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"Lawsuit over 2010 plane-crash death targets Illinois airport"

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lawsuit over 2010 plane-crash death targets airport 
The Jacksonville (IL) Journal-Courier  

A lawsuit filed against the Jacksonville Airport Authority contends the
negligent and improper actions of airport authority representatives
contributed to the Dec. 22, 2010, death of a student pilot in a suburban
Chicago plane crash.
The legal action, which presents only one side of a case, was filed in
Morgan Circuit Court against the airport authority, which operates
Jacksonville Municipal Airport. Similar lawsuits by David VanHyning against
pilot Todd Cole and plane owner G. Ronald Kesinger have been settled.
VanHyning's 18-year-old son, Benjamin, was in a 1978 Cessna Sierra aircraft
that Cole was ferrying to Jacksonville for Kesinger. Within minutes of
takeoff from Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling, Cole reported losing
power and tried to return to the airport but crashed a half mile away.

Benjamin VanHyning died in the crash; Cole was severely burned. Benjamin
VanHyning worked at the Jacksonville Municipal Airport and was an Illinois
College student.

The wrongful death lawsuit recapitulates allegations made in a lawsuit filed
in 2011 against the airport authority. That suit was dismissed without
prejudice, meaning it could be re-filed. It maintains Benjamin VanHyning
should not have been on the aircraft because Cole was not properly licensed
for the flight because he was not a commercial pilot but was being
compensated for the flight and had a passenger on board. Cole also had
little experience flying that type of aircraft.

Past mechanical problems and a recent overhaul of the aircraft also should
have given Jacksonville Airport Authority agents reason enough to keep
Benjamin VanHyning off the plane "when it knew or should have known it was
not safe, suitable or proper to do so due to the condition of the aircraft."

In addition, the aircraft was flown little or not at all since an October
2010 engine overhaul after which the engine was not running properly,
according to the lawsuit, but "instead of cancelling the flight until safety
could be assured, the JAA aviation professionals decided the [plane] should
merely stop for a safety check in Schaumburg, Illinois, before flying on to
Jacksonville Municipal Airport."

The plane had also been stored outside and accumulated a substantial amount
of snow and ice and was not properly de-iced.

"The situation was irregular, unlawful and risky," according to the lawsuit.



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