A Topeka physician flying a small plane crashed Monday evening in Topeka, killing him and his Leawood flight instructor.
The Kansas Highway Patrol identified the men as William M. Leeds, 61, of Topeka, and James K. Bergman, 55, of Leawood.
The Highway Patrol originally identified Leeds as being 76 and from Mission. Kansas Highway Patrol Trooper Scott Moses said the initial information was incorrect because neither man had identification when the plane crashed. The patrol had to use other ways to identify the men, which led to some initial confusion.
The plane, a 1965 Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche multi-engine aircraft, crashed about 8:15 p.m. north of Philip Billard Municipal Airport, according to a preliminary crash report from the Highway Patrol.
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The aircraft was headed northwest at the time of the crash and appears to have missed the runway and struck the ground at high speeds. The plane came to rest in a grassy field between the runway and the taxi road to the airport terminal, according to the Highway Patrol.
Leeds, who already had a pilot’s license, was flying the plane as he trained to upgrade to a multi-engine pilot rating.
Bergman, a flight instructor who held commercial and flight instructor pilot licenses, was training Leeds, Moses said.
Bergman’s family said through the Highway Patrol that he was an excellent pilot. He was particular about who he agreed to train, family members said.
Leeds was a critical care pulmonologist at Pulmonary & Sleep Associates in Topeka. He treated patients with pulmonary illnesses and sleep disorders.
He frequently treated patients at satellite clinics in Onaga, Parsons, Burlington and Garden City, Kan.
Leeds loved being a doctor, said Hope Biggs, the operations manager at Pulmonary & Sleep Associates.
He started the practice, originally called Topeka Pulmonary, in 1998.
“His saying was, when he stops loving what he’s doing, he will quit practicing,” Biggs said.
Biggs said he would tease his patients: “It’s not about you, it’s about me. As long as you’re getting better, I’m happy. You have to get better, because it’s about me.”