Pilot was concerned about wet turf runway prior to Brown County crash

The wreckage of a single-engine plane and a pickup truck that collided on County MM in Ledgeview as the plane was approaching an airfield. The tail number is blurred to avoid identifying the plane's owner or pilot, as victims have not been publicly identified yet. (WBAY photo)

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) - Federal investigators have released preliminary findings on a fatal crash involving a small airplane and a pickup truck in Brown County.

The NTSB details what pilot John Fiddelke did and said prior to the Oct. 17 crash on Dutchman Road in Ledgeview.

CLICK HERE to read the preliminary report.

Fiddelke was attempting to land at Martins Aerodrome (WI78) when he came in low and collided with a pickup truck driving on nearby Dutchman Road. The plane and the truck veered off the right side of the road and came to rest near a residential driveway, according to the NTSB.

Fiddelke died the evening of the crash. Pickup truck driver Patrick Schounard passed away on Oct. 20.

Witnesses spotted the plane--an Aeronca 7AC Champion-- flying about five feet above the road prior to the collision.

Preliminary investigation findings show Fiddelke had departed from Brennand Airport in Neenah and was set to land at Martins Aerodrome. A flight plan was not filed.

Earlier that day, Fiddelke met with a mechanic to complete the plane's annual inspection. Fiddelke and the mechanic ate lunch together.

"During their conversation, the pilot mentioned to the mechanic that he was concerned about the wet turf runway at WI78 and that he preferred to land near the end of the runway," reads the NTSB report.

The NTSB says weather was not an issue during the crash. Their initial on-site investigation ruled out anomalies with the airframe or engine.

The investigation will continue and the NTSB will perform further examination on the plane. A final report takes six months-to-a-year, according to the NTSB.

NTSB Air Safety Investigator Aaron Sauer says investigators will be looking at the pilot's experience, training and medical information as they work to determine what happened.

Part of the investigation will be finding out why the plane crossed the road so low -- just 5 feet off the road.

"I can't speculate on what the pilot's decision there was to be five feet off of the roadway at the time. Certainly again we'll take witness information and take a look at the aircraft to see if there were any issues there," says Sauer. "As you can see the runway behind us is very close to the edge of the roadway surface. So we'll still have to try to piece some of that information together, why the aircraft was where it was and came in contact with the truck."

Action 2 News will continue to follow this developing story.

Read the original version of this article at www.wbay.com.