A Virginia flight instructor who was a former Hampton University athlete died Thursday during a flight lesson in Virginia.
Viktoria Ljungman, 23, was killed in a crash at Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport. The 18-year-old student pilot and an 18-year-old passenger survived.
The aircraft crashed into a ditch near the airport around 3 p.m., Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller said.
Investigators determined that the student pilot tried to pull up the Cessna 172 at a very steep angle during takeoff, causing the engine to stall in the air, according to Geller.
Ljungman was pronounced dead at the scene. The student pilot and the passenger were taken to area hospitals. Their conditions were not available.
State police, the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are continuing to investigate the incident.
Ljungman came to the U.S. from Sweden in 2018 to play tennis at Hampton University, where she graduated in May, her former tennis coach, Clayton Hamilton, said.
"She was truly a wonderful person," Hamilton said. "She brightened up every room she was in."
Ljungman's dream was to become a commercial pilot, Hamilton said.
"Her degree was in aviation. It’s what she loved to do," he said, adding that he stayed in touch with Ljungman after he left the university in 2020.
Ljungman was working as a certified flight instructor at Rick Aviation Flight School in eastern Virginia.