The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating a fatal small-plane crash in Oldenburg, Indiana, and this time, the incident involves one of their own. Dr. Paul Schuda, the director of the NTSB training center in Ashburn, Virginia, was killed in the crash, with the single-engine Cessna piloted by a friend of Schuda’s. A total of three people and a dog died in the December 16, 2017, accident.
Small planes hold much more risk than commercial flights, and every year numerous crashes around the country demonstrate the very real dangers.
Cessna 210 Was Traveling from Missouri to Maryland When It Went Down
Schuda was traveling on the single-engine Cessna as a passenger, with his friend Dr. Louis Cantilena piloting the aircraft. Schuda and Cantilena had departed Maryland together in the plane to pick up Cantilena’s daughter, 31-year-old Amy Cantilena, from Kansas University Medical Center and fly with her back to Frederick Municipal Airport in Maryland.
The trio stopped at Columbus Municipal Airport to refuel the Cessna (Tail Number N761YZ) and then took off again for Frederick. Air traffic controllers tracked the flight and saw it begin to lose altitude at 8:52 p.m. while the plane was southwest of Oldenburg, Indiana, a city approximately 40 miles northwest of Cincinnati, Ohio.
Cincinnati Air Traffic control lost the single-engine Cessna from their RADAR shortly thereafter, and officials believe that the plane struck the ground at approximately 9:00 p.m., making contact in a heavily-wooded area behind a residence in the 5000 block of Hamburg Road.
Local firefighters arrived first to battle a fire surrounding the wreckage, though officials have not clarified whether they think the fire started after impact or before. The thickly forested terrain made efforts more difficult, and Indiana State Police officials believe it will add challenges to removing the debris as well.
“It will be an ongoing scene for quite a while,” Sgt. Stephen Wheeles said to Fox4 News. “Because you have the magnitude of the crash and the area where it’s at, being such a wooded area, a little bit difficult to get to.”
Schuda, Cantilena, and his daughter were pronounced dead at the scene, and autopsies were performed on December 18, 2017.
Engine Failure Mentioned as Cause of Fatal Indiana Plane Crash
The NTSB is now investigating what aspects, either mechanical or situational, could have caused the small plane crash, very likely with some of Schuda’s colleagues participating, and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will also conduct an investigation. So far neither organization has listed a cause for the small plane crash.
The Indiana State Police, in a Facebook statement posted by Sgt. Wheeles, stated similarly, saying “It is unclear at this time what caused the plane to crash.”
Both Schuda and Cantilena were Civil Air Patrol (CAP) members, however, and the CAP released a statement on their website in which they attributed a cause to the Oldenburg plane crash.
Two Civil Air Patrol members, one from the National Capital Wing and the other from the national Congressional Squadron, were killed late Saturday when their plane crashed after experiencing engine failure in southern Illinois.
The organization did not clarify what information is used to determine that engine failure was the cause of the crash.
Professor and Daughter Also Killed in Small Plane Crash
Cantilena was a professor of medicine and pharmacology at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda. He had a reputation as an international expert in his field, specializing in toxicology and pharmacology, and is remembered fondly by his colleagues.
“He was extremely well respected, very well-liked and admired,” Sharon Holland, the deputy vice president for external affairs at the university, said in a statement to Bethesda Magazine. “And he will be greatly missed by everyone here at the university.”
Amy Cantilena was pursuing her own path in health, as an M.D. and P.H.D. student at the University of Kansas Medical Center, focusing on Molecular and Integrative Physiology.
Dog Was Sole Survivor of Oldenburg Plane Crash
Two dogs were on board the Cessna 210 when it went down, and one died in the crash. The second dog fled the scene and was found later at a house in the neighborhood. It was taken to an area veterinarian for treatment.
There is no word on which of the plane’s occupants owned the dogs.
Closed Batesville Airport May Have Contributed to Cessna Crash
Although it’s too soon to know what circumstances led up to the Oldenburg plane crash, a helicopter pilot with WCPO 9 Cincinnati who knows the area has speculated that a recently closed airport could have played a role.
Pilot Mark Lewis says that Cantilena’s flight path before he disappeared from RADAR might be an indicator that he was attempting to reach the closed Batesville airport, which Cantilena would have passed by a mile. Lewis speculated further that Cantilena likely would have been using maps because of the darkness and not being familiar with the area. Maps still show the Batesville airport as being open, despite it closing several weeks ago, and a pilot’s notice being filed on December 6, 2017.
“On this chart, it still shows that it’s an airport,” Lewis said in an interview with the news station. “That update could take six months.”
That potential attempt to reach safety at Batesville airport will be one of the factors that the NTSB and FAA pursue in their investigation, which will likely take many months before it is released in full.