Greene County airport reopened on Friday

NTSB official: Results of preliminary investigation will take weeks.

  • Pilot Joel W. Lansford, 33, of Fairborn, was killed as the sole occupant aboard the Cirrus SR-22
  • The plane crashed into a hillside just before 6 p.m.
  • Services were Saturday, Jan. 30
  • NTSB: Pilot action doesn’t appear to be factor in crash
  • FAA: Registered owner is Weaver Aircraft LLC, Carmel, Ind.
  • Lansford was an Army National Guard veteran and worked at a Springfield flight school for a year

 

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UPDATE @ 5:07 p.m. (Jan. 29): Funeral arrangements have been set for Joel W. Lansford, the pilot killed in a small plane crash Tuesday evening at the Greene County-Lewis A. Jackson Regional Airport.

Visitation is from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday at Patterson Park Church, 3644 E. Patterson Road in Beavercreek, followed by the funeral at 4 p.m. at the church. He will be buried in Texas.

Lansford, 33, of Fairborn, was alone aboard the Cirrus SR-22 when the plane crashed into a hillside just before 6 p.m.

He is survived by his wife, Julia Ann, and their 17-month-old identical twins Adam and Seth.

Lansford earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Cedarville University and achieved the rank of second lieutenant in the Army ROTC program while a student.

He also attained airplane single- and multi-engine ratings and progressed up to Airline Transport Pilot certification in helicopters and fixed wing and was an instructor in single- and multi-engine airplanes and helicopters, according to his obituary written by his father, John Lansford.

The corporate pilot and Ohio National Guard veteran who worked for a Springfield flight school also was working to become a missionary helicopter pilot in Papua New Guinea for Wycliffe Associates, an Orlando, Fla.-based organization created to “accelerate Bible translation in the most remote, most antagonistic parts of the world,” according to its website.

A GoFundMe page has been created for Lansford’s wife and sons.

On the introduction to the page, there is this statement, in part: “… She (Julia Ann) never asked for this fundraiser, but many people have asked how they can help and we all want to lift her up in this time.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation to determine what caused the pilot to lose control of the aircraft that crashed into an embankment while on approach to the airport.

Just before the crash, a witness saw the plane flying straight and level as it approached the airport, NTSB spokesman Alex Lemishko said, noting that Lansford contacted air traffic control as he approached the airport.

The plane Lansford was flying was moved Thursday from the crash site to a hangar at the airport.

Greene County-Lewis A. Jackson Regional Airport is expected to remain closed during the crash investigation, according to airport manager Dave Kushner.

In addition to his wife and sons, Lansford is survived by his parents, six younger siblings and two sets of grandparents in Mineral, Texas, and Newberg, Oregon.

UPDATE @ 1 p.m. (Jan. 29):

“Joel left home when he was 18 years old to attend Cedarville University in Ohio fall of 2001,” Lansford’s father John wrote in an obituary.

“He applied himself to his studies, earning a BS degree in mechanical engineering while at the same time earning the rank of Second Lieutenant in the US Army via ROTC. After college Joel was off to Montana working an engineering job, flying Black Hawk helicopters, driving semi trucks, and hunting big game.

“Joel was not content to just fly helicopters for the Army, but earned his airplane single and multi engine ratings and progressed up to ATP certificate in both helicopters and fixed wing. He was an instructor in single/multi-engine airplanes and helicopters.”

PREVIOUS REPORT

Funeral arrangements have been set for the pilot killed in a small plane crash Tuesday evening.

Services will be held at Patterson Park Church in Beavercreek on Saturday at 4 p.m.

Greene County-Lewis A. Jackson Regional Airport is expected to remain closed during the crash investigation, according to airport manager Dave Kushner.

The plane Lansford was flying was removed from the crash site to a hangar at the airport Thursday.

Lansford, a corporate pilot and Ohio National Guard veteran who worked for a Springfield flight school. He was also working to become a missionary helicopter pilot in Papua New Guinea for Wycliffe Associates, an Orlando, Fla.-based organization created to “accelerate Bible translation in the most remote, most antagonistic parts of the world.” Flying missions in Papua New Guinea and other countries was always a dream of theirs, his wife Julia Ann said.

A Gofundme page has been created for Julia Ann Lansford and the children.

On the introduction to the page, there is this statement, in part: “…She [Julia Ann] never asked for this fundraiser, but many people have asked how they can help and we all want to lift her up in this time.”

The NTSB is leading the investigation to determine what caused the pilot to lose control of the aircraft that crashed into an embankment while on approach to land at the airport.

Just before the crash, a witness saw the plane flying straight and leveled as it approached the airport, NTSB spokesman Alex Lemishko said, noting that Lansford contacted air traffic control as he approached the airport.

NTSB investigators interviewed Tara Speakman, a witness to the crash. She was on her way to a store with her husband and their child when they saw the small plane cross over U.S. 35.

“He was making a left-hand turn and the left wing was down, and then it kind of rolled and nose down and it crashed,” she told whio.com after meeting with investigators. “Thank God there was no fire. That was when we lost him and we called for help.”

Speakman, asked to look at a photo of the wreckage, said, “It’s horrific. My heart and prayers go out to his family and friends. I prayed that hopefully, if it was a fatality, there was no pain.”

Rachel Ross, a Dayton resident, said she was on U.S. 35 headed toward Xenia in a vehicle her boyfriend was driving when they saw the plane try to turn and then head straight into the ground.

“It was coming across the trees, above the trees,” said Ross. “I’ve never seen a plane try to turn that fast. It happened very fast.”

Karen Kowalewsky, of New Vienna and who works in Fairborn, said she was driving onto U.S. 35 near the split, right past North Valley and Trebein roads, when she spotted the airplane in distress.

“I was driving home by the airport and looked up and saw this single engine plane looking right back at me in my windshield,” Kowalewsky said. “It looked like the plane was trying to make a left turn, but it was pointed down in a bad attitude, and my first thought was, ‘He wasn’t going to make it. I saw him in my windshield maybe 20-30 feet above my car.”

She said she “looked right at the plane. It was close enough to see the engine. The plane was pointed down and sideways. The left wing was down and the right wing was up.”

She said the plane was flying at a very dangerous angle. “You can’t recover from this. I knew he was going to go down. He had enough control to miss the road. I was hoping he would only brush the trees,” she said.

There was no recorded distress calls from the pilot or the air traffic controllers, however, Lansford had terminated his radar service prior to landing but that’s normal procedure, the spokesman said.

Lansford was a highly skilled pilot with more than 2,000 hours of flight time and was an air transport rated pilot, so there’s no reason to believe the crash is related to pilot error, Lemishko said.

The plane took off from Indianapolis Executive Airport, Lemishko said, but it’s not clear what time. He said Lansford was employed as a corporate pilot and the flight was business related.

“This aircraft does have a device that records parameters of the flight,” Lemishko said. “We hope to retrieve it, download and analyze the data.”

Lansford worked about a year for Tim Epperhart, owner of the Middletown Regional Flight Training Institute in Middletown, who also runs a flight training school at the Springfield airport.

Epperhart called the 33-year-old pilot a “good guy and a great pilot.”

“When you lose a co-worker, a friend, it’s never a good thing,” Epperhart said after learning of Lansford’s death. “This is a sad event. He will be missed.”

A soldier, who asked not be identified by name, said he served with Lansford in Afghanistan.

“He was a good officer that worked hard and solved problems for his unit throughout his time in Afghanistan,” the soldier said of Lansford. “He was a problem solver and dedicated to doing his best every day. He was a pleasure to work with but was clear that he always wanted to get back to flying. He died doing what he loved.”

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