HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-A passion for the skies. Those who knew 17 year-old Chris Schmitt best saw it for years, while others learned of it during an eerie but inspiring interview the plane crash victim gave just one day before his death.
Schmitt was killed on Sunday after the Yak model airplane he was riding in crashed at Moontown Airport in eastern Madison County. The Columbia High Senior shared his love for flying with local videographer Blake Hudson the day before, who decided to pass along the interview to WHNT News 19.
Chris gave an up-close look at the plane he loved while describing his own journey to the friendly skies.
"There's nothing else I want to do, it's just the freedom you have up in the air," said Schmitt, who had already logged hundreds of hours on various planes at Moontown. "At first I didn't know anything about it [aviation], and I'm terrified of height, and now I'm a pilot...It's a field, it's fun. It's a job where you just don't go out and work and work. Every day it's something new."
Chris was planning to attend aviation maintenance school after graduating from Columbia, where he served as a leader in the school's junior ROTC program. He also volunteered in other community projects, including Honor Flight and relief efforts for tornado victims.
The final part of the interview revealed a heartwarming aspect of the teen, who described how his passion could bring comfort even in pain.
"At the beginning of the year a friend of mine had passed away, and I called one of my [pilot] friends and said 'Can we do a flyby?', said Schmitt. "A day later I had five airplanes, without calling everybody. Everybody here just supports each other, it is a friendship you can't get anywhere else."
74 year-old George Myers also died in the plane crash. The long-time pilot was also the former owner of Moontown Airport.