The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, March 15, 2016 7:35 pm

Crash of airplane heavy on mystery

Ron Shawgo and Frank Gray | The Journal Gazette

A small plane that plowed into a north-side neighborhood Saturday had departed Smith Field with an unknown destination, a federal spokesman said Tuesday.

But why it crashed, who was at the controls and what agency, if any, is looking for a person on the plane who left the scene remained a mystery.

Fort Wayne police said they were not involved in the investigation, which is being handled by the Federal Aviation Administration and the Indiana State Police, according to a spokesman. 

A state police spokesman said the FAA had taken over the investigation and that the ISP was no longer involved. An FAA spokesman said the agency’s probe will take a few weeks.

Meanwhile, the plane’s owner remained elusive.

According to FAA records, the registered owner is Jeffrey R. Mills. A person by that name owns a house north of Smith Field, according to Allen County property records. No one answered the door Tuesday afternoon, and The Journal Gazette could not find a phone number for Mills.

A Facebook page for a Jeff Mills of Fort Wayne shows the plane, a single-engine Cessna 150F, identified by its tail number. The page displays Mills’ apparent love of planes and flying. The last entry by Mills was Sept. 24, two days before the crash.

The airplane’s registration, which had expired at the end of July, lists Mills’ address as 500 E. Oak St. in Butler. The building is now owned by a man named Charles Decker, who said he bought the building from the man who owned the plane in 2013 and that that was the only dealing he had with him.

Officials say the plane approached Smith Field at a low altitude about 3:45 a.m. Saturday, hit a tall maple tree, then tumbled into trees across the street and hit a power line and the corner of the roof of a home on Ludwig Park Drive.

The plane came to rest upside down in the home’s backyard.

One person in the airplane was taken to a hospital with minor injuries, but a second person believed to be in the plane was nowhere to be found.

The plane had no flight plan and wasn’t required to file one. 

Most general aviation planes do not file a plan, said Tony Molinaro, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration. Flight plans are filed by pilots with paying passengers, pilots in busier airspace and sometimes by general aviation pilots, he said.

"It would be like if you and me told the police when we were going to go grocery shopping," Molinaro said. "They’re not in areas where there are big airports or anything. There are usually no flight plans."

Molinaro could say only that the plane departed from Smith Field.

Smith Field’s air space is monitored by controllers at Fort Wayne International Airport. Smith Field is not staffed overnight, said Joe Marana, director of operations and facilities for the Fort Wayne-Allen County Airport Authority.

Had the plane crashed on airport authority property, the agency would be involved in the investigation, he said

"Since it’s off-airport, we’re a lot more removed from it," Marana said.


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