STARKVILLE, Miss. (WMC) - Friends and family are struggling to come to terms with the death of 18-year-old Elizabeth “Lake” Little.
She passed away after crashing a Cessna 172 onto the Ole Miss Golf Course Saturday, starting a large fire.
“She was a great sister. She was a great person. She was one of a kind,” said Patton Little, Lake’s brother.
Little was a busy young woman. She was deeply religious, going on several mission trips to Belize. She was Miss Hospitality for the City of Starkville, participated in the Mayor's Youth Council and started a program called “Reading Matters” where she taught young children to read.
Her community service caught the eye of Starkville's Mayor.
“She was a community figure even at her young age. Service was very important to her and it was just a delight to be around her,” said Mayor Lynn Spruill.
“The hardest part of losing her is knowing that she could have touched so many more people in her life,” said Shelby Ladner, Lake’s cousin.
Little’s brothers said what she loved the most in life was flying. She spent years learning and training to be a pilot. Saturday, Little was performing touch-and-gos at the nearby Oxford University Airport. It’s a maneuver which involves landing on a runway and taking off again without coming to a full stop.
It was a test for Little to earn her pilot's license.
“That was one of her last tests was the touch-and-gos, flying across the state. She was well on her way to get where she wanted to go,” said Patton Little.
And where Little wanted to go was into service for her country. She signed up for the Air National Guard to help her get a degree at the University of Southern Mississippi, with the ultimate goal of becoming a pilot in the Air Force.
“She actually just got her first paycheck in the mail yesterday for being an active military member,” said Layton Little, Lake’s brother.
Now the Little family is saying goodbye to a young woman who loved to fly and serve.