ASTRONAUT, pilot critically burned in small airplane crash

Wednesday, May 23rd 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

HOUSTON (AP) _ A single-engine plane carrying a NASA astronaut plunged to the ground and exploded, leaving the astronaut and its owner critically burned.

The two-seat plane cartwheeled and crashed into some trees Tuesday after the pilots practiced landing and takeoff maneuvers, state trooper Rudy Williams said. Witnesses said the plane burst into flames seconds later.

One witness said the victims were on fire when they freed themselves from the wreckage. The witness said he grabbed a fire extinguisher to douse the flames on the pair, who were still alert and talking.

Astronaut Patricia Hilliard Robertson, 38, and Roy Adams, 46, were in Memorial Hermann Hospital on Wednesday with second- and third-degree burns on more than 90 percent of their bodies.

Robertson was selected as an astronaut by NASA in June 1998 and became a candidate in training for the astronaut medical corps. She previously worked in the flight medicine clinic at the space center, where she provided health care for astronauts and their families.