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Flight officer in plane crash from Maple Valley, Wash.

MAPLE VALLEY, Wash. — The first officer on the Continental Connection flight that crashed near Buffalo, N.Y., had a passion for aviation and decided in her senior year in high school that she wanted to fly, friends and family said Friday.

Rebecca Lynne Shaw, 24, of Maple Valley, joined the commuter airline in January 2008 and had flown 2,244 hours with the carrier.

“She absolutely loved to fly,” said her mother, Lyn Morris, who spoke outside Shaw’s home in this southeast Seattle suburb where family and friends gathered to mourn.

Morris said the family learned at 4:30 a.m. that Shaw was the co-pilot on Flight 3407 from Newark, N.J, that killed all 49 people aboard and one person on the ground when it crashed into a suburban Buffalo home.

“Our heads knew earlier, but our hearts couldn’t accept it,” a tearful Morris said.

Morris said Shaw’s husband, Troy, was on his way to Buffalo to meet with airline officials.

“Rebecca is an amazing woman, absolutely amazing. She’s an awesome pilot,” her mother said. “We love her and miss her terribly.”

Shaw graduated from Tahoma High School in Covington, east of Seattle, in 2002, where she was active in volleyball, softball and student leadership, district spokesman Kevin Patterson said. She also volunteered as a camp counselor for younger students, he said.

She attended Big Bend Community College in Moses Lake, then transferred to Central Washington University in Ellensburg.

She graduated from Central in 2007 with a major in flight technology and a minor in philosophy, university spokeswoman Teri Olin said.

“She was so full of life,” said Amy Hoover, chair of the university’s aviation department. “She was energetic, out there, making things happen.

“As a woman in aviation, you have to be really sure of what you’re doing and to be out there giving it everything — and Becca certainly did that.”

David Clark, who went to school with Shaw, described her as a fun-loving person. “With her, aviation was one of her main passions,” he said.

After graduating from CWU, she was a flight instructor in Mesa, Ariz., before taking the job with the airline, he sai

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