Air Force pilot killed in plane crash identified

Capt. Michael Trubilla (Air Force)
Capt. Michael Trubilla (Air Force)


The Air Force pilot killed in Sunday afternoon’s crash of a small plane has been identified as 27-year-old Michael Trubilla of Reading, Pennsylvania.

According to Saunders County Sheriff Kevin Stukenholtz, the plane went down in a bean field in Saunders County village of Leshara, Nebraska at about 3 p.m.

Captain Michael Trubilla, who was assigned to Offutt Air Force Base, was on a FAA check ride when his aircraft crashed on Sunday afternoon.

“He was selected for an appointment to the Air Force Academy, where he made a giant splash with an undergraduate research project creating a fuel system to propel certain types of small satellites,” according to Omaha World Herald.

He had a true passion for helping others, according to his friend Katie Garrett.  Last summer Garrett and Trubilla traveled to Haiti for a week long mission trip, where he became a godfather to a dying little girl named Isabel Elizabeth.

“Michael rocked babies, changed diapers, scraped cribs, moved rocks, held the hands of the dying, and never once complained,” said Garrett.

A 61-year-old instructor, Ron Panting, was also killed in the crash.

Staff Sgt. Rachelle Blake, from Offutt Air Force Base, said the aircraft was one of seven planes owned by the flight training center- formerly known as the Offutt Aero Club.

The center provides aircraft rental and Federal Aviation Administration-approved flight instruction, according to the Omaha World Herald.

Blake said the plane that crashed was built in 1962 and had accumulated 18,000 flight hours.  Apparently the training center normally operates at the base but due to repairs to the base’s airfield it was moved to Millard Airport.

Offut Air base is home to the 55th Wing whose mission “is to provide dominant intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance; electronic attack; command and control; and precision awareness to national leadership and warfighters across the spectrum of conflict any time, any place.”

The Air Force’s Thunderbirds are scheduled to conduct an air show during the Defenders of Freedom Open House and Air Show at the base this weekend.

The FAA is investigating the crash.

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