Pilot Injured After Emergency Landing

By Tim Hrenchir


A pilot was injured when the small airplane she was flying nosed into the ground after an emergency landing Monday in a plowed field near Philip Billard Municipal Airport.

The Kansas Highway Patrol said Katarina Connors, 57, of Liberty, Mo., was hurt in the crash at about 1:28 p.m. near the intersection of N.E. Croco Road and N.E. Seward Avenue.

Topeka Fire Department Shift Commander Rick Pardee said the woman's injuries weren't considered life-threatening as she was taken by American Medical Response ambulance to St. Francis Health Center, where a nursing supervisor said Monday evening that no information about her was being released.

The highway patrol reported Connors' passenger, 43-year-old Guy Tamburello of Kansas City, Mo., was reported possibly injured but wasn't transported to a hospital.

Mike Humberd, president and airport manager for the Metropolitan Topeka Airport Authority, described the accident as an "airplane fender bender."

"Any time anybody walks away from a plane crash, it's a good thing," he said.

Humberd said Connors' plane was southbound from the airport when it went down. The crash scene was about one-quarter mile east of N.E. Croco Road and 150 yards south of N.E. Seward Avenue.

A highway patrol accident report indicated Connors was flying a 1948 Beech Bonanza - which is a fixed-wing, single-engine, four-seat aircraft - when she experienced engine failure shortly after take-off.

Connors tried to turn around to fly back to the airport but was forced to make an emergency landing in a field, the highway patrol said.

Humberd said the plane crossed furrows in the plowed field that caused it to nose into the ground. The plane's tracks indicated it had been on the ground going east/northeast for 25 to 30 yards when the nose went down. Humberd said it appeared the plane's only damage was to its nose.

Connors and Tamburello had been wearing seat belts, the accident report said. Both got out of the plane under their own power, Pardee said.

He said Topeka firefighters who were called to the scene secured the plane's fuel and electrical systems to ensure there wasn't danger of fire.

Humberd said the National Transportation Safety Board was notified. The NTSB investigates and determines the cause of aircraft crashes.

Tim Hrenchir can be reached at (785) 295-1184 or


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