TOWN OF ROCK
Two people died Tuesday morning, Feb. 16, when a small plane crashed shortly after takeoff from the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport in Janesville, Rock County authorities said.
The plane, described as experimental, crashed perhaps 30 seconds to a minute after taking off, Rock County Sheriff Troy Knudson said.
The Rock County Medical Examiner’s Office on Feb. 18 released the names of the victims who died in a plane crash Tuesday near the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport.
Tanner W. Byholm, 25, of Glidden, and Sun Prairie High School graduate Remington K. Viney, 26, of Kimberly, died in the crash about a mile south of the airport that was reported about 9:20 a.m., the Rock County Medical Examiner’s Office said.
The deaths remain under investigation by the Rock County Sheriff’s Office, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Medical Examiner’s Office.
Byholm and Viney were the only occupants of the plane.
Evidence at the scene indicated the plane hit trees on its way down, tearing off the wings, said Janesville Fire Chief Ernie Rhodes.
Knudson said the plane was found upside down in water and mud.
The initial alert came from the airport tower at about 9:18 a.m., and a person living near the crash site reported it a couple of minutes later, Knudson said.
The crash site was about one-quarter mile south of West Sunny Lane in a swampy area, and rescuers’ ATVs and four-wheel drive vehicles could not get through the deep snow and downed trees, Rhodes said.
Rescuers in the sheriff’s office airboat, launched upstream at Happy Hollow Park, reached the plane a few minutes after 10 a.m., Knudson said.
They found the two people deceased inside the plane, which was partially submerged in ice and mud, Rhodes said.
The plane was in contact with the airport tower for a very short time and reported a problem, but the nature of the problem was unknown, Knudson said. The crash site was about one mile south of the airport, not far from the Rock River. Investigators believe the pilot was trying to return to the airport when the plane crashed.
The crash was the first fatal crash at the airport since 1999, said Cynthia Hevel, a longtime airport employee.
Mark Jacobson, 34, the owner of Gail Force Air Charters, was the lone occupant of a plane that crashed shortly after takeoff on Aug. 27, 1999, according to Gazette files.
As in Tuesday’s crash, Jacobson’s plane was described as experimental. A Gazette article at the time quoted then-Sheriff Eric Runaas as saying it was the first fatal crash at the airport in at least 30 years.
One of two people who died in the plane crash was an eight-year pilot, a Sun Prairie High School graduate and a star varsity goalkeeper for the SPHS girls soccer team as well as being known for her aviation skills.
Remington Viney crash landed a Piper Archer plane at the Dodge County airport on Sunday, June 23, 2013.
According to The Courier (a sister APG publication to the Sun Prairie Star), no injuries were reported when Viney made the emergency landing in Dodge County.
The Courier reported the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department said at 1:44 p.m. on JUne 13 that her plane made an emergency landing in a field in the Town of Beaver Dam, about two miles south of the City of Beaver Dam on Highway G.
The aircraft was a low-wing, fixed-wing aircraft and was occupied by four individuals who are family members from the Madison area. They were flying to Madison from eastern Wisconsin at the time of the emergency. The Dane County Sheriff’s Department initially notified Dodge County the plane was near Columbus.
The aircraft was piloted by the 19-year-old Viney who at the time had been a licensed pilot for less than a year, having earned her pilot’s license in the fall of 2012.
Viney told deputies that a switch that changes fuel tanks malfunctioned during the flight. The malfunction prevented the pilot from switching to the other fuel tank and resulted in the aircraft losing power.
Viney, a 2017 UW-Madison graduate, joined the Wisconsin National Air National Guard in 2013. She was a member of the Wisconsin Flying Team-Badger Aviators and was still listed as a contact for the organization as of Saturday. She was also a member of the Women in Aviation Four Lakes Chapter.
“We mourn the tragic loss of a young pilot whose life was cut far too short this week. Remington Viney was a founding member of our chapter. She embodied all that is great about aviation and our local aviation community. She was an inspiring pilot, an instructor, a leader, and a lover of aviation in all forms. Unfortunately a tragic aviation accident took her from us. Her humble nature drew us to her and that quiet spark within kept us with her. You will be deeply missed, Remington. We loved you dearly. Blue skies & tailwinds forever,” the Women in Aviation chapter posted on its Facebook page.
The 115th Fighter Wing posted on its Facebook page that Viney began her military journey with the Wisconsin Air National Guard in December of 2013. She enlisted as a crew chief assigned to the 115th Fighter Wing and in 2018 transitioned to command and control operations working full-time in the command post. She was a decorated veteran who deployed overseas on several occasions. In 2015, she deployed to Kadena AB, Japan, in 2017 to Kunsan AB, Korea, and finally stateside to Nellis Air Force Base in 2018 in support of the annual Red Flag exercise.
The Facebook post also stated Viney earned the Air Force Achievement Medal, the Air Reserve Forces Meritorious Service Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal and the Air Force Longevity Medal along with a few other unit awards.
“It was no secret that Staff Sgt. Viney had a passion for flying. She earned her private pilot license and worked as a flight instructor. Staff Sgt. Viney strove to progress and exceed in her life and her career. She earned her baccalaureate degree in business administration and management marketing along with her associate degree in aircraft maintenance technology in 2017,” the 115th post added. “Staff Sgt. Viney was a model American Airman loved by many and will be greatly missed.”
According to the Sun Prairie Star’s archives, Viney earned her third-straight honorable mention Big Eight All-Conference selection in her senior year as a member of the SPHS girls soccer team in 2012 when she was voted the team’s Most Valuable Player Viney was also a member of the SPHS National Honor Society Chapter in 2012, and was listed several times on the SPHS honor roll during her academic career.
--Chris Mertes of the Sun Prairie Starcontributed to this report.