SHEBOYGAN FALLS, Wis. (WBAY) - Sheboygan authorities confirm a pilot is dead after his plane crashed into a farm near Sheboygan Falls Friday afternoon. Two farm workers were hurt, animals were destroyed, and more than a dozen fire departments were called in.
Smoke rises from behind farm buildings near Sheboygan County Memorial Airport after a plane crash on July 20, 2018 (Credit: John Schilder)
The aircraft, identified as a de Havilland Venom vintage jet, went down on a farm along County Road O, just a couple thousand feet from the Sheboygan County Memorial Airport.
Authorities said it appeared the plane went down shortly after taking off at 4 p.m. It "took one bounce" in a cornfield, the fire chief said, then crashed into a barn and a calving building, setting off fires.
WBAY viewer John Schilder captured a large plume of black smoke rising from behind several farm buildings.
Sheboygan Falls Fire Chief Bob Kroeplien described, "I looked, and I could see this big mushroom cloud of dark smoke and whatnot. I could see the flames from over a mile away."
Two employees of the farm were transported to hospitals. One of them was airlifted by helicopter with critical injuries. The other was taken by ambulance.
Authorities said the pilot died on impact. He has been identified as 50 year old Martin Tibbitts from Michigan.
The crash also killed 40 farm animals.
A media company called AirshowStuff, which markets photos and videos of air shows, tweeted about the crash, saying "our photographers there are safe."
We are sad to report that a jet has gone down here in Sheboygan, WI. At this time the only info we will release is that our photographers there are safe. Our hearts are heavy; we will release more info when the time is appropriate.— AirshowStuff (@AirshowStuff) July 20, 2018
Fourteen fire departments were called: Ada, Cascade, Cedar Grove, Greenbush, Haven, Howards Grove, Johnsonville, Kohler, Oostburg, Plymouth, City of Sheboygan Falls, Town of Sheboygan Falls, Waldo and Wilson.
The Sheboygan Falls and Kohler police departments, Wisconsin State Patrol, and Wisconsin DNR also responded.
The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash, which is routine. Authorities said NTSB investigators may not get on the scene until late Friday night or Saturday morning but expressed hoped the investigators might come sooner having an international air show AirVenture starting soon in nearby Oshkosh.
According to WarbirdAlley.com, the de Havilland Venom is a British single-engine, two-seat jet. The fighter-bomber was developed in 1949 and retired in 1962. WarbirdAlley.com says 835 were built and at least 10 were still airworthy as of 2016.
Viewers have asked, but we do not know if the Venom was headed to Oshkosh for AirVenture. EAA announced in December that the air show is commemorating the Royal Air Force's 100th anniversary with several classic British jets, including Venom and others.