Jesus prayed we'd be 'ONE' with each other in Him that the world will know! (John 17)

Why Keith Green’s airplane crashed in 1982. Keith was only age-28 (born 1953)

The former military pilot, who shouldn’t have been certified for this Cessna, allowed the plane to be overloaded by 445 pounds, and the center of gravity was 4 inches beyond maximum aft limit.

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From: Wikipedia

Death in plane crash [edit]

Along with eleven others, Green died on July 28, 1982, when the Robertson STOL-modified Cessna 414 leased by Last Days Ministries crashed after takeoff from the private airstrip located on the LDM property. The small two-engine plane was carrying eleven passengers and the pilot [in 8 seats – ed.], Don Burmeister, for an aerial tour[19] of the LDM property and the surrounding area. Green and two of his children, three-year-old Josiah and two-year-old Bethany, were on board the plane, along with visiting church planters, John and Dede Smalley and their six children. Green’s wife Melody was at home with one-year-old Rebekah and six weeks pregnant with their fourth child, Rachel, born in March 1983.

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) determined that the crash was caused by the pilot in command (PIC) allowing the aircraft to be loaded beyond its operating limitations. The required pre-flight weight and balance computations responsibility of civilian pilots would have shown it was dangerously overloaded and also outside its weight and balance operating envelope. This responsibility with military pilots is the responsibility of the military loadmaster, and thus he may have, by force of habit, overlooked this responsibility. Don Alan Burmeister was a former United States Marine Corps aviator, but FAA records show he had very limited experience / training in flying conventional (vs. centerline thrust) twin engine aircraft. Records show it was only a short time prior to the accident (6/9/82) that he completed a check-ride to remove the “centerline thrust” restriction from his pilot’s certificate. This check-ride should have fully evaluated his ability to fly a conventional multi-engine aircraft throughout its designed range of operations, but the flight examiner was decertified the next month (7/10/82) by the FAA due to a “history of incomplete or substandard check-rides”. Additionally, the insurance carrier (Ideal Mutual Insurance Co.) required Burmeister to log 1,045 hrs of flying time, attend a Cessna ground and flight training course, as well as log 15 hours in a Cessna 414 (C-414) prior to acting as the PIC of the leased aircraft. The NTSB record shows he failed to accomplish all of these requirements. With pilot and eleven passengers, the aircraft was overloaded by an estimated 445 pounds (202 kg), and the location of the center of gravity was found to be 4.26 inches (108 mm) beyond the maximum aft limit. Combined with an air temperature of 90 °F (32 °C), creating a condition known as “hot and high” (high density altitude, producing a lower climb rate on takeoff and greater danger of stalling), the C-414 could do little but struggle into the air within ground effect, and once airborne was left virtually uncontrollable. These factors prevented the aircraft from ever attaining sufficient altitude, and it crashed into trees less than a mile from the airport.[20][21]

Keith Gordon Green, Josiah David Green (September 18, 1978 – July 28, 1982), and Bethany Grace Green (February 5, 1980 – July 28, 1982) are interred in the same coffin at Garden Valley Cemetery behind the Garden Valley Baptist Church,[22][23] less than a half-mile from the LDM property. He was survived by his wife and two daughters, Rebekah Joy Green (b. 1981) and Rachel Hope Green (b. March 1983, eight months after Green’s death).


The Keith Green Story: Your Love Broke Through (1 hour)


Pre-Christian Keith Green’s first record at age-11: “The Way I Used to Be” | side 2: “A Go-Go Getter”


  1. Jan Burmeister

    Back in 2021, a Christian film maker, Dan Millican, who has an aviation channel on You Tube and 56,000 subscribers—mostly small plane pilots, produced a documentary in 2021 about the Keith Green plane crash (viewed by 85,000). This July he came to St. Louis to learn more about my brother, the pilot of that crash, so he could release a short follow-up video.

    God is still using that 1982 tragedy to grow His Kingdom. The follow-up piece, in which we talked about God’s unending grace, faith and eternity was posted on You Tube a week ago, and has already been seen by nearly 4,000, many of whom do not yet know the Lord:
    (also accessible on You Tube by searching “Keith Green Pilot”).

    • Jeff Fenske

      Thanks for sharing! Very interesting to find out more of what happened. Such a tragic loss!

      I posted both videos.

      Appreciate it.


    • TL Henderson

      Thank you so much, Jan. After finding your comments here, I watched both stories on Dan Millican’s YT channel. So thoughtfully and compassionately done. Thank you for sharing about your dear brother, Don. God bless you.

  2. Brenda Statham

    I just happened upon this looking up Keith, along with Leonard Ravenhill. I’ve often wondered about Don & why he agreed to fly the plane under those conditions. I really enjoyed learning more about your brother, and understand better how it may have transpired. Thanks for sharing some personal memories about your brother-someone you obviously loved very much.

    • Anonymous


    • Woody

      I never have read, until today, 2.17.24 that it was pilot error. I read an articles years ago that Melody said it was Green’s stubbornness and insistence that the plane be loaded too heavy. I’ll go watch those vids. However all the articles I have read about Green, say although he was fully in love with the Lord, he was brash, stubborn, abrasive.
      It may be the pilot wasn’t skilled enough, however strong personalities often can override others.

      • Steve Wells


        From what I have heard, there is truth to both sides you have heard.

        The pilot is ultimately responsible for deciding to fly a plane. Last Days Ministries actually had two planes with one being larger than the other and they also had two pilots. In this case, the pilot flying the larger plane that crashed wasn’t certified on this larger plane. He had never taken the plane up by himself and only flew this plane as the pilot for two hours with the certified pilot in the plane with him.

        The insurance company denied coverage of the plane crash due to this pilot not being certified. Keith Green and other Last Days Ministries leaders should have been aware of these restrictions.

        That said, Keith was known to be a risk taker who would drive fast and even pass people on the highway when there were double yellow lines saying something along the lines of trusting God. Various people wonder if the reason the uncertified pilot flew the plane was due to Keith Green pushing the uncertified pilot to fly when he shouldn’t have. Keith Green’s group emphasized a lot of submission to leadership etc. so this scenario is quite possible.

  3. Steve Wells

    This video might give some true but sad realities of why this happened and Keith’s responsibility.

    When you have an environment where they teach to almost blindly submit to leadership this can happen.

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