Winnebago Co. sheriff: Wanted pilot flees police by plane, nearly hits squad during takeoff, later crashes 

Courtesy: Waupaca Co. Sheriff's Office

WAUPACA/WINNEBAGO COUNTY — Winnebago sheriff’s officials say a man wanted on several crimes — including violating a restraining order and disorderly conduct — fled from police by plane, nearly smashed into a squad during takeoff, and later crashed.

Over the last 18 days, authorities were actively searching for a 47-year-old Neenah man, for violation of a domestic abuse restraining order, intimidation of a victim, and disorderly conduct. Locations within and outside Winnebago County the suspect had been known to frequent, had been repeatedly checked.

One of the locations is the Wittman Airport, where the suspect keeps his plane.

Around 9:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 31 the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office, along with the Oshkosh Police Department, responded to the hangar space at Wittman Airport where the suspect was attempting to get clearance from the tower for takeoff.

The sheriff’s office says tower officials tried to hold the plane off but the Neenah man took off and nearly collided with an Oshkosh police squad while doing so.

At 11:40 p.m., the plane crashed in Waupaca County. The suspect suffered serious, but non-life threatening injuries. He was transported to an area hospital, and will be taken into custody by the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office for the charges related to the domestic abuse case.

According to the sheriff’s office, the suspect’s actions triggered a series of responses from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Homeland Security, Waupaca Police Department, Wisconsin State Patrol, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Waupaca Fire Department and Gold Cross Ambulance Service.

The investigation is ongoing and charges related to the plane takeoff and crash will be determined at a later date.

The suspect’s name is not being released at this time to respect the privacy of the original victim in the domestic abuse case.