Marlton man was a pilot on ill-fated Katz flight

Bauke "Mike" de Vries, 45, of Marlton, was one of the pilots at the controls of the Gulfstream IV that crashed outside Boston on Saturday killing all seven aboard, including businessman-philanthropist Lewis Katz.

"He loved to fly. It was his dream," Shelly de Vries, his wife of 12 years, said Monday.

De Vries said she did not know whether her husband was serving as pilot or copilot. The plane rolled off the runway, struck an antenna and fence, and came to rest in a gully, where it burst into flames.

"They both were qualified" as captains, she said of her husband and his colleague in the cockpit, James McDowell, 51, of Georgetown, Del. The two had flown together for a decade, working mostly for Katz, she said.

She said that she had never met Katz, a co-owner of The Inquirer, but that her husband spoke very warmly of him and called him a "wonderful man."

If they flew to Europe, she said, and Katz expected to stay several days, he would insist de Vries fly the plane to Holland to visit his parents.

"He loved Mr. Katz," Shelly De Vries said.

He trained privately to be a pilot and often joked that he was "a limo driver in the sky," she said. At home he gardened and played tennis.

She said that in 1992 he was a passenger on a training flight out of South Jersey Regional Airport that crashed, killing one person on board.

"He was a great man, and a great father," she said. They have an 18-year-old daughter.

- David O'Reilly