Thursday, May 30, 2019

Piper PA-28R-180 Cherokee Arrow, N3933T: Fatal accident occurred May 28, 2019 near Geauga County Airport (7G8), Middlefield, Ohio

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Cleveland, Ohio
Lycoming; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 
The New Piper Aircraft Company; Phoenix, Arizona

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Auburn Township, OH 
Accident Number: ERA19FA181
Date & Time: 05/28/2019, 2355 EDT
Registration: N3933T
Aircraft: Piper PA28R
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On May 28, 2019, at 2355 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-28R-180, N3933T, was destroyed when it collided with trees and terrain near Auburn Township, Ohio. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Night instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area at the time the accident occurred. A visual flight rules flight plan was filed for the flight that departed Cincinnati-Lunken Airport (LUK), Cincinnati, Ohio, about 2209 and destined for the Geauga County Airport (7G8), Middlefield, Ohio.

A preliminary review of the air traffic control (ATC) communications revealed the pilot was not talking to ATC. A review of the last few minutes of radar data revealed the airplane was on a northeasterly heading before it made a left turn to the north-north west toward the LaDue Reservoir near Auburn Township, Ohio. As the airplane reached the southeast bank of the reservoir, it made a steep, descending right-hand turn to the southeast before the data ended at 2355:31. The last recorded ground speed of the airplane was 169 knots on a heading of 104°.

A witness was out walking his dogs around midnight when he heard an aircraft flying south to north toward the reservoir. Initially, he was not sure if it was an airplane or a helicopter because the engine did not sound typical for either aircraft. The witness then concluded it was an airplane that sounded as if the engine was "sputtering" and "definitely had an erratic engine sound." The witness said he raised his "spotlight" to the sky and noted an "extremely low cloud deck." He then entered his home and heard "a very loud thud/boom." The witness said his wife also heard the "boom" but they both thought it was thunder since storms had just passed thru the area. It wasn't until the next day that the witness realized the airplane had crashed.

The airplane came to rest in heavily wooded terrain on the southeast bank of the reservoir about 7 miles southwest of 7G8. The initial impact point was an approximately 70 to 80-foot-tall tree. As the airplane descended through the trees on a heading of 133°, impact marks on the trees became progressively lower before it impacted the ground in a nose low attitude. From the point of initial impact to the point where the engine came to rest was about 270 ft. The airplane wreckage was heavily fragmented and the outboard sections of both wings, the tail section, instrument panel, engine, and the propeller were found along the wreckage path. The largest portion of debris was a section of fuselage that contained the front and rear seats. There was no post-impact fire.

Examination of the airplane revealed that the flaps and landing gear were fully retracted. The stabilator trim actuator was found in the full nose down position. Flight control cables for all major flight controls were accounted for and found broken in numerous areas. The broken ends of these cables exhibited broom-straw fractures consistent with overload from impact.

Both wing fuel tanks were breached, and the finger screens were absent of debris. The fuel selector had separated from the airframe but was found selected to the right tank. The gascolator had also separated from the airframe and only the bowl section, which was crushed, was located. The electric fuel pump separated from the airframe but worked when electrical current was applied. The engine driven fuel pump was damaged from impact and could not be tested. The fuel servo had partially separated from the engine and sustained impact damage. The finger screen was found in the wreckage and was absent of debris. The servo was disassembled, and the diaphragms were intact. The fuel manifold sustained impact damage but remained secure to the engine. The manifold was disassembled, and no fuel was found in the housing. The diaphragm was not damaged.

The oil sump was impact separated from the engine. The oil filter was disassembled, and the filament was absent of debris.

The engine sustained impact damage and the No. 2 cylinder was partially separated from the engine case and the No. 4 cylinder was slightly backed off the engine case and missing the rocker cover. The top and bottom spark plugs sustained impact damage and were removed. The electrodes appeared light gray in color consistent with normal wear per the Champion Check-A-Plug chart. A borescope was used to internally examine the engine. A large amount of mud and dirt was observed, but no internal damage to the pistons and valves were noted. The engine was manually rotated via the vacuum pump drive-spline, which was inhibited by the debris, but valve train movement was observed on all cylinders except the No. 2 cylinder due to it being separated. Strong compression was established on the No. 1 and No. 3 cylinders, and weak compression on the No. 4 cylinder due to impact damage. Both magnetos were separated from the engine, and one magneto was too damaged to test. The other magneto was spun with a drill and spark was produced to each terminal. The vacuum pump was disassembled, and the drum was fractured, but the vanes were intact.

The two-bladed propeller had separated from the engine at the crankshaft, but both blades remained attached to the hub. One blade was bent forward about 70 degrees at mid-span and exhibited leading edge gouging. The other blade was bent forward at the hub and the tip of the blade was curled. The leading edge of the blade exhibited some gouging. Several slash marks were observed on a cluster of trees just prior to where the airplane first impacted the ground. One of the slash marks was deep enough where it almost cut the approximately 12-inch-wide tree in half. The propeller governor separated from the engine and was too damaged to be tested.

The closest weather reporting facility to the accident site was from Portage County Airport (KPOV), Ravenna, Ohio, located approximately 12 miles south of the accident site. Weather reported at 0015 was wind calm, visibility 1 1/4 miles, scattered clouds at 200 ft, scattered clouds at 4,800 ft, temperature 18° C, dew point 17° C, and an altimeter setting of 29.76 inches of Hg.

The National Weather Service had issued airmen's meteorological (AIRMET) Sierra for IFR conditions over northeast Ohio into Pennsylvania, and AIRMET Tango for moderate turbulence from the surface to 15,000 ft.

At the time of the accident both the Sun and the Moon were more than 15° below the horizon and provided no illumination. The Moon phase was a waning crescent.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for single-engine airplane. His last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical was issued on June 19, 2018. A review of the pilot's logbook revealed he had a total of 142.9 flight hours, of which, 132.9 hours were in the accident airplane. He had accrued 3.7 hours of simulated instrument time and 11.8 hours at night. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N3933T
Model/Series: PA28R 180
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: POV, 1196 ft msl
Observation Time: 2355 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 12 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C / 17°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 5000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility:  7 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.7 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Departure Point: Lunken, OH (LUK)
Destination: Middlefield, OH (7GB) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  41.375278, -81.193056

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 

Troy Bankert’s Legacy Fund

On May 28, 2019, Troy Bankert tragically passed away doing what he loved, flying his Piper Arrow back from a fun weekend of camping. This fund is being set up to help his two sons, Lucas and Oliver with any immediate expenses necessary during this difficult time. Troy’s unexpected death has devastated all of us. This is just one small way to honor his memory and help the two boys that mattered most to him.

Troy Wesley Bankert
1964 - 2019

Chagrin Falls, Ohio - Troy Wesley Bankert, age 55, of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, passed away late Tuesday evening, May 28 in a plane crash in Northeast Ohio. Born on April 4, 1964 in Indianapolis, he was the son of Sandra Ann (Lumpkins) and the late Paul Wesley Bankert, Sr. Troy attended Tipton High School, graduating in 1982 and would later serve his country in the United States Marine Corps, leaving as a Sergeant after 6 years. Afterward, he earned his bachelor's degree at Florida International University and eventually his law degree at Hofstra University in New York City.

Troy was a man of many hobbies and was always eager to learn. Everyday brought a new adventure for him. He was full of fun facts. You couldn't watch a movie without him giving you the full filmography of every actor. He was an avid snacker and loved cooking his family a good meal whether that was breakfast B's & G's or a delicious steak. He loved a good adventure, whether that meant driving fast cars or flying his 1967 Piper. He lived and loved to the fullest and his heart was always open to helping others. He and his endless hugs will be sorely missed by all who knew him.

Troy is survived by his two sons, Lucas and Oliver Bankert of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, as well as his loving girlfriend of 11 years, Jennifer Otto of Newbury, Ohio, and her daughter and son, Sydney Otto of New York, New York, and Lance Cpl. Trevor Otto of Meridian, Mississippi, to whom he was like a second father.

Also surviving is his mother Sandra Ann (Lumpkins) Bankert of Kirklin, two brothers, Paul Wesley Bankert, Jr. (Sharon) of Zionsville and Curt Wesley Bankert of Kirklin; two sisters, Christy Jo Hopkins of Zionsville, and Gina Lynn McKinley (Mike) of Carmel; 8 nieces and nephews, Jessica, Daniel, Alysa, Charles, Joseph, Lance Cpl. Wesley, Sam, and Lance Cpl. Nicholas, as well as numerous aunts, uncles and cousins across the country.

A celebration of Troy's life will be held at The Gymnasium at Mts. Runn Church at 250 South 775 East, Zionsville, IN 46077 on Friday, June 7, 2019 beginning at 1 p.m. Military honors will be at 3:30 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, please consider supporting Troy's sons by donating to Troy Bankert's Legacy Fund at

AUBURN TOWNSHIP, Ohio — After hours of searching, authorities have confirmed the body of the pilot and his plane have been located in a wooded area near the edge of the LaDue Reservoir in Geauga County, according to the Geauga County Sheriff's Office.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol has identified the pilot as Troy Bankert, 55, of Middlefield Township, located in Geauga County.

The missing plane and Bankert were found in a heavily wooded area located off the southeast corner of LaDue Reservoir. Authorities say Bankert was killed on impact and there were no other passengers on board at the time of the crash.

Flight records shows Bankert left the Wayne County Airport at about 11 p.m. Tuesday. It's believed the plane crash at around 11:55 p.m.

Geauga County Sheriff Scott A. Hildenbrand said the area where the plane was found is so heavily wooded, that crews had to cut down several trees to clear a path for emergency crews to get near the plane debris.

"The plane was very badly damaged. It was in lots of pieces," Hildenbrand said.

On Wednesday, authorities started looking for a small plane near the LaDue Reservoir, located near US 44 and Route 422, in Geauga County, after the girlfriend of the pilot, who had an app on her phone to track his location, reported him missing after he made an abrupt turn above the LaDue Reservoir, according to state officials.

The 4-seat Piper Cherokee Arrow plane left Cincinnati at 10 p.m. and was headed to the Geauga County Airport when it did not arrive. The plane last seen on the radar at 2,600 feet at 4 a.m. over the southeast area of the reservoir.

Search crews used three boats and drones to search for the plane and the pilot since foggy conditions and a low ceiling made it difficult to use planes during the beginning of the search.

Hildenbrand said the information they received from the Bankert's girlfriend and a call from a neighbor who heard a loud noise nearby, helped search crews narrow down the location of the crash site.

A private citizen from Mantua in Portage County volunteered to fly his helicopter to help authorities search for the missing pilot and the plane. At one point, the fog was so heavy that all the drones had to be brought down.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol and the FAA are leading the investigation.

Original article ➤

GEAUGA COUNTY, Ohio - Law enforcement crews located the wreckage of a plane and the body of a pilot near LaDue Reservoir in Geauga County Wednesday morning.

A search had been underway through the night in the water, and then a wooded area on Shaw Road.

The wreckage was found between Shaw Road and the reservoir.

The pilot was the only person on the small plane, which was a 1967 Piper Cherokee Arrow. The Ohio State Highway Patrol said the pilot has been identified as Troy Bankert, 55, of Middlefield Township.

Authorities said he was a relatively new pilot. He took off from the Wayne County Airport at around 11 p.m. Tuesday, the highway patrol said.

The plane's wreckage was found in a heavily wooded area.

Crews had to cut a path to reach the plane.

Geauga County Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand said the plane was split into several pieces.

They were able to identify the plane by the tail number reported from a friend of the pilot.

The last known location of the plane was around 4 a.m. over the reservoir, according to Scott Denamen with the State Wildlife Office.

Law enforcement was tipped off to the plane's location by someone who lived in the area.

That person heard a loud crash last night, but thought it was thunder from storms in the area.

The wreckage was found by drones and boots on the ground.

Crews were unable to fly planes to search due to fog in the area and a low ceiling. At one point, the sheriff says they had to bring down the drones because the fog was so heavy.

Multiple agencies assisted in the search.

The cause of the crash is pending and remains under investigation by the FAA and the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. According to the story "It's believed that the plane crashed at 11:55, and it was last seen on radar at 2600 feet around 4:00 am". . . I'm clearly missing something.

  2. sounds like the typical spatial disorientation scenario. night time only complicated things.


  3. KLUK 290453Z AUTO 21005KT 10SM CLR 23/19 A2978 RMK AO2 SLP081 T02280189

    KPOV 290535Z AUTO 00000KT 4SM SCT001 BKN025 18/17 A2977 RMK AO2 T01770169

    KCGF 290535Z AUTO 05003KT 10SM OVC011 17/16 A2977 RMK AO2 FZRANO T01710163

    KYNG 290451Z 30003KT 1/4SM FG VV001 19/18 A2976 RMK AO2 SLP069 T01890178

    Looks like the wx was ok on departure but became progressively worse the further northeast distance traveled.

  4. Just got his PP about 2 months ago. No instrument rating from what I can see. Haven't looked up the weather from that night yet.

    So did it happen at 10pm or 4am? Or anywhere in between? That wasn't a very long xc for an arrow.