NEW CASTLE COUNTY, Del. (CBS) — The wife of a pilot killed in a small plane crash in New Castle County is speaking out. The plane went down around 9 a.m. Sunday, just minutes after taking off from the New Castle County Airport.

Terrence Daniels lived life with a purpose. Those who knew him said he loved to fly and lived to help others.

There were long hugs outside of the Mount Airy home of Army veteran Staff Sgt. Terrence Daniels. The 52-year-old lost his life doing what he loved — flying planes.

“I’m in shock. My husband was the most amazing person,” said Christina Spaulding-Daniels, Terrence’s wife.

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Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board say Daniels and 79-year-old male passenger and flight instructor Albert Dohring died after Daniels’ Beechcraft 55 Baron crashed.

State police say the plane went down Sunday morning, just minutes after leaving the airport.

Daniels’ wife says he had been flying since 2000 and was flying during the Sept. 11 attacks. The attack on America inspired him to enlist in the Army.

Spaulding-Daniels says he earned his master’s degree while bed-ridden from a back injury he suffered during combat in Iraq.

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“He didn’t give up. He went to St. Joe’s to get a master’s degree in organizational dynamics and leadership with a 3.97 GPA,” Spaulding-Daniels said.

Daniels worked for the Pennsylvania Department of Education. He earned his PhD in educational leadership and management from Drexel University in 2017.

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The school’s dean recalls Daniels’ selfless spirit.

“He had a real passion for learning and he really wanted to bring a voice to people who couldn’t or didn’t have a voice. His dissertation was the impact of student debt on low-income students,” said Penny Hammrich, the dean of Drexel University’s School of Education.

Daniels leaves behind three daughters, three grandchildren, and a 1-year-old son named Grayson. His wife says the little boy meant the world to him.

“I just want Grayson to know how much his father truly loved him, and he would do anything for Grayson, anything to make Grayson smile,” Spaulding-Daniels said.

Daniels’ three daughters. (Photo courtesy Tonie Daniels)

His wife says Daniels also volunteered for a group called Pilots N Paws that rescued animals and flew them to shelters.

CBS3’s Chantee Lans reports.