Details of fatal 2019 plane crash in Centre County released

Local News

CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) —The National Transportation Safety Board has released an official report for a fatal crash in Centre County that killed two people in 2019.

Their report cites deteriorating weather conditions and the pilot’s decision to use a visual flight plan as the two factors leading to the crash. “It is likely that after departing, the pilot encountered deteriorating weather conditions that obscured the mountainous terrain, and resulted in the pilot’s controlled flight into terrain,” the report said.

The plane took off from University Park on May 31, 2019 and was heading to Burlington, Vermont. The pilot, Joseph T. Bernardo 55, of State College and his wife, Valerie D. Bernardo 54, were killed. The plane crashed into trees and terrain in Taylor Township.

According to the report, Joseph Bernardo originally filed an instrument flight plan, which allows pilots to use different technology to fly with little visibility, but changed that plan before taking off despite the weather conditions. The reasoning for changing the plan could not be determined by the safety board.

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“It is likely that after departing, the pilot encountered deteriorating weather conditions that obscured the mountainous terrain, and resulted in the pilot’s controlled flight into terrain,” the report said.

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