NTSB Releases Preliminary Report on Fatal EAA Airventure Mishaps

by | Sep 1, 2023 | Aviation Accident, Wrongful Death

The annual Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) AirVenture event held in Oshkosh, Wisconsin on July 29, 2023, was marred by two separate fatal accidents that occurred within just hours of each other and took the lives of four people.  One mishap, involving a single AT-6D Texan, left the aircraft in pieces at the bottom of Lake Winnebago at approximately 9:05 a.m. local time.  The second incident involved the midair collision of a home-built helicopter and a gyroplane as both aircraft attempted to land on a turf runway at approximately 12:27 p.m. local time.
The NTSB has issued its preliminary reports following the agency’s initial investigation into these accidents.  The NTSB found that shortly after takeoff from Runway 27 at Wittman Regional Airport, the AT-6D continued a northerly turn towards the east while climbing to approximately 3,900 feet.  Within minutes after takeoff and shortly after going “feet wet” over Lake Winnebago, the AT-6D appeared to “[break] into pieces” before descending into the lake and coming to rest in water that is approximately 20 feet deep.
Additionally, the NTSB found that while cycling in to land at Wittman Regional Airport, the helicopter was following its “interval traffic,” the gyroplane, which was number one for landing.  The gyroplane pilot decided to execute a go around and began a left 360 degree turn in order to set up for another attempt at landing at the turf runway.  As the gryrocopter made its turn back to its final approach course, it struck the helicopter causing both aircraft to depart controlled flight and crash within the confines of the airfield.
While the investigation into both of these mishaps is continuing, it appears from the preliminary reports that the AT-6D may have suffered a catastrophic airframe failure which suggests a lack of proper maintenance and the midair collision suggests a failure by the pilots to follow proper FAA procedures in the terminal environment.
Mishaps such as these, involving general aviation aircraft, are not uncommon in the United States.  When these mishaps occur, whether due to deficient maintenance practices or a departure from proper procedure in the operation of an aircraft, serious injury or death can result.  Often, the victims of these mishaps are the passengers on board the aircraft or people on the ground where the aircraft comes to rest.

Spagnoletti Law Firm has attorneys licensed in Texas, Florida, and New York.  We have handled numerous cases involving the failure of necessary equipment on a plane or helicopter in both federal and state court across the country.  When it comes to aviation, safety must come first.  Our attorneys have extensive experience in plane and helicopter crash litigation and the skills needed to aggressively represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or those who have been seriously injured in a plane or helicopter crash.  The experienced aviation attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of a crash. Please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or 877-678-5864 to learn more about your legal rights.