Aviation

Student pilot flying old Army plane crashes into home while landing at Kansas airport

Bird Dog plane crashes into house

A Cessna L19 crashed while landing at at Stearman Field near Benton, Kansas on March 11, 2019. The airplane crashed into a porch of a house and two minor injuries were reported.
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A Cessna L19 crashed while landing at at Stearman Field near Benton, Kansas on March 11, 2019. The airplane crashed into a porch of a house and two minor injuries were reported.

A post-World War II military airplane piloted by a licensed student crashed into the porch of a house while landing at a Kansas airport, officials said.

Emergency crews were called at around 1:15 p.m. on Monday to a report of a plane crashing into a house adjacent to the Benton airport, a Butler County dispatch supervisor said.

The fixed-wing, single-engine, two-seat plane had left the runway while landing at Stearman Field, Lt. Clarence Schreiber of the Kansas Highway Patrol said. The airport is about 20 miles northeast of downtown Wichita.

“As the airplane was attempting to land, it did land, but for undetermined reason right now, it veered off the runway to the right — or to the west,” Schreiber said. “It was landing to the south.”

State troopers wrote in a crash report that the pilot lost control of the aircraft after landing on an unpaved runway.

The pilot had been on a training flight with an instructor, Schreiber said. The instructor was taken to a hospital with possible injuries. The student — a licensed pilot undergoing advanced instruction — did not report any injuries.

The highway patrol crash report identifies the pilot as Victor Riffel, 65, of Benton. The passenger was identified as Joesph R. Bertapelle, 35, of Derby.

No one was home at the time of the crash. The house sustained some structural damage.

The dark green airplane has “U.S. Army” written in yellow letters on its wing. The Highway Patrol identified the plane as a Cessna L-19 Bird Dog, an old military observation airplane. It is now privately owned.

The first of the post-World War II liaison aircraft was delivered to the Army in 1950, according to the International Bird Dog Association.

A World War II plane that had just finished flying over area ceremonies and cemeteries for Memorial Day crash-landed near Wichita's Westport Airport on Monday afternoon, May 28, 2018.



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