CHANDLER, AZ — There are many unknowns surrounding the mid-air collision between a plane and a helicopter in Chandler, which took the lives of two people. The family of 34-year-old Mike Papendick wants people to know about their loving husband and father.
Papendick leaves behind his wife Becca and their 11-month-old daughter Aubrey.
"I just wanna know what happened during his last few moments," says Becca Papendick, Mike's wife.
The family recently moved back to Phoenix to start a new chapter of their life together. Mike just got out of the Navy after serving for seven years. He had hoped to turn his passion for flying, into a career.
"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 began the Quantum Helicopters flight school program at the end of August. Since then, Becca says he had gone up several times with an instructor. There are many unknowns, though, as to what went wrong Friday morning.
"From what I understand, he was about to land. They, he and Jess, were about to land. They were almost done with their flight," says Papendick.
Mike and the instructor passed away after Chandler Fire officials say a fixed-wing plane collided with their helicopter. The plane landed safely near the runway at Chandler Airport; the helicopter crashed and caught fire.
"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.
Becca is now leaning on her family for support. They are standing by her side, hurting just as much.
"She's going through a unique set of challenges; most people never go through in their entire lives," says Rachel Lima, Becca's sister.
Her sister Rachel has started an online fundraiser as a way to help during this sudden and unexpected time.
She is also trying to lift Becca's spirits, pointing out the beautiful moments they have shared, like 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 ever since, nearly 5 years. They have built a family together with almost one-year-old Aubrey.
Now, Becca is holding onto that as they move forward with Mike in their hearts.
The crash investigation is still in the early stages.