Sunday, July 24, 2016

Beech 95-B55 (T42A) Baron, N55NE, United States Air Force, Lemay Flight Training Center: Fatal accident occurred July 24, 2016 in Leshara, Saunders County, Nebraska

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Preliminary Report: 


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Lincoln FSDO-65

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA282
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, July 24, 2016 in Leshara, NE
Aircraft: BEECH 95 B55 (T42A), registration: N55NE
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 24, 2016, about 1500 central daylight time, a Beech 95-B55 airplane, N55NE, impacted terrain near Leshara, Nebraska. The commercial rated pilot and designated pilot examiner were fatally injured and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was owned by the United States Air Force and operated by the LeMay Aero Club under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a check ride. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight. The local flight originated from the Millard Airport (KMLE), Omaha, Nebraska about 1445.

A witness, who was a rated pilot, heard the airplane approach his home from the south and travelled to the north. He later heard one of the engines reduce in power and begin to sputter. He next heard the engines increase in power followed by the engines going quiet. He was unsure if the engines were at idle or were stopped. He walked out to look for the airplane and saw the airplane in a nose low spin, as it descended towards the ground.

The airplane impacted a soy-bean field in a nose low attitude and a postimpact fire ensued. An examination of the wreckage found all major airplane components were accounted for at the accident site. The wreckage was retained for further examination.

At 1455, an automated weather reporting facility located at Fremont Municipal Airport (KFET), Fremont, Nebraska, about 8 nautical miles northwest of the accident site reported wind from 360° at 7 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, a clear sky, temperature 84° F, dew point 61° F, and a barometric pressure of 30.04 inches.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Volunteers from four area fire and rescue departments, including that of Valley and Waterloo, came together to offer assistance recently to a call of a small plane that crashed outside Leshara, killing both occupants.

Members of the Yutan Volunteer Fire Department and the Mead Fire and Rescue Department responded to a call from a witness who spotted a small plane crash in a soybean field near Leshara at approximately 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 24.

Don Dooley, chief of the Yutan Volunteer Fire Department said the four crews responded because the location was within close proximity of all departments, and since the plane size and severity of the situation was unknown.
Sheriff’s deputies from both Douglas and Sarpy County responded to the accident scene, as well, according to Chief Dooley.

Chief Dooley said upon examination, the crash was determined to have occurred in the Yutan Fire Department’s jurisdiction.

The aircraft was a Beechcraft Baron, flown by 27-year-old Michael Trubilla, who was an Air Force captain stationed at Offutt Air Force Base. Trubilla, originally of Reading, Pennsylvania, was taking a flying lesson at the time of the crash from passenger Ron Panting, 61, of Papillion. Both occupants were found dead when crews arrived at the scene.

Plane crashes are an uncommon occurrence in Nebraska, even for seasoned fire and rescue personnel. Chief Dooley said that in the 24 years that he has been with the Yutan Volunteer Fire Department, this was the first call that he has handled of a fatal plane crash.

 “This was not an everyday occurrence, that’s for sure,” Chief Dooley said.

Investigators have taken the wreckage of the plane offsite and are in the process of reconstructing it and examining it to determine the exact cause of the crash, according to Chief Dooley. He said a witness to the crash did recall noticing the plane’s engines sputter before the crash.

The investigation will be conducted by employees of the National Transportation Safety Board, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Small planes like that flown by Trubilla do not contain black boxes like those in most large commercial airplanes, according to Chief Dooley, so the reconstruction is completed in a different manner. 

Chief Dooley said upon responding to the crash scene, there was a small engine fire that his crew had to extinguish.

“W did have a small fire to put out, that came from both engines that had caught fire,” Chief Dooley noted.

LESHARA, Neb. (AP) — Authorities have identified the two people who were killed in a weekend plane crash in eastern Nebraska

The Saunders County Sheriff's office says 61-year-old Ron Panting of Papillion and 27-year-old Michael Trubilla both died in Sunday's crash.

Trubilla was an Air Force Captain from Reading, Pennsylvania, who was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base. Panting was a flight instructor and a former chief of wing safety at Offutt Air Force Base.

The plane crashed in a soybean field near Leshara, Nebraska, around 3 p.m. Sunday. A witness reported hearing the engine sputter before the Beechcraft Baron crashed.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.

Saunders County Sheriff's officials have identified the pilot killed in Sunday's plane crash. 

The victim was identified as 27-year-old Michael Trubilla.

SCSO said they was notified from a witness on Sunday, that a plane went down northwest of Leshara in a field.

Officials say the plane was a twin engine Beechcraft Baron. 

Officials say the crash resulted in two fatalities: 61-year-old Ron Panting of Papillion and Trubilla, a Captain from Reading, Pennsylvania residing at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha.

The National Transportation Safety Board, who is in charge of the investigation and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.

Officials say a witness advised that the plane was flying from the southeast to the northwest and they could hear the engine sputtering prior to the crash. Rescue and Fire Departments from Mead, Valley, Waterloo, and Yutan were dispatched to the scene.

The victims of a fatal air crash near the Saunders County village of Leshara have been identified as a 27-year-old service member from Offutt Air Force Base and his civilian instructor pilot.

The plane went down in a bean field about 3 p.m. Sunday near a farm along County Road T, said Saunders County Sheriff Kevin Stukenholtz. The site is between Valley and Fremont, south of the Platte River.

The student pilot was completing a check ride in the twin-engine Beechcraft Baron from the LeMay Flight Training Center, Stukenholtz said, and was at the controls of the aircraft when it crashed. The 61-year-old flight instructor was the other occupant.

Both Stukenholtz and Staff Sgt. Rachelle Blake of the Offutt-based 55th Wing said identifications would be released after the notification process for their families is complete.

Blake said the plane took off from Millard Airport about 1 p.m.

Two hours later, a witness called 911 and reported that the plane sputtered before dropping almost straight down into the field and erupting in flames, said Bob Thorson, Saunders County chief deputy sheriff.

The plane had been heading northwest immediately before the crash and had crossed a tree line before plummeting into the field, he said.

Fire and rescue personnel responded to the scene from multiple localities, including Yutan, Omaha, Valley and Waterloo.

A medical helicopter placed on standby was not needed.

“They knew pretty quickly that it was a fatal crash,” Stukenholtz said.

Blake said the aircraft was one of seven planes owned by the flight training center — formerly known as the Offutt Aero Club — which provides aircraft rental and FAA-approved flight instruction for private-pilot through airline-transport certification in single- and multi-engine airplanes.

The Baron that crashed was built in 1962 and had accumulated 18,000 flight hours, she said. The training center normally operates out of Offutt, but Blake said the airplanes had been transferred to Millard for the weekend because the base's airfield was closed for repairs.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash.


LESHARA, Neb. (AP) - Two people were killed in the crash of a small plane near Leshara Sunday afternoon.

The Saunders County Sheriff’s Department says the plane went down in a soybean field near Ida Street and Ginger Cove Road around 3 p.m. A witness described seeing the aircraft come sputtering from the sky nose first.

Carol Lukowski’s granddaughter witnessed the crash. Lukowski called 911, but there wasn’t much more she could do.

"Immediately knew that something, well we figured it had to be an airplane,” said Lukowski.

Lukowski said they’re used to seeing crop dusters fly by but deputies say this was a passenger plane. She was cutting her son's hair in their home when her granddaughter watched the crash out the window.

"I had the clippers going and she heard it and she looked out the window and said ‘NaNa’ there's a fire outside,” said Lukowski.

Lukowski said they started looking for fire extinguishers.

"That's the only thing you think is how can you help. That is, that's the only thing cause…you know you probably you can't do much,” Lukowski said. “The smoke was black."

Sheriff's deputies told WOWT 6 News the crash created an instant ball of fire; one that no one would walk away from.

“I think we knew that it was too dangerous,” said Lukowski. "I don't think it was even a question of getting out there and being able to save anybody. I really don't.”

Officials confirm the plane is from LeMay Flight Club which is based out of Offutt. Investigators have not yet released the names of those killed in the crash. Lukowski said her family is praying for the victims and their families.

"One of the first things we did is come back here and say some prayers...for the families who are going to get that phone call, absolutely,” she said. 


Two people died in a small plane crash Sunday in Saunders County.

The plane crashed in a field near a farm at 799 County Road T, close to the village of Leshara around 3 p.m., Saunders County Sheriff Kevin Stukenholtz said.

Fire and rescue crews from Omaha, Yutan, Valley and Waterloo responded.

The two fatalities were confirmed, but authorities were still working on identifying the people. 

A witness heard the plane sputter. 

Stukenholtz added that the crash site indicated the plane came straight into the field and that there was no attempt of an emergency landing.

"It was apparent very early on that it was going to be a fatal crash," Stukenholtz said.

The plane has been confirmed a Beechcraft Baron twin engine. 

Federal Aviation Administration officials are on their way to the scene to investigate. 


LESHARA, Neb. (KMTV) - The Saunders County Sheriff's Department confirms two people are dead after a small plane crash near Leshara Sunday afternoon.

The twin-engine Beechcraft airplane went down in a soybean field near the area of 799 County Road T.

 Sheriff's investigators believe the plane may have taken off from Millard Airport. 

The FAA is sending investigators to the crash site. 


LESHARA, Neb. (AP) - Two people were killed in the crash of a small plane near Leshara Sunday afternoon.

The Saunders County Sheriff’s Department says the plane went down in a soybean field near Ida Street and Ginger Cove Road around 3 p.m. 

A witness described seeing the aircraft come sputtering from the sky nose first.

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