Monday, August 02, 2021

Cessna 172E, N3090U: Accident occurred August 02, 2021 near JAARS-Townsend Airport (N52), Waxhaw, Union County, North Carolina

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Charlotte, North Carolina 

Aircraft struck a tree after takeoff and crashed in a residential yard. 

Wings Over Waxhaw Flying Club Inc

Date: 02-AUG-21
Time: 17:59:00Z
Regis#: N3090U
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 172
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
Operation: 91

When Christians accept the call to enter the overseas mission field, they accept any number of risks, including potential persecution from foreign governments and even personal harm or death.

For Peter Lessmann, one of those risks nearly became very real on Monday afternoon.

Peter, a member of First Presbyterian Church in Indianola, was one of three people, including the pilot, who survived a plane crash in Union County, North Carolina on Monday afternoon.

Peter, 18, and his 16-year-old brother Richard were there training with a mission organization called JAARS when the crash happened.

They are the sons of Indianola physician Dr. Erik Lessmann and Rebecca Lessmann, who have 10 children, ranging from 5 to 22 years old.

Richard was not on board the plane when it crashed.

Emergency medical responders were dispatched to the crash site just before 2 p.m. that day, according to a release from the Union County Sheriff’s Department, “And determined that a single engine plane had nosedived in the back yard of a residence” there.

According to the JAARS website, “From pilot training and mission aviation services to remote technology and communications support, we provide off-the-grid logistical solutions that help make Bible translation possible.”

The camp, Rebecca said, is designed to spur teenagers’ interest in mission work, and not only the mechanics of flying, but how they can help missionaries in remote areas.

The boys were signed up to go last year, but it was canceled due to COVID-19.

Rebecca said there are about 10 boys at the camp this week, and cellphones were supposed to be off limits during the week of flight training.

When she saw Peter’s number come up on her phone, she knew something was not right.

“He called me and said, ‘Mom, don’t panic. I think I’m okay,’ and he said, ‘I was in a plane crash,’” she said. “I thought he was kidding me, because the whole previous week, I told the boys, ‘You can go to this camp and learn all you want about flying on the ground, but you can’t go up in an airplane.’ I was just joking, of course.”

This was no joke.

The recent high school graduate described to his mother having a headache, but overall he seemed to be okay. Peter and the other passenger were apparently taken by ambulance to a Charlotte, N.C. hospital where they were treated for minor injuries and later released.

The pilot also survived with no major injuries.

During the call with his mother, Peter described what happened in the moments leading up to the crash.

“He said they were going up,” she said. “He said they were over the tree line and were ascending, and he heard the pilot say, ‘uh oh.’ The last thing he said was that it was so fast. He described flipping over into the trees.”

“Preliminary indications are that the plane experienced mechanical problems shortly after taking off from JAARS,” the Sheriff’s department said in its Monday release. “The Federal Aviation Administration will be conducting further investigation into the crash.”

Union County Sheriff's Office, Monroe, North Carolina

Emergency Responders were dispatched to an aircraft emergency Monday afternoon at approximately 1:44 pm in the Radin Road area near Waxhaw. Several UCSO deputies responded and determined that a single-engine plane had nosedived in the back yard of a residence in the 7600 block of Radin Road near JAARS. 

Deputies determined the plane was occupied by a pilot and two passengers at the time of the crash. The passengers were transported to an area hospital for treatment of minor injuries. The pilot was not injured. 

Preliminary indications are that the plane experienced mechanical problems shortly after taking off from JAARS. The FAA will be conducting further investigation into the crash.

WAXHAW, North Carolina  — Two passengers were injured after a plane crashed near Waxhaw Monday afternoon. Deputies with the Union County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene near Radin Road around 1:45 p.m.

A single-engine plane nosedived in the back yard of a home on Radin Road, near JAARS, deputies determined. The two passengers of the plane were transported to a hospital nearby for treatment of minor injuries. The pilot of the plane was not injured.

At this time, deputies believe the plane had mechanical problems shortly after taking off from JAARS and nosedived as a response. The FAA is now conducting an investigation into the crash. 


  1. I wouldn't really say it nose dived it was less than 100 ft off the end of a runway and went in below the tops of the trees which were on a descending hill. If it were flat ground or corn field she would have just needed a wash. If you look at the google map location at the end of rnwy 4 there is a house...It basically took the path of the drive way to the right of the house & into the back yard. Id say they did pretty good. At least it wasn't a stall spin or impossible turn situation. They flew the plane through the crash. The people that fly out of JAARS are some of the best bush pilots out there & they train may new missionary pilots in bush flying & STOL operations and haven't had a crash there in the 30 years I've been in the neighborhood. I loved watching 3090U get her paint work & makeover done. The mechanics at JAARS are top notch but I think the flying club runs on volunteers. JAARS are the only ones I know that still fly the Helio Courier which is a cool plane.

  2. I am not surprised with another engine failure. The club has had financial troubles for years and slacked in maintenance. I personally had an engine out with another plane from WoW. They downplayed this incident and didn’t really investigate on the cause of the failure. The club Wings over Waxhaw is risking the life of everyone flying there!