Monday, January 11, 2021

Fatal accident occurred January 11, 2021 near Downstown Airport (28N), Franklin Township, Gloucester County

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.