Family members are confirming the name of the pilot who was killed in a plane crash in southwest Iowa’s Adams County over the weekend. The victim is identified as 60-year-old James Pankratz of Calipatria, Californina.
Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson Elizabeth Isham Cory says the plane’s wreckage was discovered near Corning early Sunday morning. She says the single-engine plane was discovered about 7:55 A.M. Central time about eight miles east of Corning.
The only person on board was killed. Cory says the cause of the crash is undetermined. She says the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate and it could be several weeks to a year, or more, before the reports are complete. Cory would not speculate on the cause of the crash.
Adams County Emergency Management coordinator Donnie Willet says the initial search was launched on the ground and from the air late Saturday night and was suspended early Sunday morning. Willet says the plane was found in a field and was hard to spot at night.
The State Patrol airplane located the wrecked plane deep in the field, far from any roads. Willet says the thermal imaging cameras never showed the downed aircraft.
Willet says there was no fire associated with the wreckage. The plane was reportedly headed from Illinois to North Dakota. Todd Panratz of El Centro, California, confirmed it was his father killed in the crash. Todd says his father was an experienced pilot with over 50,000 hours of flying time.
Todd says his father had been a cropduster since he was 16 and had also flown helicopters. While James Pankratz was doing some cropdusting in the Midwest this summer, Todd says it’s believed his father was ferrying a plane when the crash occurred.