New Jersey

Man Who Flew to Space With William Shatner Dies in NJ Plane Crash

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating into the crash

NS-18 crew member, Medidata Solutions Co-Founder, Glen de Vries, attends a press conference at the New Shepard rocket landing pad on October 13, 2021, in the West Texas region
Getty Images

One of two men killed in Thursday's plane crash in a wooden area of New Jersey had traveled to space less than a month ago aboard a Blue Origin flight with William Shatner.

New Jersey State Police said 49-year-old Glen de Vries, of New York, and 54-year-old Thomas Fischer, of New Jersey, died when a small plane crashed shortly before 3 p.m. in Sussex County.

The plane departed from Essex County Airport in Caldwell and was headed to Sussex Airport when the Federal Aviation Administration alerted public safety agencies to look for the missing plane, according to the agency.

State Troopers responded to a call at 2:50 p.m. of an aircraft crash near Hampton Township, said Charles Marchan, a spokesman for the New Jersey State Police. The single-engine airplane was discovered in a wooded area, according to the FAA.

De Vries founded Medidata Solutions, a software company specializing in clinical research, and was a trustee at Carnegie Mellon University. He traveled Oct. 13 aboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard spacecraft, spending more than 10 minutes in space after launching along with Shatner and others.

“It’s going to take me a while to be able to describe it. It was incredible,” de Vries said as he got his Blue Origin “astronaut wings” pinned onto his blue flight suit by Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos.

“We are devastated to hear of the sudden passing of Glen de Vries,” Blue Origin tweeted Friday. “He brought so much life and energy to the entire Blue Origin team and to his fellow crewmates. His passion for aviation, his charitable work, and his dedication to his craft will long be revered and admired.”

De Vries was the vice chair of life sciences and health care at Dassault Systemes, which acquired Medidata in 2019. He had taken part in an auction for a seat on the first flight and bought a seat on the second trip.

It was Blue Origin’s second scheduled passenger flight, using the same capsule and rocket that Bezos used for his own launch three months earlier. 

Fischer owned Fischer Aviation, a family-run flight school, and was its head instructor, according to public reports.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

Copyright NBC New York/Associated Press
Contact Us