conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board.
A memorial service for Gross was conducted at Gober Funeral Home in Arab Sunday, Nov. 13, at 2 p.m.