14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, January 15, 2012 in Brewster, MA
Aircraft: PIPER PA-24-180, registration: N7648P
Injuries: 2 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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On January 15, 2012, about 1010 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-24-180, N7648P, crashed into Cape Cod Bay near Brewster, Massachusetts. The airplane was registered to a private individual and was operated by the private pilot. Instrument meteorological conditions were present in the area and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the instructional flight from Hyannis, Massachusetts (HYA) to Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts (MVY). The flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The certified flight instructor and private pilot were fatally injured.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the crew was practicing instrument holding patterns as part of an instrument proficiency check. Air traffic control (ATC) queried the crew about altitude fluctuations, and the crew responded that there was smoke in the cabin. ATC cleared the flight direct to HYA, and the crew responded that the smoke had cleared and they wanted to continue the flight. Radar and radio contact was subsequently lost. The wreckage was found, submerged, in the bay near Brewster.
Weather, recorded at HYA at 0956, included the winds from 310 degrees at 14 knots with gusts to 20 knots, visibility 1 and ½ miles in light snow, and an overcast ceiling at 1,900 feet.
The wreckage was recovered to a storage facility where a detailed examination will be performed.
February 3, 2012
Written by David Still II
Molly Johnston has questions, and she asked them at the Feb. 1 meeting of the Cape Area Pilots Association at Cape Cod Community College.
On Jan. 15 her husband, Robert Walker of East Falmouth, was killed when the 1961 Piper Comanche they co-owned crashed off Brewster. Oulton Hues, 73, of Edgartown and Norwood was also on board and killed in the accident.
Two radio transmissions – one indicating smoke in the cockpit, the other that it had cleared – were received at the Barnstable Municipal Airport Tower, both sent by Walker.
Johnston said she reported the plane overdue to the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, contacted the State Police and Coast Guard and other agencies, and was told by each that they would get back to her. None did, she said.
Johnston is an instrument-rated pilot and the immediate past president of CAPA. She said that as she sought answers, she called the wife of Hues, who indicated a state trooper was in her yard, but wouldn’t say why. No trooper went to Johnston’s house.
By the time she was told that her husband died, she already knew, having received an update from the CBS website on her iPhone.
“It made a horrifying situation all the more horrifying,” Johnston told the Association.
“I want answers,” she said.
Among Johnston’s questions is why she, as co-owner of the plane, was not contacted or questioned as part of the search investigation. Her husband filed the IFR (instrument flight rules) plan for the flight and was known to be aboard.
More than that, she wants to know why “information was withheld by every agency I contacted.”
Along with an explanation as to why she could not get any responding agency to call her back, Johnston would like the public record clarified regarding the plane’s maintenance record. Johnston said that the plane was last inspected in July 2011, not June 2010 as indicated in the initial reporting.
The meeting’s main speaker was Amy Lind Corbett, the New England Regional Administrator, who heard Johnston’s questions.
Before starting her talk, Corbett acknowledged Johnston and offered her condolences. She said the National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident and the FAA is assisting.
Corbett said such investigations are done “with the hope that this type of accident will never be repeated.”
Along with an overview of her background and the FAA’s New England Region, Corbett’s presentation included a brief film on the next wave of air traffic control and safety technology, which relies on satellites, plane-to-plane to plane and plane-to-ground tracking systems pioneered in Alaska.