Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Glasair III, DSB Inc., N655DB: Accident occurred October 23, 2012 in Byron, California

http://registry.faa.gov/N655DB

NTSB Identification: WPR13FA022
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 23, 2012 in Byron, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/08/2014
Aircraft: BEHNE GLASAIR III, registration: N655DB
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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.

The two pilots, one of whom owned the airplane, departed for a personal flight. The airplane was equipped with dual flight controls; however, it could not be determined which pilot was manipulating the controls at the time of the accident. Witnesses located adjacent to the accident site reported that they heard a loud noise and then saw the airplane slow down and begin to spin left in a slight nose-low attitude. The witnesses further reported that the airplane continued to spin until it impacted terrain. Postaccident examination of the engine and airframe revealed no evidence of any preexisting mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Wreckage and impact signatures were consistent with a flat-spin, slightly nose-low impact with terrain. Postmortem toxicology tests for the left seat pilot/owner were positive for doxylamine (an antihistamine used in over-the-counter sleep aids and cough medicines) and methamphetamine (a central nervous system stimulant). Because the amount of doxylamine in his system at the time of the crash was below the therapeutic limit, its direct effects on the left-seat pilot’s performance at the time of the crash could not be determined. Although methamphetamine was present in the left-seat pilot’s blood, the amount was below the calibration limit of the toxicology tests. However, both methamphetamine and its metabolite (amphetamine) were present in his urine. Regardless, no direct correlation exists between the concentration of drug in the blood and the user’s symptoms. Although it is unlikely that the left-seat pilot was actively euphoric at the time of the flight, he was likely in the late phase of symptoms or in the withdrawal phase(during which concentrations of the drug may be undetectable), which would have been impairing. However, as noted, it could not be determined which pilot was manipulating the controls at the time of the accident; therefore, the impact of the left-seat pilot’s drug impairment on the flight could also not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain control of the airplane while maneuvering, which resulted in a stall and subsequent spin.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 23, 2012, about 1403 Pacific daylight time, an experimental amateur- built Behne Glasair III, N655DB, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Byron, California. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot who occupied the left seat, and the private pilot who occupied the right seat were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The local flight originated from the Funny Farm Airport (4CA2), Brentwood, California, about 1357.

Witnesses located adjacent to the accident reported that they observed the accident airplane flying at an altitude of about 1,000 feet above ground level when it suddenly nosed over and began to spin to the left in a slight nose low attitude. The witnesses further reported that the airplane continued to spin until it impacted terrain where post-crash fire ensued.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

It was not determined which one of the two pilots, a private pilot and owner of the airplane seated in the left seat or the private pilot seated in the right seat, was manipulating the flight controls when the accident occurred.

Pilot #1 (left seat pilot/airplane owner)

The pilot/owner, age 57, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land, airplane multi-engine land, and instrument airplane rating. A third-class airman medical certificate was issued to the pilot on April 10, 2012, with no limitations stated. The pilot reported on his most recent medical certificate application he had accumulated 3,457 total flight hours. The pilot's personal logbook was not obtained during the investigation.

Pilot #2 (right seat pilot)

The pilot, age 56, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane rating. A third-class airman medical certificate was issued to the pilot on September 9, 2010, with the limitation that stated "…must have glasses available for near vision." The pilot-rated passenger reported on his most recent medical certificate application he had accumulated 900 total flight hours. The pilot's personal logbook was not obtained during the investigation.


AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The two-seat, low-wing, retractable-gear experimental amateur-built airplane, serial number (S/N) 3051, was completed in 2008. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-540-K1B5 engine, serial number L-20707-48A, rated at 300 horse power. The airplane was also equipped with a Hartzell model HC-C2YR-1BF adjustable pitch propeller. The airplane maintenance records were not obtained during the investigation.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

A review of recorded data from the Livermore Municipal Airport automated weather observation station, located about 15 miles southwest of the accident site, revealed at 1353 conditions were wind from 220 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, scattered cloud layer at 7,000 feet, temperature 16 degrees Celsius, dew point 6 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.02 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Examination of the accident site by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed that the airplane came to rest within an open field about 3 miles south of 4CA2. All major structural components of the airplane were present at the accident site. The inboard portion of both wings and center section of the fuselage were mostly consumed by a postimpact fire. Wreckage debris remained within about 40 feet of the main wreckage. The inspector reported that there was no debris path.

The inspector reported that the left aileron was partially separated from its mounts and the left flap remained attached via its mounts and exhibited fire damage. The right aileron and flap remained attached via their respective mounts and exhibited fire damage. The rudder was partially separated from the vertical stabilizer, and the left and right elevators remained attached via their respective mounts and exhibited fire damage. The empennage of the airplane from slightly forward of the dorsal fin was displaced to the left when looking aft to forward. The engine was partially embedded within soft dirt.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Pilot #1 (left seat pilot/airplane owner)

The Contra Costa County Coroner conducted an autopsy on the pilot on October 25, 2012. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was "…Multiple blunt force injuries."

The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot/owner. According to CAMI's report, carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and drugs were tested, and had positive results for 0.073 (ug/ml, ug/g) amphetamine in urine, amphetamine not detected in Blood (Cavity), 0.033 (ug/ml, ug/g) doxylamine detected in blood (Cavity), doxylamine detected in Urine, 0.172 (ug/ml, ug/g) methamphetamine detected in Urine, and methamphetamine detected in Blood (Cavity)

The FAA blue ribbon medical file, autopsy results, toxicology report, and the investigator's report were reviewed by the Chief Medical Officer for the National Transportation Safety Board. No personal medical records were discovered; according to the investigator, the family did not believe that the pilot was taking any medications.

The pilot's FAA blue ribbon medical file indicated that he was first certified in 1972. In 1997, his medical certification was surrendered when the FAA became aware that his driver's license had been suspended twice; once in 1994 and again in 1997. Both times the incidents were alcohol related but later reduced to convictions for reckless driving.

The pilot argued that he had not misled the FAA in 1996 when he responded in the negative to question v. "yes or no? History of (1) any convictions(s) involving driving while intoxicated by, while impaired by, or while under the influence of alcohol or a drug; or (2) history of any convictions(s) or administrative action(s) involving an offense(s) which resulted in the suspension, cancellation, or revocation of driving privileges or which resulted in attendance at an educational or a rehabilitation program." The pilot argued that neither episode resulted in a conviction and pointed out that while his California license had been suspended, he retained his Nevada license to drive. In 1998 he underwent an addiction evaluation and was issued a second-class medical certificate.

In 2007, the pilot reported another alcohol related suspension, and his medical certificate was revoked. On this occasion, he was convicted of driving under the influence and underwent the FAA's required psychological testing and psychiatric evaluation. In 2010 he was granted a regular third-class medical certificate.

The cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. The toxicology testing identified methamphetamine in blood (amount below the calibration level of the machine) and 0.172ug/ of methamphetamine in urine; 0.073ug/ml of amphetamine was found in urine but none in the blood. In addition, 0.033ug/ml of doxylamine was detected in blood; doxylamine was also detected in urine.

Methamphetamine and amphetamine are central nervous system stimulants and schedule II controlled substances used in prescription medications that treat narcolepsy, attention deficit disorder, and for weight control. Methamphetamine has high abuse potential due to its early euphoric effects; amphetamine is one of its metabolites. Following methamphetamine use, a greater proportion of the drug is excreted unchanged in urine than is excreted as amphetamine.

Symptoms following use occur in phases:

"Early phase –

Psychological: Euphoria, excitation, exhilaration, rapid flight of ideas, increased libido, rapid speech, motor restlessness, hallucinations, delusions, psychosis, insomnia, reduced fatigue or drowsiness, increased alertness, heightened sense of well-being, stereotypes behavior, feelings of increased physical strength, and poor impulse control.

Physiological: Increased heart rate, increased blood pressure, increased respiration rate, elevated temperature, palpitations, irregular heartbeat, dry mouth, abdominal cramps, appetite suppressed, twitching, pallor, dilated pupils, horizontal gaze nystagmus at high doses, faster reaction time, increased strength, and more efficient glucose utilization.

Late phase –

Psychological: Dysphoria, residual stimulation, restlessness, agitation, nervousness, paranoia, violence, aggression, lack of coordination, pseudo-hallucinations, delusions, psychosis, and drug craving.

Physiological: Fatigue, sleepiness with sudden starts, itching/picking/scratching, normal heart rate, and normal to small pupils which are reactive to light."

The time to onset of symptoms and to their end depends on the method of use; oral ingestion is slower and has lower peak blood levels but longer period of action than snorting, smoking, or injecting the drug. Withdrawal in chronic users or after a binge is associated with depression, fatigue, and strong cravings. Long term use can result in insomnia that may persist through at least month(s) long periods without the drug.

Doxylamine is a first generation antihistamine used in over-the-counter sleep aids and cough medicines. It carries a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning: "Warnings - may impair mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks (e.g., driving, operating heavy machinery)." The therapeutic dose range is 0.0500 to 0.1500ug/ml.

Family of the pilot reported that they were unaware if the pilot was taking any current prescription medication.

Pilot #2 (right seat pilot)

The Contra Costa County Coroner conducted an autopsy on the pilot on October 25, 2012. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was "…Multiple blunt force injuries."

The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report, carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and drugs were tested, and had negative results.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Examination of the recovered wreckage revealed that the airframe, wings, and empennage were mostly consumed by fire. Flight control continuity was established throughout the airframe from the cockpit controls to all primary flight control surface attach points. Numerous separations observed throughout the torque tubes were consistent with post impact fire damage.

The recovered Lycoming IO-540-K1B5 engine was separated from the airframe and intact. The accessory case was mostly consumed by fire, exposing the aft accessory gears. Molten metal was observed throughout the aft accessory gear area. The top spark plugs and rocker box covers were removed. The crankshaft was partially rotated by hand using the propeller assembly. Mechanical continuity was established throughout the engine and valve train.

The exhaust system was compressed upwards into the engine and flattened. The induction system was impact and fire damaged. The magnetos were mostly consumed by fire; however, the magneto drive gears were intact. The top spark plugs exhibited normal operational signatures.

The throttle body/fuel control was partially separated from the engine. All linkages and control arms were intact, however, would not move freely by hand. The fuel screen was full of molten metal debris. The throttle body fuel control diaphragm was consumed by fire. The fuel flow divider was intact and exhibited fire damage. All six fuel lines from the divider to the cylinders were intact and fire damaged. The propeller governor was partially separated from its mount and was mostly intact. The propeller governor oil screen was free of debris.

The propeller hub remained attached to the crankshaft propeller flange. One of the two propeller blades remained attached to the propeller hub and exhibited aft bending about mid span with trailing edge gouging near the blade tip. The remaining propeller blade was separated from the propeller hub and exhibited "S" bending and leading edge polishing.


Postaccident examination of the recovered airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

An Advanced Flight Instrument panel was located within the recovered wreckage and subsequently sent to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory for data recovery. The recovered data for the accident flight included various parameters such as airspeed, cylinder head temperature, exhaust gas temperature, heading, manifold pressure, pitch, roll, and engine rpm. No GPS location data was recorded.

The data depicted that following takeoff, the airplane ascended to an altitude of about 1,410 feet mean sea level (msl) over the timeframe of about 3 minutes, 30 seconds before descending to an altitude of 210 feet msl throughout the following 60 seconds of recorded data. The last 50 seconds of recorded data depicted an increase of altitude from 210 feet msl to 2,290 feet msl, and a decrease in airspeed from 228 knots to 154 knots. The last two recorded data points showed heading change from 168 degrees to 187 degrees. The vertical acceleration varied from 1.4 g's to 4g's at the last recorded data point over the last 50 seconds of recorded data.

Throughout the entire accident flight, the engine parameters exhibited normal operational indications. For further information, see the recovered data files and data plots in the public docket for this accident.


NTSB Identification: WPR13FA022
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 23, 2012 in Byron, CA
Aircraft: BEHNE GLASAIR III, registration: N655DB
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 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 October 23, 2012, about 1403 Pacific daylight time, an experimental amateur built Behne Glasair III, N655DB, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Byron, California. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot and his private pilot rated passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The local flight originated from the Funny Farm Airport (4CA2), Brentwood, California, about 1400.

Witnesses reported that they observed the accident airplane flying at an altitude of about 1,000 feet above ground level when it suddenly nosed over and began to spin to the left in a slight nose low attitude. The witnesses further reported that the airplane continued to spin until it impacted terrain where a post-crash fire ensued.

Examination of the accident site by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, who responded to the accident site, revealed that all major structural components of the airplane were present at the accident site. The inboard portion of both wings and center section of the fuselage were mostly consumed by fire. The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 655DB        Make/Model: EXP       Description: GLASAIR 
  Date: 10/23/2012     Time: 2103

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Fatal     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Substantial

LOCATION
  City: BYRON   State: CA   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT CRASHED IN A FIELD, THE 2 PERSONS ON BOARD WERE FATALLY INJURED, 4 
  MILES FROM BYRON, CA

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   2
                 # Crew:   2     Fat:   2     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    


OTHER DATA
  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER


  FAA FSDO: OAKLAND, CA  (WP27)                   Entry date: 10/24/2012 
= 


Sheriff’s deputies inspect the wreckage of Glasair III (N655DB) plane that crashed in Byron Tuesday, killing two people on board. Photo by Richard Wisdom



Michael John "Mike" Ritschard 

Obituary 

March 14, 1954 - Oct. 23, 2012 MISHAWAKA - Michael John "Mike" Ritschard succumbed to injuries sustained in an aircraft accident. He was the eldest son of John and (the late) Martha Ritschard. Mike was a graduate of Penn High School (1972), and received an Aircraft Mechanic degree from Vincennes University. He worked for Bendix in South Bend, testing aircraft fuel controls, then took a company transfer to San Antonio, TX. Mike and his wife Vicki enjoyed a life of travel as they worked in Holland, Germany, Nassau, Japan, Singapore and finally returning to Kelly Air Force base in San Antonio. Surviving family includes his wife, Vicki Ritschard; father, John Ritschard; stepmother, Lila (Kellems) Ritschard; sister, Carol (Wyn) Laidig; brother, Dave (Roberta) Ritschard; stepchildren, David Abdulky, Sulema (Abdulky) Bracaloni; and 4 step-grandchildren. Mike will be remembered for his great love of flying and sharing that love with others. A memorial service will be held at Osceola United Methodist Church (432 North Beech Road, Osceola) on Saturday, November 3rd, at 11:00 am. 
Guest Book:  http://www.legacy.com

A Space Systems/Loral engineer was one of two men who died when their experimental aircraft crashed near Byron on Tuesday, Oct. 23.

David Behne, 57, was identified on Friday, Oct. 26, by the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office following a review of dental records by the sheriff's coroner's division, said Sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee.

Behne and longtime friend Larry Strobel, 56, both of Brentwood, were flying the two-seat, custom-made, single-engine, Glasair III plane, owned by Behne when the crash occurred.

The plane was heard whirring overhead by a witness before it fell in a corkscrew dive and crashed into a farm field shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday near Marsh Creek Road and Byron Highway.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.

Behne worked at Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto on commercial satellites used by television companies, his son, Eric Behne, said. His father flew almost every day, including daily commutes from his airstrip in Brentwood to the Palo Alto Airport on his way to work, Eric Behne said.

Earl Hibler, a pilot and longtime friend of Behne, said today that he spent much of Thursday at the crash site with two others picking up pieces of the plane to return what is left to the Funny Farm airstrip, the private airport that Behne owned in Brentwood.

"It was a long and grueling day," Hibler said. "When your best friend dies and you have to pick up the wreckage, it's tough."

Hibler added that he himself was among those who helped Behne build the plane in 2008, and Hibler said he had flown it himself many times.

Behne and Strobel were longtime friends and avid pilots, according to Eric Behne. They also were accomplished engineers.

Strobel was the owner and namesake of L.D. Strobel Co. Inc., of Concord, a wireless and utility construction company that has completed 5,000 projects, including communications towers in Hawaii and San Francisco, since its founding by Strobel in 1987, according the firm's website.

Strobel's most recent projects included cell towers built on Treasure Island and atop the parking garage of the South San Francisco BART station.

Strobel owned two single-engine, two-seat aircrafts, a Vans RV-4, which he constructed himself, and Kenneth M. Browne Christen Eagle II, according to FAA registration records.

A person who answered the phone at Strobel's company declined to comment on the founder's passing.

Hibler said he did not know Strobel well, but that Strobel was part of a group of airplane race fans that included Behne who drove to Nevada to watch Hibler compete in the Reno Air Races.

Behne owned about a dozen aircraft at the Funny Farm airstrip, Hibler said.

Eric Behne said that his father, who started out as a pilot at age 16, piloted the plane the day of the crash. His father took off from the private Funny Farm airstrip, at 2600 Penny Lane in Brentwood, with Strobel for a short flight for fun, he said.

David Behne had a long career as an aerospace and communications engineer, having worked on engines for the Space Shuttle program at the aerospace firm Rocketdyne and on airborne lasers for Lockheed Martin.


 http://www.paloaltoonline.com

 BYRON -- Two Brentwood men have been identified as the victims in a fatal plane crash Tuesday afternoon near Byron. 
 
Using dental records, the Contra Costa County Coroner's office confirmed their identities as David S. Behne, 57, and Larry Strobel, 56. Behne was piloting the plane when it crashed, said Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office spokesman Jimmy Lee.

FAA records show the home built plane was registered to a company called DSB Inc. out of Fernley, Nev.

Behne is the registrant of a private landing strip, known as "Funny Farm Airport," in Brentwood, about four miles north of the crash site. The plane went down about 2 p.m. in a field near Marsh Creek Road and Byron Highway.

No one else was injured.

On Friday, Behne's ex-wife, Shelley Rose, said he will be missed by scores of friends and family, including their 23-year-old son, Eric Behne.

The airport had been in the Behne family since the '60s, Rose said.

Her ex-husband, who flew daily, was a mechanical engineer who graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Most recently she said, he worked as a contractor for Space Systems/Loral in Palo Alto.

"He was energetic, always had to be working. He had a lot of planes he worked on and he traveled a lot," she said. She called Behne an adventurer whose hobbies included flying and scuba diving.

Behne and Strobel had been friends for sometime, Rose said. She said Strobel got into flying when he moved to Brentwood a few years ago.

Behne is also survived by his father Joe Behne, of Las Vegas, his sister Julie Korhummell, of Livermore; his brother Daniel Behne, of Livermore, and a niece and a nephew.

A funeral, she said, had not been set as of Friday.

"We'll have a celebration for life out here (the airport)," Rose said. "That's what he would have wanted."

When the single-engine Glasair III crashed, it burned so badly that it took officials about five hours to discover that there were actually two bodies on board, not one as previously announced.

The National Transportation Safety Board is handling the investigation, with the help of the Federal Aviation Administration. A basic preliminary report may be released within a week, possible two, but it may take months for the NTSB to determine the likely cause for the crash.

Weather conditions in the area around the time of the crash were fair, with partly cloudy skies and light winds, according to the National Weather Service.

The Glasair III is a 21-foot two-seater, with a top speed of 327 mph and a 23-foot standard wingspan. It is sold in four "kits" that users assemble at home; the total price of the kits ranges from $60,711 to $65,735, according to the Glasair website. Users can also purchase a prebuilt wing or fuselage.

http://www.mercurynews.com


BYRON -- Authorities on Friday released the names of two men who died in the crash of a small plane north of the Byron Airport. 

 David Behne, 57, and Larry Strobel, 56, both of Brentwood died when the experimental Glasair III they were flying in crashed in a field 4 miles northeast of the airport about 2 p.m. Tuesday.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Authorities did not say who was piloting the single-engine, home-built plane, which is owned by Behne. Both Behne and Strobel are licensed pilots. 


http://www.nbcbayarea.com

The two people who died in a small plane accident in Contra Costa County on Tuesday afternoon have not yet been identified, authorities said Wednesday.

Contra Costa County Sheriff's spokesman Jimmy Lee said the coroner went out about 8:30 a.m. to the field at Marsh Creek Road and Byron Highway, about four miles from the county airport, to collect the bodies. He did not know when they would be identified.

The people in the plane died Tuesday when the small amateur-built Glassair III crashed about 2 p.m. Originally, authorities thought that only one person had died.


Joshua McLean, 19, told Bay City News that he witnessed the plane fall from the sky after hearing the engine whirring overhead.


"It was about 1,500 feet off the ground and corkscrewing toward the ground," McLean said. "It seemed as though he had just lost control of the plane." 


 According to the the Federal Aviation Administration website, the registered owner of the plane is a company, named DSB Inc, located in Fernley, in Lyon County in Nevada.


The plane burned after crashing and billowing smoke could be seen by an NBC Bay Area helicopter shortly after the crash.  Lee said federal authorities have been notified and will investigate the cause of the crash.

http://www.nbcbayarea.com