AVOCA, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — One person was killed Friday when a plane in town for The Great Pocono Raceway Airshow crashed at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
According to a public relations firm speaking on behalf of the GEICO Skytypers Airshow Team, the pilot has been identified as Andy Travnicek.
“Andy was a graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, served in the U.S. Armed Forces, and was also a commercial airline pilot.”BRENDA LITTLE on behalf of the GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team
Emergency personnel were dispatched for an aircraft down at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport, according to the airport’s executive director Carl Beardsley Jr.
According to the FAA, a North American SNJ2 crashed after departure from Runway 4 at 12:36 p.m.
The aircraft crashed on the north side of Runway 28 and caught fire. The pilot was the only person onboard.
Emergency crews were called to the airport just after 12:30 p.m. Heavy smoke could be seen coming from an area around the airport.
Eyewitness News spoke with one eyewitness who tells us what she saw.
“I mean literally the flames went sky high,” Carol Paupst of Wyoming said.
Paupst came to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport Friday to get a glimpse of the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the Geico Skytypers.
“I watched two go off and then two go off and the last two go off. And I said ‘When these go off, they are going up in the air.’ And as soon as I said that, it crashed,” Paupst said.
Paupst says she couldn’t understand what was happening.
“I saw them all running, so I knew they weren’t happy and we all ran and then the flames just.. Shhh,” Paupst said.
In a press conference held just after 2 p.m., Beardsley confirmed that one person was on board the aircraft and was killed in the crash.
Beardsley also confirmed that the downed plane was part of the Great Pocono Raceway Airshow that is scheduled to begin Saturday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Monroe County.
The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate. The NTSB will be in charge of the investigation and will provide additional updates. Neither agency identifies people involved in aircraft accidents or incidents.
Flights into the airport were temporarily delayed but the airport is now fully operational, Beardsley told Eyewitness News.
No other aircraft were involved in the crash.
Officials from Pocono Raceway tell us after much consideration, and the support of the GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team, the airshow will go on as scheduled.
Pocono Raceway released a statement regarding the crash Friday at 4:30 p.m.
“It is with heavy hearts we can confirm the passing of a pilot with the GEICO Skytypers Air Show Team, following an incident at the AVP airport in Avoca, Pa., this afternoon. Our deepest condolences to the pilot’s family and the entire GEICO Skytypers team.”Official Pocono Raceway Statement
This is a developing story and we will have more information on it as it becomes available.