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Memorial Service to Be Held for Pilot Killed in Van Nuys Crash

October 25, 1985

A memorial service for Shana Karam, who died in the crash of a home-built aircraft at Van Nuys Airport last week, will begin at 12:45 p.m. today at the Santa Paula Airport.

A veteran pilot at 20, Karam, of Santa Paula, was featured in an April View story that recounted her affection for flying and her relationship with her mentor, air show pilot and former TWA captain Bob Van Ausdell, 64.

Karam was a passenger in a two-seat Glasair home-built airplane that spiraled into a grassy field Oct. 15 shortly after takeoff from Van Nuys. Also killed in the crash was airplane owner-builder Joseph N. Ofrin, 56, of Canoga Park.

Considered by Van Ausdell and others to be a "natural" pilot, Karam had flown more than 60 types of airplanes, including a P-51 World War II fighter and a twin-engined C-46 transport, before her death. "The Lord put some people on the face of the Earth to be pilots and she is one of them," Joe Kasparoff, who loaned Karam the P-51, told staff writer Paul Dean last spring.

"She has 'the touch,' " Van Ausdell said. "That's absolute, complete, perfect control of an airplane. I've seen it before . . . but damned seldom in a man . . . and never in a woman."

The service today will include a fly-by, said Karam's mother, Mae Karam, also of Santa Paula.

She said she is establishing a memorial scholarship fund in her daughter's memory. Scholarships will be given to student flyers to help them complete an aeronautical rating or to introduce them to flying, she said.

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