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Charles Schwartz, PSFC engineer, dies in plane crash

Charles R. Schwartz
Charles R. Schwartz

Charles R. Schwartz, an engineer at MIT's Plasma Science and Fusion Center (PSFC) and an accomplished pilot, died Oct. 26 when the small plane he was piloting crashed into a building in Leominster, Mass.

He was test-flying a homebuilt plane registered to a Shrewsbury man when it crashed into the R&S Machine building in Leominster, Mass. on a Tuesday afternoon.

Mr. Schwartz, 50, was the chief radio frequency (RF) engineer for the Alcator C-Mod tokamak fusion project at the PSFC, where he managed a group of engineers, technicians and physicists.

"Charley was an excellent engineer and a great asset to the C-Mod project. He was one of those persons who elevated the performance of all those who worked with him," said Dave Terry, chief electrical engineer and Mr. Schwartz's supervisor.

"He had the unusual ability to teach not only the staff, but also the students about RF systems and safety practices. His broad experience made him the foundation for the successful multimegawatt RF heating and current drive program at Alcator C-Mod," said Steve Wukitch, a research scientist and RF physicist.

Mr. Schwartz worked at DuPont Pharmaceutical Co. in Billerica, Mass. for 25 years, and at MIT from 2002 until his death.

He was born Oct. 16, 1954 in Susquehanna, Penn. He studied electronics at the U.S. Army Intelligence School and the Capitol Radio Engineering Institute and Lowell Technical Institute, and business management at Northeastern University. Mr. Schwartz was a flight instructor, a member of the experimental aircraft association, American Radio Relay League, and an avid Ham Radio operator.

He lived in Shirley, Mass., with his wife Lorraine (Toth). Other survivors include his father and stepmother, Theodore and Sharyl Schwartz of Lanesboro, Penn.; his half-brother John Dininny of Valdese, N.C.; a stepdaughter, Kelley Sliter of Lee, Maine; and his parents-in-law, William and Alberta Toth of Bolton.

A funeral was held Tuesday, Nov. 2. Burial was at the Shirley Center Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to the Fitchburg Pilots Association Scholarship Fund, c/o Fitchburg Municipal Airport, 567 Crawford St., Fitchburg, MA 01420.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 3, 2004 (download PDF).

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