John Pagel.
November 12, 2019

NTSB Isn’t Sure What Caused John Pagel’s Plane Crash

 |  By: Jim Dickrell

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) couldn’t determine if mechanical or human factors caused Wisconsin dairy farmer John Pagel’s plane to crash in 2018.

The crash, which occurred in Indiana on February 22, 2018, also killed Pagel’s son-in-law, Steve Witcpalek, and pilot Nathan Saari.

The NTSB blamed the crash on “an in-flight-loss of control,” but could not determine what led to the loss of control. The plane had reached an altitude of 18,300 feet, when the pilot radioed that the aircraft’s trim “is kind of going out on me.” Air-traffic controller then lost contact with the plane, and it crashed in a muddy field north of Rossville, Ind.

Pagel was a well-known dairy farmer from Kewaunee County, Wis. He started with 60 cows purchased from his parents and grew the operation to several thousand cows. He was also a prominent spokesman and leader of the Wisconsin dairy industry, and one of the founders of Wisconsin’s Dairy Business Association.

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