This is the wreckage of a single-engine plane that crashed near a home on Voree Court in Burlington Aug. 9. The pilot and his passenger were both from Racine. (Racine County Sheriff’s Office photo)

Same plane and pilot were involved in a 2012 crash

By Jason Arndt

Staff Writer

Federal authorities have not released a final report of an Aug. 9 plane crash in the Town of Burlington.

But the Racine County Sheriff’s Office confirmed the identities of the two people who were inside the Piper PA-22, which crashed shortly after takeoff from Burlington Municipal Airport, and crashed onto a residential property off of Mormon Road.

Vaughan Weeks, 68, was identified as the pilot of the two-seat plane, which also carried 70-year-old passenger Ruth Webb. Both live in Racine.

Weeks and Webb, who were airlifted in two separate Flight for Life helicopters, survived the crash after receiving treatment at Froedtert Hospital in Wauwatosa.

Lt. James Evans, of the Sheriff’s Office, said federal authorities are still investigating the crash and would not release further information.

The National Transportation Safety Board, one of two federal agencies probing the crash, released a preliminary report showing the crash may have been fuel related.

“(Weeks) sustained minor injuries and (Webb) was seriously injured,” the report states.

Weeks reportedly told authorities the engine struggled during initial takeoff from Burlington Municipal Airport and had trouble clearing trees near the end of the runway.

Weeks, according to the report, tried to maneuver the plane through a low spot in the trees upon discovering he did not have enough runway to abort the flight.

“The pilot cleared the line of trees, but then impacted the next line of trees,” the report states. “The airplane nosed down, impacted the terrain, and came to rest inverted in a residential yard (on Voree Court).”

Federal authorities said the plane had substantial damage to the fuselage, both wings, and empennage. Investigators who examined the plane after the crash could not find any evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have hindered normal operations.

Through witness statements and surveillance video from Burlington Municipal Airport, investigators confirmed the airplane had difficulty gaining altitude.

“The airplane continued at that altitude before it disappeared from the witnesses and video view behind some trees south of (the airport),” the report states.

Previous problems

The same plane and pilot, according to online records, were involved in a crash eight years earlier.

On March 5, 2012, the NTSB reports the plane experienced a total loss of engine power during a cruise flight from Ephraim-Gibraltar Airport in northeast Wisconsin to Burlington.

The loss of engine power, NTSB records show, forced the pilot identified as Weeks to make a landing in a field near East Troy.

“Examination of the airplane by the Federal Aviation Administration revealed that none of the airplane fuel tanks contained usable fuel, and there was no evidence of a fuel leak,” the NTSB report states. “The pilot’s flight review was expired at the time of the accident.”

The NTSB later determined inadequate fuel management as the probable cause of the crash.

To read the full story see the Sept. 24 edition of the Burlington Standard Press.