MILWAUKEE - Federal investigators are trying to determine why a small plane crashed Tuesday in the village of Waukesha, killing a married couple on board.
The pilot built that plane himself, which is more common than one might think. There are 30,000 planes just like it flying across the nation, according to the Experimental Aviation Association (EAA).
The couple, Randy and Susie Reimer, took off from Timmerman Airport in Milwaukee around 9:18 a.m. Tuesday. Randy Reimer thanked air traffic control after takeoff.
Flight tracking from flightaware.com shows the plane head southwest from Timmerman, then circle back before it crashed near State Highway 164 and Redwing Drive just 11 minutes after takeoff.
"They'll start by looking at the pilot qualifications. How long has the pilot been flying? How many miles in this particular airplane?" said Dick Knapinski, EAA director of communications.
Randy and Susie Reimer
Knapinski said investigators will also review weather conditions, what fuel the plane took and more. There was no "black box" on board.
"Some avionics now feature some record-keeping software within them that might be able to provide some information, but small private aircraft do not carry the black boxes as you often hear with airline or heavy cargo or military accidents," Knapinski said.
The Reimers' plane was a single-engine GlaStar. FOX6 News found an EAA Albuquqerue Chapter newsletter from 2017 where Reimer wrote about building his plane. In it, he thanked his wife – dubbed "Susie the Riveter" – and many others for helping. A photo in the newsletter said the build took more than 3,000 hours.
"Many of the kits now are very standardized. They're computer-cut, computer-designed, and so there's very little variance in it," Knapinski said of the increasingly common builds.
A pilot cannot just build a plane and go fly. A Federal Aviation Administration inspector will look over the plan and building logs before the pilot must fly alone for 25-40 hours to test it. After that, the plane can receive an airworthiness certificate.
It could take a while to determine why the Reimers' plane went down.