Scott Landis loved to be in the air.
That’s how friends and loved ones are remembering the 34-year-old husband and father who was killed in a plane crash in his hometown of Hanson last week.
“He started flying when he was 16 years old and never stopped,” his family wrote in his obituary.
Landis, known as “Scotty,” and his younger brother Patrick took off from Cranland Airport on Thursday with the intent of spreading the ashes of their father, who recently passed away.
The yellow plane crashed near the airport around 4:15 p.m. shortly after takeoff, The Boston Globe reported. Landis, who was piloting the aircraft, died Friday.
His 29-year-old brother was hospitalized in critical condition, and a family spokesperson told the Globe he is paralyzed from the waist down. The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.
“It’s a family tragedy, and everybody’s heartbroken, them in particular,” Adam Proulx, a friend of Landis’s since high school, told the newspaper. “They’re doing OK, all things considered, but this is a tragedy nobody should have to go through.”
Landis, a graduate of Whitman Hanson High School, leaves behind his wife, Staci, and 1-year-old son, Jack.
He enlisted in the Massachusetts Army National Guard in 2001 as an Aviation Operation Specialist shortly after high school, according to his obituary. He completed three active duty combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2005 and 2014.
“He was a dedicated member of the Massachusetts Army National Guard and part of Alpha Company Third Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, based at Joint Base Cape Cod, where he was the Battalion Aviation Safety Officer and a UH-60 Instructor Pilot,” his family wrote.
The 34-year-old had been serving in Kosovo and just returned to the U.S. for his father’s passing, according to the Boston Herald.
Peter Oakley, manager of the Cranland Airport, told the newspaper he didn’t know anybody who could say one bad word about the Hanson native.
“Salt of the earth, a great guy,” Oakley said. “Scott is just a great guy, always willing to help anybody out, do anything, a gentleman.”
“The world, more specifically the aviation world, is a sadder place today,” the local airport wrote on Facebook following the pilot’s death. “We lost a pilot, friend, father, husband, and serviceman. You will be greatly missed by everyone that was fortunate enough to have known you Scotty Landis.”
Proulx told CBS Boston that Landis was a hero.
“I was extremely proud of Scott,” he told the station. “I was extremely proud of him and I told him that all the time. And he was my best friend. He was my best friend. Scott had many best friends but he was mine, and I’m going to miss him tremendously.”
Visiting hours for Landis are being held Thursday at Sullivan Funeral Home in Hanson between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. A graveside service with full military honors will follow on Friday.
Chelsea Landis told WBZ she is trying to channel her 34-year-old brother to navigate the tragedy her family is dealing with.
“I know that if he was here, he would be the rock.”