Airplane crashes at University Park Airport; investigation ongoing

June 16, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A twin-engine Piper PA-31 Navajo airplane crashed Thursday morning (June 16) on its approach to University Park Airport, killing two people aboard. Initial notification of the crash was made to Centre County 911 at approximately 8:45 a.m. by airport air traffic control.

The pilot and a passenger were both pronounced dead at the scene by Centre County Coroner Scott Sayers. They were the only two individuals on board the aircraft.

On Thursday evening, Sayers positively identified the pilot as Gary Orner, of White Oak, Pennsylvania. On Friday morning, Sayers positively identified the passenger as Dr. Robert C. Arffa, of Pittsburgh.

The plane crashed in a densely wooded area approximately 1 mile east of the airport on property owned by Penn State near Rock Road and Barns Lane. Portions of Rock Road and Barns Lane were closed initially, but Rock Road has been reopened. Barns Lane remains closed except to local traffic as the investigation continues.

The National Transportation Safety Board out of Ashburn, Virginia, is on scene leading the investigation with support from the Federal Aviation Administration out of Harrisburg.

The aircraft was traveling to University Park from Washington County Airport in Washington, Pennsylvania. Radio contact from the tower at University Park Airport to the pilot went unanswered as the plane approached the runway. Shortly thereafter smoke was observed by airport personnel coming from the crash site. The NTSB will determine the official cause of the crash.

Aircraft rescue and local fire and emergency personnel quickly arrived on scene and secured the crash site.  

University Park Airport was closed shortly before 9 a.m. and later reopened at 10:26 a.m. Two incoming flights were diverted and two outgoing flights were delayed during the closure. The four impacted flights were all noncommercial flights.

Last Updated June 17, 2016