The National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA are continuing to investigate the cause of a fatal plane crash at Capitol Airport in the city of Brookfield, but it could be some time before a conclusion is reached.
"We don't come up with probable cause until the end of the investigation, which can take a year or more," NTSB spokesman Eric Weiss said. "Right now, we're just collecting information from the FAA and others who were first responders."
At approximately noon Wednesday, Jan. 4 a small plane carrying a 41-year-old pilot, his wife Carmen and their 6-month-old son Ben crashed into a parked SUV during takeoff from the Capitol Airport.
The trio had been in the Waukesha County area to visit family.
The pilot, later identified as Cory Papenfuss, succumbed to his injuries that evening at Froedtert Hospital, according to hospital officials. Carmen Papenfuss remains hospitalized in critical condition but is conscious and stable, according to a You Caring fundraising page set up by family members. The child was treated at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin and is in good condition.
Virginia Tech employee
Cory Papenfuss was a research associate in the Vibrations and Acoustics Laboratories in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. He earned his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Virginia Tech in 2006 and since then had worked on research involving passive and active noise and vibration control applications in commercial aircraft, military diesel generators and prenatal hospital incubators.
"The Virginia Tech community is deeply saddened by the news of Cory's death," College of Engineering interim dean Don Taylor said. "Cory was a highly-regarded and deeply-respected colleague who did important work on noise and vibration control. We extend our sincerest condolences and support to his family and to those close to him."
The family's fundraising page can be found at http://bit.ly/2if5yab and as of Monday, Jan. 9, 99 donors have raised over $15,400 to help the family.
Crash investigation continues
The FAA and NTSB took over the investigation of the crash from city of Brookfield police last week.
One of the many factors that will be investigated is weather conditions at the time of takeoff. According to Weather Underground, wind speeds at the Capitol Airport reached up to 26 mph, including gusts of up to 37 mph, the day of the crash.
Waukesha County Airport director Kurt Stanich noted that simple numbers and figures in regard to weather conditions are not enough to determine if takeoff conditions were unsafe.
"It depends on the aircraft capability and the pilot's comfort with the airplane," Stanich said. "As pilots we have to look at the weather conditions and whether we're comfortable with it. Just wind speed doesn't make something safe or unsafe."