Update: Pilot dies when small plane crashes at Penn Yan Airport

Gwen Chamberlain
Penn Yan Fire Department and other emergency officials at the scene of the Sunday morning airplane crash at Yates County-Penn Yan Airport.

UPDATE: The pilot who died in the airplane crash at Penn Yan -Yates County Airport Sunday morning has been identified as Steven P. Seely, 55, of Stanley in Ontario County.

Yates County Sheriff Ronald Spike released Seely's identity at about 9 p.m. Sunday night, explaining Seeley's wife, Mary, was out of state at the time of the incident.

Seely was a member of the Penn Yan Flying Club, but owned his own airplane which he kept at the airport. He did have a student pilot license, and Spike says the preliminary investigation indicates he was practicing take-offs and landings Sunday morning.

Seely is the owner of Seely Engine Machine business in Ontario County.

Spike says an autopsy will be performed to determine the cause of death, and the incident remains under investigation by the Sheriff's Department, FAA and NTSB. The North-South runway at the airport remains closed as the investigation continues Monday.

Seeley was pronounced dead after a small plane crash at the Yates County - Penn Yan Airport at around 11:30 a.m.

The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) and NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) have been notified, and the FAA has arrived at the scene. The NTSB investigator will arrive Monday morning.

“At this stage we are not sure if there was a medical event to the pilot or an airplane control failure that caused this accident,” said Spike.

Spike says the preliminary investigation indicates a single engine older Cessna aircraft was taking off southbound on the main North-South runway, and the plane veered off to the east, striking the ground hard with its nose/propeller, and spun around, coming to rest with the tail against the airport fence and trees that border the fence, about 100 yards from the runway.

The crash was witnessed by golfers at the Lakeside Country Club. Robert Church of Penn Yan said there was no explosion, but one of the other golfers in his party described the aircraft falling to the ground from about 90 or 100 feet in the air. The golfers did not note any indication of the engine cutting off.

The golfers called 911 at 11:38 a.m. Penn Yan Fire Department, Yates County Sheriff’s Deputies, Penn Yan Ambulance, Medic 55, and Yates County Office of Emergency Management also responded to the scene.

The East-West runway was re-opened in the early afternoon, but the North-South runway has been closed since the accident.

Fire officials did not report any fire, but they laid down a quantity of foam around the plane, which was leaking fuel, to prevent a fire.

Spike says the investigation into the accident continues.