Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Arion Lightning LS-1, N326AL: Accident occurred July 10, 2022 at Indiana County Airport (KIDI), Pennsylvania

Pilot files suit after crash destroyed his plane and left him blind in one eye

PITTSBURGH – A severely injured pilot has launched litigation against a trio of entities he says are responsible for the crash and destruction of his airplane, along with the litany of injuries he suffered in the crash, including blindness in one eye.

Kevin Labuda of Irwin filed suit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas on Oct. 14 versus West Penn Allegheny Foundation, LLC of Pittsburgh, Robert Ploskunak of New Kensington and Metro Aviation, Inc. of Shreveport, La.

“Plaintiff owns an Arion Lightning LS1 airplane, with Registration No. N326AL. At approximately 10:20 a.m. on the morning of July 10, 2022, plaintiff departed Rostraver Airport in Monongahela, Pennsylvania en route to Jimmy Stewart Airport in Indiana, Pennsylvania, to attend the Jimmy Stewart Airshow (JSA). Approximately 15 miles southwest of JSA, plaintiff first announced his intention to land on JSA Runway 11 on Frequency 122.8 Mhz Common Traffic Advisory Frequency,” the suit says.

“Plaintiff further announced his intention to land on JSA Runway 11 via CTAF at the following intervals: Approximately 10 miles southwest of JSA and approximately five miles southwest of JSA. Plaintiff again announced his intention to land on JSA Runway 11 at approximately two and a half miles southwest of JSA, stating he intended to cross midfield for the left downwind on JSA Runway 11. Around the same time, defendant Ploskunak, who was piloting the helicopter, announced his intention to land on JSA Runway 11 at approximately two and a half miles southwest of JSA.”

The suit adds the plaintiff continued his landing pattern and again announced his intention to cross midfield for the left downwind on JSA Runway 11 – and since the plaintiff could not see the helicopter as he approached Runway 11, the plaintiff called out for the helicopter’s location.

“Defendant Ploskunak responded by stating the helicopter was on the right base for Runway 1 and stated that the helicopter was No. 2 to land on Runway 11 behind plaintiff. Plaintiff then announced his turn to final for JSA Runway 11. As plaintiff descended toward Runway 11 at 50 knots, defendant Ploskunak negligently, carelessly and recklessly maneuvered the helicopter across plaintiff’s known landing pattern in such a way as to leave wake turbulence (a.k.a. “prop wash”), which caused plaintiff to lose control of the plane. Said prop wash caused plaintiff’s plane to invert and crash into the ground. During the crash, plaintiff’s head struck the canopy as his plane skidded to a stop off the runway, where emergency crew were needed to lift the plane in order for plaintiff to escape,” the suit states.

“Plaintiff sustained serious bodily injury from the crash and was transported to Forbes Hospital in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. Plaintiff’s plane was completely destroyed in the crash. As a direct and proximate result of the crash, plaintiff sustained the following painful and physical injuries: Head trauma, concussion, loss of vision in his left eye, intense headaches, cuts, scrapes, lacerations and bruises to arms and legs, chest contusions and chest pain, and injuries to the bones, muscles, tendons and soft tissues of his body.”

For counts of negligence, vicarious liability, the plaintiff is seeking damages in excess of the jurisdictional limits of compulsory arbitration, together with interest on all sums due, costs and such other relief this Court deems just and appropriate.

The plaintiff is represented by John J. Zagari, Michael J. Zagari and Allen P. Page IV of Zagari & Associates, in Pittsburgh.

The defendants have not yet obtained legal counsel.

Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas case GD-22-012849

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. 

Investigator In Charge (IIC): Gretz, Robert

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Daniel Welms;  Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Location: Indiana, Pennsylvania
Accident Number: ERA22LA304
Date and Time: July 10, 2022, 10:50 Local
Registration: N326AL
Aircraft: Arion Lightning 
Injuries: 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Arion 
Registration: N326AL
Model/Series: Lightning LS1 
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
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: KIDI, 1419 ft msl 
Observation Time: 10:55 Local
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles 
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C /12°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / , 130°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.16 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Rostraver, PA (FWQ)
Destination: Indiana, PA

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious 
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries:
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Serious 
Latitude, Longitude: 40.631061,-79.101526 (est)

Aircraft encountered rotorwash while landing, crashed and came to rest upside down. 

Date: 10-JUL-22
Time: 14:58:00Z
Regis#: N326AL
Aircraft Model: LIGHTNING LS-1
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: UNKNOWN
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91


  1. https://archive.triblive.com/news/connellsville-church-worker-charged-in-priest-attack/

  2. Wonder how much money he stole from the church to buy that airplane..... Real piece of work that guy.

  3. pilot POS. Jaywalking in the air. looking for a payout.

  4. I don’t know about the integrity of the pilot, but be very cautious when landing or taking off if there is a helicopter operating in proximity to the runway. I personally will wait until the helicopter has departed to land or takeoff.

  5. I dont understand why helicopter pilots choose to land on a busy runway where fixed wing aircraft are operating. There have been many accidents because of this. It’s a helicopter. We can land just about anywhere. BTW. I’m a retired Army aviator with 36 years experience.