The skies above EAA AirVenture were marred by a devastating collision between two aircraft on a fateful Saturday afternoon. The heartbreaking incident resulted in the loss of two lives and left two others injured. Among the victims was Devyn Reiley, whose identity was confirmed by loved ones on social media. As the aviation community mourns this profound loss, we look back on the events that unfolded and pay tribute to the memory of Devyn Reiley. Keep reading more.
Who was Devyn Reiley?
Devyn Reiley, a remarkable resident of New Braunfels, Texas, soared beyond the skies as an incredible pilot, leaving a lasting impact on female aviators worldwide. Holding a BA in English from Thomas Edison State University, she found her place at the Texas Warbird Museum, where her passion for flying and her dedication to her craft shone brightly. But she was more than just a pilot; Devyn’s infectious laughter, daring enthusiasm, and unwavering kindness touched the lives of countless individuals. Whether soaring through the air or sharing captivating stories, she had an exceptional ability to put everyone at ease. Devyn’s dreams reached beyond the clouds as she aspired to create the Texas Warbird Museum, preserving the legacy of vintage military aircraft and the heroic stories of the brave pilots who served their country. Her hard work and determination served as an inspiration to all, making her a true visionary with wings.
Thank you Devyn for your enthusiastic devotion to honoring the history of the Women Airforce Service Pilots WASP. Thank you for flying me in your beautiful BT-13, “Lucky 13.” The BT-13 was the plane my grandmother was assigned after training concluded to instruct male pilots on instruments in Las Vegas. Anyone who flew with Devyn had a view of her pink helmet prominently displaying Fifinella, the mascot of the WASP of World War II.
On Monday’s panel talk on the WASP at Oshkosh, Devyn said that she was honored to “land on the same dirt where the WASP had landed and in the same model of plane they had flown,” at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas. When she was uncharacteristically late for our panel discussion Saturday morning, I received an unconfirmed message that her T-6 had gone down in the lake nearby. Although I hoped for a better outcome, I knew in my heart that Devyn would never forfeit the opportunity to share her love for the history of the WASP and the planes she and they both flew.
WASP Elizabeth Magid wrote the poem, “Celestial Flight,” in honor of fellow WASP Marie Robinson. You can look up the full poem, but I will leave here this stanza: “That she is only flying higher, Higher than she’s ever flown.” My love to Hunter Reiley Jeremy Reiley and all of Devyn Reiley’s family, friends, and the warbird community. Fly high with the WASP, Devyn 💕❤️✈️✈️ ☁️
What Actually happened?
On the south end of the EAA AirVenture flightline at Wittman Regional Airport, tragedy struck as a helicopter and a gyrocopter collided at 12:24 p.m. Both aircraft, the Rotorway 162F helicopter, and the ELA Eclipse 10 gyrocopter belonged to attendees of the event and were not part of the air show. Unfortunately, this unforeseen incident would have devastating consequences for those involved.
The Devastating Collision:
The collision led to the helicopter and gyrocopter plummeting to the ground, with the gyrocopter tragically landing on top of a parked airplane. The Oshkosh Fire Department, along with numerous emergency vehicles and United States Air Force firefighters, rushed to the scene. Despite their efforts to contain the situation, the incident halted aircraft operations at the airport for approximately two hours.
A Swift Response:
The quick response of the EAA, Winnebago County Sheriff’s Department, and Oshkosh Fire Department to the accident was commendable. Their immediate action reflects the commitment to ensuring the safety and well-being of all attendees, and their presence provided solace during this tragic incident.
A Day of Tragedy in Aviation:
The collision at EAA AirVenture came only hours after another plane crash in Lake Winnebago, which claimed the lives of both passengers on board. These back-to-back incidents cast a somber shadow over the aviation community, prompting a collective reflection on safety measures and the need for continued vigilance in the skies.
The skies above EAA AirVenture were darkened by a heart-wrenching collision that took the lives of two individuals, including Devyn Reiley, whose memory will forever be cherished. As the community mourns the loss and prays for the recovery of the injured, let us remember Devyn’s passion for aviation and the impact he had on those around him. In the face of this tragedy, the aviation community renews its commitment to ensuring safety and honoring the memories of those who embraced the skies with joy and wonder.