Saturday, December 10, 2016

Incident occurred December 09, 2016 in Arlington County, Virginia

ARLINGTON, Va. - Police say a military helicopter had to make an unexpected landing at a high school in Arlington due to mechanical problems.

According to Arlington County police, the helicopter landed on the football field at Yorktown High School Friday night and their officers have responded to the school for crowd control.

The pilot told FOX 5's Anjali Hemphill that the helicopter had a mechanical issue and a warning light went off forcing him to make the emergency landing.

No injuries have been reported.

A maintenance crew has been sent to the school by vehicle to repair the military helicopter, police say.

Story and video:

Arion Lightning, N59JL: Accident occurred December 10, 2016 near Franklin Municipal-John Beverly Rose Airport (KFKN), Franklin, Virginia

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident. 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA17LA067
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, December 10, 2016 in Franklin, VA
Aircraft: MATHIAS LINDA B LIGHTNING, registration: N59JL
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 10, 2016, about 1215 eastern standard time, a privately owned and operated experimental amateur-built Lightning, N59JL, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while maneuvering in the traffic pattern at Franklin Municipal-John Beverly Rose Airport, Franklin, Virginia. The commercial pilot sustained minor injuries and the passenger sustained a serious injury. The airplane was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal, local flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the flight which was originating at the time of the accident.

The pilot stated that she performed an engine run-up before takeoff with no discrepancies noted. During the initial climb when the airplane was at 100 feet above ground level (agl), she felt a vibration which soon stopped. She continued the takeoff and noted that all exhaust gas temperature (EGT) readings were higher than normal, the No. 2 cylinder EGT was over the maximum red line limit, and the airplane had experienced a partial loss of engine power. She kept full throttle applied and informed her passenger that something was not right. She turned crosswind and then downwind, where while maintaining 80 mph, she made a radio call announcing her intention to return. The flight continued in the traffic pattern, and received a terrain warning indicating that the airplane was less than 500 feet agl. She turned onto base leg, and while flying about 200 feet agl, she reduced the throttle to slow the airplane from 80 to 75 mph in preparation to turn onto the final approach leg of the traffic pattern. At that moment, the left wing dropped immediately. She indicated that she did not feel any airframe buffet, and reported the airplane impacted trees while in the left-wing low attitude, and remained suspended in the trees. Both occupants exited the airplane, and were taken to a hospital for treatment of their injuries. Examination of the airplane was pending recovery from the accident site.

FRANKLIN, Va. (WAVY) — Crews responded to an airplane crash that happened Saturday afternoon off the runway in a field near Franklin Municipal-John Beverly Rose Airport.

State police dispatchers were alerted to the crash around 12:30 p.m.

Captain Timothy Whitt with Franklin Police tells 10 On Your Side a small private plane took off from the airport, experienced engine troubles and immediately tried to turn around but did not make it back to the airport. 

Whitt says two people were on board the plane when it crashed.

Virginia State Police say the aircraft was roughly 100 yards in the woods, leaking fuel.

One person was taken to Southampton Memorial Hospital to be treated for minor injuries.

Virginia State Police are investigating the incident.


CARRSVILLE -- The pilot and passenger of a plane that crashed shortly after taking off on Saturday were able to walk away from the scene, according to Virginia State Trooper 1st Sgt. Greg Jackson. 

Linda Mathias of Norfolk, the pilot, and Paul Ruehrmund of Williamsburg were found standing at the back of a residential lot by first responders from the Carrsville Volunteer Fire Department; the call had come in at 12:28 p.m. 

There were apparent only minor injuries, but the two were taken to Southampton Memorial Hospital for further examination. 

A representative there said details of their condition could not be released.

Jackson said that apparently the plane had taken off from the Franklin Municipal Airport. 

The sudden cause of the engine failure is unknown as yet, and the aircraft fell about 100 yards from Walters Highway. 

Trees broke the fall of the plane, which landed tilted to the left. Mathias and Ruehrmund got out and made their way to the road.

There was a small, dripping fuel leak, according to Jackson, and the area was restricted until representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration could inspect the scene.


A small private airplane crashed at an Isle of Wight airport on Saturday afternoon, injuring one person, Virginia State Police said.

A pilot and a passenger were in the two-seat plane and one had minor injuries, VSP 1st Sgt. Greg Jackson said. 

Police received a distress call around 12:38 p.m. about 10 minutes after the plane took off at Franklin Municipal-John Beverly Rose Airport.

Jackson said the plane landed in trees near the runway after it attempted to land. 

 Virginia State Police 1st Sgt. Greg Jackson said the two passengers were able to walk out of the crash, although the plane was damaged enough that he considered it a total loss. 

The Federal Aviation Administration and Virginia State Police are investigating the accident, he said. 


Linda Mathias, a Windsor native, started her flying career in the late 1960s. In addition to serving as an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner, she also has participated in cross-country races and aerobatic stunt competitions.

Flying over the Smithfield Foods plant in her 1978 two-seater Decathlon single-engine plane, Linda Mathias speaks through her headset.

"When the wind blows the right way, you can smell the ham," she says.

Mathias has been blazing a trail in the sky since 1968, when she was a 27-year-old government civilian learning to fly in the Navy's flying club program.

It wasn't unheard of for women to pursue a pilot's license at the time, Mathias says, but female pilots in the commercial sector, especially, were still a rarity.

"A sailor started telling me about his flying lessons through the club, and I thought 'you can do that?' And that's where it began," she says.

Mathias is selling one of her airplanes — the 1978 Decathlon — in a Memorial Day auction at Phoebus Auction Gallery in Hampton. It's the first airplane the auction house has sold, says manager Bill Welch.

"The great thing about this (auction) business is that you find things that tell the story of how society has changed over the years," he says. "You just can't find these planes made in America anymore."

Welch says he would like to see a bid of $35,000 on the plane, which is known as an aerobatic, or stunt, aircraft.

"This one is a tail dragger. See the wheel at the back of the plane," Mathias says. "It takes more skill to fly those."

Mathias, who recently moved from Windsor to Norfolk, is downsizing her plane collection, which also includes a piper cub from the World War II-era.

When her husband was alive, he died in 2011, the couple would fly and restore classic airplanes together. At one time, they owned anywhere between seven and nine planes, she says. Without her husband around, who was skilled in airplane mechanics, maintenance and repairs are costly.

Mathias, who has seen more than four decades as a female pilot, is a Designated Pilot Examiner for the FAA and the governor — which is like a regional president — for the Mid-Atlantic chapter of The Ninety-Nines, a nonprofit organization for female pilots that promotes aviation education. Amelia Earhart is listed as the organization's first president.

Over the years, Mathias has participated in cross-country races and aerobatic competitions, performing stunts such as loops, rolls, hammerhead dives, inverted flying and other tricks. That part of her flying career was just for fun, she says.

"She has always been an ambitious person in the organizations she's involved in," says Charles Griminger, of Hampton. Griminger is retired from the military and now flies World War II airplanes for the Old Dominion squadron of the Commemorative Air Force, an organization that promotes education about historical military aircraft. The pilots often perform in air shows.

"She's an excellent person," he says.

Mathias, who exudes a combination of no-nonsense efficiency and gentleness, doesn't speak much about the hardships of being an early female pilot. She does admit that she took some serious, and sometimes crude, ribbing from male pilots and instructors in the late '60s and early 1970s.

"I do remember during one lesson the instructor said that he would leave a string for me to follow so I could find my way back," she says.

She smiles about those stories, but her determination to pass on her passion to a younger generation of women is evident.

"I had considered commercial airlines, but you just didn't see very many women then," she says. "They were just starting to break in. You see a lot more women (pilots) in the terminals now."

Read more here:

Hiller OH-23B Raven, N5776: Accident occurred December 10, 2016 in Tynan, Bee County, Texas

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Antonio, Texas 

Tynan Flyers LLC:

NTSB Identification: CEN17LA055 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, December 10, 2016 in Tynan, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/01/2017
Aircraft: HILLER OH 23B, registration: N5776
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The student pilot departed on his second solo flight in the helicopter. Before the accident, he completed two takeoffs and landings without incident. During a subsequent practice autorotation, the tail rotor struck the ground, the helicopter entered a spin, and it then came to rest near the place of initial impact. The student pilot reported that there were no mechanical or system malfunctions with the helicopter before the accident. The flight instructor who witnessed the accident stated that the deceleration/flare was executed too low. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The student pilot's delayed and improper landing flare during a practice autorotation, which resulted in the tail rotor striking terrain.

On December 10, 2016, about 1130 central standard time, a Hiller OH-23B helicopter, N5776, impacted terrain during a practice autorotation near Tynan, Texas. The student pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries, and the helicopter was destroyed due to a post-impact fire. The helicopter was registered to Tynan Flyers, LLC, Tynan, Texas, and operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and a flight plan was not filed. The local flight departed a private residence about 1000.

The student pilot reported he departed a private residence on his second solo flight. Prior to the accident, he completed two takeoffs and landings without incident. During a practice autorotation, the tail rotor struck the ground, the helicopter entered a spin, and came to rest near the place of initial impact. The student pilot reported there were no mechanical or system malfunctions with the helicopter prior to the accident. 

According to the student pilot's flight instructor who witnessed the accident, the student pilot appeared to be conducting a practice autorotation with a power recovery. The instructor reported the deceleration/flare was executed too low and the tail rotor struck the ground. The helicopter then spun 180 degrees and rolled over onto its left side. A small fire was noted near the engine and the student pilot was pulled from the helicopter by another witness. The helicopter was destroyed by a post-impact fire. 

TYNAN, TX (KIII NEWS) - This is what's left of the crash site here in Tynan after a male pilot crashed his recreational helicopter just before noon Saturday...that pilot somehow surviving, but is now left with serious injuries. 

The helicopter crashed in a field off of County Road 796 near 528 in Bee County. DPS troopers tell us the male pilot, who was the only person in the helicopter at the time of the crash, was unconscious on arrival and suffered head injuries, bruising to the face, and other fractures. He was transported by Halo Flight to Christus Spohn Memorial where he remains in serious condition. Once he was out of the plane, officials tell us it caught fire and charred fragments of it remain here on the scene...a kind of crash law enforcement in our area say rarely happens.

"Fighter planes doing their practicing we've had a couple of those go down in the Live Oak area and of course down in Kleberg County but haven't seen any helicopters crash as of lately," said Sgt. Nathan Brandley with DPS.

Right now the pilot's name and age has not been released or where the helicopter had been flying from. 

Even though most of the wreckage has been removed, the FAA and NTSB are on their way to the scene to investigate how and why the helicopter went down.


'Quiet Skies' debate isn't over


Here is a response from proponents of keeping the SFO inbound flight path where it is.

The FAA is the determiner of flight routes. That’s what they do – regulate all aspects of civil aviation and manage air traffic.

The Don Lane amendment (have the FAA select the best route) didn’t prevail on Dec. 6 because Supervisor Leopold negotiated votes between meetings in order to achieve his predetermined outcome at the expense of the other Santa Cruz County representatives. He also violated the June 2015 directive from the Board of Supervisors “to discuss remedies that do not impose a hardship on other Santa Cruz County residents.”

The Select Committee was formed to take input and offer a recommendation. They made a bad one. Bonny Doon was not represented. None of the stakeholder communities was consulted or represented when Quiet Skies NorCal came up with their proposal to create a new NextGen flight path over Santa Cruz, SLV, Bonny Doon, and west Scotts Valley.

 Communities under BSR in Santa Clara County and San Mateo County also oppose the ground track shift and did not consider the issue regional when they intentionally omitted stakeholders.

The Select Committee recommended to revert to the BSR ground track because of political pressure. Two wrongs don’t make a right. A new NextGen flight path over BSR should be rejected as another wrong. If “low and noisy” problems on SERFR are solved, then why move the path?

The FAA did not offer any assurances that altitudes would resemble anything in the past. Supervisor Leopold did. However, the FAA has stated that adjustments to any new path would apply equally to SERFR. Then there would be no reason to move the path.

 The FAA stated that it would use noise measurement tools that the Select Committee described as “inadequate and unacceptable.” The FAA stated that the agency never measured BSR. Again, if a new path can be made quiet, then so could SERFR, and residents there would find relief.

The Bay Area is one of the most congested airspaces in the world.

A flight overhead impacts more than a pencil-thin line on the ground. The sound shadow extends on either side. Los Gatos and Happy Valley advocates do not acknowledge the actual boundaries of the San Lorenzo Valley.

Switching back to the BSR route impacts west Scotts Valley, east San Lorenzo Valley, Santa Cruz. Then 50 percent of flights are noisily vectored to the west.. Those flights will be very noisy for all of San Lorenzo Valley, west Santa Cruz, and Bonny Doon.

 The FAA presented a slide that shows elevations under BSR are higher (up to 3,134) than those under SERFR (up to 2,574). Those state parks and quarries are in the San Lorenzo Valley - 37,000 residents. Any comparison between the two routes must match higher elevations to higher elevations, not a picking and choosing of elevations to serve one cause. SLV, Bonny Doon, Skyline elevations are higher.

 The FAA has not promised the assortment of claims being made - Supervisor John Leopold has made those promises. The FAA’s exact words were “we make no guarantees for noise” and “it will look a lot like SERFR.”

Residents under BSR from Santa Cruz to SLV to Palo Alto complained about jet noise for decades, but we didn’t have an app where 1 person can hit the complaint button hundreds of times a day.

Ellsworth Wente IV and Rebecca Stoller,  Bonny Doon

Counter Point…

Here are “bullet points” from proponents of moving the flight path over the San Lorenzo Valley.

The selection of a route was not the FAA's to make. It was the Select Committee's job. Both the FAA and the congressional offices said that the FAA could not and would not make the decision for us.

The Select Committee considered a pure criteria-based approach (The Don Lane Amendment) and the amendment didn't even get six votes, not to mention the required eight votes.

The Select Committee was the regional body formed to deal with this issue.

Everyone was represented (except for Los Altos and Mountain View) and an explicit return to BSR won a super majority. Santa Cruz County had 4 votes - two supervisors, and two city representatives. The city of Santa Cruz and District 5 each had a vote and used it.

The ground path affects communities from the Santa Cruz coastline, through Summit, and Saratoga, and into Los Altos - it is a regional issue covering both counties.

The Select Committee chose to revert to the BSR route because A) it should never have been moved to begin with, and B) ample assurance was given that the problems that made SERFR "low and noisy" were solved. Therefore there are no "adverse impacts" on anyone.

The FAA assured us that flight altitudes over Santa Cruz County will be practically the same as they were before 2015, and that planes would use idle-power at least as often.

The FAA showed a noise analysis comparing BSR and DAVYJ and they came out within 1 dB of each other over Santa Cruz County.

Overhead flight at 12,000 flight and idle power (like between the coastline and Pasatiempo) is proven to be a non-issue.

Even under BSR, the route still passes closer to Summit and Las Cumbres than it does to Boulder Creek, but at 2-3 miles away, it's far enough to not make an impact on either.

BSR crosses Mt. Hermon Road over the quarries, half way between Scotts Valley and Felton.

The FAA showed a noise analysis comparing DAVYJ and SERFR and the high impact zone of SERFR reaches further into the hills, and directly over high elevation SERFR overflies high-elevation mountain communities at under 5000 feet.

BSR avoids doing so by flying over state parks and open land.

DAVYJ Traffic will cross the shoreline at practically the same altitudes as pre-NextGen, and fly at idle power, much as it did for 30 years, without any complaints.

These facts have been promised by the FAA.

The FAA also said they'll attempt to work on flight altitudes over MENLO, which is an issue that is completely unrelated to NextGen and to the selection of ground track.


Zenair CH 601 XL SLSA Zodiac, N4218: Fatal accident occurred December 10, 2016 in Marengo, McHenry County, Illinois -and- Incident occurred March 08, 2016 in Bolingbrook, Illinois

Rob Sherman:

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA W. Chicago-DuPage (NON Part 121) FSDO-03

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report  -  National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: CEN17FA053
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, December 09, 2016 in Marengo, IL
Aircraft: AIRCRAFT MFG & DESIGN LLC CH601XL SLSA, registration: N4218
Injuries: 1 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 December 9, 2016, about 1819, an Aircraft Mfg & Design LLC, CH601XL SLSA, N4218, impacted the terrain following a loss of control in Marengo, Illinois. The sport pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from the Poplar Grove Airport (C77), Poplar Grove, Illinois, about 1812, with an intended destination of the Schaumburg Regional Airport (06C), Schaumburg, Illinois.

The pilot reportedly planned to fly to 06C to attend an Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) holiday party. There were no witnesses to the accident. The wreckage was discovered the following morning.

There was no communication between air traffic control and the pilot. The time of departure and the time of the accident are based on preliminary air traffic control radar data.

The airplane came to rest in a plowed cornfield on the corner of Meyers and Pleasant Grove Roads. The site was 12.6 miles southeast of C77 along the route between C77 and 06C. The majority of the wreckage was located at the main impact location. The left main landing gear was located about 190 ft southeast of main wreckage, a piece of the lower right wing skin was about 100 ft southeast of the main wreckage, and a small satchel type bag was located about 500 ft south of the main wreckage.

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

Rob Sherman — well-known in the Chicago area as an atheist activist who ran for Congress this year — has been identified as pilot of a small plane who died when it crashed into a field in rural Marengo over the weekend.

The wreckage of the single-engine plane was discovered off Meyer Road in Marengo by a passer-by at about 7:30 Saturday morning, and the single victim was pronounced dead at the scene less than a half hour later.

Sherman was due Friday evening to attend a holiday party at the Schaumburg airport for a local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association but never arrived, said John Tatro, past president of the group.

An FAA representative has said the plane was a Zenair Zodiac CH-601 XL.

The National Transportation Safety Board examined the wreckage at the crash site Saturday, said spokesman Keith Holloway. Because of poor weather the aircraft was taken to a nearby hangar for further examination.

As of Monday morning, authorities were still seeking to determine what caused the crash and when it occurred. The NTSB expects a preliminary report by next week.

Sherman, 63 and a longtime resident of the northwest suburbs, ran for Congress for the Green Party in Illinois' 5th District this year and was known for legal challenges in defense of separation of church and state.

The plane that crashed — a fixed-wing, light sport aircraft of a type the National Transportation Safety Board once sought to ground amid safety concerns — is sold both ready-to-fly and in kits for home builders. Authorities earlier said Sherman's plane was home-built but on Monday afternoon an NTSB spokesman said the aircraft apparently was manufactured.

Between 2006 and April 2009, there were six instances, four in the United States and two in Europe, in which a Zodiac CH-601 XL broke apart in midair, killing a total of 10 people, according to NTSB news releases from 2009.

The rash of fatal incidents led the NTSB to issue an "urgent safety recommendation" to the Federal Aviation Administration, asking the agency to ground the style of plane until the flight control issue was resolved. The FAA determined that it lacked "adequate justification to take immediate certificate action to ground the entire fleet," according to the NTSB.

Seven months later, after another Zodiac CH-601 XL broke apart in flight, killing the pilot, the FAA issued Special Airworthiness Information Bulletin strongly recommending that all owners and operators of Zodiac CH-601XL and CH-650 aircraft comply with a safety directive from the manufacturer.

The directive involved making structural modifications to the airplane and adding counter-balances. The NTBS had suspected aerodynamic flutter, a phenomena in which the airplane's control can vibrate and result in structural failure, in all of the accidents.

Manufactured planes that didn't get the safety fix were effectively prohibited from flight; the manufacturer of kit-built planes asked owners to make the same modification but it was not required, according to the NTSB.

Several friends and associates have attested to Sherman's enthusiasm for aviation.

At Poplar Grove Airport, about 17 miles from where the plane went down, Sherman operated a "builder assist center," called Rob Sherman Airplanes, where he offered use of his builder facilities and tools to those interested in building Zenith Aircraft Co. kits in exchange for a "modest fee," according to his website.

According to records, neighbors and associates, Sherman and his family had recently moved from Buffalo Grove to an airport community at Poplar Grove, where many of the homes have their own hangars with taxiways that lead to the airport's runways.

Sherman was active on the Experimental Aircraft Association's board and with its Young Eagles program at both Schaumburg airport and Chicago Executive Airport on the Prospect Heights-Wheeling border. As part of the program, he has offered youth free introductory rides in his plane.

"He was certainly passionate about aviation," Tatro said. "He loved flying, and he wanted to share it."

For decades, though, Sherman was better known as an activist and politician seeking to maintain the separation of church and state through numerous legal challenges against school districts, libraries and other state institutions.

David Silverman, president of American Atheists, Inc., said the movement has lost an asset, and the country has lost a fighter for good. Sherman was a past state director and board member of the group.

"I've known Rob for all my 20 years as an activist. He was a proud fighter for religious freedom and the separation of church and state. He was a great activist and a great person," Silverman said in an email. "I've flown with him in that very plane when he gave me a tour of Chicago. He loved that plane and loved flying it."

Sherman, who jokingly declared himself Illinois' most prominent atheist, was on the Nov. 8 ballot as a Green Party candidate for the 5th Congressional District. Though he lost the race, trailing the Democratic incumbent and the Republican challenger, Sherman's most recent campaign was his best.

He won 60 percent of the Green Party votes in the primary. Previously he tried to secure a nomination for several public offices including local library board, village clerk and twice for state representative.

Sherman ran on a platform appealing to secular voters, vowing to eliminate the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance and remove "In God We Trust" from U.S. currency. In a photo on his website, in an example of his often witty approach to issues, Sherman is pictured next to Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and is wearing an airbrushed T-shirt with his likeness on a penny inscribed "In Rob We Trust."

George Milkowski, 50th Ward Committeeman for the Illinois Green Party, said Sherman will be remembered as an "intensely passionate person who was not afraid" to speak his mind. Sherman, who once described himself as "175 pounds of walking, talking disbelief" in a 1993 Chicago Tribune interview, was regarded as "famous or infamous" depending on people's viewpoints, Milkowski said.

"I think a lot of people felt his belief, or I should say lack of belief, really pushed him forward," Milkowski said.

The office supply dealer turned atheist advocate sparked controversy in 1987 when he challenged the city of Zion over its seal that contained Christian symbols of a cross, dove and crown and a banner reading "God Reigns." Sherman assisted Clint Harris, a Zion resident and fellow atheist, with the litigation, which later involved Rolling Meadows as well.

His exploits and bumper-sticker candor earned him appearances on numerous talk shows including "The Oprah Winfrey Show"

In 1992, the case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which allowed the lower court ruling to stand, and the towns were ordered to drop the religious symbols. He sued Zion again in 2011 after a city commissioner used the former city seal in a newspaper ad.

Sherman's children were no strangers to his advocacy efforts and legal ventures.

In 1997, Sherman's son Richard, who was 15 at the time, sued the Boy Scouts of America for denying him membership because he refused to pledge allegiance to God.

In 2007, Sherman and his daughter Dawn, then a 14-year-old freshman at Buffalo Grove High School, sued Township High School District 214 over the state's new law mandating a moment of "silent prayer or silent reflection" at the start of classes. Two years later, a federal judge overturned the law when he ruled that it amounted to an unconstitutional endorsement of religion intended to bring prayer into public schools.

That victory for the Shermans was short-lived, however. A federal appeals court eventually revived the matter, opining that there is no harm in silence, which could be implemented for a practical purpose in calming students at the start of classes.

Attorney Miriam "Mimi" Cooper, a longtime school board member for Arlington Heights-based District 214, has known Sherman for years as a frequent critic of board policies that he felt violated the separation of church and state.

In addition to Sherman's battles over the moment of silence, his opposition to a blessing at the end of a school choir performance prompted the board to separate the blessing from the school event, Cooper recalled.

Though Sherman was willing to stand up for unpopular causes, Cooper said, his respectful manner made it easier to consider his point of view.

Cooper said Sherman told her that he was born and raised in the Jewish faith, and he knew some Hebrew and could speak some Yiddish.

"He was dedicated to his causes, for sure," Cooper said. "Our politics were certainly not the same, but he was a very interesting man, very charming, very respectful."

According to his website, Sherman also hosted a morning drive talk show on WJJG-1530 AM where topics ranged from politics to religion to pop culture. He chronicled every show on his website.

Read more here:

A man piloting a plane that crashed in a Marengo farm field has died, authorities said.

Officials believe the only known occupant of the aircraft — the pilot — died shortly after the plane crashed into a cornfield near Meyer Road, just north of Pleasant Grove Road, said Joe Taylor, a Marengo firefighter and paramedic. Officials believe the aircraft is a small, single-engine plane, he said.

A passer-by called 911 at 7:27 a.m. to report seeing the plane crash, at 6105 Meyer Road, McHenry County Coroner Anne Majewski said in an email. The only victim, a man, was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:53 a.m., she said.

No scientific identification of the victim has been made at this time,  according to Majewski.

An autopsy will be performed Monday morning at the McHenry County coroner’s office.

A representative of the FAA said the plane is a Zenair CH 601 XL SLSA Zodiac that crashed under unknown circumstances. 

The tail number of the plane, N4218, matches the black block letters and numbers on the side of an orange plane shown in photos on Rob Sherman’s website. On the site, Sherman says he is an airplane pilot and the photo shows him in the plane, with the words Rob Sherman Airplanes written on it.

Sherman is widely known as an atheism advocate and activist and ran as a Green Party candidate earlier this year to represent the 5th Congressional District.

Sherman, who once jokingly described himself as Illinois' most prominent atheist, fought many battles in defense of separation of church and state.

Attempts by the Tribune to reach Sherman were not successful.

Paulette Bodnar lives on a horse farm across from the cornfield where the plane went down. Bodnar, who had been up since 4:30 a.m., did not hear anything unusual Saturday morning.

Then her husband, Stan, came home from doing errands and told her he spotted the flashing lights of several police cars.

When she peeked outside, she was shocked to see the mangled pile of orange metal about 1,200 feet away. The plane didn’t appear to have caught fire.

“It was a shocker to see it there and not have heard it," Bodnar said. “I have three dogs and none of them heard it. There should have been a thump. ... You’d have thought there would have been something."

Bodnar believes the aircraft possibly went down while they were out at a friend’s wedding Friday night.

“It’s horrible."


The pilot of a small plane was killed after the home-built aircraft crashed in a corn field near Marengo overnight, authorities said.

The single-engine plane belonged to longtime suburban atheist activist Rob Sherman, Federal Aviation Administration records show.

The pilot's name has not yet been released.

A passer-by called 911 at 7:27 a.m. reporting the plane wreckage in a farm field off Meyer Road, according to the McHenry County Coroner's office.

Marengo firefighters found the single victim, a man, who was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:53 a.m.

The plane, a Zenair CH 601 XL SLSA Zodiac, crashed under unknown circumstances, FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said.

National Transportation Safety Board investigators were planning to take the plane to a secure facility because of forecasts for heavy snow Saturday night, spokesman Keith Holloway said.

The crash occurred either late Friday night or early Saturday morning near Meyer Road, just north of Pleasant Grove Road, said Marengo firefighter-paramedic Joe Taylor.

The McHenry County Coroner's office will perform an autopsy on the pilot Monday morning.


CHICAGO (CBS) — The small plane that crashed in Marengo, killing the pilot, was owned by a well-known political figure from suburban Chicago.

The plane’s owner is Rob Sherman, from Poplar Grove.

He’s been a congressional candidate, national spokesman for the American Atheists and a board member of the Experimental Aircraft Association in Schaumburg, WBBM’s Mike Krauser reports.

The plane’s tail number, provided by the National Transportation Safety Board, matches the tail number on Sherman’s Zenair CH 601 XL SLSA Zodiac aircraft.

A source told WBBM that Sherman had been flying last night and never made it to an event at the Schaumburg Airport.

The wreckage, barely resembling an aircraft, was discovered this morning in a corn field in Marengo.

Crews received a call around 7:30 a.m. Saturday morning, after someone spotted wreckage around Meyer Road just north of Pleasant Grove Road.

The FAA said the pilot was the only person on board. Authorities have not identified Sherman as the pilot yet.

The NTSB says an investigator has done an initial examination of the plane and it was being moved to a secure area indoors and a team would assemble on Monday for further investigation and documentation.


Incident occurred March 08, 2016 in Bolingbrook, Illinois 

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA W. Chicago-DuPage (NON Part 121) 


Date:  09-MAR-16
Time:  04:41:00Z
Regis#:  N4218
Aircraft Make:  ZENITH
Aircraft Model:  CH601
Event Type:  Incident
Highest Injury:  None
Damage:  None
Flight Phase:  TAXI (TXI)FSDO-03
State:  Illinois