Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Van's RV-7A, N383DB: Fatal accident occurred February 22, 2021 near Mayfield Graves County Airport (M25), Kentucky

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Louisville, Kentucky

Aircraft crashed in a field under unknown circumstances. 

Date: 22-FEB-21
Time: 22:56:00Z
Regis#: N383DB
Aircraft Make: VANS
Aircraft Model: RV7
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Total Fatal: 1
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
Operation: 91

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov. 

Henry D. Babenco

WESTERN KENTUCKY - The pilot killed Monday in a plane crash northeast of Mayfield was set to go to trial in federal court in Knoxville on March 23, 2021.

Sixty-year-old Dr. Henry D. Babenco of Paducah, the victim of Monday's plane crash, was indicted by a federal grand jury in 2019 on a charge of conspiracy to distribute Schedule II controlled drugs.

At the time, Babenco worked at LaFollette Wellness Center in Lafollette, Tennessee. He was one of eight people indicted in Tennessee and dozens nationwide in the fight against illegal prescribing and distribution of opioids and other drugs.

About four years ago, Babenco worked as an anesthesiologist at Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital.

His plane crashed Monday in a field near the intersection of Twin Hill Road and Spence Chapel Road, just north of I-69 and less than a mile from the north end of the Mayfield Graves County Airport runway.

On the Net:

GRAVES COUNTY, Kentucky — The Graves County Sheriff's Office says a man who worked as an anesthesiologist in the Paducah area was killed in a plane crash Monday.

Henry D. Babenco, 60, of Paducah, was piloting the Van's RV-7A experimental aircraft when it crashed into a field near the Mayfield Graves County Airport, said Sheriff Jon Hayden. The field is adjacent to Interstate 69 and near the intersection of Twin Hill Road and Spence Chapel Road.

Investigators believe the plane had recently left the airport when it went down, said Hayden. Calls about the crash came in just before 5 p.m. Monday.

"That's one of the worst calls that you can get, that a plane has crashed in your jurisdiction, and the only thing that you can think about is trying to get to that scene as quickly as you possibly can," said Hayden. "And hopefully there's someone there that you can help or that you can save."

But Babenco did not survive the crash, Hayden said.

"It was very devastating to see a crash like that, knowing that the person in the plane has family," Hayden said. "They're somebody's son, father, brother, and you know, it's very, very tragic. Very tragic for the family. It's tragic for the first responders that had to work the scene."

Hayden said the sheriff's office was first on scene, but did not see any fire, smoke, or debris field. The sheriff's office then contacted the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board for guidance.

Monday night, Hayden and the coroner went to Babenco's home to notify his wife.

"It never gets any easier," Hayden said. "Situations like this, it's always best to try to do, make those types of notifications in person and not over the phone. That's very important that we do that in a manner that shows as much respect towards the family of someone that's deceased."

Babenco's name was withheld until 5 p.m. Tuesday so other family members could be notified.

Investigators with the FAA visited the crash site Tuesday morning. An NTSB team was slated to arrive on Wednesday. The agencies will work together, with the Graves County Sheriff's Office providing support, to determine the cause.

Hayden said investigators have interviewed a couple of people who saw the plane prior to the crash.

"One individual was actually driving down Interstate 69 and saw the aircraft, and thought the aircraft was going down," Hayden said.

Hayden urges anyone who saw the crash or has related details to call the Graves County Sheriff's Office, which will pass the information to the federal investigators.

A man who lives across the street from the crash said in 2019, there was another plane that made an emergency landing on a field next to his home. In that incident, no one was hurt.

Online records show Babenco used to be an anesthesiologist at Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital. But, he had not been on staff for nearly four years, said Kevin Compton, public relations and communications manager for Bon Secours Mercy Health.

Graves County Sheriff's Office

On Monday, February 22, 2021 at approximately 4:55 PM deputies from the Graves County Sheriff’s Office responded to a report of an aircraft crash near the Mayfield/Graves County Airport.  Once in the area, an airplane was confirmed to have crashed in a field near the intersection of Twin Hill Road and Spence Chapel Road, just north of Interstate 69.  Further investigation confirmed that the pilot of the aircraft died as a result of the crash.  Further information is being withheld until notification of the family of the deceased can be made.  

Sheriff’s Office personnel will continue to secure the crash scene overnight.  A meeting with the National Transportation Safety Board is scheduled for Tuesday morning.  The NTSB will handle the investigate into the cause of the crash.  

Deputy Sheriff Zac Smith is leading the investigation into this incident for the Sheriff's Office. 

The Sheriff’s Office was assisted by the following agencies:

Mayfield Fire Department
Mayfield/Graves County EMS
Mayfield / Graves County Fire Rescue
Kentucky State Police
Graves County Coroner’s Office 
Graves County Emergency Management
Mayfield / Graves County Airport Board and Management


  1. https://www.casemine.com/judgement/us/5de4b24b342cca0c32fa3bc9

  2. forfeiture of real property


  3. Surrenders his medical license forever and permanently

  4. Suicide from the downturn his life had taken in recent years?

  5. Suicide or Poor Judgement ? I wouldn’t be surprised by either one.