Saturday, 24 February 2024

Mid-air collision kills glider and plane pilots

MIDDLETOWN – Late Saturday federal officials were in Middletown to investigate a mid-air collision that claimed the lives of two pilots.


The crash occurred at around 11 a.m. Saturday at Crazy Creek Air Adventures in Middletown, according to Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Laura Brown.


Brown said the crash involved a Schleicher ASW 27 glider and a Piper PA 25 tow plane.


“They were on approach to the same runway,” but coming from different directions when the glider and plane collided, said Brown.


Brown did not know if the aircraft hit head-on, a determination that she said is part of the investigation.


The glider pilot was killed, as was the plane's pilot, said Brown. There were no other passengers aboard the plane.


The identities of the pilots were not released late Saturday.


Jim Indrebo, who owns Crazy Creek Air Adventures, confirmed to Lake County News late Saturday that the crash had occurred.


“I can't say much about it,” he said, adding that he may be able to make a statement following the completion of the investigation.


Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board investigators were at the scene of the gliderport, located on Grange Road near Middletown, Saturday evening, Indrebo said.


Brown said the NTSB and FAA will issue a preliminary report on the crash within a few weeks.


The FAA investigates every aviation collision case, Brown said. However, it will be up to the NTSB to decide the incident's probable cause and decide if more investigation – leading to a final report in a few months' time – is warranted, she explained.


The NTSB could not be contacted late Saturday.


However, the agency's Web site explained that it deploys a safety board “go team” – led by a senior investigator – to respond to major incidents.


The NTSB reported that its go team can number from three to more than a dozen specialists ready to be deployed around the clock from the safety board's Washington, DC office.


On an annual basis, the NTSB investigates about 2,000 aviation collisions, according to its Web site.


Among the crashes it investigates annually, Brown said the FAA doesn't see many involving gliders, estimating they account for only “a handful a year.”


Schleichers are one-seat, high-performance gliders, designed with competitions pilots in mind, according to the company Web site. The gliders have a 49-foot wingspan.


Piper PA 25s, which have reportedly become widely popular among glider enthusiasts for use as tow planes, were manufactured for crop dusting from the 1950s through early 1980s. They are ones-seat planes, with a 36-foot wingspan, according to the Virtual Aircraft Museum.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . Follow Lake County News on Twitter at http://twitter.com/LakeCoNews and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Lake-County-News/143156775604?ref=mf .

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