Authorities say a Clarke County man died Sunday when his glider crashed near the Front Royal-Warren County Airport on Stokes Airport Road.
Peter C. Maynard, 65, of Lander Lane, Berryville, was killed in the crash at 1:37 p.m. Sunday, according to information provided Monday by Virginia State Police Sgt. Brent Coffey and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Senior trooper R. Riggs responded to the report of a plane crash in Warren County shortly after the incident, according to information from Coffey. Maynard died at the scene as a result of his injuries, according to police information. No one else was injured. State police notified the FAA and the NTSB of the crash.
A preliminary investigation into the crash indicates the pilot tried to land or take off and then hit several trees, according to police information.
Maynard was the newly elected president of the Skyline Soaring Club, according to the club’s online newsletter. The club, based at the Front Royal-Warren County Airport, is dedicated to the sport of “soaring” in gliders, some of which have engines and some of which do not. About a hundred people belong to the group, which operates on weekends, weather permitting.
Shane Neitzey, one of the club’s founders, declined to talk about the crash, but he said Maynard was a well-liked, active member of the group and that he was “very safety conscious.”
“He was loved, and he’s going to be missed,” Neitzey said in a phone interview. “It hurts us all.”
According to Neitzey, Maynard joined the Skyline Soaring Club in 2015. The group owns and operates five gliders, plus two tow planes. About 20 gliders are privately owned. Maynard owned his glider, Neitzey said.
In the club’s February newsletter, Maynard introduced himself, telling members he was a recently retired United Airlines pilot, having spent 35 years with the company, in addition to having extensive military experience. He added that he was married with two grown daughters. Maynard stressed the importance of safety, saying there is “never a reason to compromise” it.
Maynard also served on the Clarke County Planning Commission. He was appointed to the panel on April 16, 2019.
“We are shocked and saddened by this news,” Clarke County Board of Supervisors Chairman David Weiss said in a statement. “Pete approached life with vitality, and his energy invigorated everyone around him. He will be missed by all of us in Clarke County. We send our heartfelt prayers and condolences to his family and friends.”
The Federal Aviation Administration provided more details about the crash in a statement issued Monday afternoon. An AviaStroiel AC4 Model C, taildragger-style glider crashed into a field while on approach to the airport at 1:37 p.m. Sunday, according to FAA information.
Investigating agencies did not provide information on a tow plane that would have pulled the glider.
The FAA referred the media to local authorities for information on the pilot. The FAA is investigating the crash and the NTSB will determine the probable cause of the crash.
An investigator with the NTSB has responded to the crash, Terry Williams, a public affairs officer with the agency, said by phone Monday. The investigation could take more than a year to complete, Williams said. The agency has entered the on-scene or early fact-gathering phase of the investigation. The investigator first documents where the glider crashed and came to rest and looks at the site and the aircraft, Williams explained.
“The aircraft will be moved to a more secure location for further examination and we’re gonna be looking at the engine as well as ... the aircraft itself and damage to the aircraft and so forth,” Williams said.
NTSB investigators will examine the aircraft and its maintenance records; the environment, including the weather conditions at the time of the crash; and the pilot’s records and training, Williams said.
A plane crash killed a pilot near the Warren County-Front Royal Airport in early October 2017. The operator of a tow plane pulling a glider crashed on private property near the facility and caught fire, according to police information released after the incident. Authorities identified the tow plane pilot as Steven B. Zaboji, 76, of Reston, who was towing a glider for a student’s introductory flight. The glider landed safely at the airport. The NTSB released its final report on the crash last spring but did not identify a specific cause for the incident
The report indicates that investigators found no sign of mechanical failure in Zaboji’s plane nor did he have medical complications during the flight. The agency report indicates that the glider instructor turned away from Zaboji’s plane, which delayed Zaboji’s timing on releasing the tow rope that contributed to the crash.