Student reflects on pilot killed in plane crash

CREATED Jul. 28, 2013 - UPDATED: Jul. 29, 2013

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  • Bill Gensler was headed to Oshkosh Saturday before the deadly crash. He and another man took off from Batten International Airport in Racine. Sunday, Yona Gavino spoke with one of Bill’s students who flew with him hours before the crash. Video by wtmj.com

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CUDAHY - William Gensler was headed to Oshkosh Saturday before the deadly crash. He and another person took off from Batten International Airport in Racine.

Jacob Rusch said William Gensler was more than a flight instructor - he was his mentor.

“It feels weird knowing that I just saw him a few hours before,” exclaims Rusch.

Rusch has known Bill for three years.

The seasoned instructor had just finished a flight to Madison with Rusch before the deadly crash.

It's not clear what caused the single engine plane to go down into Lake Michgan Saturday afternoon. Hours after the crash, divers found the bodies of Bill and another man inside the plane submerged in water.

The airport manager tells TODAY’S TMJ4 that Bill was an instructor at that airport for 42 years. He describes him as very experienced and says he had over 40,000 hours of flying time.

“I have to admit,” expresses David Mann, the airport general manager. “It's been a lot harder with him being a personal friend."

Bill was well known in the aviation community. Those he mentored are still shaken up by the news of his death.

“I was in shock and a little bit of disbelief. I thought it couldn't have been him,” adds Bill’s flight student Jacob Rusch.