14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, November 10, 2011 in Alamosa, CO
Aircraft: CESSNA 337G, registration: N337LC
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On November 11, 2011, at 1615 mountain standard time a Cessna 337G, N337LC, registered to LAMP Ministry LLC, of New Haven, Michigan, impacted the ground shortly after takeoff from the San Luis Valley Regional Airport/Bergman Field (ALS), Alamosa, Colorado. The airplane was being operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The flight’s intended destination was Harriet Alexander Field (ANK), Salida, Colorado.
The accident pilot, who had over 500 hours of flight time in the Cessna 337, had been flown to Alamosa by another ministry pilot on the morning of the accident. The pilot who dropped him off stated that the accident pilot was in good spirits and did not express any concerns. The airplane had been in Alamosa since October 15, 2011, undergoing an annual inspection. The flight was the first flight after the annual inspection. According to airport personnel, 35.1 gallons of fuel was added to the right wing, which topped the wing off. The pilot did not request fuel for the left tank. Local witnesses stated that the weather was cold and mild with little of no wind.
A witness located at the airport observed the pilot start the airplane (both engines). She did not see the airplane taxi or takeoff. Another witness, who was located south of the accident site, saw the airplane traveling east at a low altitude. Then he thought he heard the engine shut off and airplane went out of sight behind a stand of trees. The witness then heard a “pop”, then, another “pop.” Another witness, driving in a car nearby the accident site saw the airplane flying to the east when it suddenly lost altitude and nose dived toward the ground. This witness lost sight of the airplane behind trees and did not see the airplane impact the ground. There were no known witnesses who saw the airplane impact the ground.
The twin engine airplane’s fuselage was designed for the installation of two engines in tandem, one in front of the cabin and one engine behind the cabin. The airplane was equipped with retractable landing gear and a belly-attached cargo pod.
Initial observations of the wreckage by the investigation team showed evidence that the rear propeller was not producing power at impact and the fuel valve to the rear engine was observed to be in the closed position. There was evidence that the forward engine was producing power at the time of impact. Neither the uplocks nor downlocks for the main landing gear were engaged, but due to impact damage, the actual landing gear position at impact could not be confirmed. Flight control cable continuity was confirmed from the cabin floor under the front seats to each flight control. Control cable continuity could not be fully assessed on scene due to extreme impact and fire damage to the front of the airplane.
Due to the severe thermal damage resulting from a fuel fed post-impact fire, the airplane was moved to a facility for more detailed examinations of the airframe and engines. The observations from these examinations will be reported in the NTSB's final accident report.
Rev. Steve Dreher
Photo courtesy of www.lightaboutmypath.blogspot.com
Photo courtesy of www.lightaboutmypath.blogspot.com
Rev. Dreher was an experienced pilot and logged a number of hours flying in treacherous weather
The plane was headed to Salida when it went down shortly after take-off Thursday in Alamosa. Rev. Steve Dreher of Salida was the only person on board and died in the crash.
Dreher left the First Lutheran Church in Salida a few years ago to concentrate on missionary work. He was well liked and known for his unique sermons involving his unicycle and puppets.
“We have to believe that this was Steve’s time to come home,” congregation president Robert Thorgesen said. “Most of the people of our organization that I’ve spoken with are stunned; just it’s something you don’t expect.”
Dreher was an experienced pilot and logged a number of hours flying in treacherous weather.
ALAMOSA — The Lutheran Associations of Missionaries and Pilots (LAMP) identified Rev. Steve Dreher, of Salida, as the victim in Thursday afternoon’s fatal plane crash.
The Cessna 337 pilot was flying alone and was killed on impact in the crash that occurred in a field off of County Roads 11 and 106 South, according to Alamosa County Sheriff Dave Stong. Dreher was headed for Salida in Chaffee County from the San Luis Valley Regional Airport-Bergman Field in Alamosa.
On Friday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) were conducting an initial on-site investigation, Stong said. The cause of the accident is still unknown.
Dreher ministered in the First Lutheran Church of Salida and was a member of LAMP, a Canada-based, cross-cultural ministry providing services in remote areas of northern Canada, according to the organization’s website.
The twin engine Cessna Skymaster was built in 1976, according to Dreher’s blog, lightaboutmypath.blogspot.com. It underwent total body maintenance earlier this year to continue LAMP missions in northern Canada.
Dreher is survived by his wife, Sarah, and his daughter, Katie.
Looking for answers
The NTSB and the FAA are working together to discover the cause of the crash, Stong said. The investigation’s duration is unknown and an answer is not expected within coming weeks.
According to the multiple aviation studies, pilot error is the number one cause of plane crashes. Other causes are birds, equipment failure and malfunction, midair collisions and weather.
The NTSB investigation Go Team will “assemble the broad spectrum of technical expertise that is needed to solve complex safety problems,” according to the organization’s website. A senior investigator leads the Go Team and, together, they analyze the following:
Operations: The history of the accident flight and crewmembers’ duties for as many days prior to the crash as appears relevant.
Structures: Documentation of the airframe wreckage and the accident scene, including calculation of impact angles to help determine the plane’s pre-impact course and attitude.
Powerplants: Examination of engines (and propellers) and engine accessories.
Systems: Study of components of the plane’s hydraulic, electrical, pneumatic and associated systems, together with instruments and elements of the flight control system.
Air traffic control: Reconstruction of the air traffic services given the plane, including acquisition of ATC radar data and transcripts of controller-pilot radio transmissions.
Weather: Gathering of all pertinent weather data from the National Weather Service, and sometimes from local TV stations, for a broad area around the accident scene.
Human performance: Study of crew performance and all before-the-accident factors that might be involved in human error, including fatigue, medication, alcohol, drugs, medical histories, training, workload, equipment design and work environment.
Survival factors: Documentation of impact forces and injuries, evacuation, community emergency planning and all crash-fire-rescue efforts.
Dreher's religious blog said he is survived by a wife and child.
"To create a measure of safety for northern flying, LAMP has a Cessna 337 Skymaster. The 337 is an in-line center thrust twin-engine, retractable gear airplane with deicing boots on the leading edge of the wings. One engine is located on the front of the plane while the second engine is mounted on the rear of the fuselage. The Skymaster, “Mix-master”, “push-pull”, “huff and puff”, was used in Viet Nam and is currently used by the Ministry of Natural Recourses in Canada for fire control as a “bird-dog” with the water bombers. LAMP’s Skymaster has been out of commission for a few years because it was in need of two new engines. LAMP’s 337 is finally in a hangar for repairs. Mission Maintenance Service (MMS) in Coshocton, OH has currently named this airplane its “next major project.” Check out their blog http://www.mmsaviation.blogspot.com/ to watch their progress on 337LC. We at LAMP are very thankful for the mechanics at MMS and their dedication to mission aviation."