Former Child Pilot Commits Suicide

Youngest person to ever cross the Atlantic dead at 26
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2008 10:06 AM CDT
Vicki Van Meter, 11, of Meadville, Pa., gives the thumbs up as she leaves on the first leg of her cross-country flight from Augusta, Maine, in this Sept. 20, 1993 file photo. Accompanying her is her flight...   (AP Photo/Pat Wallenbach, File)

(Newser) – Vicki Van Meter, the girl who at age 11 astounded the nation with a 5-hour cross-country flight, is dead at 26, the AP reports, of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound. Van Meter’s trans-continental flight was a record at the time, and a year later she became the youngest pilot to fly across the Atlantic. “We all thought she was coping,” her brother said of her history of depression.

Van Meter’s body was found in her home on Sunday. Since her high-flying days, Van Meter has gone to college, joined the Peace Corps, and recently worked as an insurance investigator. She was applying to graduate school in psychology. She “led a full and interesting life,” her mother said. “She had more guts than any of us could ever imagine.”