Young man killed flying Banner plane was working to become an airline pilot

The pilot of a Banner plane that crashed last weekend in Cape May County graduated from a college aviation program last year and was working toward his airline pilot license.

To do so, Thomas Gibson, 23, was racking up flight hours flying single-engine planes that tow advertising banners over the Jersey Shore, his obituary and a church official said.

Last Saturday morning, July 16, Gibson took off around 9:30 a.m. in a Piper PA-12 from Paramount Air Airport and returned to the airstrip to pick up a banner, a National Transportation spokesperson said. Safety Board (NTBS).

Gibson missed the pickup and crashed near the field moments later in Green Creek, Middle Township, the NTSB said. He died at the scene, local authorities said.

The investigation is ongoing by the NTSB.

Gibson was flying for Cape May Aerial Advertising, which recently took over banner sales and flying from Paramount Air Service, which was founded in 1945 by Andre Tomalino, a World War II veteran who served as a glider pilot in the ‘army.

The maneuver to pick up a banner is tricky flying, as Paramount pilots demonstrated for NJ Advance Media in 2020. They take off, drop a hook from the plane, return to the airport, and fly low, sometimes at a just under 20 feet. , then quickly climb after hanging the banner from a stretched line on the track.

Jeromie Hunter, the owner of Cape May Aerial Advertising, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

Gibson was a faithful and passionate young man who had goals for his future that mostly revolved around flying, his obituary and a church official said.

He already held a commercial pilot’s license, but was racking up flight hours for the coveted Airline Transport Pilot Certificate (ATP), the highest aviation certification in the United States.

“He was just a great young man. It’s just a tragedy,” Patsy Stonelake, the wife of Rev. Jim Stonelake, said at the Church of the Nazarene in Northfield. Gibson, his brother and his parents had worshiped there ever since. two years.

His service last week drew more than 1,000 mourners and moved to a local country club to welcome attendees. The reception line was so long that service started late, but it was a beautiful but painful memory, Stokelake said.

Her husband, the pastor, read Gibson’s prayer journal, which his parents found after his death. Many attendees were from Marywood University, where Gibson graduated in 2021 from the University of Scranton Aviation Program in Pennsylvania.

He was a top midfielder on the lacrosse team known as “Gibby” and started every game of the 2020 season, the university said. He finished his career there with 44 rushed balls, six forced turnovers and one goal, the university said.

In a statement, the Marywood lacrosse team said Gibson “was one of the hardest working people on and off the field. There has never been a time when Gibby hasn’t had a smile on his face.Tom was loved by his teammates and many in the Marywood community.

Before recently moving to Ocean City, Gibson lived in Gloucester Township and Medford Lakes, and graduated in 2017 from Shawnee High School.

Gibson is survived by his brother, his parents, many relatives, and Lauren Fritzsch, whom his obituary describes as “the love of his life.”

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Kevin Shea can be reached at [email protected].

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