MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Devyn Reiley, the daughter of two-time Super Bowl winner Bruce Collie, was one of four people who died in two separate crashes related to a Wisconsin aircraft convention over the weekend, event organizers say.
Reiley, 30, was a co-founder of the Texas Warbird Museum and was flying in a World War II-era T-6 Texan, which went down in Lake Winnebago on Saturday morning. The crash also killed Zach Colliemoreno, 20, organizers said Sunday. The U.S. Coast Guard reported Saturday evening that divers had recovered two bodies from the crash.
She was visiting the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture show in Oshkosh, which is one of the largest gatherings of aircraft builders and aviation enthusiasts worldwide. The convention brings more than 10,000 aircraft and 600,000 people to Wittman Regional Airport, making the airport’s control tower the busiest in the world for a week each summer.
Later Saturday, a helicopter and a gyrocopter collided in midair over a runway at the convention, killing pilot Mark Peterson, 69, and passenger Thomas Volz, 72. Two other people involved in that collision were injured and transported to nearby hospitals.
Collie, an offensive lineman, was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1985, winning the Super Bowl with the team in 1989 and 1990. He posted on Facebook Tuesday memorializing Reiley, the oldest of his 13 children, and announcing plans to create a scholarship fund in her name.
The National Transportation Safety Bureau and Federal Aviation Administration, as well as local law enforcement, are investigating both crashes. Such investigations often take a year or longer to complete.
Dick Knapinski, a spokesperson for the Experimental Aircraft Association, said Tuesday that the group would take any recommendations from investigators into consideration once their work is complete.
The pilots and aircraft involved in the crashes were all enthusiasts visiting AirVenture and were not part of airshows or exhibitions put on by the EAA, Knapinski said, adding that Reiley and Colliemoreno appeared to have been on a recreational flight when their plane went down.
“It’s such an exceedingly rare thing to occur here at the event,” Knapinski said Tuesday.
While accidents at the convention itself may be rare, it is not uncommon for home-built planes flying to Oshkosh from across the country, and even around the globe, to crash each summer. Human error is the leading cause of plane crashes, according to NTSB data. It’s an inherent risk in the hobby, said Ron Wanttaja, a retired space systems engineer who has been flying home-built aircraft for decades and written extensively about experimental aircraft accidents.
“You’ve got 10,000 planes coming in over three days,” he said. “With the concentration at Oshkosh, you’re going to see some accidents. But over the 40 years they’ve been doing this, they’ve developed some of the best procedures for handling that many planes.”
Harm Venhuizen is a corps member for the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to report on undercovered issues. Follow him on the X platform: twitter.com/HarmVenhuizen.