Vietnam Veteran, Longtime Pilot Identified as Victims in Fatal Indiana Plane Crash

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Elkhart, IN – Two seasoned aviators, including a Vietnam veteran, were identified as the victims of a fatal plane crash on Tuesday near Bristol, Indiana. 

The small fixed-wing aircraft, owned by pilot Wendall Ridenour for over 30 years, went down just before 2:20 p.m. near the Indiana Toll Road. Ridenour, who amassed over 1,500 hours of flight time, and his passenger, William Holdgrafer, affectionately known in his military days as “Helicopter Bill” for his service flying helicopters in Vietnam, both perished in the crash.

The aircraft, which took off from Branch County Memorial Airport in Coldwater, Michigan, had landed there at 12:22 p.m. after a flight from Elkhart. It departed again around 1:40 p.m. and crashed about 40 minutes later. Both men were prominent members of a close-knit aviation community, respected for their extensive experience and contributions.

Federal authorities, including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), are investigating the crash. Initial reports suggest that the aircraft was well-built and maintained, adding a layer of complexity to understanding the tragic incident. The local aviation community and their families are awaiting answers while mourning the loss of their colleagues and friends.

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