4 dead, 2 injured in 2 aircraft crashes near EAA AirVenture

Multiple plane crashes reported in communities around Oshkosh prior to fatalities

A man walks through a field where many airplanes are parked.
An attendee looks at airplanes parked Monday, July 24, 2023, EAA AirVenture Oshkosh in Oshkosh, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Two people were killed and two others injured Saturday in a midair collision at an airport in Wisconsin.

A Rotorway 162F helicopter and an ELA Eclipse 10 gyrocopter collided shortly after noon local time at Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, authorities said. The aircraft belonged to individuals attending the Experimental Aircraft Association’s annual fly-in convention in Oshkosh but were not involved in the air show, a statement from the organization said.

The association, citing the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office, said two people were killed and two injured. The injured were taken to a local hospital, and the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the crash.

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The deceased were identified Sunday as the pilot, Mark Peterson, 69, of Foley, Alabama, and passenger Thomas Volz, 72, of Amelia, Ohio.

Separately, a plane earlier Saturday crashed into Lake Winnebago near Oshkosh, killing two people, according to the sheriff’s office. The NTSB is also investigating that case, which involved a single-engine North American T-6 aircraft. The victims are identified as Devyn Reilly, 30, of Guadalupe, Texas, and 20-year-old Zach Colliemoreno, whose hometown was not immediately available.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all involved,” the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office said in a social media post Saturday evening.

EAA CEO Jack Pelton shared similar condolences at a press conference Sunday. He said EAA has been working with the families of those involved, and the people who were taken to the hospital are in stable condition.

“It’s tough — it’s a family here, and we never like to see anything happen to anybody,” Pelton said. “We’ll recover, and we’ll figure out what the next steps are.”

He also said EAA will hold a debrief after the event, as it does every year, to review what happened and what could be improved for future years.

“We always are refining and making changes,” he said. “Safety is our number one priority, both on the ground and in the air.”

Saturday’s crashes weren’t the first AirVenture-related crashes of the week. Two people suffered minor injuries Thursday when a plane went down in a field in Green Lake County’s town of Brooklyn, according to the Green Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

This plane went down in Green Lake County's town of Brooklyn on Thursday
This plane went down in Green Lake County’s town of Brooklyn on Thursday, July 27, 2023. Photo Courtesy of the Green Lake County Sheriff’s Office

Authorities said the plane was headed to AirVenture from South Bend, Indiana when it lost power and attempted an emergency landing. It flipped upon impact with a cornfield while attempting to land.

“We have been informed that both occupants were treated and released from the local hospital,” the sheriff’s office said Friday.

On Tuesday, a plane crashed near Wittman Regional Airport in Oshkosh, resulting in the pilot — the vehicle’s only occupant — being taken to the hospital, according to WLUK-TV. The plane lost power after taking off to the south, before crash-landing on its left wing in a field.

“He’s going to be OK,” Jennifer Rodi of the National Transportation Safety Board told the TV station. “Exact detail of injuries I do not have.”

On the Saturday prior to AirVenture, a plane carrying two people bound for Oshkosh from Texas went down in a Fond du Lac County marsh, according to the Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Office. Authorities said the plane’s engine suddenly lost power, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing in a marshy area. One of the plane’s wings was damaged, and the pilot was treated for a possible shoulder injury.

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