14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 17, 2011 in Ransom Township, PA
Aircraft: QUAD CITY ULTRALIGHT CORP CHALLENGER II, registration: N6613Z
Injuries: 1 Fatal.
On August 17, 2011, about 1805 eastern daylight time, a Quad City Ultralight Corp. Challenger II, experimental amateur-built airplane, N6613Z, operated by a private individual, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain while maneuvering in Ransom Township, Pennsylvania. The non-certificated pilot/owner was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local personal flight that was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
Carolann Spear said her husband was meticulous about everything he worked on, including the Challenger 2 Ultralight amateur aircraft he was flying shortly before it crashed and he died.
"He went over that plane with a fine-tooth comb," Mrs. Spear said. "I don't know what happened."
Her husband of 44 years, William Spear, died Wednesday after his plane crashed into the peak of a ravine in Ransom Twp. An autopsy Friday afternoon revealed that Mr. Spear died of multiple traumatic injuries, Lackawanna County Coroner Tim Rowland said.
According to Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Arlene Salac, the plane Mr. Spear was flying was an amateur-built experimental aircraft. Unlike ultralights, another type of small plane, experimental planes are built from a kit that the individual purchases. These planes must be registered with the FAA and inspected annually by an FAA official.
Information about safety inspections on Mr. Spear's plane, which was certified in 1992, was unavailable, Mrs. Salac said, because all records of a plane's inspections are kept with the pilot.
According to his wife, Mr. Spear bought the plane from a New Jersey man and kept it on a neighbor's property.
"He loved that plane," she said. "I still can't get it through my head."
Born and raised in Scranton, Mr. Spear loved to work with his hands, crafting furniture in the couple's home and the hangar where he stored his airplane.
"Everything he knows, he taught himself," Mrs. Spear said. "And he loved to help people."
Mr. Spear gained experience flying three decades ago and had only recently returned to Seamans Airport in Factoryville to brush up on takeoffs and landings, his wife said. Wednesday's fatal flight was the first time he had flown the Challenger 2.
"I didn't know he was going up," she said.
Mrs. Spear said a neighbor came to the house Wednesday evening to tell her that there had been a crash and she needed to get to the hospital. When her husband's doctor told her that the medical staff had done everything possible to save him, Mrs. Spear said she couldn't believe what he was saying.
"I never, never, never thought this," Mrs. Spear said. "You never know what life will bring."
A preliminary report will be made public in a week to 10 days, Mrs. Salac said, but the cause of the crash will not be determined until the FAA completes an investigation, which could take months.
Mrs. Spear said her husband had talked about being cremated so he could return to their Ransom Road home.
"He always said this is ... heaven," she said.