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34-Year-Old Loving Husband, Father Killed After a Mid-Air Collision in Chandler; Wife Speaks Out

Authorities in Chandler, Arizona, are investigating a mid-air collision between a helicopter and an airplane that claimed the lives of two people.

The Papendick Family

Michael Papendick and His Daughter (Photo: ABC15)

One of them being the 34-year-old Mike Papendick. Mike and his family have recently returned to Phoenix to begin a new chapter in their lives. Mike recently retired from the Navy after seven years of service. He had hoped to make a career out of his love of flying.

Mike Papendick’s family wants the world to know about their loving husband and father. Papendick leaves behind his wife Becca and their 11-month-old daughter Aubrey.

“I just want to know what happened during his last few moments,” Mike’s wife, Becca Papendick, says.

A helicopter and an airplane collided in the air above Chandler Municipal Airport in Arizona early Friday morning, according to the Chandler Fire Department (Photo: NBC)

Unexpected Tragedy

“He wanted to fly for the police or EMS and then do some tours in Hawaii and all that fun stuff. He had the adrenaline of being in the sky,” says Papendick.

Mike enrolled in the Quantum Helicopters flight school program in late August. Becca claims he’s gone up several times since then with an instructor. However, there are many unknowns as to what went wrong Friday morning.

According to Chandler Fire officials, Mike and the instructor were killed when a fixed-wing plane collided with their helicopter. The plane landed safely near Chandler Airport’s runway; the helicopter crashed and caught fire.

“From what I understand, he was about to land. They, he and Jess, were about to land. They were almost done with their flight,”

“I was not expecting to wake up to this news today. I didn’t know, I didn’t know this morning was going to be how it was. I didn’t know I would be saying bye,” says Papendick.

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In loving Memory

Becca is now relying on her family for assistance. They are by her side, hurting just as much as she is.

“She’s going through a unique set of challenges; most people never go through in their entire lives,” says Rachel Lima, Becca’s sister.

Rachel, her sister, has started an online fundraiser to assist her during this difficult and unexpected time. She is also trying to lift Becca’s spirits by recalling the wonderful times they have shared, such as the first time they met.

“We were pen-pals, but we were coworkers at first. He saw me at massage school but I didn’t see him, like we were in the lunchroom and he had recognized me and then when I had my interview at Massage Envy, he was like ‘there she is; there she is,'” says Becca.

They have been together for nearly five years. They have started a family with their daughter Aubrey, who is almost a year old.

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