Sunday, July 16, 2017

North American P-51D Mustang, N251PW, Mustang Historic Military Aircraft LLC: Fatal accident occurred July 16, 2017 in Cummings, Atchison County, Kansas

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.
Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Wichita, Kansas
Warbird Heritage Foundation; Waukegan, Illinois

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Mustang Historic Military Aircraft LLC:

NTSB Identification: CEN17FA270
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, July 16, 2017 in Cummings, KS
Aircraft: NORTH AMERICAN/AERO CLASSICS P 51, registration: N251PW
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 16, 2017, about 1020 central daylight time, a North American Aero Classics P-51 D airplane, N251PW, was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain 2.5 miles northeast of Cummings, Kansas. The airline transport pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) flight plan had been filed for the flight. The local flight departed the Amelia Earhart Airport (K59), Atchison, Kansas, about 1005.

According to several witnesses located between K59 and the accident site, the airplane was observed performing aerobatics at a high altitude. A witness, located further to the south of K59, and several hundred feet from the accident location, observed the airplane fly over nearby power lines between 25 ft and 30 ft above the ground. The airplane pitched up to climb in a near vertical attitude and then the nose turned to the left and the airplane turned and pitched down in a nose low attitude. The airplane descended towards terrain and just prior to impacting the ground the tail of the airplane came up. 

The airplane impacted the ground just short of a grove of trees. A large crater marked the initial ground impact point and contained bent and torn metal, the engine, transmission, and propeller assembly. The empennage and fragmented pieces of the fuselage were located 25 feet northwest of the propeller assembly. Fragmented pieces of both wings, the rudder, and the fuselage were scattered in the debris field that extended over 400 feet from the initial impact point. 

The closest official weather observation station was located 25 miles northeast of the accident site near St. Joseph, Missouri. The weather observation taken at 1053 recorded the wind at 230° at 4 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky condition clear of clouds, temperature 29° Celsius (C), dewpoint temperature 24° C, and an altimeter setting of 30.06 inches of Mercury.

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

Bethany Root

Vlado Lenoch

Vlado Lenoch, 64, of Burr Ridge passed away suddenly on July 16, 2017. Vlado is survived by his beloved wife Mary (Antonelli), devoted father of Michael, Jessica and Samantha, loving son of the late Stanley and Zdenka, dear brother of the late Josef (Julie) and devoted son-in-law of Fred and Marge. A graduate of Purdue University and MIT in aeronautical engineering, Vlado enjoyed aviation careers at Boeing, Frontier and Midway Airlines, and was co-owner of The William Tell Holiday Inn LaGrange/Countryside. He most recently flew a corporate Citation Jet for a private company in Illinois. Vlado was a legend in the airshow industry who was always willing to mentor and help veteran and future aviators. Visitation Sunday, July 23rd from 3-8pm at Adolf Funeral Home - 7000 S. Madison St. Willowbrook, IL. Family and friends will meet on Monday, July 24th, for Mass 11:15 am at St. John of the Cross Catholic Church 5005 S. Wolf Rd; Western Springs. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to EAA Warbirds of America in Memory of Vlado Lenoch, PO Box 3086, Oshkosh, WI 54903-3086 ( Service information: 

ATCHISON, Kansas (Formerly Warren, Ohio) – Bethany Lynn Root, 34, of Atchison, Kansas passed away in a plane crash on Sunday, July 16, 2017.

Bethany was born April 8, 1983 in Warren.

A graduate of Maplewood High School and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, she was a brilliant student and actively involved in student organizations and athletics.

After an entrepreneurial run at a custom motorcycle shop in Indianapolis and teaching special education at an inner city charter school, Bethany discovered her passion for aviation with friends in St. Joseph, Missouri and trained to become one of a small handful of female agricultural pilots (crop dusters) in the country eventually holding an interest in McElwain Ag Sprayers of Wathena, Kansas. Last year, Bethany became manager of the Amelia Earhart Airport in Atchison, Kansas, where she dreamed to restore vitality in not only the airport but also given honor to its namesake through air shows, fly-ins and special events. There were no places Bethany enjoyed being more than in the skies and around friends at airport hangars. She hoped to inspire and empower future generations of girls and women to become aviators by serving as a role model, mentor and educator to let nothing stand in their way of taking flight.

An inspiration to all she met, Bethany will be remembered for her beautiful smile, free spirit, infectious energy and belief that the sky was truly the limit.

Surviving are her mother, Sallie of Indianapolis; two brothers, Grayson of Cortland and Jameson of Indianapolis; sister-in-law, Jenn; nephew, Easton; aunts and uncles, Diane Emery of Cortland and Linda and Gary Fincham of Warren.

She was preceded in death by her grandparents, Charles and Margaret Fulks of Warren.

Calling hours will be from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m., Friday, July 21, 2017, at Staton-Borowski Funeral Home.

Funeral services will be held at 10:00 a.m. Saturday, July 22 at the funeral home.

Bethany will be laid to rest at Pineview Memorial Park in Warren, Ohio.

Her family is seeking to honor her legacy and passion for flying by developing the Bethany Root Memorial Fund to support education, training and initiatives for girls and women interested in aviation. Contributions may be made at

Funeral services have been set for the Burr Ridge pilot who died in a plane crash in Kansas Sunday.

Visitation for Vlado Lenoch will be from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at Adolf Funeral Home & Cremation Services, 7000 S. Madison St., Willowbrook.

At 11:15 a.m., Monday, family and friends will meet at St. John of the Cross Catholic Church, at 5005 S. Wolf Road, in Western Springs for a memorial Mass. The services will conclude at the church.

Lenoch, who was 64, and his wife, Mary, have three grown children.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the plane crash that occurred about 10:15 a.m. July 16, about 5 miles south of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport in Atchison, killing both Lenoch and his 34-year-old passenger, Bethany Root, the airport manager.

Lenoch was flying a World War II military fighter plane that he had flown the day before in an air show at the airport, Atchison County Sheriff officials said.

The Rev. Robert Geaschel, senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Burr Ridge, remembers Lenoch as "a very giving and caring man, with a great attitude about everything. You never saw him without a smile."

Geaschel said Lenoch's son Michael attended pre-school at Trinity Lutheran School and the Geaschels lived near the Lenoch family.

Records show Vlado Lenoch graduated from Lyons Township High School in 1971.

He and Josef Lenoch were the managers of Lenoch Properties I, which owns the Holiday Inn Chicago Southwest, at 6201 Joliet Road in Countryside.

As federal investigators probe for a cause of Sunday's deadly plane crash, members of the Atchison community paused to remember the victims.

Vlado Lenoch, identified as the pilot, and passenger Bethany Root died after a vintage World War II plane crashed into a field in Atchison County, Kansas.

Root, 34, was an Atchison resident who crop dusted for a local company and was general manager of Amelia Earhart Airport. In a previous News-Press article, Root said, "I love flying more than anything else in the world. It’s my passion and it’s one of the things I live to do every day."

A local restaurant owner said Root, who took up flying in her 30s, always appeared to have a smile on her face.

"Bethany had a big vision," said a coworker of Root. "She was certainly not afraid to tackle any project or anything.

Forensic mappers were on the scene of the crash to help with the investigation. Agencies involved in the probe include the Federal Aviation Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, Kansas Highway Patrol and Atchison County Sheriff's Department.

The plane crashed onto private property near U.S. Highway 59. The property owner saw the crash happen right outside of his home and immediately called 911.

The pilot has been identified as Lenoch, 64, who is from Buff Ridge, Illinois. The plane is a P-51 Mustang, named the "Baby-Duck," that flew along the Missouri River in an air show Saturday evening at the Amelia Earhart Festival.

Atchison County Sheriff Jack Laurie said witnesses described seeing the plane doing stunt-like maneuvers before the crash.

The Kansas Highway Patrol said there is no known cause at this time.

NTSB Senior Air Safety Investigator Jennifer Rodi said investigators will document the wreckage, which is spread out over a half mile. NTSB is in the process of conducting what is called an "on scene field investigation." They are looking for any indications as to what may have happened.

The documentation should take two days and the wreckage will be recovered by the end of the day July 18.

There is no evidence of fire, but the NTSB said it is still too early to tell. 

A preliminary report from the NTSB will be available within the next five work days on This will provide an overview of information that was establish during the first few days of the investigation. 

The investigation will continue but it can take 10 months to a year, according to Rodi.

"It's routine in any fatal accident to do autopsy and toxicology," she said. "Both of those reports and procedures take several months for the final reports to come back to us."

Vlado Lenoch was about to take his vintage showplane home to Illinois, giving one last private show with Atchison’s airport manager Bethany Root aboard when the plane went down Sunday morning without radioing any warning of trouble.

Root was riding along as Lenoch recreated some of the stunt flying he had performed in the same P-51d Mustang the evening before in front of crowds at the annual Amelia Earhart Festival.

“All we know is that they were out to do some tricks before he was preparing to head home,” Atchison County Sheriff Jack Laurie said. “We don’t know of any communications … no indications of any problems.”

The plane crashed about 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning, less than 10 miles from Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport, in a field just northeast of Cummings. Lenoch, 64, from the Chicago suburb of Burr Ridge, and Root, 34, of Atchison, died.

Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration were on site Monday, continuing an investigation headed by the National Transportation Safety Board that will prepare a preliminary report likely within a couple of weeks, but then take as much as a year or more to produce a final report.

One witness who saw the crash told investigators that the plane was flying just above the level of power lines, traveling from northwest to southeast. The last action the plane took was to pitch upward and then roll to the left before it crashed, said Peter Knudson, a spokesman with the NTSB.

But the investigators don’t know if the plane was under the pilot’s control at that point or if there were problems with the aircraft, he said.

Investigations focus on three areas, he said: the experience and fitness of the pilot, the maintenance and functioning of the plane and environmental conditions.

The weather was clear. Lenoch was flying a vintage craft for Chicago’s Dave Dacy Airshows. And he was a highly credentialed pilot who had been flying since he was 17.

The crowd that saw what would be Lenoch’s last performance Saturday evening raved about it on social media posts, and then expressed shock with the news of the crash the next day.

They had listened to Lenoch’s friendly voice crackling over the public address system as he narrated his stunts into a microphone in the plane.

“It was a neat interaction with the crowd,” said Ken Phelps, of Gardner, Kan., who videoed the performance. “It was a neat old airplane.”

His and the crowd’s favorite part, shouted in cheers, came as Lenoch took his plane on a low pass, roaring seemingly almost eye-level past the crowd.

Less than 24 hours later, Phelps said, he heard of a crash on the news and saw the accounts that Lenoch had crashed in the same plane.

Root had gone with him. She had become a vigorous fan and promoter of the Amelia Earhart Festival airshow in the three years she had spent in Atchison since coming from Indianapolis in pursuit of a flying career with McElwain Sprayers agricultural service airplane company in Wathena, Kan.

She’d been a pilot for about three years and friends on her Facebook page remembered her “passion being a pilot and love of flying.”

“Blue skies, tailwinds and peace,” one of her friends wrote.

Root, who has been managing the Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport for the past year with McElwain, shared in the thrill of classic and dynamic performance planes, said festival coordinator Jacque Pregont.

“Everyone’s still in shock,” she said. “We’re still trying to deal with what happened.”

ATCHISON, Kansas — Bethany Root, a 2001 Maplewood High School graduate who was an aerial application pilot, was killed Sunday morning in a plane crash about 60 miles northwest of Kansas City in Atchison County, Kansas.

The Kansas City Star reports the crash of the P-51 Mustang, which was a World War II-era plane, killed Root, who was a passenger, and longtime pilot Vlado Lenoch, 64, of Burr Ridge, Ill.

Reports indicate the plane crashed around 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

Lt. Bryce Whelply of the Kansas Highway Patrol says the cause of the crash wasn’t immediately clear. Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration were expected to arrive on the scene this morning.

Root was general manager of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport in Atchison where the Amelia Earhart Festival was held Saturday. The plane crashed about nine miles away from the airport in a field about 2 1/2 miles northeast of Cummings, Kansas.

The single propeller of the plane and wreckage of the crash were strewn across a small hill, reports state.

Root also worked as a crop duster, only one of three women in the trade in the United States.

In a recent interview with the Tribune Chronicle, Root said she followed a love of flying to the St. Joseph, Mo., area three years ago and worked for the airport’s management company. She had been a special education teacher in inner city charter schools in Indianapolis and ran a custom motorcycle shop in Indianapolis until she took an opportunity to learn to fly and work with the McElwain crop dusters in Kansas and Missouri.

Root held an interest in McElwain Ag Sprayers, a third-generation agricultural business flying out of Wathena, Kansas, in the northeastern corner of the state and across the Missouri River from St. Joseph. It was her fourth year buzzing pastures, fields and crops with seeds, fertilizers, insecticides and fungicides.

She recently added the job of fixed-based operator of the Amelia Earhart Airport just outside of Atchison, Kansas, a river town of 11,000 people.

Root kept herself busy in her Maplewood High School days with everything from student body president to running on cross country and track teams, to taking the stage in the drama club.

She had told the Tribune Chronicle: “I’m very fortunate to have gone to Maplewood High School. The educational opportunities that they provide there and the teachers they had helped prepare me for what I’m doing now and I can’t say thank you enough to all of them. It really was a good school.”

Lenoch had performed in the festival the day before in his vintage aircraft.

The annual festival, held in Atchison, celebrates the famed pilot Earhart, who was born in Atchison, and is the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean. Earhart and her plane disappeared July 2, 1937, over the central Pacific Ocean during an attempt to fly around the globe.

Two people died when a North American P-51D Mustang crashed in Atchison County Sunday, one day after the Amelia Earhart Festival ended.

Longtime pilot Vlado Lenoch, 64, of Burr Ridge, Ill., and his passenger, Bethany Root, 34, manager of the Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport in Atchison, died at the scene, officials said.

The crash happened around 10:30 a.m. about 2 1/2 miles northeast of Cummings, Kan., less than nine miles from the airport in Atchison.

The cause of the crash is unknown, said Lt. Bryce Whelpley of the Kansas High Patrol.

Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration were on their way to the scene Sunday afternoon, Whelpley said.

The FAA will investigate the crash, an agency spokesman said, and the National Transportation Safety Board will lead the investigation.

Lenoch had performed in the festival the day before in his vintage aircraft.

The annual festival, held in Atchison, celebrates the famed aviator Amelia Earhart.

Lenoch performed for Dave Darcy Airshows based in Chicago. He was was married and had three children, according to his profile on the Air Force Heritage Flight Foundation website.

He learned to fly at 17 at Chicago’s Midway Airport and earned engineering degrees from Purdue and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He held multiple authorizations for various aircraft, had logged over 9,000 hours of flight time and built his own aircraft — a Pitts S-IT – the bio said.

Root, according to a 2014 profile in the St. Joseph News-Press, followed a love of flying to the St. Joseph area three years ago at the age of 31. She worked for the airport’s management company, McElwain Sprayers of Wathena, Kan.

She had been a special education teacher and ran a custom motorcycle shop in Indianapolis until she took an opportunity to learn to fly and work with the McElwain crop dusters in Kansas and Missouri, the feature said.

“She was extremely passionate about flying,” Jacque Pregont, who coordinated the Amelia Earhart Festival, said Sunday. And the festival was “excited to have (Lenoch) at the airshow.”

“It’s a horrible, horrible loss,” Pregont said.

Two people were killed Sunday in when a small airplane crashed in Atchison County, Kansas.

Authorities identified the victims as 64-year-old Vlado Lenoch, of Burr Ridge, Illinois, and 34-year-old Bethany Root, of Atchison.

The cause of the crash, near Cummings, Kansas, is currently unknown. Lenoch and Root left the Amelia Earhart Airport in Atchison at around 10 a.m Sunday.

Atchison County Sheriff Jack Lauri said witnesses described seeing the plane doing stunt-like maneuvers before the crash.

Lenoch is listed as one of the two aerobatic pilots at Saturday night's air show at the Amelia Earhart Festival. The plane involved in the crash, a 1944 P-51D Mustang, is believed to be the same plane flown for last night's show over the river, according to Laurie.

The FAA is currently en route to the crash site to conduct an investigation.

No residents in the area of the crash were injured, Laurie said.

Earlier, authorities loaded the bodies of the victims in the coroner's vehicle. Laurie said they would be transferred to the Wyandotte County morgue to be examined.

Authorities from several state and local departments responded at 10:19 a.m. Sunday, when the call about a possible crash came over the radio.

At the wreckage site, parts of a wing, a landing wheel and glass were visible from the debris.

· Atchison County Sheriff's Office · 

At 10:18 AM the Atchison County Sheriff's Office was notified of a plane crash that occurred near 234th and Ness road in Atchison County. Sheriff's Deputies, KHP, and EMS & Rescue responded to the scene. 

The pilot and passenger were killed in the crash. The pilot was identified as 64 year old Vlado Lenoch of Buff Ridge, Illinois. The passenger was identified as Bethany Root, 34 of Atchison, Kansas.

The plane that crashed was a North American P-51D Mustang that flew along the Missouri River in the air show at the Amelia Earhart Festival last evening named the "Baby-Duck"

There is not a known cause to the crash at this time. The plane left the Amelia Earhart Airport in Atchison around 10:00 AM this morning and believed to have crashed shortly after. No residents in the area were injured .

The Federal Aviation Administration is in route to the crash site to conduct an investigation. KHP will be at the scene to answer any questions further until 4:30 PM.


Brent Richter said...

Sad, from the looks of the debris and energy of the crash, I would say performing maneuvers too close to the ground and he ran out of altitude.

Anonymous said...

^ I agree with your sentiments.

Anonymous said...

"No one has accused Vlado of not flying low enough."

Perhaps a pattern?

Anonymous said...

The Prop blades are not bent which means the engine was not turning at impact.
If the engine was running the prop blades would corkscrew into the ground and the engine and prop would be in a hole.
That leads to an assessment of some kind of failure of the engine.
The rest is up to the professionals.

Anonymous said...

Correct you are. There is no cordwise twisting or scoring on the prop blades. That could only mean one thing.

Anonymous said...
One witness who saw the crash told investigators that the plane was flying just above the level of power lines, traveling from northwest to southeast. The last action the plane took was to pitch upward and then roll to the left before it crashed, said Peter Knudson, a spokesman with the NTSB.

Anonymous said...

Blades are bent forward slightly, indicating engine was turning and producing likely full power at impact.

Anonymous said...

Blades are bent forward, indicating under power when it hit ground. Nose gear case broken off behind prop, also indicates under power. If not under power the case rarely is under tension of any kind.

Anonymous said...

The field elevation at Amelia Earhart Memorial Airport (K59) is 1073 feet.
The field elevation at Lewis University Airport (KLOT), Romeoville, IL is 679 feet. I chose this airport only because Mr. Lenoch based his previous Mustang (Moonbean McSwine) there. The elevation at any other local Illinois airport would be close to this figure.
Is it possible that ‘Baby Duck’s’ altimeter was still set for the Illinois airport? This could result in pilot error when entering a loop. With insufficient altitude to pull out, the pilot would experience an unrecoverable stall situation (with power). This could explain the nose down attitude.

Anonymous said...

Really terrible loss of two great pilots. Just too much risk flying fast, low, and doing tricks. One little thing and you get the final reality check.