4 Killed in 2 Separate Oshkosh Crashes Identified

The victims identified included a pilot who aspired to fly museum aircraft to fly-ins and air shows nationwide.

The NTSB and the FAA are investigating two separate aircraft incidents that claimed the lives of four people on the last weekend of EAA AirVenture. [Credit: Shutterstock]

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the FAA continue to investigate two separate aircraft incidents that claimed the lives of four people on the last weekend of EAA AirVenture.

The first accident occurred the morning of July 29 when a North American AT-6D, N49961, piloted by 30-year-old Devyn Reiley of Guadalupe, Texas, crashed into Lake Winnebago shortly after takeoff. Also killed in the accident was 20-year-old Zach Colliemoreno. According to San Antonio Express-News, Colliemoreno was a family friend. His hometown was not available as of publication time.

"The Winnebago County sheriff's department received multiple calls about the accident, EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said.

"The Marine Units with Dive Rescue/Recovery Team members, along with the Oshkosh Fire Department, Winneconne Fire Department, Neenah Menasha Fire Rescue, Calumet County Sheriff’s Office, Wisconsin DNR, U.S. Coast Guard, and the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary all responded to the scene to immediately begin an emergency rescue response," Knapinski said in a statement.

According to a publicly available flight tracking application, the T-6 had taken off from Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH) Saturday morning and within minutes had reached an altitude of approximately 3,900 feet. At approximately 9:06 a.m., the aircraft entered a vertical descent of 11,520 feet per minute, and the ground speed diminished to 105 knots.

One of the witnesses to the accident was Brayden Hiebing, who was fishing on the lake with his grandfather. He told television station NBC 26 Green Bay that he saw the airplane spinning as it descended. He thought the pilot was performing a trick until the aircraft impacted the water, fragmenting into multiple pieces.

By Monday morning, both bodies had been recovered from the lake, along with the majority of the aircraft wreckage.

"It will be taken to a secure facility for examination," said NTSB spokesperson Keith Holloway.

Warbird Pilot

Devyn Reiley held a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating. According to her LinkedIn page, Reiley is the co-founder of the Texas Warbird Museum in New Braunfels, Texas. Previously, she had been the general manager of Texas Aviation Academy, where she earned her private pilot certificate in 2017.

Friends of Reiley’s said she had wanted to fly since childhood and looked up to members of the World War II Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs) as her mentors. She soloed a Vultee BT-13 Valiant, the same type of training aircraft the WASP flew during the war at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, the WASP training base. Reiley had plans to acquire her commercial pilot certificate so that she could fly museum aircraft to fly-ins and air shows around the country, sharing the WASP story and her enthusiasm for aviation with others. At AirVenture, Reiley was often clad in an olive drab flight suit that featured aviation patches, including Fifinella, the mascot of the WASP.

Reiley's family has established a GoFundMe campaign for Hunter Reiley, Devlyn's husband. The pair celebrated their third wedding anniversary just days before the accident. On his FaceBook page Hunter Reiley, also a pilot, posted, "All you wanted was to make the WASP proud. You earned your ‘Fifi’' wings."

In addition to being an aviation fanatic, Reiley is the daughter of NFL player Bruce Collie, a former star player with the San Francisco 49ers and a two-time Super Bowl champion.

The FAA did not have a record of a pilot certificate for Colliemoreno on file. 

Rotorcraft Midair

A few hours following the T-6 accident, a second fatal crash occurred when two rotorcraft collided in flight at the south end of the airport, killing two. 

According to witnesses, just before 12:30 p.m., a helicopter and gyrocopter collided in mid-air. The gyrocopter landed on top of a parked and unoccupied Mooney. Photographs and video of the incident show the Mooney and the gyrocopter in a tangled mass of metal.

The deceased have been identified as helicopter pilot Mark Peterson, age 69, of Foley, Alabama, and his passenger Thomas Volz, age 72, of Amelia, Ohio.

The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department confirmed the two persons injured were transported to a local hospital and were last reported in stable condition.

The aircraft involved have been identified as an ELA 10 Eclipse gyrocopter, which is a two-seat ready-to-fly model. The aircraft, which was introduced in 2004, is produced in Spain by ELA Aviación of Córdoba, Andalusia. 

The other aircraft was a kit-built Rotorway 162F helicopter. The kits are manufactured by RotorWay International of Chandler, Arizona.

Aircraft operations at Wittman were halted while the accident was initially investigated, but the afternoon air show began at approximately 2:45 p.m., after a short delay.

According to Knapinski, both aircraft were being piloted by attendees of the show, but were not participating in airshow activities at the time of the accident. In his closing day comments to the media on July 30, EAA chief executive officer Jack Pelton expressed condolences to the families and friends of those involved in both accidents.

Meg Godlewski has been an aviation journalist for more than 24 years and a CFI for more than 20 years. If she is not flying or teaching aviation, she is writing about it. Meg is a founding member of the Pilot Proficiency Center at EAA AirVenture and excels at the application of simulation technology to flatten the learning curve. Follow Meg on Twitter @2Lewski.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Get the latest FLYING stories delivered directly to your inbox

Subscribe to our newsletter