‘Experienced pilot’ dies in crash at Grove Field near Camas


Grove Field is about 3 miles north of Camas

CAMAS, Wash. (KOIN) — A small plane crashed into a hangar at the Grove Field airport near Camas Wednesday afternoon, killing the pilot and injuring the passenger.

The pilot, officially identified as Mark Lewallen of Vancouver, was described as a very experienced flyer by his wife, who also told KOIN 6 News the passenger was a longtime friend who was also a flight instructor. The passenger is at an area hospital with undisclosed injuries.

The Grove Field airport near Camas, April 21, 2021 (KOIN)

The pilot’s wife said they babysit their grandchildren weekly. Lewallen was 69.

The crash of the 1941 BT-13 war plane happened around 3 p.m. at the airport about 3 miles north of Camas. The cause of the crash is not known. The NTSB has been notified and the FAA responded to the scene.

Across the street from Grove Field airport is an RV park where several people were sitting outside watching the planes take off and land.

Among those people was Leslie Wesemen, who saw the BT-13 in the air often, including moments before it crashed.

“I could hear him because they have an unusual engine sound and I could hear him coming in,” Wesemen told KOIN 6 News. “So I glanced up from where I was working in my RV. I thought he was going pretty fast so I thought, well, maybe he wasn’t going to land, he was just going to keep going.”

A few years ago, her husband snapped a picture of the Warbird. It gave them an opportunity to meet the pilot.

“We took him a special picture we took of his airplane and had it printed and took it to him and he was so excited. He really loved it,” she said. “We had to go talk to him for a little bit that day. So that’s extremely sad he’s not with us anymore.”

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