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German pilot visited glider field near crash site as a child

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The German co-pilot accused of
crashing a passenger plane in the French Alps frequented
a gliding club near the crash site as a child with his
parents, according to a member of the club.
Francis Kefer, a member of the club in the town of
Sisteron, said on i-Tele television that Andreas Lubitz’
family and other members of the gliding club in his home
town of Montabaur, Germany, came to the region
regularly between 1996 and 2003.
French prosecutors say Lubitz deliberately slammed the
Germanwings flight into a mountain on Tuesday, killing all
150 people aboard. German prosecutors are trying to
determine what caused Lubitz to take such a devastating
decision.
The crash site is about 50 kilometers (30 miles) away
from the Aero-club de Sisteron glider airfield.
Officials at the club would not comment Saturday.
The area, with its numerous peaks and valleys and
stunning panoramas, is popular with glider pilots. In the
final moments of the Germanwingsflight, Lubitz overflew
the major turning points for gliders in the region, flying
from one peak to another, according to local glider pilots.
A special Mass was being held Saturday in the nearby
town of Digne-les-Bains to honor the victims and support
their families.
Bishop Jean-Philippe Nault led the Mass, attended by
about 200 people from the surrounding region, deeply
shaken by the crash. It was the deadliest crash on French
soil in decades.
The plane shattered into thousands of pieces, and police
are toiling to retrieve the remains of the victims and the
aircraft from a hard-to-reach Alpine valley near the village
of Le Vernet.
Lubitz’s employers, authorities and acquaintances
described a man who hid evidence of an illness from his
employers — including a torn-up doctor’s note that would
have kept him off work the day authorities say he crashed
Flight 9525.
Frank Woiton, another Germanwings pilot, said Andreas
Lubitz told him he wanted to become a long-distance pilot
and fly Airbus A380 or Boeing 747 planes.
Woiton, who like Lubitz comes from Montabaur, says he
met the 27-year-old for the first time three weeks ago
when they flew Duesseldorf to Vienna and back together.
Woiton told German public broadcaster WDR on Friday
that Lubitz didn’t stand out and appeared like any other
colleague.
He says Lubitz “flew well and knew how to handle the
plane.”
Searches conducted at Lubitz’s homes in Duesseldorf and
in the town of Montabaur turned up documents pointing
to “an existing illness and appropriate medical treatment,”
but no suicide note was found, said Ralf Herrenbrueck, of
the Duesseldorf prosecutors’ office.
Prosecutors didn’t specify what illness Lubitz may have
been suffering from, or say whether it was mental or
physical. German media reported Friday that the 27-year-
old had suffered from depression.
Germanwings declined Saturday to comment when asked
whether the company was aware of any psychological
problems Lubitz might have had.
The Duesseldorf University Hospital said Friday that
Lubitz had been a patient there over the past two months
and last went in for a “diagnostic evaluation” on March
10. It declined to provide details, citing medical
confidentiality, but denied reports it had treated Lubitz for
depression.  Read on HERE

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