Monday, January 11, 2021

Kolb Firestar KXP, Unregistered: Fatal accident occurred January 11, 2021 near Downstown Airport (28N), Franklin Township, Gloucester County

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. 

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 

Location: Vineland, NJ 
Accident Number: ERA21LA102
Date & Time: January 11, 2021, 12:30 Local
Registration: UNREG
Aircraft: Kolb Firestar
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

On January 11, 2021, at 1230 eastern standard time, an unregistered Kolb Firestar KXP was substantially damaged when it was involved in an accident near Vineland, New Jersey. The pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight.

According to a witness, he and the accident pilot flew (in separate airplanes) from the witness’ residence to Vineland-Downstown Airport (28N), Vineland, New Jersey, about 7 miles away. After landing, the accident pilot told the witness that he wanted to fly over a friend’s house in the local area. The accident pilot boarded the airplane, took off from runway 20, and flew a traffic pattern around the airport. The airplane remained in view the entire flight. The airplane turned from a base leg to final at an altitude of 400-500 ft, and “seemed to be at normal cruising speed of 80 mph.” While on final, the airplane appeared to be “significantly” to the right of the runway 20 extended centerline, with the wings straight and level. The airplane began a gradual descent, followed by a “steep 45° nose down pitch into the trees.” The airplane appeared to be at “cruising speed” and did not appear to stall. The engine was “operating normally and no indication of sputtering or engine failure of any kind”.

The witness reported that he and the pilot had also flown the two airplanes on the previous day, and the witness had flown the accident airplane 3-4 times in the previous 6 months. The witness believed that the pilot had a total of 3-4 flight hours of experience in the accident airplane. According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate, his most recent 3rd class medical certificate was issued February 4, 2004. At that time, he reported 300 hours of total flight experience. No pilot logbooks were available for review.

The accident airplane had two seats, a 50 HP engine with a 10-gallon fuel capacity, and an empty weight of 325 lbs. The airplane did not meet the requirements to be operated as an ultralight aircraft consistent with Title 14 CFR Part 103.1. No maintenance logbooks for the airplane were available for review.

Examination of the airplane at the accident site by an FAA inspector revealed the airplane came to rest in a near-vertical nose down attitude in a wooded area. All major components were present and within a 60 ft diameter area. Both wings were damaged and separated from the fuselage. The ailerons remained attached to the wings. The tailboom was fractured just aft of the cockpit. The control cables
to the rudder and aileron remained intact and were continuous from the cockpit controls to their respective control surfaces. The engine was separated from the fuselage and located 10 ft from the main wreckage. Both carburetors were separated from the engine. The fuel shutoff valves for both fuel tanks were open. Fuel was leaking from both tanks, and each tank contained about 2 gallons of green colored fuel. When the fuel bulb was squeezed, fuel flowed from the carburetor supply fuel lines.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Kolb
Registration: UNREG
Model/Series: Firestar KXP 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Designator Code:

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: VMC
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: MIV,85 ft msl
Observation Time: 12:54 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 11.3 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 6°C /-6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / ,
Lowest Ceiling: 
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.27 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Vineland, NJ

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Latitude, Longitude: 39.546802,-74.962885

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

Gerard "Jerry" Asselta died January 11, in the tragic crash of his ultralight aircraft. Born March 8, 1956, Jerry was a lifelong resident of Vineland.  He is the son of the late Anthony J. and Mary (Gergenti) Asselta.  He is survived his brother Anthony J. Asselta III, of Pennsylvania.  In recent years Jerry connected and built relationships with his biological family getting to know his father Anthony Corradetti of Camden and his mother Louise Broome, both now deceased.  He is survived by his biological sister, Maribeth Stuffo of Ocean City and brothers Robert and Michael Corradetti of Philadelphia and New York, respectively. Jerry was predeceased by the love of his life Heather.

Though Jerry never married or had children of his own, family was extremely important to him.  His smile and affable nature were always present at gatherings of the extended and extensive Asselta clan. For several years Jerry hosted large family gatherings of that family, reuniting his many cousins and bridging six generations.  He brought together the biological and adoptive sides of his family. He was "cuz" to many, by blood or circumstance and that meant a great deal to him.

Jerry attended Vineland High School and was a member of the class of 1975.  After high school Jerry enlisted in the U.S. Navy.  After his discharge Jerry developed his skills as a plumber and in the 1980's founded Asselta Mechanical Services which he continued to operate at the time of his death.

Jerry, enjoyed working on his property, developing a peaceful landscape with gardens and a pond, where he hosted the family reunions.  But more so he was an adventurer and a thrill seeker.  He enjoyed sailing, jet skiing and flying.  

Due to COVID-19 restrictions everyone must wear a mask and social distance.

A graveside service and entombment will be held Thursday at 2:30 pm from Sacred Heart Cemetery, 741 E Walnut Rd, Vineland.  

ARRANGEMENTS are under the supervision of Rone Funeral Service, 1110 East Chestnut Avenue, Vineland, NJ  08360

In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to: Maryville Rehabilitation 1173 E. Landis Avenue, Vineland, NJ 08360 or Crossings Church 131 Morton Avenue, Millville, NJ 08332.

To send online condolences please visit our website at

Franklin Township Police Department

Press release

On Monday, January 11, 2021 at 12:54 PM Franklin Township Police was dispatched to the area of Tuckahoe Road and Harding Highway for a report of a downed aircraft.  Police arrived on scene and located a single engine, ultralight aircraft that had crashed into a wooded area approximately 1/4 of a mile north of the intersection.  Police were able to locate the pilot underneath the aircraft, however he was pronounced deceased on scene.  The aircraft was reported to have taken off in the area of Union Road at a private residence in Vineland, New Jersey.  The pilot was identified as 64 year old Gerard Asselta of Vineland.  Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft in the area of Downstown Airport before crashing into the wooded area, however it is unknown if the aircraft was trying to land at the airport.  The Federal Aviation Administration is conducting an investigation and the cause of the crash is pending the outcome of that investigation.  Assisting at the scene was the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office, Forest Grove Fire Department, and New Jersey Forest Fire Service.  Any additional questions can be referred to Lt Matthew DeCesari of the Franklin Township Police Department by contacting 856-694-1415 ext 212.
Gerard Asselta

The man killed in an ultralight aircraft crash in South Jersey on Monday afternoon was a licensed pilot, according to federal records.

Friends and relatives are remembering Gerard Asselta as a hard worker who maintained a positive outlook on life.

Asselta, 64, of Vineland, died when his single-engine craft crashed in a wooded area of Franklin Township, Gloucester County, near Tuckahoe Road and Route 40, just a short distance from Downstown Airport.

Investigators said Asselta took off from a friend’s property on Union Road in neighboring Vineland and was only aloft for a short time before the crash occurred shortly before 1 p.m.

“We believe he was just up for a flight around the area,” said Franklin Township Police Lt. Matt DeCesari. “There were witnesses who saw him flying in the area. We’re not sure if he was having trouble and was trying to get to the airport. We don’t know.”

The pilot had no communication with others indicating he was having problems with the aircraft.

Asselta had recently purchased the aircraft.

“It sounds like it was only the first or second time he had it out,” DeCesari said.

A Federal Aviation Administration inspector was out at the scene on Tuesday morning, DeCesari noted, adding that the agency is still trying to determine the make of the aircraft.

The FAA doesn’t investigate ultralight crashes, but needs to ensure the vehicle definitely was an ultralight and not an airplane, an official said.

News helicopter footage showed crumpled debris from the yellow craft pinned between trees.

Although a pilot’s license is not required to fly an ultralight, Asselta is a licensed pilot, according to the FAA database. His private pilot certificate was issued in 2000.

Former state senator Nick Asselta, who is a cousin, recalled Gerard as a successful businessman — he owned his own plumbing and HVAC business — and a positive person.

“He was a likable guy. He always had a smile and good things to say. The glass was always half full, not half empty,” Asselta said.

“No job was ever too small for him. He could always solve it.”

A friend and former neighbor shared a similar view.

“He would do just about anything for his friends,” said Dave Petway. “He kept in touch with a lot of his old friends that he grew up with.”

Asselta was generally willing to take on a variety of projects, Petway said.

“He loved to stay busy. He didn’t like sitting still.”

Petway recalled several years ago when Asselta was hired to move a house.

“We went there, a couple of friends, and we cut the top off the house and got it all set up and had it moved … then put the house back together. That was a very fun job.”

That major undertaking highlighted Asselta’s approach to many challenges, Petway said.

“If someone told him that it was impossible, Jerry would show them it’s possible.”



September 5, 2014 
Argued January 28, 2014 Decided 
Before Judges Reisner, Alvarez and Carroll.
On appeal from the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Cumberland County, Indictment No. 10-03-0022.
G. Harrison Walters, Assistant Prosecutor, argued the cause for appellant/cross-respondent (Jennifer Webb-McRae, Cumberland County Prosecutor, attorney; Mr. Walters, of counsel and on the briefs).
Mario A. Iavicoli argued the cause for respondent/cross-appellant.


  1. I'm at a loss in this day and age post-9/11 as to why the FAA does not require registration for ultralights whereas I had to register my hobby drone with them (because it exceeded the weight limit of .55 pounds not required for registration). Are they less dangerous to other aircraft and people and objects on the ground than my drone? They sure are very useful for drug and gun runners flying them across the border to make deliveries.

    1. It's not like you can fly an ultralight just anywhere. Take a look at part 103 sometime (ideally before commenting so you have some facts) and think about how many teenagers with drones (that can fly anywhere, no runway needed) versus the number of people landing an ultralight that needs a runway and can't fly basically anywhere with a substantial density of people.

      It's apples and oranges really. I shouldn't have even typed this much but I don't care what they say: we need to help the less fortunate and I'm not afraid to say it. So yeah, not th dumbest comment I've read, but pretty lightweight (ultralight??) nonetheless!

    2. Hard to see what type it is ? the deep fuselage would suggest a Minimax ? but the wings look too rounded.

    3. Drug and Gun Runner = Gerard Asselta

  2. Just like firearms;
    Outlaws are not legal;
    No laws apply.

  3. The glassine envelope was always half full, not half empty.

  4. Lawsuit already in the works.

    1. He never paid the seller of the aircraft.