AirVenture Crash Victims Identified, Investigations Continue


Authorities have released the names of four people killed in two fatal accidents within three hours of each other at AirVenture 2023 Saturday. The first involved a T-6 Texan that went down in Lake Winnebago under unknown circumstances with two people on board. Dead are Devyn Reiley, 30, of New Braunfels, Texas, and her passenger Zach Colliemoreno, 20, whose hometown was not released. Reiley was co-founder of the Texas Warbird Museum. The accident happened just after 9 a.m. and EAA spokesman Dick Knapinski said at least one body has been recovered.

About 12:30 p.m., a Rotorway 162F helicopter and an ELA Eclipse 10 gyrocopter collided somewhere over the field, and two people in the helicopter were killed. They were 69-year-old Mark Peterson of Foley, Alabama, and his passenger, 72-year-old Thomas Volz from Clermont County, Ohio. Two others in the gyrocopter were taken to a local hospital and their names have not been released. The gyrocopter crashed on top of a Mooney parked on the field.

Debris landed on a parked airplane. One of the aircraft involved in the collision caught fire and it was put out by airport firefighters with help from a military firefighting helicopter, according to Fox11News. That crash closed the airport for two hours, but it opened in time for the afternoon airshow to go on a little later than scheduled. EAA Chairman Jack Pelton offered condolences to the victims’ loved ones.

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  1. Sad to hear of this. Sometimes I wonder about the currency of many of these pilots at these large events because they want to show off a bit at the event. As I’ve mentioned before, at the skydiving events we call boogies with hundreds if not thousands of jumpers people will do things there that they wouldn’t do at their home DZ. As I saw in the loft where I trained to get my Senior Parachute Rigger ticket there was a sign, “The sky more so than the sea is terribly unforgiving of even the slightest mistake.” Some folks in the aviation world forget this.

  2. “I wonder about the currency of many of these pilots at these large events because they want to show off a bit”

    Don’t confuse currency with decision making. One can be 100% current, either in law or time as PIC (i.e. not a rusty pilot), and still show off a bit. Just because you’re current, doesn’t mean you practice good judgment.

    Further, one can practice good decision making and be current, and still be involved in an accident.

  3. The most dangerous thing you can do in aviation is fly to an airshow. IMHO, Sun N Fun is way worse than AirVenture, except Oshkosh has many more aircraft, and of different types.

    The major airshows draw people that are not trained to fly in that kind of airspace. The arrival procedures, spacing, and airspace density are found nowhere else in General Aviation.

    Many years ago, on final to Sun N Fun Lakelands runway 27 (now 28) a Cessna 182 cancelled IFR over Plant City airport (7 miles west of KLAL), he called the tower to land when the SNF NOTAM was in effect. He flew over the airport opposite direction to me and other landing traffic, and we came nose to nose with less than 100’ separation. He eventually landed and parked near me. I asked him if he had read the arrival NOTAM procedure, and he said “What NOTAM?”

    Eventually the arrival procedure will have to change, I just wonder how many accidents it will take.

  4. It’s always sad to lose a fellow aviator and I have to agree (mostly) with G P above: some of the most unsafe flying I’ve witnessed were arrivals and departures at OSH (sadly, more entertaining and frightening than the actual afternoon/evening air shows).

    While the controllers’ efforts at orchestrating the chaos is commendable, trying to manage a blivit of epic proportions reduces the error margin exponentially. Why is it necessary to launch two aircraft at a time every 5 seconds? And how many pilots routinely practice spot landings on a regular basis? I don’t.

    If you’ve never been to AirVenture, just YouTube some of the in-cockpit and flight line videos to experience the cluster comfortably from your armchair…


    • Every flight really should be a practice “spot landing”, which just means touching down where you intend to (or at least accurately predicting where you will touch down). “Spot landings” need not consist of coming in at minimum controllable airspeed and dragging it in on the backside of the power curve.

      As I was recently telling a pilot I was coaching for the OSH landing, it really doesn’t take any more skill than it does to meet the private pilot practical test standards (ACS) of 200′ margin. The difficulty is that the spot might not be the end of the runway, you might have to make a short approach, and there are a lot more people watching your landing than normal (so, more pressure than usual). But flying skill wise, it doesn’t take any more skill than a proficient private pilot is supposed to be capable of.

  5. Sad Day. Flying into Oshkosh is the one of the things I look forward to every year. I left Thursday, from the description none of these accidents would be part of the arrivals and departures that the previous commentators describe. The ultralight runway is a showcase for commercial demonstrations in the afternoon, most likely a demo pilot lost visual with another aircraft in the circuit. I’ve been flying into AirVenture every year for a decade, my experience doesn’t jive with the previous comments. 20k hours, military, airline and GA.

    • I’m glad you’ve had that experience, I’m very envious. I flew in once and I’m not sure I will do it again. I think 90% of the pilots were working hard to be safe and had properly prepared but we saw several instances of pilots jumping the line, speeding, not following the NOTAM, not able to adequately control their airplane(In my opinion). I’m usually not a big “safety” guy but being that close to the 10% of poor decision makers was too much for me.

      Next time I fly to OSH, it will be with an IFR flight plan.

  6. Regarding the “thread drift” (excellent turn of phrase): I am reminded of an observation that a wise observer of humankind said to me many years ago: “Pilots eat their own.” As a group, we seem to be spring-loaded to savage our fellow pilots—sometimes with good cause, but sometimes with next to no factual knowledge. I’m glad that someone pointed out that this year’s midair collision did NOT involve the Fisk arrival or—apparently—“land on the green dot” or the AirVenture departure procedures.

    I have witnessed three fatal aviation accidents as they occurred—all three civilian, all three at large airshows. Two of those were at KOSH during what EAA now calls AirVenture.

    In 1980, I watched a homebuilt (Flaglor Sky Scooter?) perform a classic base-to-final skid-stall-spin while trying to land on Rwy 18 from a tight pattern. Hit the unyielding ground right in front of the fire trucks & torched. RIP two occupants.

    But here’s the one I want you to think about: In (1983?) I was in line to board the recently restored Stinson Detroiter trimotor for a ride around the patch. I looked to the south just in time to see a Stolp Starduster, climbing in the “show off your airplane” pattern, overtake from behind & below an airplane that appeared to be a Champ, Luscombe, Taylorcraft, or something similar. The biplane’s prop sliced into the bottom of the slower airplane’s fuselage just forward of the empennage. The tangled mess spun into Steve Wittmann’s front yard & torched. FAA closed the field for 20 minutes while the fire trucks rushed to the scene. All four persons involved were severely dead; the passenger in the Stolp was a 15-year-old girl on her first airplane ride.

    In a biplane, a certain portion of the pilot’s view forward & above is blocked by the upper wing. Period.

    More broadly, the limitations of the see-&-avoid concept are several & have been studied & documented for decades. Not until the Cerritos midair (DC-9 & Cherokee) during the 1980s did the NTSB apply new research & conduct realistic analysis of the see-&-avoid aspects of individual aviation accidents.

    Finally, the scan technique promoted by the FAA & pimped by AOPA & others is a cruel joke: Scan a 10-degree vertical segment of the sky for one second & then move on to the next segment, repeat, etc.? That’s 18 seconds to scan from wingtip to wingtip in most of what I’ve flown. Are you effing kidding me?

    • “Finally, the scan technique promoted by the FAA & pimped by AOPA & others is a cruel joke: Scan a 10-degree vertical segment of the sky for one second & then move on to the next segment, repeat, etc.? That’s 18 seconds to scan from wingtip to wingtip in most of what I’ve flown. Are you effing kidding me?”

      Re: scanning – Paul Poberezny once told me “You’ve got to be looking around, all the time, so much you get a sore neck.” And he was talking about everyday flying, not OSH arrival traffic, because he was already there. It makes total common sense, when an attempt to quantify common sense into a “technique” often misses the mark.

    • I think maybe, people aren’t taking their train of thought all the way into the station.

      Flying in, means you have to fly out. We all know there is a LOT of promotion about how to safely fly in. That results in the majority of pilots having heightened situational awareness and prepared as much as possible to arrive safely.

      How many put as much effort into the departure? Does the NOTAM even address departure(maybe it does and I’m the bad example of not reading a NOTAM fully) I think the point people are trying to make is that the whole trip isn’t worth the risk, even if they seem to focus on arrival comments.

      Just my opinion.

      • Yes, the NOTAM does include departures from the area too. And in the 3 times I’ve been to the show (twice flying into OSH itself) it is clear that most pilots aren’t reading the departure procedures in the NOTAM.

    • Terps, I live in Utah where it’s dry and hot in July. For me the OSH humidity is noticeable but manageable if dressed properly, hydrated, and willing to grab a chair in the shade with a cold beer at peak times. Never hurts to go see the Museum when the temps are at their worst.

      No doubt there are other locations more conducive to holding the show but guessing that ship sailed a long time ago. Each to his own but I’ll continue to attend.

    • If you’ve never done it, you’ll never understand. It’s a blast. And perfectly safe as long as the procedures are followed. I’ve been there 9 times in 20 years and have never witnessed a ‘close call’ during the flight in- if anything arriving pilots are more on their toes so they don’t screw the pooch in front of thousands of their peers. I felt safer there with hundreds of other inbound planes than at my home non tower field with its daily parade of idiots doing nonstandard crap.

      The NOTAM is not complicated, just read it- also, I’m sure there are good online tutorials. Practice spot landings, keep your ears on, and you’ll do fine. Or just fly with someone who has done it before for your first go.

      But don’t let anyone else transfer their fears onto you, and deprive yourself of an amazing, unique experience that like Reno, won’t be around forever.


  7. We always fly our Saratoga into Appleton. Busy but not crazy. Sun n Fun, we did fly into and on take off roll an experimental gyrocopter pulled out right in front of us and we had to brake furiously to avoid the moron and then make a 180 and taxi back and take off again. Never flying there again. Love the shows but I agree that they are too dangerous to fly into.

  8. This is why I don’t fly into air shows. Whenever there’s a high concentration of aircraft in a relatively small area, there’s a higher probability of a collision. With more pilots of varying skills levels and attitudes in the same area I can also count on someone doing something stupid or unsafe. I’ve flown into Triple Tree Aerodrome’s annual fly-in several times and in each case someone who ignores the arrival or departure procedure has cut me off. I flew into Sun-N-Fun once and that was enough. I’ll never do so at Oshkosh.

  9. Flew in on Saturday before the show for the 8th time, looking forward to next year as well. Guess I’m getting more comfortable with the Fisk arrival because it was an uneventful affair. On Sunday ground watching the arrivals on 9-27 it was hectic as expected but beyond the controllers having challenges maintaining separations for IFR arrivals, warbirds, and the Fisk traffic, especially those with higher stall speeds, it seemed to go well. The arrivals filtering in from Endeavor Bridge definitely helps spread things out. With all that said there were a few obviously clueless folks that had either completely lost situation-awareness and/or had never cracked the covers of the readily available NOTAM. Those folks are the most dangerous but fortunately in the minority.

  10. Pilots’ inadequate preparation has been an obvious problem each time I’ve flown into Osh. A lost airplane caused pattern chaos on our second trip, and we watched a 182 make a miraculous recovery from a wing-low stall as its pilot tried to avoid the clueless fool. Anyone with a few flights into Osh can relate similar events.

    Another major issue is “pilots” who simply are not worth a damn at flying yet manage to convince themselves that flying into the world’s busiest airport is a fun idea. These are the characters who can’t come within a thousand feet of hitting their landing spots, can’t fly a holding pattern as instructed, etc.

    Still, I miss the satisfaction and excitement of my trips there. I would be there now if my health had not grounded me. There is nothing like the experience of flying into that beehive of fabulous airplanes, and I would do it again if I could.


    What a lot of handwringing. Don’t get me wrong – no one wants anyone to get hurt at Airventure. But if you concentrate GA – then some of the “normal” accident rate will concentrate with it. And I don’t see one of the “war stories” related here – that doesn’t happen at most GA fields on a day to day basis.

    For context – in the previous week there were 91 Accidents and Incidents. 6 fatal with 9 dead. None at AirVenture. This is pretty typical of a summer week in US Aviation. Source – FAA Accident and Incident Notification(s): Notice(s) to week end 26th July 2023.

  12. It’s a shame, and I feel bad for the families. I’ve flown in to AirVenture the last three years and it is pretty safe and easy if you read and follow the NOTAM. When people make up their own procedures things will go south very quickly. I’m not suggesting these pilots were at fault; likely it was just an unfortunate chain of events that wasn’t caught in time. Thankfully these accidents are rare, but two in one year is rough.

  13. On a day where Monday morning quarterbacking is actually correct, it appears at first glance that both accidents had absolutely nothing to do with any of the things on this thread. The first one is a very low time warbird pilot who took up a passenger and had a stall spin accident over the lake, with no recovery procedures done in the spin. The second one is a helicopter who did a 360 for spacing rather than following the procedures and hit a gyrocopter. Both cases, pilot errors that could have happened a thousand miles away. Come on folks, use the brain rather than sitting alone at a keyboard.

  14. I’m not sure this is even remotely a factor in any of the accidents at OSH over the years, but in my 7 short years as a private pilot thus far, one of the most dangrous aspects of GA that I’ve seen is the absolute inconsistency in training in simply flying the pattern. Ranging from how/what/when communication should happen, to how tight or loose to fly the pattern, to self-announcing techniques, it’s all a knotted up mess and varies all across the country. I don’t care if you want to call your N-number, or your color and type, but for crying out loud let’s all pick something and do it the same. Are we going to fly the pattern at .5 nm, or at 1 nm, or somewhere in between? That’s what the FAA has given us as a guideline, and that in and of itself can be dangerous if aircraft are flying in each other’s blind spots. I have too much to live for to become a smoking hole because some idiot who heard me call turning downwind decided he’d also enter downwind and call the same, but not say where he was on the leg, or whether he had me in sight. If safety isn’t your number one priority, stay on the ground. Period. Yes, flying is supposed to be fun and relaxing, but it requires full concentration, especially in a congested environment. To the pilot, “Mike,” who said, “I’m not usually a big “safety” guy…you’re the guy I never want to be in the pattern with. Sorry if that’s harsh, but like I said, I have too much to live for to become a smoking hole in the ground just because someone wasn’t paying attention and thinking about flying safely.

  15. Neither of these accidents occurred during their arrival.

    The arrival procedure was changed two years ago. With the advent of ADSB it is more visible to everyone including the FAA controllers.
    My real concern is the idiots who have not read and/or understand the arrival procedure.

  16. As a rotorcraft owner/pilot who saw the collision from 800 feet upfield, allow me to fill in some details. It was during the noon “Rotorcraft Showcase”, with a mix of helicopters & gyrocopters in the pattern. A black turbine Rotorway 162F heli was on final when it was hit by an ELA Eclipse 10 gyro. I have friends who fly Mosquito XET turbine helicopters, most of which are black, so I raced to the scene.

    Both men in the helicopter (which burst into flames on impact) died at the scene. The gyro occupants are in the hospital, condition unreleased. The gyro itself landed on (and destroyed) a Mooney, whose owner & family were camped in Vintage Aircraft camping off the end of the UL runway. They had just missed the transportation tram that would placed them at their plane when the crash occurred.

    The Ultralight field is an uncontrolled grass strip oriented roughly 12/30 about 400′ N&W of the OSH 18/36 threshold. It has a non-standard traffic pattern, but it’s well-briefed every morning by the UL field staff. At the time of the accident, they were landing to the NW. This accident was not due to any failure of the UL staff, field location/conditions, or fault of the helicopter pilot.

    There were two Eclipse 10’s at the UL field all week. I saw them both engaging in what we call “hot-dogging”: unnecessary maneuvering near the runway designed to show off the gyros’ capabilities, often in close formation. One of the more eye-catching of these is a spiral decent from pattern altitude over the threshold to a short landing. They were warned repeatedly against this behavior, but they continued to do this maneuver all week.

    I saw, only by chance, the collision, but eyewitnesses I spoke to said that the gyro was slightly behind and well above the helicopter, when the gyro turned away from the field and started a tight decending spiral, then collided with the helicopter. From 800 feet away, it sounded like a cannon.

  17. First let me say that this was a tragic day for the convention, and my prayers are with those who were killed or injured. I have flown into Airventure perhaps a dozen times in the past 35 years and am convinced that it is reasonably safe – thanks to a LOT of planning and special rules.

    The rotorcraft accident took place in the vicinity of the ultralight runway area – apparently off the southeast end of the runways some distance. I came along shortly after it happened around 1:00 PM. I did not see the collision.

    The wreckage blocked access to the “South 40” area and the trams were stopping at the ultralight area where security personnel were blocking even foot traffic from proceeding further south down the taxiway or even in the grass beyond this point. We were camping in the south 40 area and had to take quite a detour (on foot, down Knapp street, outside of the airshow fence) to get back down to our campsite.

    The previous day I watched the rotorcraft demonstration flights in that area with family from the bleachers. There were frequently multiple rotorcraft maneuvering over the ultralight runway area (at one point 5 were in the air) at the same time – and they were not merely making passes down the runway in a traffic pattern but there was quite a bit of erratic maneuvering and close formations. It struck me that this display demanded a lot of skill from the participants. It did not appear to be at all choreographed. There were a lot of demonstrations of rapid stops and backwards and sideways flying by the helicopters – where the pilots were NOT facing the direction of flight AND were not alone in runway environment.
    The autogyros were doing rapid descents, often times while turning rapidly around their vertical axis, rather like tailspins in a fixed wing aircraft.

    All of this was to demonstrate the maneuverability of the aircraft – but as an old pilot with grandkids nearby, I did wonder how far the debris would fly if these aircraft somehow got tangled up on one another.

    I am not going to speculate on who-did-what but simply want to say that MOST of flight ops at Airventure are very carefully and safely choreographed. I did not believe that to be the case with the rotary wing demonstrations I personally witnessed the day before.

  18. Rotorwing crash (In the rotorwing area with lots of others flying close) “Predictable”. T-6 crash way out over Lake Winnebago, stall spin apparently – Not OSH related truthfully. (I heard the young pilot had only about 200 hours total time?) Not exactly T-6 ready. (unless in WWII and militarily trained). Even then we lost some low time pilots.