The family of a man killed in a small plane crash in 2016 is seeking more than $6.5 million in damages from the Federal Aviation Administration in a lawsuit accusing air traffic controllers of negligence during his attempted landing at Reno-Tahoe International Airport.

The widow and children of John Brown filed the suit this week in federal court in Reno. An FAA spokesman said Friday they don't comment on pending litigation.

The National Transportation Safety Board said earlier that miscommunication between Brown and the control tower likely contributed to the single-engine plane crashing in a Sparks trailer park a half mile (.8 kilometer) from the runway.

The lawsuit said the control tower failed to inform Brown two jetliners were cleared to land ahead of him. He thought there was one and nearly hit the second one before crashing. (AP)


The National Transportation Safety Board says miscommunication led to a deadly plane crash at the River's Edge RV Park in August 2016. 

In a report, the NTSB also says that the pilot, 73-year-old John Brown had been awake for 14.5 hours when he flew the single-engine Beechcraft A36. It adds it was Brown's fourth and final leg of a 950-mile round trip same day flight.

Greta Woyciehowsky, with the Sparks Police Department said, "The plane nose-dived into the asphalt just next to the vehicles and the trailer. It didn't strike it."

The aircraft instantly broke out into flames when it crashed, also killing Jim Elliker.

Bob Smith, a resident said, "There was an engine that sounded like it was having a real struggle. And then there was this huge boom."

Dennis Jordan, who also lives at the River's Edge RV Park adds, "I thought that I heard the airplane and everything just happened so fast. There was fire going up the street and down the street and a lot of smoke."

Residents quickly evacuated the area after shrapnel damaged several trailers and cars. The fire also started to spread in the RV park. 

In the chaotic moment, one witness described a dangerous scene. Jeremy Twitt said, "There was a lot of pandemonium. Craziest thing was watching the people run back in to get their stuff into the flaming fifth wheels."

Emergency responders were doing their best to get bystanders out of and away from the propane tanks possibly exploding. Police say ultimately everyone on the ground walked away safely. 

"A lot of them here are long-term residents. Some of them for many many years. These are their homes to them," said Woyciehowsky. 

Jordan adds, "Everybody in the trailers got out. I've seen all my neighbors, so I'm happy about that."

Sanford Friedlander witnessed the whole ordeal from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, where officials say the plane was inbound to land. 

"It looked like it was flying normally for a moment, then it sort of just flipped vertically and went straight into the ground. Then a big fireball. And a big cloud of black smoke," said Friedlander.