Very experienced Sanger pilot killed in plane crash in Decatur
Sanger pilot Tony W. Featherstone, 57, was killed when a plane he was flying crashed just south of Decatur Friday afternoon.
The crash happened off County Road 4127 less than a mile from U.S. 81/287 just after 3 p.m.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane was a twin-engine Cessna 421C, and the pilot was the only person on board. The plane departed from Denton Enterprise Airport in Denton.
“Preliminary investigation indicates the twin engine fixed wing aircraft was losing altitude when it struck a power pole and went down,” said Sgt. Ricky Hunter, spokesperson with the Texas Department of Public Safety. “The pilot was pronounced dead at the scene.”
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The aircraft registration number returns to a registered owner in Frisco.
Tony Featherstone is remembered as an excellent pilot, a caring and loving person who wouldn’t hesitate to help others in need and was a leader who guided the next generation of aviators, according to an article in the Denton Record-Chronicle.
“He was the most generous and unselfish and loving man I’ve ever known,” said Margaret Duncan Featherstone, Tony’s wife whom he leaves behind.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are still investigating the crash. Family and friends were shocked when they discovered Tony’s death.
“We’re all still in shock,” Margaret said. “He loved to fly. He was passionate about flying.”
Margaret said Tony wouldn’t turn down anything that someone asked him for help with. When something needed to be done, he would do it before anyone asked him to do it.
Margaret was married to Tony for nine years and said he was entertaining, amusing and had a wonderful sense of humor.
She remembers that when they got engaged, she broke her hip, and Tony spent every night with her in the hospital and through physical therapy. She remembers when he brought her quality bed sheets during her recovery.
“He would take them [bed sheets] home every night and wash them and bring them back,” Margaret said. “He just was such a giving person.”
Margaret said Tony was heavily involved with the Boy Scouts as a leader and gave kids an opportunity through internships with his Ava Jet of Texas, LLCavionics aviation business.
“He took these boys under his wing and made a difference in their lives,” Margaret said.
Michael Parker, Guyer High School assistant principal, said he knew Featherstone for more than 20 years. Parker said Tony was a leader for the Denton Independent School District.
Parker first met Tony during his time at Calhoun Middle School. Tony advocated for the school and founded a program that brought fathers into the classrooms in 2003.
Parker said Featherstone also helped with a renovation project at the middle school, in which he gathered labor materials and the community together to build the outdoor learning center that needed repair.
“The whole idea was to bring fathers onto the campus and increase their presence where there was a void, and he’s one that started that, that’s really my first memory,” Parker said. “And he came to me when I was the new guy at school, and we instantly became friends.”
Featherstone was a leader who would guide the next generation of aviators. Parker said Tony employed students from the district’s Air Force ROTC through his company and gave them opportunities to provide them with hands-on experience in becoming aviators.
“These were high school kids whom he saw potential in, and he hired them and taught them what it takes to be a pilot,” Parker said.
Parker spoke to friends over the phone about Featherstone’s death. They described him as the smartest guy in the room that had no need to prove it. He was always happy to be with his friends.
“A true man that can be counted on in good times or bad,” Parker said. “He lived the model life for young men to follow to be successful and to serve their community.”
Parker remembers when Featherstone showed up on his 60th birthday — he expected no one, and Tony was in his backyard.
Richard Hayes, who was elected for Texas House’s new District 57, also said he was shocked when he heard of Featherstone’s death.
“It’s just unbelievable because this is not a recreational pilot; he’s a professional pilot who flies people all around the country and the world,” Hayes said. “This took my breath away. I mean, awful.”
Hayes met Featherstone when their sons were in the same Boy Scouts troop and said Tony was a great scoutmaster.
Hayes remembers he would fly with him several times with his family. Hayes said Featherstone helped him and his daughter fly to Galveston for a university interview when she applied for medical school. Tony didn’t hesitate to help them.
“That’s just the kind of guy he was,” Hayes said. “If you needed anything, he would help you out.”
Tony is survived by his parents, Tommy and Terry Ann Featherstone of Ponder; wife, Margaret Duncan Featherstone of Sanger; son, Austin Featherstone and wife, Carrie, of College Station; daughter Lauren Featherstone and husband, Josh, of Plano; stepsons Charles Alan Works of Denton, and Hal Duncan and wife, Asami, of Tokyo, Japan; granddaughter Runa Duncan of Tokyo; and aunt Robin Cruiser and husband, Jeff, of Hempstead.
“I just feel like he’s on a trip and hasn’t come home yet,” Margaret said.