The victims in Thursday’s crash at Mid-Continent Airport were the first aircraft casualties on the airport’s property in 14 years.
The last fatal crash at the airport occurred on Oct. 10, 2000, when a Bombardier Challenger 604 business jet on a test flight from Mid-Continent crashed on take-off. The jet crashed through a fence on the edge of the airport’s property and burned in the middle of Tyler Road.
All three people aboard – pilot Bryan Irelan, co-pilot Eric Fiore and flight-test engineer David Riggs – died from injuries received in that crash.
A 52-year-old Lawrence man piloting a Federal Express cargo plane was killed in November 2012 when he crashed shortly after takeoff about two miles south of Mid-Continent.
In the Bombardier crash, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a report that pilot error contributed to the fatal crash.
Investigators with the NTSB, the federal agency that investigates air crashes, concluded that the pilot pulled too aggressively on the control yoke of the aircraft on takeoff. That action caused the aircraft’s nose to pitch up excessively, which then caused fuel to shift backward during the acceleration and takeoff, the report said.
Bombardier Aerospace agreed with the NTSB’s conclusion. But the company also came in for criticism in the report, which said the pilots’ briefing before the flight was inadequate.
Fiore’s wife, Carol Fiore, recently published a book, “Flight Through Fire,” which chronicles the test pilot’s final days and his devotion to aviation.
Before the October 2000 crash, the last casualties at the Wichita airport happened in 1973, when three people died in two separate crashes.