Mike Emery – Richmond Palladium-Item

RICHMOND, Ind. — A Richmond man died Sunday morning when the airplane he was piloting crashed just after takeoff from Richmond Municipal Airport.

Judson J. Costlow, 78, died at the scene, according to Sgt. Coley McCutcheon of the Indiana State Police. Costlow was the only person aboard the plane.

Costlow took off shortly before 8 a.m. Sunday for a flight to Arizona to visit family members, McCutcheon said. The plane crashed into a winter wheat field just south of the airport and caught fire.

McCutcheon said investigators had yet to determine what caused the plane to crash. Federal Aviation Administration investigators were expected to arrive at the scene Sunday afternoon. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate with the state police’s assistance.

Richmond Municipal Airport Manager Rodney Mayse said a lineman who worked at the airport Sunday morning told Mayse conditions were pretty foggy at the time of the crash.

“It’s a somber day,” Mayse said. 

Mayse said the last fatal plane crash at the airport took place around 1995 when two planes collided. Each had a flying instructor and a student on board. One person died at a hospital after that crash.

In February 2019, a chartered plane flying from Wisconsin overran a runway while landing at Richmond’s airport, crossed Ind. 227 and crashed into a fence. No one was injured in that incident.

McCutcheon said the airplane involved in Sunday’s crash plane was a yellow-and-blue Aero Pro CZ Aerotrek A240. According to the Aerotrek website, the A240 is a light sport aircraft.

Most of the skin had been burned from the aircraft as it sat in the field with the airport visible to the north. The body structure remained intact.

The State police flew a drone over the scene to get a view of the crash location and the airplane as they waited for the FAA investigators to arrive.