Memorial held for UVU flight instructor, student

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PROVO -- Utah Valley University held a memorial service Tuesday for two people killed in a plane crash earlier this month in Payson.

Flight instructor Jamie Bennee and student David Whitney were just 21 minutes into a training flight when their plane, a single-engine Diamond DA-20, crashed Nov. 17. It landed in the front yard of a house, bringing down some power lines with it; but it missed the house and Wilson Elementary school, which is right across the street.

Their memorial service was held at Hangar B at the Provo Airport Tuesday morning.


Friends and family spoke of Bennee's love of flying, life and family. Bennee's mother said her daughter didn't let a moment go by without doing what she loved.

Bennee's mother, Danalea Cope and aunt, Kelly Patrick spoke at the memorial, each sharing stories of her dedication to family. Bennee was a loving wife and mother, and to her husband, Joshua, she was his best friend.

He called her "superwoman." She held several jobs while being a loving wife and mother to her two young children.

"She'll never be forgotten in my eyes, she'll always have my love," he said.

Whitney's family said he always wanted to be a pilot and loved to fly. Whitney's sister, Camilla Boles, said flying was his dream and passion.

"I came to the airport a couple of times to watch him fly, and he just loved it so much, and it was truly his passion. He was so happy doing it," she said.

She says she takes some comfort in knowing so many people cared about her brother. When she heard Utah Valley University wanted to honor David and Jamie, she says the feeling was overwhelming, though the pain is still difficult to bear.

Camilla says she surrounded herself with family and friends since the tragic loss of her brother, but it's still hard to deal with.

"I think he's still here and hasn't come around in a while and hasn't called me in a bit, and that's hard, just thinking about that," she said. "But I think I'm still kind of in shock also. It's still, it hasn't really sunk in."

UVU aviation professor Rich Crandall says the loss of Jamie and David has had a far-reaching effect and touched the lives of so many.

"We're all one family when it comes to aviation, and when something like this happens, it affects all of us," he said.

Roughly 200 people showed up at the memorial service. Funerals have already been held for both David and Jamie. This was an opportunity for many in UVU's aviation department and friends, family members and co-workers to say a few final goodbyes -- and focus on the thing that the two of them both loved so much, which was flying.

Bennee leaves behind a husband, a 3-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter. Whitney leaves behind a wife.

UVU expects to resume its flight training program in the next two weeks.



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