Incident DetailsCause of Death:
Conservation Officer Thomas Deniston was killed in an aircraft accident at Smith Field in Fort Wayne.
He was aboard a Cessna 172 Skyhawk when the aircraft crashed shortly after takeoff. The plane became engulfed in flames upon impact and was nearly completely destroyed.
The 21-year-old pilot who was a dispatcher and a 23-year-old jail officer, both of the Whitley County Sheriff's Department and off duty at the time, were also killed in the crash.
Deer being hunted illegally was being investigated by Conservation Officer Deniston who had planned on photographing duck blinds and possible waterfowl baiting.
Conservation Officer Deniston was survived by his wife, four sisters, two brothers and parents.
United States Air Force
Smith Field, at 426 West Ludwig Road in Fort Wayne, was built in 1919. Originally known as Paul Baer Municipal Airport, it was named after World War I flying ace Paul Frank Baer (1894–1930). In 1941, it was renamed to honor Arthur Roy "Art" Smith (1890–1926), an aviation pioneer and Fort Wayne native. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 26, 2003 and listed on the Indiana Register of Historic Sites and Structures on October 23, 2002.