Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Helicopter pilot a little 'iffy' about heights

Becky Nicolls is the first female pilot to join the crew in flying the ShandsCair 2 helicopter, as seen at the Marion County Fire Rescue Station No. 30 in Summerfield on Wednesday.

"The Beckster," who is a little "iffy" about heights, may be at the controls the next time you see the gleaming ShandsCair 2 helicopter streaking across the sky. 

 Becky Nicolls, 34, known to some as "the Beckster," didn't let a fear of heights stop her from working hard for two years to qualify to fly a helicopter on her own.

"After about 1,000 hours flight time, I worked as a helicopter flight instructor," Nicolls said.

After that, she worked oil rig shuttle flights and endured the effects of Hurricane Katrina while living in the New Orleans area, then gave helicopter tours of the Las Vegas area.

"Right now I have about 3,000 overall flight hours in helicopters," she said.

In May, she joined the four-pilot ShandsCair 2 team based at Marion County Fire Rescue Station 30 in Summerfield, after being contacted and hired by Arizona-based patient transportation contractor Med-Trans.

Nicolls describes herself as "adventurous yet cautious" and "systematic" when it comes to flying.

"I like to mountain bike, but not sky dive," she said. "I'm a little scared of heights, like tall ladders."

Nicolls, a native of the Cheyenne, Wyo., area, said she decided helicopter flight was for her after a half-hour introductory ride in Denver, Colo., about 10 years ago. She said after being an instructor and shuttle pilot, and giving the tours, however, what she really wanted to do was work in emergency medical services.

Read more here:  http://www.ocala.com

Restoring the Beast: Volunteer effort takes flight, even if warbird remains grounded

 
The "Beast" 10 days ago.

 
The "Beast" today.


HIXSON, TN. (WRCB) -- For the record, the Navy calls her color Light Gull Gray.

And now that the Hixson Museum of Flight's Vietnam-era T28 Trojan prop-fighter has a new coat of it, volunteer Jim Beaver is giving Grayson Buhrmann, 6, the sort of high-touch tour he'd never get at the Smithsonian.

"We've got him on," Beaver tells him. "You are now an ace pilot!"

Grayson's grin, and his 'thumbs-up" are all the thanks Beaver needs.

Beaver didn't serve in Vietnam. He's not a licensed pilot. Something else has driven him, and his wife Joan to volunteer countless hours to join in the restoration effort.

"This is one of the last radial engine planes," he says "If somebody doesn't keep that flying....."

"You just haven't lived until you've heard a radial engine," Joan Beaver finishes. "They're just beasts!"

Ten days earlier, the Beast's battle scars made her no beauty.

But her reassembly reflected a 6-day volunteers' marathon; a learn-as-you-go undertaking that paired Vietnam veterans, aviation buffs, amateur historians and the more-than-idly curious.

Flight student Sal Estrada is still sore from more than five hours of sanding and buffing, before he brought out his sprayer.


"I've learned I love painting airplanes," he says. "And this is an awesome plane, with all the history."

But the warbird is nowhere close to taking wing.

"It looks pretty good right now, but there's a lot of little things that it would need to be flyable," mechanic David Wells tells us.

"We have the engine painted multi-colors and all that stuff. But in the field, they'd just slap a can of silver paint on her and go on."

Whether the Beast ever flies again is secondary. Volunteers admit, readily, that her greater value is as a learning laboratory. Not only for young Grayson and other visitors; but the crew putting her back together.

For private pilot David Davis II, the lessons come from his fellow volunteers.

"This has been my, and their, home, for two solid weeks," he laughs.

"After we'd finish a days work, they'd be telling stories of what they'd done, and the places they'd been in the world."

For Jim and Joan Beaver, it's a family project in every sense.

"We had our 50th Anniversary party right here in the hangar," says he.

"Mid-Kangaroo Court," retorts she. "The cake was shaped like the plane!"

Their 16-year-old grand-daughter has joined the effort. The project holds many more months, maybe years of labor.

"But look at where we were two weeks ago, all those thousands of parts," Joan says. 

"Nothing was going on two years ago. It just blows your mind what has been accomplished."

For Davis, the journey is as important, or maybe more important, than the goal.

"It's something we can look at and say hey, we put this together. We shared the experience."

The Hixson Museum of Flight serves to preserve aviation history and to raise money for Children's Hospital. Follow its activities and the restoration effort, by clicking here.

Story, photos and video:     http://www.wrcbtv.com

READ MORE:

Aviation museum's open house a success

The B.C. Aviation Museum held its annual open house on Saturday, Aug. 4. 

The event included sightseeing flights, parachute jumping, military re-enactors, model ships, remote controlled vehicles and a fire truck display from the Victoria International Airport.

The highlight of the show for many was the unveiling of the fully restored Second World War Harvard trainer, which was caringly worked on by volunteers for five years. 


http://www.peninsulanewsreview.com

Man gets jail for pointing lasers at aircraft

Michael Cerise


PHOENIX (CBS5) - A Phoenix man has been sentenced to 90 days in jail for pointing a laser at several aircraft in November. 

 Michael Cerise, 47, also faces three years of supervised probation.

Cerise pointed a laser at two commercial planes and a police helicopter as they were passing over the Phoenix metro area, injuring three pilots.

"The consequences of this defendant's reckless actions could have been unbelievably catastrophic to passengers in the air and residents on the ground," said Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery. "If you do it, we will catch you and punish you."

On Nov. 9 at about 9 p.m., the Phoenix Police Department Air Unit responded to a call of lasers being pointed from someone on the ground at passing commercial aircraft in the area of 86th Avenue and Highland.

When the Air Unit arrived over the area, the pilot was hit with a green laser, causing temporary partial blindness, said Maricopa County Sheriff's Office spokesman Jerry Cobb. Another officer in the aircraft was able to spot a man armed with the laser standing at his patio door. When police arrived at the home, Cerise initially denied that he pointed any lasers at the sky. He eventually produced a green laser which he had hidden in his couch cushions, Cobb said.

In a subsequent interview, Cerise claimed he bought the green laser at a yard sale and was curious to see how far its beam could reach, Cobb said. He ultimately admitted pointing the laser at the sky more than once on the evening of the incident, Cobb said.

Prosecutors were able to prove that Cerise struck two other aircraft with the green laser that evening, a U.S. Airways flight carrying about 200 passengers and a Frontier Airlines flight carrying roughly 130 passengers. The U.S. Airways flight, which was on final approach, was forced to alter its course by 90 degrees in order to avoid the laser strikes, Cobb said. 


Story and photo:   http://www.kpho.com

Corporate jet center at Van Nuys Airport (KVNY) may signal rising market

In a sign that the market for private and corporate jets is recovering, a new aviation center offering conference rooms and other amenities for travelers opened Thursday at Van Nuys Airport. 

NetJets Inc., which sells individuals and companies shares in private jet aircraft, unveiled a 10,000 sq. ft. terminal on property leased from its partner, Maguire Aviation, a fixed-base operator at the airport.

The glass and steel structure includes private conference facilities, wireless access, services for business travelers, an onsite kitchen that offers catered meals, and lounges for both children and air crews. A secure parking area also is available.

The facility, which is for the exclusive use of NetJets’ customers, will be open around the clock.

NetJets officials said that Los Angeles is one of the company’s most popular destinations in the United States and that Van Nuys is its most visited airport in the city. The San Fernando Valley facility -- managed by the same city of Los Angeles agency that also oversees Los Angeles International and Ontario International -- is one of the busiest general aviation centers  in the nation.


NetJets offers shares in private aircraft at a fraction of the cost of complete ownership. Shareholders are guaranteed access to jet aircraft 365 days a year on a few hours notice. Customers can choose from 13 of the most popular business jets in the world.

Maguire offers aircraft owners and pilots a variety of services such as refueling, maintenance and ground handling as well as hangar, shop and office space. 


Source:   http://latimesblogs.latimes.com

Executive Style: Come fly with me

 
Vas Nikolovski, joint CEO of Business Jet Travel, shows off some of the corporate planes available for hire. 
Photo: Michael Clayton-Jones

Perched on the edge of his cream leather seat on board a Citation V private jet, Vas Nikolovski displays an infectious passion for aviation, one that he says developed from an early age. 

 "When I was in year eight, I wanted to to be an air traffic controller," he says. "I did work experience at Essendon Airport and I knew I would spend all my life working there." Now 45, Nikolovski has fulfilled that ambition – not up in the control tower, but rather from the hangar at ground-level.

As the co-founder and chief executive of Business Jet Travel, Nikolovski directs traffic for his network of gleaming charter jets – including a flagship Gulfstream and an equally impressive Legacy 600 – from the company's headquarters at Melbourne's Essendon Airport to destinations across Australia's 450 regional airports.

Private jets naturally conjure up associations with glitz and glamour, and Nikolovski counts Beyonce, Jay-Z and rock band Pearl Jam among some of his company's recent clients.
 

"We've had a lot of rockstars here – some nice, some not so nice," he jokes.

Yet Nikolovski is keen to "dispel the myth" that charter jet travel is a luxury reserved just for the rich and famous.

He says companies who have management and staff who are frequently on the road can shave hours, if not days and weeks, off travel if their itineraries are tailored to eliminate long layovers and transfers from airports.

"Why do one meeting in three days when you can do three meetings in one day?" he says.

Above all, Nikolovski says he thrives on analysing customer needs and find a solution that increases productivity and saves time and money for his clients.

"It's having half a dozen specialised consultants leaving Auckland on their day off, fly into Melbourne connecting in Adelaide overnight and then connecting to Olympic Dam, taking them 28 hours," he says.

"Instead, we have them in Melbourne and two hours later have them at their workplace within eight hours [of leaving Auckland].

"That's a huge benefit to the end customer because they've given them 20 hours more productivity. You're talking about people who earn $500,000-plus." There are plenty of other charter jet companies in the market, but Nikolovski says his company differentiates itself by the knowledge of Australia's regional flight networks and its responsiveness - he claims to be able to have a plane on the tarmac ready for departure within hours of a client phoning in.

"That's pretty powerful, the [commercial] airlines can't match that," he says.

And while Qantas and Virgin are looking to increase their presence in the lucrative fly-in-fly-out market, Nikolovski says he prefers to concentrate on growing his business via small-cap miners who have yet to develop a travel policy.

Nikolovski's Business Jet Travel business model has evolved over his 20-year career in the aviation industry.

Nikolovski began studying for his pilot's licence in 1995, and soon found himself buying into a flight school business. After a freak accident in 1998 saw him lose hearing in his right ear, his flying took a backseat and he began to concentrate on the business, which evolved to incorporate jet charter, and two years ago, a holistic travel management offering.

'That's an area we see a lot of growth in," he says.

"They often have head offices based in major regional towns ... they've got travel [needs] on so many different levels." Nikolovski provides another example where he helped a big-four bank conduct its asbestos audit at dozens of regional branches in Victoria. The process which ordinarily takes four weeks and hundreds of kilometres on the road, he says, was completed in under nine days.

"They don't have the risk of 300 employees driving around the country," he says, adding that staff spend less time away from home.

With the books on the company's first full-year just closed off, Nikolovski declined to provide details of the company's profitability, only saying that the company was profitable and that he was aiming for up to 30 per cent earnings growth next year.

Read more and photos: http://www.smh.com.au

Glasair III, N71AJ: Accident occurred August 07, 2012 in Westcliffe, Colorado

http://registry.faa.gov/N71AJ

NTSB Identification: CEN12LA543  
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 07, 2012 in Westcliffe, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/09/2013
Aircraft: CROSS DAVID L GLASAIR III, registration: N71AJ
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

After leveling off at 12,000 feet mean sea level for a test flight, the pilot noticed that the oil temperature began to increase, and then the engine lost oil pressure. The engine then lost total power, and the pilot performed a forced landing in a field. An examination of the engine revealed that a gasket between the remote oil filter adapter and the "spin-on" filter mounting pad had failed, which resulted in a loss of oil. The owner reported that he had lubricated the gasket with a compound upon installation. It could not be determined whether the compound had degraded the gasket.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The loss of oil pressure due to the failure of an oil filter gasket, which resulted in a total loss of engine power.

On August 7, 2012, about 0830 mountain daylight time a kit-built Glasair III airplane, N71AJ, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Westcliffe, Colorado. The private pilot was seriously injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, which operated without a flight plan. The local test flight originated from the Silver West Airport (C08), Westcliffe, Colorado, about 0810.

According to the owner, the accident flight was the airplane's first flight of a 40-hour test flight program. The pilot departed C08 and climbed to 12,000 feet. The pilot noticed that the oil temperature began to increase and then noted a loss of oil pressure. The engine stopped producing power and the pilot performed a forced landing to a field. The airplane sustained substantial damage to its fuselage.

An examination of the engine revealed that a gasket between the remote oil filter adapter and the "spin-on" filter mounting pad had failed which resulted in a loss of oil. The owner reported that the gasket was lubricated with a compound upon installation. It could not be determined if the compound degraded the gasket.


NTSB Identification: CEN12LA543
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 07, 2012 in Westcliffe, CO
Aircraft: CROSS DAVID L GLASAIR III, registration: N71AJ
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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.

On August 7, 2012, about 0820 mountain daylight time a kit-built Glasair III airplane, N71AJ, was substantially damaged during a forced landing near Westcliffe, Colorado. The private pilot was seriously injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight had just originated from the Silver West Airport (C08), Westcliffe, Colorado.

According to an initial statement provided by the pilot to the local sheriff’s department, the airplane lost oil pressure shortly after takeoff. The pilot performed a forced landing to a field. During the landing, substantial damage was sustained to the fuselage. 



IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 71AJ        Make/Model: EXP       Description: GLASAIR III
  Date: 08/07/2012     Time: 1420

  Event Type: Incident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Unknown

LOCATION
  City: WESTCLIFFE   State: CO   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT FORCE LANDED IN A FIELD, NEAR WESTCLIFFE, CO

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   1
                 # 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: DENVER, CO  (NM03)                    Entry date: 08/08/2012 


A test pilot had to quickly land a newly built experimental airplane after it lost power during its maiden flight from the SilverWest Airport Tuesday morning. 

The experienced test pilot, William Walker, of Scottsdale, Ariz., was hired by Valley residents Dave and Annette Cross, to fly, for the first- time, the Glass Air 3 plane the couple had been building for some 12 years.

According to FAA regulations, such planes must be certified for flight by a qualified test pilot before it can be flown by the owner or other pilots.

The pilot, who was on board alone, had taken off shortly before 8 a.m. and had been flying some 30 minutes. He was also in radio contact with Dave Cross.

On the flight back to the airport, said Custer County sheriff Fred Jobe, the pilot told Cross he had lost all power to the plane.

Cross immediately called 911 and emergency personnel were dispatched. Also called was a Flight for Life helicopter, said Jobe.

“The pilot hard landed the plane in a ravine between two hills west of Highway 69 near CR 105,” said Jobe.

The pilot and the plane were spotted at 9:10 a.m.

Initially, said Jobe, emergency personnel thought the pilot and plane were some 10 miles southwest of the airport instead of only about two miles from the airport because that is what the pilot had indicated via cell phone. The Flight for Life helicopter was the first to spot the plane and pilot, said Jobe .

“The pilot was up walking when found,” said Jobe, “but after complaining of back pain, he was transported to St. Mary Corwin Hospital in Pueblo. The pilot was released from the hospital later that day.

The plane, which appears to have sustained minor damage, was put onto a trailer and transported back to the Cross hangar.

National Transportation Safety Board experts were expected to be on site investigating the matter on Wednesday.

Flying to Florida: Local officials hope to change JetBlue's mind - Airport officials say they'll do what they can to keep JetBlue from cutting direct flights to Orlando

JetBlue announced in early July it will cut the daily non-stop connection between Burlington and Orlando Nov. 27 

Local officials will meet with JetBlue representatives Thursday afternoon to try to understand the decision and if possible reverse it. Expected to attend are Burlington Mayor Miro Weinberger, Secretary of Transportation Brian Searles, Interim Airport Manager Gene Richards, Airport Commission Chairman Jeff Munger representatives of Sen. Patrick Leahy and Rep. Peter Welch, and Burlington City Councilors.

“We’re unsure why we lost the route,” Richards said. The Vermont group, Richards said, would try to impress JetBlue with the importance of the route to the airport and regional travelers.

He said that while other Burlington International Airport carriers fly to Orlando and while JetBlue flights through JFK airport in New York will still be available, the direct flight was popular.

“We run 85 to 92 percent full,” Richards said.

Airport Commission Chairman Munger sounded a similar note.

“We need an explanation of why this very, very popular flight was discontinued given its popularity and apparent profitability,” he said. “Burlington to Orlando was a flight that flew pretty much full planes.”

“JetBlue is an important partner, providing key air service between Vermont and the country,” Mayor Weinberger said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “Thursday’s meeting will be a good opportunity for airport leadership and JetBlue officials to discuss the future of the (airport) and ensure that all possible collaborations are being explored.

“Direct service to Orlando has been a popular route,” the mayor continued, “especially in the winter. The airport is working hard to see this travel need met.”

Transportation Secretary Searles didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment.

In July, JetBlue spokeswoman Alison Croyle said the daily flights didn’t fill enough seats to “generate sustainable profits.”

Wednesday, JetBlue spokeswoman Allison Steinberg said that “many variables ... go into determining the success of a route, including load factors, fares and operating costs.”

She said she was unable immediately to confirm the airport’s numbers on filled seats for the route, and she declined comment on what JetBlue anticipates from Thursday’s meeting

“We’re committed to our presence in Vermont,” she said.

She said that any route “earns its way onto our network. This particular route hasn’t done well enough to earn its continued existence.”

Richards said many airlines are making route cuts across the country, “trying to find a way to survive,” but the airport is willing to do what it can to change the JetBlue decision.

The prospects?

“I’m feeling optimistic,” Richards said, “but we won’t know until we get in the meeting. The relationship (between JetBlue and the airport) is strong, and we’ll have all the right people in the office.

“We’re there to listen,” he said. “Maybe there’s something we can do different.” He said JetBlue has made no requests in this regard of the airport.

He called the direct flight “very important.”

“Orlando is our second destination, behind JFK,” he said, “so, by losing a direct flight, it will have an impact and we’re concerned about that.” 


 http://www.burlingtonfreepress.com

Hancock County-Bar Harbor (KBHB), Bar Harbor, Maine: Passenger Shortage Has Airport in Danger of Losing Federal Funds

TRENTON — The Hancock County-Bar Harbor Airport is in danger of losing $850,000 in federal entitlement funds because not enough passengers are flying out of the airport this year. 

Airport Manager Allison Rogers sounded the alarm Tuesday at the Hancock County Commissioners monthly meeting.

“I don’t think there’s any way we’re going to make 10,000 enplanements,” Rogers said.

Airports that board at least 10,000 paid passengers in a calendar year are assured that the Federal Aviation Administration will award them $1 million in entitlement funds from its Airport Capital Improvement Program.

Falling short of the 10,000-enplanement threshold means the airport’s entitlement drops to $150,000.

Rogers told the board the issue was PenAir, which began serving Hancock County this summer.

The carrier has had mechanical problems and hasn’t done the aggressive marketing that Cape Air, another new Hancock County carrier, launched, according to Rogers.

Rogers said she would be meeting with PenAir officials this month and that PenAir planned to make the round of local Rotary Club meetings and other groups.

County Commission Chairman Steve Joy said, “That’s not acceptable. We need our 10,000 enplanements.”

Joy said he’s wondered if the FAA would one day raise the 10,000 figure to 15,000 or 20,000.

“If we don’t make that, [10,000], I’m not certain we should be in business,” Joy said. “They’ve got to get in bed with us and say, ‘We’ll do this or we’ll do that.’”

PenAir is committed to Hancock County and says its numbers for July are not far off its target. 


Source:   http://fenceviewer.com

Silver Airways Saab 340B, N346AG: Flight lands at wrong West Virgina airport in 1st week of service; no one injured



Silver Airways' Statement: Reviewing Landing Mishap


Silver Airways' Chief Operating Officer, David Querio, released the following statement regarding the Tuesday night plane that landed in Fairmont instead of Bridgeport:
 
"Silver Airways Flight 4049 from Morgantown to Clarksburg last evening diverted to Fairmont Municipal Airport in Fairmont, West Virginia. The SAAB 340 landed safely and without incident in Fairmont at 11:33 p.m. with 11 passengers and three crew members on board. All passengers were re-accommodated to North Central West Virginia Airport in Clarksburg in a timely fashion. I want it known that safety is our top priority and we have launched an internal review to determine what led to the flight diversion. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience to passengers aboard Flight 4049 last evening."
 
More Information:   Plane Lands at Wrong West Virginia Airport; No One Injured

A Silver Airways pilot making one of the Florida airline's first flights to the North Central West Virginia Airport in Bridgeport mistakenly landed his Saab 340 at a tiny airport in Fairmont, but officials said Wednesday that no one was injured. "Obviously, it was a mistake," said Jake Wilburn, manager of the Fairmont Municipal Airport-Frankman Field, which is less than 5 miles by air from the Bridgeport airport. The No. 5 runway at Fairmont is just under 3,200 feet long and 75 feet wide. According to Silver's website, its Saab aircraft have a wingspan of about 70 feet wide and carry 34 passengers. 
Click Here to read more.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A Silver Airways pilot making one of the Florida airline’s first flights to the North Central West Virginia Airport in Bridgeport mistakenly landed his Saab 340 at a tiny airport in Fairmont, but officials said Wednesday that no one was injured.

“Obviously, it was a mistake,” said Jake Wilburn, manager of the Fairmont Municipal Airport-Frankman Field, which is less than 5 miles by air from the Bridgeport airport.

The No. 5 runway at Fairmont is just under 3,200 feet long and 75 feet wide. According to Silver’s website, its Saab aircraft have a wingspan of about 70 feet wide and carry 34 passengers.

The landing occurred late Tuesday night during Silver’s first week of service to the Bridgeport airport.

“It was a normal landing, if you can say landing a Saab 340 here is normal,” Wilburn said. “He got it in, no problem.”

Passengers were taken by taxi to Bridgeport.

Wilburn said the incident is under investigation, but he couldn’t comment further.

Silver Airways said 11 passengers and three crew members were on board at the time of what the company called a diversion.

“Safety is our top priority, and we have launched an internal review to determine what led to the flight diversion,” said David Querio, chief operating officer. “We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience to passengers aboard flight 4049 last evening.”

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed it is investigating but offered no further details.

Silver operates under the United Express program, with weekday flights between Morgantown and Bridgeport, and Dulles, Va.

It became the new carrier Aug. 1, replacing Colgan Air, and will provide federally subsidized service for two years in Bridgeport, Morgantown and Beckley.

Silver also serves airports in Lewisburg and Parkersburg, and has a maintenance facility in DuBois, Pa.


http://www.washingtonpost.com

Bellanca 7GCBC, N36286: Accident occurred August 4, 2012 in Imperial, Nebraska

NTSB Identification: CEN12FA517 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 04, 2012 in Imperial, NE
Aircraft: BELLANCA 7GCBC, registration: N36286
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.

On August 4, 2012, about 0713 mountain daylight time, a Bellanca 7GCBC, N36286, sustained substantial damage when it impacted rising terrain while maneuvering near Imperial, Nebraska. The pilot was fatally injured. The aircraft was registered to German Land and Cattle and operated by the pilot as a business flight under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from the Imperial Municipal Airport (IML), about 30 minutes before the accident.

The pilot reportedly used the airplane for various uses including checking livestock water tanks and herding cattle. A family member that was interviewed at the accident site was not sure what the purpose of the accident flight was, but commented that there were no cattle or water tanks in the immediate area of the accident. He speculated that the pilot may have been flying back to IML when the accident occurred.

The initial impact point was located on the west side of a ridge about 3.5 miles south of Imperial, Nebraska. The general direction of travel at the time of the initial impact was to the east. The terrain in the area consisted of rolling hills with the tops varying in elevation. Some of the ridges rose above the valleys below by an estimated 100 to 150 feet. The hill that was impacted was one of the tallest in the immediate area of the accident. The initial impact point was about 10 feet below the top of the ridge in the direction of the airplane’s travel. To the south, the ridge continued to rise. To the north the ridge descended to a valley below. After the impact with the hill, the airplane traveled over the ridge to the east and into a valley on the east side of the ridge. It came to rest pointed in a predominately north direction. The initial impact point included 2 ground scars spaced approximately the same distance apart as the airplane’s main landing gear spread. Another ground scar was centered between the 2 landing gear scars and continued from this point in an eastward direction for about 10 feet. This scar was consistent with the impact of the fuselage. A fourth scar was found to the south and east of the landing gear scars. This scar was consistent with right wing impact.


As investigators continue to probe the cause of a Saturday morning single-engine airplane crash that took the life of Scot German, 54, of Imperial, family members remember the lifelong pilot as a loving man who cared about people. 

Scot’s younger brother Eric remembered Scot as a “great brother and father who will really be missed.”

He added, however, “I don’t feel sorry for him. I feel sorry for us. We lost Scot but he gained heaven. I am totally happy with where he is.”
Eric said his brother cared about people and kids and “whether they knew Christ as their savior.”

In that light, if there was something he could do to be involved to promote and glorify Christ, “he’d find it,” Eric said.

A good example is his many years involved with the Awana youth program in Imperial, he said. Scot was also a Sunday School teacher.

Family was a very important part of Scot’s life, according to his brother.

Eric said Scot would work hard all day so he “could get off work to be with his family. That was very important to Scot,” he said.

After Scot’s graduation in 1976 from Chase County High School, he entered the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, where, as a sophomore, he earned one of 10 spots on the coveted Wings of Blue parachute team.

After graduating from the Academy in 1980, he entered basic flight training in Enid, Okla., where he trained as an F16 fighter pilot. He served first in Germany for three years, then was assigned to Japan, where he met his wife, Linda. After three years there, the couple spent a year in language school in California, learning Dutch before Scot served as an exchange pilot for two years with the Belgium Air Force during Desert Storm.

After returning to the family farming and ranching operation in Imperial in 1991, he continued to serve as a Nebraska recruiter for the Air Force Academy.

Eric noted his brother’s return to the local farming and ranching operation was totally a family-centered decision.

“He did that because it would be better for his family,” he said.

Crash in rugged pasture

Authorities believe the crash occurred shortly after 7 a.m. Saturday, about five miles south of Imperial in rugged pasture owned by the German Land & Cattle Co.
The crash was initially discovered by the Imperial Volunteer Fire Department (IVFD), which was called to fight a grass fire in that area early Saturday morning.

The Champion Citabria 7GCBC plane caught fire after the crash and caused the grass to ignite.

Chase County Sheriff Kevin Mueller said the preliminary investigation shows German left the Imperial airport between 6:55 and 7:05 a.m.

The grass fire, spotted by a passer-by, was called in at 7:13 a.m.

Sheriff Mueller said the plane was traveling east and impacted the west side of a hill, tumbled over the top of the hill and into a low spot on the other side and caught fire.

Eric German was on the scene shortly after the discovery, according to the sheriff, and identified the wreckage as the plane taken up by his brother that morning.

He believes Scot was in the plane that morning checking the livestock water tanks.

Personnel with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) were called in to conduct the investigation. It could be several weeks before the report is finished, according to local authorities. 

Sheriff Mueller said the FAA was first on the scene and conducted its preliminary investigation Saturday and Sunday, then turned over the investigation to the NTSB. An autopsy was also ordered by County Attorney Arlan Wine.

After the plane crash was discovered, the Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies were called to the scene and stayed on site for security until the FAA arrived about 5 p.m. Saturday.

Mueller said he was assisted locally by the Imperial Police Department, IVFD, County Emergency Manager Paul Kunnemann and Imperial EMS.

A memorial service for German was held Tuesday afternoon at Imperial’s Crossroads Wesleyan Church, attended by an estimated 700 people who were seated in both the multi-purpose room and the existing sanctuary.

At the conclusion of the service, Linda, flanked by their five children—Sara, Jilanne, Shane, Kevin and Cindy—was presented an American flag by the F. E. Warren Air Force Base Honor Guard from Wyoming.

A full obituary will follow in a later issue.

http://www.imperialrepublican.com




IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 36286        Make/Model: 7GCB      Description: 1973 BELLANCA 7GCBC
  Date: 08/04/2012     Time: 1300

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

LOCATION
  City: IMPERIAL   State: NE   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT CRASHED UNDER UNKNOWN CIRCUMSTANCES, THE 1 PERSON ON BOARD WAS 
  FATALLY INJURED, WRECKAGE LOCATED 3 MILES FROM IMPERIAL, NE

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   1
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   1     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: Pleasure      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: LINCOLN, NE  (CE09)                   Entry date: 08/06/2012

http://registry.faa.gov/aircraftinquiry/NNum_Results.aspx?NNumbertxt=36286

http://www.airport-data.com/aircraft/N36286.html

Monticello Municipal (KLLQ), Arkansas: Airport commission working on new hangar, other projects

The Monticello Municipal Airport is working on a new hangar project to house a corporate jet for a company based in Drew County.

Bennie Ryburn, III, airport commission chairman, said the new hangar will cost approximately $375,000 to build, but the bulk of the money needed will come from  a grant from the Arkansas Department of Aeronautics.

“The state aeronautics will provide $300,000 for the project with the city putting up $75,000,” Ryburn said.

Ryburn went to Little Rock today (Wednesday, Aug. 8) to present the project plans to the Department of Aeronautics and to get approval.

“I made a presentation in May asking for guidance in this project,” Ryburn said. “They gave me the approval to proceed with the project.”

The new hangar will be 90 feet long by 65 feet wide by 18 feet tall, airport director James Barnett said.

“It’s going to big enough to house a 350 King Air jet,” Barnett said. “The jet belongs to a corporation located in Drew County.”

Ryburn said the hangar will create income for the airport in addition to the income coming in for EFS Geotechnologies, owned by Glenn Dabney. EFS currently occupies a newly-constructed office building and hangar for their aircraft at the airport. Construction groundbreaking was held last fall for the project.

Ryburn said that, thanks to the income-producing projects the airport has been able to complete with the Department of Aeronautics monies and city match grants, the airport is self-sufficient in its day-to-day operations.

In addition to the new hangar project, the airport has received funding from the Federal Aviation Administration to complete different paving projects at the airport including repairing a dip in the taxiway, building a taxi for the new hangar once it’s built and a parking area near the jet fueling area.

“We are getting $425,000 from the FAA for these projects,” Ryburn said.

The Monticello airport is classified as a Level Four. Level Five airports are the larger airports in Arkansas such as those in Little Rock, Hot Springs, and those in northwest Arkansas, Ryburn added.

Barnett said the airport currently houses 25 planes. Last month alone, 122 airplanes bought fuel at the airport.

Jim Lied, a pilot for Southern Contractors from Rayville, La., said he likes to visit Monticello’s airport.

“A lot of people don’t realize how important an airport is to a community,” Lied said. “But, should a disaster hit, this airport is going to be what gets you through it.”

Lied said that when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the airport that had the biggest effect on the recovery efforts.

“Those two big airports enabled supplies and manpower to be flown into New Orleans. They wouldn’t have made it without them,” Lied, who has been flying for more than four decades, said.

Lied said Monticello is the airport for Southeast Arkansas.

“It’s so important that the FAA gives a weather forecast for this airport every six hours,” Lied said. “They don’t do that for every single airport. The airport has to be deemed significant by their standards.”

Lied’s company flies in and out of Monticello often to oversee the construction of  Interstate 69.

He added that the airport is very important to economic development because of its size.

“It’s great for economic development because any large company that is considering a location will ask how long the runway is,” Lied continued. “With more that 5,000 feet here, it’s big enough to land a corporate jet. That’s going to make all the difference to a large company.”


http://mymonticellonews.net

Four aircraft take on fire north of Beulah

The Forest Service has mobilized four aircraft in hopes of quickly extinguishing a fire between Beulah and Wetmore. 

The fire has been named the Ditch Creek Fire. It is now estimated at two to three acres and burning in rugged terrain near the 5700 block of North Creek Road north of Beulah.

A hazy plume can be seen from Pueblo.

Forest Service Spokesman Steve Segin says two helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft are already working to drop water on the fire.

The cause of the fire is unknown.



http://www.koaa.com
 

Green laser halts Coast Guard air search

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A green laser directed at a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter temporarily blinded the aircrew and forced them to land abruptly Wednesday morning while attempting to search for the source of three orange flares spotted near Garden City Beach, S.C. 

This is the third time in three weeks a Coast Guard search has been hindered due to green lasers in the Grand Strand, the beach region from Little River, S.C. to Georgetown, S.C.

The aircrew, from Air Facility Charleston, S.C., had just arrived at the search area to begin searching when the laser hit the aircraft at about 1:45 a.m., forcing the aircrew to stop searching and land. One crewman received direct laser exposure and was not cleared to fly again until Wednesday afternoon.

Watchstanders at Sector Charleston immediately directed a boatcrew from Coast Guard Station Georgetown to take over the search. However, due to the distance from Georgetown, the boatcrew didn’t arrive at the search area until about two hours after the helicopter departed.

A different helicopter crew from Air Station Savannah flew over the area at dawn to continue searching.

The search ended later Wednesday morning but the source of the flares was never located.

The green lasers limit air and boat crewmembers’ vision, making it difficult from them to safely operate the aircraft and boats, thus making it extremely dangerous for the Coast Guardsmen operating them and other people nearby. A delay during a search could also result in the death of the person or people the Coast Guard is attempting to save.

Cmdr. Gregory Fuller, commanding officer at Air Station Savannah, which provides Coast Guard air support for the Grand Strand, has deemed the entire Grand Strand very high risk and now requires aircrews to consider laser risk in the area before responding to a distress call.

"We've been very fortunate that the green laser incidents haven't yet resulted in tragedy," said Fuller. "But every time we send our aircrews to the Grand Strand, we're telling them to fly into the equivalent of a storm, where it's almost guaranteed they'll be hit. We're simply asking the public to stop putting Coast Guard men and women in senseless and unnecessary danger."

The Federal Aviation Administration reports lasing incidents rose 902 percent from 2005 to 2011. Shining any laser at an aircraft is a federal offense under 14 CFR 19.11. Several people have been convicted under this and similar state laws. These convictions have resulted in prison terms as long as five years, fines of up to $11,000, and five years probation. 


http://www2.wbtw.com

Private jets land 24-hour services

A 24-HOUR facility to service the corporate and private aviation market has opened at Sunshine Coast Airport. 

 Macjet, a division of McDermott Aviation, will offer terminal and ground services for private and company jets as well as charter jet aircraft that can fly as far as New Caledonia and New Zealand.

Already one mining service industry company is flying workers north from Maroochydore three times a week.

The terminal facility which costs $8 per head to access affords passengers a better option than sitting in the rain waiting for a lift.

Another lounge area will be built on the second floor of the premises near the AGL Rescue Helicopter base. Formula One driver Mark Webber and former world motorcycle champion Mick Doohan have taken advantage of the service.

Manager Simon McDermott said Macjet, initially with eight staff, could provide Customs clearance and all ground logistics.


http://www.sunshinecoastdaily.com.au

NTSB: GE jet engine failure a contained incident

Aug 8 (Reuters) - The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board said on Wednesday that the failure of a General Electric Co jet engine on a Boeing Co 787 Dreamliner last month was a contained incident of the sort that does not normally pose an immediate safety risk. 

The NTSB said that a shaft in the GEnx engine fractured, leading to the incident in Charleston, South Carolina, in which debris fell from the engine and sparked a grass fire near the runway. The jet in question was being tested before Boeing shipped it to a customer.

"A contained engine failure is a specific engine design feature in which components might separate inside the engine but either remain within the engine's cases or exit the engine through the tail pipe," the NTSB said in a statement. "This design feature generally does not pose immediate safety risks."

The agency said it will continue to investigate the engine failure, including a metallurgical analysis of the properties of the shaft that failed.

GE spokesman Rick Kennedy said the roughly 80 GEnx engines installed on aircraft around the world remain in use.

"We're not aware of any issue that would hazard the safe flight of aircraft powered by these engines," Kennedy said. "We're continuing to ship engines to Boeing."

He noted that of 25,000 engines wholly or partly made by GE that are in use, there have been six failures of shafts over the past decade.

Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said the company was "working very closely with investigators and GE," but declined further comment.

GE's jet engine business competes with United Technologies Corp and Rolls-Royce Holdings PLC 


http://in.reuters.com

Plane Crash Search-and-Rescue Quiz


Real-life search-and-rescue photos provided to the News4 I-Team by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center show just how difficult it is to spot a downed plane. Can you find the planes in these photos? 

http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/Plane-Crash-Search-and-Rescue-Quiz-165137546.html

Pilot declares emergency before landing safely in Monterey, California: American Eagle Embraer ERJ-140, N807AE, Flight MQ-3067

 

http://flightaware.com/live/flight/EGF3067/history/20120807/1540Z/KLAX/KMRY

Frenzy among New York's Jewish community as airline ticket glitz slashes flights to Israel below $400 and 5,000 take advantage

A three-hour glitch that drastically lowered round-trip airfare between New York and Israel on El Al Airlines created a run on tickets.

At least 5,000 tickets were purchased Monday after El Al posted fares for less than $400, down from an average of $1,600.

The New York Post ( http://nyp.st/NiuPsJ ) says news of the bargain fare quickly spread through New York's Orthodox Jewish communities after an online bargain fare site sent out an alert. Many purchased tickets for members of their large families.

El Al blames the glitch on a contractor responsible for posting fares. It says it will decide this week whether to honor the tickets.
———
Information from: New York Post, http://www.nypost.com

Kirksville Regional Airport (KIRK), Missouri: Despite fundraising scare, air fest expected to go on


KIRKSVILLE, MO. -- An annual air fest was in jeopardy of not happening, but it will go on after all. 

The Kirksville Regional Airport Director David Hall announced at Tuesday's Airport and Transportation Commission that Cape Air's Kirksville Air Fest, which was in danger of being canceled because of a fundraising shortage, looks like it will now go on.

"I'm pleased to report that there's been a rally, and that we'll certainly be able to have the show and have the funds rounded up by the tenth."

The 2012 air fest is set for Sunday, Sept. 9 at 2 p.m.


http://www.heartlandconnection.com

Plane makes emergency landing at Fukuoka Airport: Japan Air Commuter de Havilland Dash 8-400, JA846C, Flight 3X-3625

Shortly after the Bombardier DHC8 took off from the southern city of Fukuoka bound for nearby Miyazaki, instruments showed oil in one of the engines was too hot, said a spokesman for the company, an affiliate of flag carrier Japan Airlines.  

The warning light was illuminated as the 74-seat plane gained altitude, the spokesman said, adding the pilot turned the plane around and headed back to Fukuoka.

"After the decision was made, the pilot shut down the affected engine and landed safety," the spokesman said.

Television footage of the aircraft showed the plane landing safely with one of its two propellers switched off.

The flight's 51 passengers and four crew members were not injured in the incident, the spokesman said, adding the airline was investigating.
http://news.ph.msn.com


OSAKA, Japan - A Bombardier plane made an emergency landing Wednesday at Fukuoka Airport in the southwestern Japanese city of Fukuoka due to trouble with one of its propellers after the take-off at the airport, local press said. 

 According to the country's public broadcaster Nippon Hoso Kyokai (NHK), the emergency landing took place at around 10:50 am local time after a cockpit warning light of the twin-engine Bombardier DHC8-400 came on around 10:30 am indicating an increase in temperature of the port engine. The pilot immediately shut down the engine and proceeded to fly on just the starboard engine before returning to the airport.

The airplane was bound for Miyazaki Airport in Miyazaki Prefecture from Fukuoka and none of the 55 passengers and crew aboard was injured, the report said.

The airline company and airport officials are investigating the cause of the engine problem.

http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn

Chevrolet Camaro crashes into Cessna R172K Hawk XP (C-FGPG) in Quebec marina

 

The scene after a car crashed into a float plane in Laval, Quebec. 
Credits: QMI AGENCY


QMI AGENCY LAVAL, Que. -- In an unusual crash, a car slammed into a float plane at a marina Monday night. The driver of a Camaro lost control of his vehicle and hit the aircraft, which was parked on the ground at Venice Marina in Laval, Que. No one was injured. Venice Marina owner Martin Delisle said in 30 years, this is the first time a car has collided with a plane.

Story and photo:  http://www.sunnewsnetwork.ca


http://www.flickr.com/photos/djipibi/4432373233/

San Jose airport: - Alaska Airlines Boeing 737-400, N797AS, Flight AS-539 makes emergency landing

 

An Alaska Airlines flight making its way from Southern California to Seattle made an emergency landing in San Jose this morning after reporting "catastrophic electrical failure with cabin depressurization," according to the FAA and local fire officials. 

Fire dispatchers received a 911 call from the San Jose airport tower at 7:24 a.m. that the Alaska Airlines flight heading to Seattle had lost cabin pressure and was experiencing "catastrophic electrical failure," according to San Jose Fire Capt. Mary Gutierrez.

The plane, which departed from Ontario airport at 6:28 a.m., landed safely at 7:42 a.m. There were no reported injuries.

It was later reported the aircraft had experienced "minor electrical issues," but did lose cabin pressure, Gutierrez said.

Alaska Airlines did not respond to e-mails seeking further information.

Because of the nature of the call, the fire department responded with several emergency responders, including six ambulances and a trailer capable of dealing with mass casualties, Gutierrez said.

The fire department holds yearly training for potential airport disasters; in March, first responders did a full scale exercise for a plane crash at the San Jose airport.

Story and comments:  http://www.mercurynews.com


http://flightaware.com/live/flight/ASA539/history/20120808/1330Z/KONT/KSEA

Why rule out aerial spraying to control West Nile virus?

By Gabriel Escobar / Editorial Writer 
dallasnews.com 

This was the scene in and around Sacramento back in 2005. Over several summer nights, two Piper Aztec airplanes sprayed insecticide, covering 222 square kilometers. They flew at 130 knots for three to six hours, the altitude varying depending on whether there were “tall towers and buildings.”

Local health officials resorted to aerial spraying because the land-based tactic, using trucks, failed to control  a severe epidemic of West Nile Virus. Was it an effective response? Here’s what researchers concluded, in a study published by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2008.

Our findings….indicate that aerial application of pyrethrin in 2005 successfully disrupted the [West Nile Virus] transmission cycle, and that this treatment was responsible for an abrupt decrease in the number of human cases within treated areas compared with that in the untreated area. These results provide direct evidence that aerial spraying to control adult mosquitoes effectively reduced human illness and potential deaths from WNV infection.”

As we know, Dallas County rejected this approach yesterday. Now I’m not here to argue that it we should resort to planes, but I am wondering whether Zachary Thompson, the director of the county’s health and human services department, fully weighed the pros and cons of aerial spraying.

Read more here:    http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2012/08/why-rule-out-aerial-spraying-to-control-west-nile-virus.html/

Editorial - Opinion: Air show not about a crash - Interstate S-1A-65F Cadet, N37361, Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada

Editorial - Opinion

The 2012 Wetaskiwin Air Show should not be remembered for a plane crashing on the first day. 

The emergency landing by aerobatic pilot Kent Pietsch in his 1942 Interstate Cadet did not happen during the show.

He was not performing stunts in his airplane for the delight of the crowd when he hit the ground.

According to Transport Canada officials, Pietsch was out flying, looking for the pieces of his plane that had fallen off as part of his comedy routine earlier in the afternoon.

While the plane might have sustained major damage, Pietsch was lucky to walk away from the crash with only a broken nose, a few missing teeth and minor abrasions.

But there were a few tense moments for spectators when the plane first hit the field at the end of the runway at the Wetaskiwin Regional Airport.

Fire trucks, ambulance, and police vehicles responded to the scene from across the city, giving the appearance that the incident was more serious than it was, fatal even.

But that’s not what the air show should be remembered for.

And don’t blame the media for “sensationalizing” the crash. We can only report on what happens as we know the facts.

While most print and television journalists were on or past their daily deadlines, no one from the air show, emergency services or airport authority were speaking publicly about the crash. All that was known was that a crash had occurred and the pilot was sent to hospital with undetermined injuries. A quick response from officials could have prevented assumptions and false rumours that circulated following the incident.

What the 2012 edition of the bi-annual Wetaskiwin Air Show should be remembered for is the hard work all the volunteers put in to bring the two-day event to thousands of people who passed through the gates Saturday and Sunday at the Reynolds-Alberta Museum.

What people might not know, is that compared to years past, this year’s air show was completely organized by volunteers. There was no paid person put in charge of organizing and running the show.

A dedicated group of volunteers put their best efforts in to give aviation enthusiasts and every day air show fans alike the best show they could with the resources they had. And they should be commended for that.

It can be easy to pay someone to put a show of this scale together but it can be even more of a challenge to get people to give up their own time on their own dollar to help bring something like this to fruition.

With some minor hiccups with show timing and getting people to the venue the air show really has no where to go but up from here. If organizers and the Air Show Society are willing to put in the time and effort it will truly take to make the next one even better.

That’s what the air show should be remembered for.


Editorial - Opinion:  http://www.wetaskiwintimes.com

Aiming lasers skyward needs to stop, says Marine Corps

Around 9 p.m. on a recent Tuesday, a Marine Corps pilot was navigating a helicopter 2,000 feet above our rooftops on a training route out of Munn Field, a few miles west of Fallbrook in the heart of Camp Pendleton. 

 He would have been watching the sky through night-vision goggles in a dim cockpit when a beam of light from somewhere on the ground in Fallbrook filled the helicopter and washed out his vision for at least a moment.

It was a laser beam, and it wasn't the first time this year. Nor the second.

In fact, July 24 was the latest in a series of laser targetings from Fallbrook ---- crimes serious enough for the Marine Corps to call me on base to carry a message back to our readers in hopes that one of you will know or see the culprit and help end the worrying trend.

On Tuesday morning, Capt. Phillip Roberts ushered me into a conference room beside the massive runway at Munn Field to explain why it is such a problem.

When a pilot is hit with a laser from the ground, he cannot fly again until his eyesight has been checked, Roberts explained. Lasers powerful enough to damage human eyes over great distances can be purchased online, and what the Marines seem really worried about is losing one of their pilots to a random act of vandalism.

"It's pretty dangerous when you're trying to keep an aircraft in the sky," said Roberts.

The Marines can't do much to stop it. Each time, aviation officers file an incident report with the Federal Aviation Administration and call the Fallbrook Sheriff's Substation.

But the Corps cannot send its military police to track down the culprits.

So it is left asking nicely, so to speak.

"We just want to highlight the fact that it's a nuisance and a safety concern," said Roberts. "We're doing what we can to cooperate and have a good-neighbor relationship with the town of Fallbrook ... and we're just hoping we get a little bit of that 'good neighbor' in return."

No discussion of helicopters over Fallbrook would be complete without mentioning the noise. At best, the chop-chop-chop is a backdrop to daily life in Fallbrook; at worst, the scourge of light sleepers.

The Corps knows this. There is a training route that leaves Munn Field and curves out over Fallbrook, then turns and heads back to base over Fallbrook. It's called the "Ground Control Approach" pattern, and it accounts for a lot of the disruptive noise around here.

As the air traffic control officer for Marine Corps Air Station Camp Pendleton, Roberts fields some of the complaint calls himself.

"We have measures put in place ... that restrict (pilots) from flying at certain altitudes over populated areas," he said. "We realize, you know, that we fly late at night, and people don't want to be woken up at midnight by helicopters flying over their house."

At the same time, in Afghanistan, Marines are flying many of their missions at night, and daytime training in California is no way to prepare for nights over Helmand province.

"You can only cram so many ops into daylight hours," said Roberts. "They want to train like they fight, so they have requirements to serve certain missions at night."

If you are still not convinced, consider the greater risk ---- consider, in crass terms, a helicopter landing on your house.

A crash is highly unlikely even with hazards and poor weather, and a laser beam has never been recorded to cause such an accident.

But those pilots above us have enough to worry about without lasers in their eyes. However you feel about the noise, we can agree on that.

Commissioned in September 1942 and situated off Vandegrift Boulevard, Munn Field is named for Lt. Gen. John Munn, a World War II veteran who became the first Marine aviator to serve as commanding general of Camp Pendleton in the 1960s.

Hundreds of Marines are being trained at the air station in any given month, between the pilots fresh out of basic flight school and the air traffic controllers just in from their initial certification in Pensacola, Florida.

Occasionally, you will notice the hulk of a cargo plane soaring over Fallbrook toward the field, but it is almost exclusively a helicopter station, with Hueys and Cobras and the massive CH-53 Super Stallions coming and going dozens of times a day. Ospreys will also become a more frequent sight over Fallbrook in the coming months.

The Federal Aviation Administration considers targeting aircraft with a laser a criminal activity.

"Aviators are particularly vulnerable to laser illuminations when conducting low-level flight operations at night," reads an FAA safety brochure titled, "Laser Hazards in Navigable Airspace."

"No accidents have been attributed to the illumination of crew members by lasers, but ... the potential does exist," the brochure says, adding that some 2,836 reports of "laser illumination events" were gathered in 2010.

Last summer, the aviation administration announced that it would begin imposing civil fines of up to $11,000 per violation, and a bill proposed in the House of Representatives, HR 386, would have levied jail time for the crime, but appears to have died in the Senate last spring.

Lt. Cmdr. Ellis Gayles said his main concern is for his pilots' eyes.

"If it's nighttime and the air crew has night-vision goggles on, the minute the laser hits the cockpit, there's a good chance it's going to bloom out their goggles," said Gayles, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing's medical safety officer. "If the helicopters were flying in formation and all of a sudden one crew could not see in their cockpit, you can see how it could cause a serious problem."

Lasers can also damage the goggles, which cost not a few of our tax dollars to supply.

"Now you've got the crew trying to continue their flight without one of their primary tools for being able to see safely at night," said Gayles. "And you've possibly impacted somebody's flight career by damaging their eyes. It's obviously a pretty big impact to our war-fighting capabilities if people are doing this."

Story, photo and comments:   http://www.nctimes.com

The "Flying Suitcase" touches down in Waterloo Region - Canada

For the first time in 75 years, a European built passenger aircraft is making a stop in Waterloo Region. 

Often referred to as the “flying suitcase,” Junkers Ju 52 was built between 1932 and 1945.  More than a dozen European airlines used it to carry passengers and freight until the mid 1980’s. It also served as a military aircraft, carrying troops and cargo and was used for a short while as a bomber.

The aircraft has a corrugated aluminum based skin and that’s why luggage maker Rimowa has an interest in the airplane.  The German-based luxury luggage firm has a manufacturing facility in Cambridge.

Several stops were required for this airplane to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Starting in Germany then landing in the United Kingdom then off to Iceland and Greenland before arriving in Canada’s far north.

Reinhard Zinabold, an aviation photographer came to the airport to see the aircraft. “This is really a part of flying history.  Here you see really where it began.”

The Junker is a slow, low flying airplane that has a maximum speed of 143 miles per hour.  It cruises at 112 miles per hour and reaches only 16, 000 feet above sea level. The flight duration is six hours of flying time with a range of 746 miles.

The plane will leave Waterloo and head back to Germany.

Read more and watch video: http://kitchener.ctvnews.ca

Mooney M20J, Sierra Bravo Corp., N201HF: Accident occurred October 25, 2010 in Lander, Wyoming

NTSB Identification: WPR11FA032  
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, October 25, 2010 in Lander, WY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/04/2012
Aircraft: MOONEY M20J, registration: N201HF
Injuries: 4 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 owner/pilot and his three sons flew in the single engine, normally aspirated airplane from the Minneapolis, Minnesota, area to Jackson, Wyoming, to attend a family function. The return trip was planned for Sunday, but the pilot canceled that flight due to winter weather conditions. Also due to weather concerns, he booked a Monday return to Minnesota via commercial airline. However, that commercial flight was canceled for non-weather reasons, and the pilot chose to return in his airplane. He contacted flight services twice by telephone to obtain weather briefings and filed a flight plan. Both weather briefings included AIRMETs for mountain obscuration, turbulence, and icing along the planned flight route and altitude. About 2 hours after the second call, the pilot filed a second instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan by computer, with a proposed departure time 10 minutes after the filing time. About 20 minutes after filing, the pilot was issued a clearance that differed from the one he had requested. The differences included a departure to the south instead of the north, an off-airway segment, and a clearance altitude 5,000 feet higher than originally requested. The assigned altitude was lower than and counter to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) published requirements for the area in which the pilot was flying, but neither the pilot nor the controller questioned the altitude assignment. The airplane departed 8 minutes after the clearance was issued.

About 30 minutes after takeoff, when the airplane was on the off-airway segment, radar coverage from the Rock Springs Air Route Surveillance Radar was lost because the system at the FAA facility that was handling the airplane was intentionally made unavailable to controllers due to data reliability concerns. However, controllers at another FAA facility that was not handling the airplane continued to successfully use that same data. Four minutes later, the pilot filed a report with flight services that he was encountering light turbulence and a trace of rime icing. About 6 minutes later, the airplane was reacquired by ground radar. The controller then asked the pilot to climb to 16,000 feet, the minimum IFR altitude in that sector. Two minutes later, the pilot reported that he might not be able to reach 16,000 feet. About 2 minutes after that, the pilot reported that he was in a "severe mountain wave," and that he was "descending rapidly." There were no further communications from or radar targets associated with the airplane. The wreckage was located 7 days later, at an elevation of about 11,000 feet. Damage patterns were consistent with impact while the airplane was in a left spin. Examination of the engine and airframe did not reveal any preexisting mechanical deficiencies or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The pilot appeared intent on returning home that day and had made alternate travel plans, which were foiled for reasons beyond his control. His repeated checks of the weather and multiple flight plans indicated that he was attempting to take advantage of the continuously changing conditions and depart in his airplane as soon as a short-term window of opportunity arose. This self-imposed time pressure, coupled with his lack of recent IFR experience, likely resulted in his acceptance of the non-conforming clearance. While the pilot was responsible for accepting a clearance that did not comply with minimum instrument altitude requirements, air traffic control (ATC) services were deficient in not ensuring that the clearance complied with FAA requirements. The controller should have been aware of the minimum instrument altitudes in his area of responsibility and ensured compliance with them. The decision of the FAA facility handling the airplane to not utilize certain radar data diminished the performance of the minimum safe altitude warning system by preventing the system from detecting a hazardous situation and depriving the controller of a timely altitude alert, which might have enabled him to better assist the pilot.

The airplane took off at or near its maximum certificated gross weight. Although the information was available to him, the pilot was either unaware of or discounted the fact that the clearance route that he was issued and accepted required a minimum altitude near the performance limits of the airplane, and that altitude was significantly higher than the altitude he had requested. The altitudes filed for by the pilot and assigned by ATC were also above the freezing level and in forecast icing conditions. The assigned altitude also required supplemental oxygen for all four persons on board, but the onboard system was only configured for two persons. Meteorological information indicated that IFR conditions, turbulence, and icing were likely present in the vicinity of the descent, and possibly more significant than previously reported by the pilot. It could not be determined whether the airplane was actually in a mountain wave, but the pilot was unable to arrest the airplane’s descent. Those factors, combined with the small difference between the airplane's stall speed and best climb speed, likely resulted in the stall and subsequent spin of the airplane. Although it would not have aided the airplane occupants in this case, if the airplane had been equipped with a 406-MHz emergency locator transmitter, it is likely that the time and resources expended to locate the wreckage would have been significantly reduced.


Based on the findings of this accident, the NTSB issued three safety recommendations to the FAA. Safety recommendation A-11-32 asked the FAA to “establish Standard Instrument Departure procedures that provide transition routes and minimum instrument flight rules altitude information for aircraft cleared over commonly used navigational fixes from Jackson Hole Airport and similarly situated airports.” The FAA has established standard instrument departure procedures with minimum altitude information for Jackson Hole Airport and continues to survey other mountainous airports; thus, safety recommendation A-11-32 is classified “Open—Acceptable Response.” Safety recommendation A-11-33 asked the FAA to “modify en route automation modernization software such that en route minimum safe altitude warning alerts are provided for aircraft in coast track status that are receiving automatic position updates.” Safety recommendation A-11-34 asked the FAA to “modify en route automation modernization software such that cautionary warnings are provided to controllers when an aircraft is predicted to enter a minimum instrument flight rules altitude (MIA) polygon below the MIA.” The FAA is researching whether the en route automation modernization software can be modified to address safety recommendations A-11-33 and -34, which are classified “Open—Acceptable Response.”

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's decision to depart into known adverse weather conditions over mountainous terrain, which required operation near the limits of the airplane's performance capability and which resulted in a loss of airplane control and subsequent ground impact. Contributing to the accident was an improper clearance issued by the air traffic controller and the pilot's acceptance of that clearance. Also contributing to the accident was the extended loss of radar data from the Rock Springs Air Route Surveillance Radar, which caused loss of radar contact and consequent loss of minimum safe altitude warning protection for the flight.


HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On the afternoon of November 1, 2010, the wreckage of a Mooney M20J, N201HF, was located by ground searchers in the Wind River mountain range near Lander, Wyoming. The airplane became the subject of a week-long search after it was lost from ground-based radio communications and radar tracking facilities about 45 minutes after it departed from Jackson Hole Airport (JAC), Jackson, Wyoming, on October 25, 2010. The instrument rated owner/pilot and his three sons were fatally injured. The four had flown from the Minneapolis, Minnesota, area to JAC on October 21, 2010, and the accident flight was the first leg of the return trip to Minnesota. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan.

According to information from Lockheed Martin Flight Services (LMFS) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), on the morning of the accident, the pilot obtained his initial telephone weather briefing about 0918 mountain daylight time. About 1037, he telephoned again, obtained an abbreviated weather briefing, and filed an IFR flight plan. Both weather briefings included AIRMETs (Airmen's Meteorological Information) for mountain obscuration, turbulence, and icing along the planned flight routes and altitudes.

The 1037 flight plan specified a planned departure time of 1130, and a destination of Rapid City Regional Airport, (RAP) Rapid City, South Dakota. The filed route of flight was Dunoir (DNW) very high frequency omni-range (VOR) navigation facility, Boysen Reservoir (BOY) VOR, Muddy Mountain (DDY) VOR, and then direct to RAP. DNW, the initial navigation fix in that flight plan, was located about 22 miles north of JAC.

About 1237, the pilot used the internet to file another IFR flight plan, which again specified JAC as the origination airport. The filed departure time was 1247, and the filed route was DNW, Riverton (RIW) VOR, DDY, Newcastle (ECS) VOR, Rapid City (RAP) VOR, and Philip (PHP) VOR. The destination was Pierre Regional Airport (PIR), Pierre, South Dakota, and the filed altitude was 9,000 feet. About 1258, the JAC air traffic control tower (ATCT) controller issued the pilot his clearance, with some revisions. The altitude was amended to 16,000 feet, and the route of flight was to the KICNE intersection, then direct RIW, and then as filed by the pilot. The controller finished issuing the clearance by asking the pilot if he could accept 16,000 feet, and then informed the pilot that 9,000 feet was an "unavailable IFR altitude." The pilot responded that he would prefer 14,000 feet, and the clearance was then amended to 14,000 feet. KICNE, the initial navigation fix in the ATC-amended flight plan, was located about 26 miles south of JAC.

The airplane departed JAC runway 19 about 1306, and was in communication with, and tracked by, FAA air traffic control (ATC) at Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC). About 1340, the pilot filed a pilot report with LMFS which stated that he was 72 miles west of "Riverton" (the RIW VOR) at 14,000 feet, and that he was encountering "light chop," with a "trace of rime" icing.

The first radar target was recorded about 1309, and the airplane was tracked until about 1336, when it was at an altitude of 14,000 feet. The airplane was reacquired by ground radar about 1346, still at 14,000 feet. About 1347, the controller advised that the minimum IFR altitude in that sector was 16,000 feet, and asked if the pilot was climbing to that altitude, to which the pilot responded "..wilco." Two minutes later, the pilot reported that he might not be able to reach 16,000 feet. The controller responded that the minimum instrument altitude in that region was 15,800 feet, and asked the pilot whether he could maintain his own terrain clearance for the next 10 minutes. The pilot responded in the affirmative. About 1351, the pilot reported that he was in a "severe mountain wave" and that he was "descending rapidly out of 13,700" feet. About 1352, the last radar target associated with the airplane was recorded, with an indicated altitude of 13,300 feet. There were no further communications with the airplane.

The victims were recovered on November 2, 2010. Due to terrain elevation, topography, and seasonal conditions, the wreckage was recovered on August 24, 2011.


PERSONNEL INFORMATION

General Information

According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and instrument airplane ratings. He obtained his private pilot certificate in May 2002, and he obtained his instrument rating in June 2009. Review of his personal flight logs indicated that neither of those flight evaluations, or any of the associated training flights, was conducted in the accident airplane make and model. The pilot became the co-owner of the accident airplane in February 2010, when he had a total flight experience time (TT) of about 760 hours. At the time of the accident, he had a TT of about 940 hours, including about 138 hours in the accident airplane make and model, all of which was in the accident airplane. The remainder of time appeared to be in Cessna 172 and Beech 23 airplanes. Review of his flight logs indicated that the pilot had limited flight experience in mountainous terrain.

The three children were all male. Two were 14 years old, and one was 12 years old.


Pilot's Instrument Time

At the time of the accident, the pilot had logged a total of about 23 hours of actual instrument flight time, and about 22 hours of simulated instrument time. His total logged actual instrument time included about 3 hours in the accident airplane. The pilot's most recent flight review included an instrument proficiency check that was conducted in two flights on 2 days, about 1 week before the accident. The first flight was on October 16, 2010, and the pilot recorded a flight duration of 1.7 hours in his logbook. The second flight, on the following day, had a logged duration of 4.0 hours. Both flights were conducted in the accident airplane. Prior to those flights, the pilot's most recent logged instrument flight was on August 31, 2009, in a Beech 23 airplane.


Flight Instructor Comments

The certificated flight instructor (CFI) who provided most of the training for the pilot's instrument rating was employed by a company whose primary business was to provide accelerated flight training to pilots located across the United States. The pilot contracted with the company, and the CFI was assigned to provide the flight training to the pilot. Prior to that, neither individual was acquainted with the other. The CFI traveled to the Minneapolis area, provided about 40 total hours of training over a period of 10 continuous days, and provided the pilot with a logbook endorsement to take his instrument rating flight test. The CFI reported that the pilot had obtained some instrument training prior to the CFI's training period with the pilot. The CFI also reported that his training sessions with the pilot were conducted in the pilot's Beech BE-23 Sundowner, a rented Cessna 172, and a ground-based flight training device. Some of the training flights were conducted in actual instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). The CFI noted that the training he provided did include the topic of aeronautical decision-making (ADM).

A few weeks prior to the accident, the pilot again contracted with the same flight training company and the same CFI to provide training for his commercial certificate. The CFI again traveled to the Minneapolis area and provided the flight training over the course of 4 days on two consecutive weekends. That training was conducted in the accident airplane, and the CFI provided the pilot with a logbook endorsement to take his commercial flight test. That endorsement was dated October 17, 2010.

During the course of that training, the pilot informed the CFI of his plans to fly the accident airplane to Jackson Hole in late October, and that he would take the commercial certificate flight test once he returned. The CFI reported that he advised the pilot about the potential hazards of a flight in that airplane in that area at that time of year. The CFI reported that he specifically cautioned the pilot that since the airplane was not turbocharged or pressurized, and was not equipped for flight into known icing, there was a consequent need for the pilot to plan and operate any flights accordingly, in order to provide sufficient safety margins and escape options. According to the CFI, the pilot told him that he had conducted flights to that location several times, and was cognizant of the risks. The CFI reported that the pilot gave him the impression that the pilot would conduct the upcoming flight in compliance with the CFI's suggestions.

In a telephone interview with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator, the CFI reported that overall, the pilot's performance was typical of the pilots he was familiar with through his employment, and that he recalled "nothing out of the ordinary" from his training sessions with the pilot. When asked, the CFI did not recall any specific strengths or weaknesses of the pilot, and did not recall any specific subject matter areas of difficulty. He stated that the pilot seemed to grasp all that was presented or taught to him, and that the pilot appeared to understand how to use the airplane performance charts. In summary, the CFI said that he had "no complaints" about the pilot.


AIRPLANE INFORMATION

General Information

The airplane, serial number 24-0152, was manufactured in 1977. It was equipped with a normally aspirated Lycoming IO-360 series piston engine, and retractable, tricycle-configuration landing gear. The maximum certificated weight was 2,740 pounds, and the fuel capacity was 64 gallons. The airplane was not equipped with any ice protection systems, and it was not approved for flight into known icing conditions.

The airplane was manufactured with a ram air induction system, which allowed bypass of filtered air in cruise to provide a slight increase in manifold pressure. Use of that system was prohibited in icing conditions. In 1992, the manufacturer issued Service Instruction M20-93, which permitted the removal of the ram air induction system. The ram air induction system had not been removed from the accident airplane.

According to both the airplane co-owner and the pilot's CFI, the airplane was equipped with the standard mechanical, electric and pneumatic flight instruments, a Garmin 430 communication and navigation radio with global positioning system (GPS) capability, and a Garmin MX20 multifunction navigation display. The airplane owners subscribed to XM weather, a commercial aviation weather datalink product, and that information could be presented on the MX20. A user's manual for a Garmin GPSMap 196 was found in the wreckage. No GPSMap 196 unit was recovered from the wreckage.

Review of the airplane maintenance documentation indicated that the most recent altimeter and encoding system inspection was completed in November 2009. The most recent annual inspection was completed in September 2010. At that time, the airplane had a TT of about 1,842 hours, the engine had a TT of about 1,842 hours, and a time since major overhaul (TSMOH) of about 362 hours. Review of the airframe and engine maintenance records did not reveal any entries that warranted additional investigation.


METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

General

The pilot's original plan was to depart JAC on Sunday October 24, but according to his wife, he did not depart due to "weather." No additional details were obtained by the investigation regarding the October 24 meteorological conditions for the planned route of flight. Refer to the accident docket for detailed meteorological information.


Pilot's Weather Briefing Information

About 0918 on October 25, the pilot first contacted LMFS to obtain a weather briefing. At the beginning of that conversation, the pilot specifically requested information from pilot reports (PIREPs) "or whatever you've got to see whether or not I can get up and out of here." The pilot was provided with two PIREPs from the JAC area. The first one, time 0812, was from an airplane over JAC, which reported cloud tops above 15,000 feet with light turbulence and no icing. The next one, time 0820, was from an airplane that departed JAC. That report included cloud tops at 18,000 feet with "light chop" and a trace of mixed icing from 10,000 to 18,000 feet.

The pilot then requested, and was provided with, the JAC terminal area forecast (TAF), which is a report established for the 5-statute-mile radius around an airport. The briefer and pilot discussed the fact that the then current conditions would exist until about noon, and then improve somewhat, primarily through an increased ceiling height (to 5,000 feet), and an end of the precipitation. They then discussed the surface conditions at RIW, and the briefer noted that it was slightly better than forecast. The pilot then mentioned that he was considering taking a commercial flight "because the weather was so crappy," but that flight was delayed or cancelled due to non-weather-related reasons, and he was therefore, "rethinking." The briefer then provided AIRMET information for mountain obscuration, turbulence, and icing along the proposed route of flight. The call ended about 0928.

About 1037, the pilot recontacted LMFS to file a flight plan and obtain an "updated briefing." His proposed departure time was 1130. After the pilot filed the flight plan, the briefer asked what weather briefing type the pilot wanted, and the pilot responded "abbreviated," with updated AIRMET information. The briefer provided the same AIRMET information as before, and added some information about AIRMETs further east than those in the previous briefing. The briefer then relayed a PIREP (time 1020) from an airplane that departed JAC, which reported "light chop" and cloud tops above 14,000 feet.

The briefer provided METAR (an aviation surface weather observation) and TAF information for several airports along the route of flight. Since the winds at the pilot's proposed destination of RAP were currently 21 knots gusting to 30 knots, and were forecast to become 27 gusting to 40, the pilot asked about conditions at PIR. The briefer informed him that PIR winds were 22 gusting to 30, and were forecast to remain at about those same values about the time of the pilot's planned arrival. The pilot then asked about Casper (Casper/Natrona County International Airport, CPR) and was told that the winds were 16 gusting 21, and forecast to become 15 gusting 25. The briefing ended about 1046.


JAC Surface Observations

On the morning of the flight, the JAC weather was changing continuously. The 0851 observation reported visibility 2 miles in light snow and mist, and an overcast cloud layer at 1,100 feet above ground level (agl). A special observation 14 minutes later reported 5 miles visibility in light snow, with a broken layer at 3,400 and an overcast layer at 4,100 feet. The 0953 JAC weather observation, which was current when the pilot filed his first flight plan, indicated that the weather was visual meteorological conditions (VMC), with light wind, 10 miles visibility, no precipitation, and broken cloud layers at 4,600 and 6,000 feet agl. The 1051 observation included 4 miles visibility, light snow, a broken layer at 3,100 and an overcast layer at 3,900 feet. The JAC observation 15 minutes later included 2 miles visibility, light snow, broken layers at 1,500 and 2,200 feet, and an overcast layer at 3,600 feet.

The 1151 observation indicated that conditions had improved slightly, with 3 miles visibility, light snow, a broken layer at 2,700 feet, and an overcast layer at 3,600 feet. The 1200 observation, which was current when the pilot filed his second flight plan about 1237, with a proposed 1247 departure time, included 10 knot winds, 1 mile visibility, light snow, a broken layer at 1,000 feet, and an overcast layer at 1,500 feet.

The 1254 observation, which was issued about the time that the pilot was in his airplane at JAC, included winds at 11 gusting to 17 knots, 1 mile visibility in light snow, a broken layer at 1,000 feet, and an overcast layer at 1,600 feet. The observation recorded about the time the airplane took off included winds gusting to 14 knots, 4 miles visibility in light snow, a broken layer at 1,500 feet, and an overcast layer at 4,500 feet.


Area Forecast

The aviation area forecast (FA) provides a picture of clouds, general weather conditions, and VMC expected over a large area encompassing several states. The 0745 area forecast for initial route of flight over the northern portion of Wyoming, current for the time of the accident, included broken ceiling at 12,000 feet above mean sea level (msl) with tops to 16,000 feet msl, isolated snow showers, and northwest winds with gusts to 30 knots. The eastern portion of Wyoming, east of the accident location, was forecast to have similar winds, with a broken ceiling at 14,000 feet msl, and cloud tops to flight level (FL) 240. Review of the pilot's recorded weather briefings with LMFS indicated that the pilot did not receive this information directly from the briefer. The investigation was unable to determine whether the pilot accessed that information via the internet.

Multiple AIRMETs for IFR, mountain obscuration and icing conditions were active over the western portion of the United States below FL 180 during the time of the flight, and three were active for the accident location. The "Sierra" (obscuration/IFR conditions) AIRMET forecast that mountains would be obscured by clouds, precipitation and mist, with those conditions ending between 0800 and 1100. The "Tango" (turbulence) AIRMET forecast that moderate turbulence could be expected below FL180, and that those conditions were forecast to exist until 2000. The "Zulu" (icing) AIRMET forecast moderate icing between the freezing level and FL 200, with a freezing level between 7,000 and 10,000 feet. Those conditions were forecast to exist until 2000. Review of the pilot's recorded weather briefings with LMFS indicated that the pilot was provided with this information.


Atmospheric Soundings

The 0600 RIW atmospheric sounding indicated the freezing level was at approximately 8,000 feet. No temperature inversions were noted in the troposphere. Calculations made by the RAwinsonde OBservation Program (RAOB) indicated scattered and broken stratiform and cumulus clouds may have existed at altitudes between 8,200 to greater than 15,500 feet. The vertical wind profile indicated a northwest wind at the surface of about 5 knots. At about 9,400 feet the wind had increased in magnitude to 31 knots. The vertical wind profile from this level through 15,000 feet consisted of a generally northwest wind between 22 and 32 knots. RAOB calculations of clear-air turbulence (CAT) indicated light to moderate turbulence potential existed between the surface and about 17,500 feet.

Icing type and severity calculations made by RAOB, based on United States Air Force studies, indicated a moderate to severe clear and rime icing potential between 12,000 and 19,400 feet.

A North American Mesoscale model sounding for the accident location at 1500 indicated the entire lower-troposphere was below 0°C. Calculations made by RAOB indicated scattered cumulus clouds may have existed between at these altitudes. The vertical wind profile indicated a westerly wind of 19 knots near the surface, and shifted to the west-northwest and increased to 37 knots at 17,900 feet. Calculations made by RAOB indicated severe/extreme CAT near the surface, with light to moderate values of CAT above 11,500 feet.


Satellite Observations

Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-13 and GOES-11 data indicate the accident site and the surrounding mountains were under cloudy skies. GOES-11 data from 0930 indicate that cloud-top heights in the vicinity of the accident were 13,500 to 14,900 feet. GOES-13 data from 0955 data indicated that cloud-top heights were between 14,500 and 17,300 feet in the vicinity of the accident site.


Weather Radar Data
The ground-based WSR-88D weather radar data at RIW, located about 48 miles east of the accident site, captured base reflectivity and velocity data at altitudes between about 12,200 and 17,000 feet near the accident site. The 1353 data indicated light to light-moderate values of reflectivity (a measure of precipitation) near the accident site. Base velocity information indicated wind magnitudes of approximately 30 to 40 knots from about 275 degrees at 14,300 feet in the vicinity of the accident.


Mountain Wave

According to FAA Advisory Circular AC-00-6A (Aviation Weather), "When strong winds blow across a mountain range, large "standing" waves occur downwind from the mountains…While the waves remain about stationary, strong winds are blowing through them. The air "dips sharply immediately to the lee of a ridge, then rises and falls in a wave motion downstream." A strong mountain wave requires marked stability in the airstream disturbed by the mountains, wind speeds of at least 15 to 25 knots, and wind direction within 30 degrees normal to the range. The AC continued "Amplitude of a wave is the vertical dimension, and is half the altitude difference between the wave trough and crest…Greatest amplitude is roughly 3,000 to 6,000 feet above the ridge crest."


AIRPORT INFORMATION

According to FAA Airport/Facilities Directory information, JAC was equipped with a single runway, designated 1/19, which was paved, and measured 6,300 feet long. Airport elevation was 6,451 feet above mean sea level (msl). The airport was equipped with an ATCT, which was operating at the time of the flight.


WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Search Effort Information

As a result of the loss of ATC communications and radar returns, the airplane was reported as missing on Monday October 25. The following day a winter storm moved through the area, and precluded most search activities. On Wednesday, October 27, ground and aerial search activity, under the direction of the Fremont County Sheriff's Office (FCSO) and FC Search and Rescue (SAR), concentrated on a 9-square-mile area in the vicinity of the last radar return. An FCSO press release characterized the search area as "one of the most remote areas of the lower 48 states." Terrain elevations ranged from 11,000 to 13,000 feet, and searchers reported "fresh and deep snow." Participating agencies included FCSO, United States Air Force, Wyoming Civil Air Patrol, Park County SAR, Sublette County SAR, National Outdoor Leadership School, and others. On Thursday, October 28, a weak emergency locator transmitter (ELT) was detected, but due to the topography and signal strength, the unit's location could not be determined.

The wreckage was found in a small steep drainage on the side of a mountain in a boulder field 7 days after the airplane departed from JAC. A ground search team comprised of technical mountaineers was traversing down the side of the mountain for airlift out of the area when they spotted the wreckage. The wreckage was located at the geographic coordinates of 43 degrees 9.708 minutes north latitude, 109 degrees 33.595 minutes west longitude. The terrain elevation of the site was about 11,000 feet (msl).

On-Site Wreckage Information

Fremont County law enforcement and rescue personnel, and one FAA inspector from the Casper Wyoming FSDO, documented the accident site and wreckage on November 2, 2010, concurrent with victim recovery. The impact location was a rocky slope of about 25 degrees, and the airplane nose was oriented in the upslope direction on a magnetic heading of 332 degrees. For reference purposes, the on-course magnetic heading from KICNE to RIW was 082 degrees.

The airplane came to rest in an upright orientation, and damage patterns were consistent with impact in an upright orientation. The wreckage was tightly contained, and only a small number of components were completely separated from the airframe or engine. All components were located within about 20 feet of the main wreckage. The cockpit/cabin was split and crushed/flattened in the vertical direction. Most items that separated from the airplane, including aircraft components and luggage, and the two front seat occupants, were found to the left side of the airplane. The left wing remained in its approximate design orientation, and the aft chord of the left wing exhibited more damage than the forward chord. The right wing was partially fracture-separated from the fuselage, and displaced aft and down. The forward chord of the right wing exhibited more damage than the aft chord. The engine remained attached to the fuselage, but with its longitudinal axis displaced about 75 degrees nose left of the fuselage longitudinal axis. The aft fuselage was bent up about 70 degrees at a point about 2 feet aft of the wing trailing edge. The ELT external antenna remained in place and relatively exposed. The empennage and aft aerodynamic surfaces were relatively intact. The upper prortions of the vertical stabilizer and rudder were deformed to the left.


Post-Recovery Wreckage Information

Recovery efforts necessitated partial deconstruction of the wreckage for transport to a secure location, where it was examined in September 2011. Examination of the wreckage confirmed that all major components were at, and were recovered from, the accident site. Refer to the accident docket for detailed examination results.

The accident and recovery process resulted in the engine and associated components being separated into two primary sections. One section consisted primarily of the crankcase, cylinders, and propeller hub, and three engine mounts, and the other contained portions of the forward cockpit, firewall, engine mount frame, cowling, lower windshield frame, cockpit floor, cabin door, nose gear, and some accessories. Most components exhibited significant impact and crush damage. The propeller was fractured, scored and gouged, consistent with powered rotation at the time of impact. The propeller was able to be rotated manually, which enabled confirmation of drive train continuity. Damage precluded the determination of whether the ram air system was in use at impact. Nearly all engine components and accessories were recovered, and no pre-existing mechanical deficiencies or failures that would have precluded normal operation were observed.

Most of the cabin door, portions of the instrument sub-panel, and the front right bottom seat cushion remained attached to the forward fuselage. The nose gear strut assembly was captive in this section of the wreckage. Multiple fractured segments of the aileron, elevator, rudder, and brake pedal control linkage assemblies were also found captive in this section. Damage precluded assessment of any control continuity in the forward fuselage and cockpit. The fuel selector was found set to the left tank. The pilot side instrument panel was found separated from the structure. The master and avionics master switches were found in the "on" position.

All wing sections exhibited significant crush and/or tearing damage. The left aileron and left flap remained attached to the left wing. The right flap was fracture-separated from the wing, and the right aileron remained attached to the wing. Aileron control continuity was established from the ailerons to the center wing/fuselage section. The flap setting at impact could not be directly determined due to the fracture-separation of the actuation linkage, but evaluation of the flap jackscrew indicated that the flaps were retracted at the time of impact.

Both main landing gear assemblies remained attached to the wing structure. The left gear remained captive in the retracted position by wing structure crush and deformation. The right gear was free to pivot between the retracted and extended positions.

The empennage had been cut from the fuselage during the recovery process. The vertical and both horizontal stabilizers remained attached to this segment, and the rudder and both elevators remained attached at all hinge points to their respective stabilizers. Control continuity was established from the elevators and rudder to the recovery cuts of the two longitudinally oriented control tubes in the empennage.

The airplane was equipped with a longitudinal trim system, which varied the angle of incidence of the aft fuselage/empennage (horizontal and vertical stabilizers) with respect to the forward fuselage. The longitudinal trim jackscrew assembly was intact, properly safetied, and remained attached per design. Jackscrew extension enabled determination that the longitudinal trim was about halfway between the normal takeoff setting and the full airplane nose down setting. Damage to the autopilot longitudinal trim system precluded assessment of its pre-impact condition or functionality.

An engine monitor with GPS capability was recovered in the wreckage. It was sent to NTSB Recorders Laboratory in Washington, D.C., where data from the accident flight was downloaded. The data interval was 6 minutes. The GPS ground track was congruent with the ground-based radar track. The last data point was recorded at 1358:56, when the airplane was 3.3 miles west of the impact location. All recorded engine parameter values were within normal limits for the duration of the flight, and no indications of any abnormalities were observed.

The ELT was a Pointer Model 3000 (TSO C91), with broadcast frequencies of 121.5 & 243.0 megahertz (MHz). Maintenance records indicated that the battery was replaced in August 2009.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Trip Background Information

According to the pilot's wife, the trip was a family vacation to attend a function on Saturday, October 23, in the Jackson area. She stated that they "tend to fly privately whenever it's practical." Due to space limitations, the pilot and three children flew in N201HF, while the remainder of the family scheduled to make the same round trip about the same dates via commercial airline. The October 21 morning departure from Minnesota of four family members in N201HF, and two on commercial airlines, was as planned. The flight of N201HF from Minnesota to JAC was accomplished in two legs. The family stayed together at a hotel in the region. The original plan was for the entire family to depart JAC on Sunday, October 24, with their return to Minnesota that same day. The flight of N201HF from JAC to Minnesota was planned as two legs, to be completed in a single day.

On October 24, the wife and child, who flew to JAC via commercial airline, departed JAC via commercial airline in accordance with their original plan. However, the pilot and three children delayed their departure until at least the following day due to weather. According to the wife, the pilot considered driving and commercial airline service as an alternate means for the return to Minnesota. She stated that on the morning of October 25, the pilot and three children had boarded a commercial flight, but that flight was subsequently canceled due to non-weather related issues. The pilot and three children later departed JAC in N201HF.


JAC Customer Service Representative Observations

The airplane had been parked outdoors on the ramp at JAC for the duration of the weekend. According to the customer service representative (CSR) at the FBO, the pilot arrived at the fixed base operator (FBO) on the morning of the accident, and informed her that he planned to fly the Mooney rather than wait for a commercial flight. The CSR did not elaborate on any possible reasons to prompt that statement by the pilot. The pilot then checked the "weather computer," and "watched out the window" for a while. He then requested that the airplane be moved into a hangar to warm up. After that was accomplished, the pilot split his time between the pilot's lounge at the FBO, and occasionally checking on the airplane. After "quite a while," the pilot exited the lounge and requested that the airplane be removed from the hangar in preparation for departure. The luggage and passengers were loaded, and the pilot taxied out for takeoff.


Pilot's Flight Preparation Information

Both flight plans filed by the pilot specified DNW as the first navigation fix. The charted minimum en route altitude (MEA) for the segment between DNW and BOY was 14,000 feet, with lower minimum altitudes along the remainder of the route. No minimum obstruction clearance altitude (MOCA) was specified. The charted MEA for the segment between DNW and RIW was 14,000 feet, with a MOCA of 13,500 feet, and lower minimum altitudes along the remainder of the route. In the flight plan, which he filed by telephone at 1037, the pilot requested an initial altitude of 14,000 feet. However, in the flight plan which he filed by computer at 1237, he requested an altitude of 9,000 feet. The reason(s) for the revised route and altitude requests were not determined.

Review of the receipts from the FBO indicated that on October 24, the pilot paid for fuel, oil, oxygen, and three nights of parking. No hangar charges were invoiced on that receipt. An FBO receipt dated October 25 indicated that the pilot paid for one night of parking, plus the hangar fee. Neither receipt bore a time stamp.


Weight and Balance Information

The maximum certificated takeoff weight was 2,740 pounds, and the allowable center of gravity (CG) range at that weight was 45 to 50.1 inches. The weight and balance of the accident flight was estimated using the airplane empty weight, the pilot's weight, estimates of the passenger weights, and a full fuel load, which then enabled determination of the clothing and baggage allowance.

The pilot was seated in the front left seat, the 12-year-old son was in the right front seat, and the two 14-year-old sons were in the rear seat. Since the children's weights could not be obtained, the US Center for Disease Control 50th percentile values of 90 pounds for the 12-year-old, and 110 pounds for the 14-year-olds, were used. The resulting gross weight (less baggage) was 2,659 pounds, which resulted in a CG of 46.58 inches. Those values were within the allowable weight and balance envelope, and allowed for a total of 81 pounds clothing, accessories, and baggage. Based on those values, the takeoff weight was estimated to be the maximum gross weight of the airplane, 2,740 pounds, at a CG of 48.03 inches.

Review of performance charts from the POH indicated that the airplane would have consumed about 9 gallons (54 pounds) of fuel from the time of the takeoff from JAC. Therefore, about the time of the accident, the estimated weight was 2,686 pounds, and the CG was 48.02 inches, which were both within the allowable weight and balance envelope.

Refer to the accident docket for additional information.


Airplane Climb Performance

According to the Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH), the service ceiling (the altitude where the maximum rate of climb is 100 feet per minute) was about 18,700 feet density altitude at a gross weight of 2,740 pounds, and was about 23,200 feet density altitude at a gross weight of 2,300 pounds. POH stall speed in the clean configuration at maximum gross weight was 59 knots calibrated airspeed (KCAS) or 61 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS).

Review of the POH Climb Performance charts indicated that 15 minutes and 4 gallons of fuel were required to climb from JAC to 14,000 feet. The POH-predicted rate of climb at 14,000 feet was about 350 feet per minute (fpm), and decreased to about 250 fpm at 16,000 feet. POH climb speeds were 81 knots true airspeed (KTAS) at 10,000 feet and 79 KTAS at 15,000 feet.

According to the airplane co-owner, he never used the ram air induction system, and neither did the accident pilot. According to a representative of the airplane manufacturer, when the normal induction system is in use (ram air not being used), the air filter canister directs the incoming air around to the back of the filter, and solids like rain or ice are ejected out the bottom of the canister by centrifugal force. The investigation was unable to determine the activation status of the ram air induction system during the flight or at impact, and its possible effects on engine induction icing and airplane climb capability.


Icing Information

According to AC-00-6A (Aviation Weather), "Aircraft icing is one of the major weather hazards to aviation. Icing is a cumulative hazard. It reduces aircraft efficiency by increasing weight, reducing lift, decreasing thrust, and increasing drag."

The AC stated that "Rime ice forms when drops are small, such as those in stratified clouds or light drizzle. The liquid portion remaining after initial impact freezes rapidly before the drop has time to spread over the aircraft surface. The small frozen droplets trap air between them giving the ice a white appearance… Rime ice is lighter in weight than clear ice and its weight is of little significance. However, its irregular shape and rough surface make it very effective in decreasing aerodynamic efficiency of airfoils, thus reducing lift and increasing drag."


Supplemental Oxygen Information

Paragraph 91.211 ("Supplemental Oxygen") of the Federal Aviation Regulations required that the pilot be provided with and use supplemental oxygen for that part of the flight that was of more than 30 minutes duration at cabin pressure altitudes above 12,500 feet (msl) and up to and including 14,000 feet (msl), and continuously at cabin pressure altitudes above 14,000 feet. In addition, the regulations required that at cabin pressure altitudes above 15,000 feet, each occupant was to be provided with supplemental oxygen.

The pilot's wife stated that that the pilot had a supplemental oxygen system, which she described as an "oxygen canister with nasal cannulas" that he used when flying at high altitudes. She was not familiar with his specific supplemental oxygen usage patterns. She also reported that although one child on the airplane had asthma, his symptoms were controlled by medication, and she was not aware of his ever using oxygen on the airplane. Records obtained from the FBO at JAC indicated that the pilot had paid for an oxygen fill prior to departure. An Aerox brand portable aviation oxygen cylinder with a 2-port outlet was recovered in the wreckage. The valve was found in the open position, the cylinder was unpressurized, and an oxygen line was entangled with the pilot's legs, but it could not be determined whether he was using the oxygen during the flight. There was no evidence to suggest that any of the other occupants were using supplemental oxygen during the flight.


Air Traffic Control Information

The clearance that was issued to the pilot differed in routing and altitude from the one he had requested. The routing difference included an obstacle clearance departure (TETON THREE), which involved a departure to the south instead of the north, and an off-airway segment. On the charted procedure, the fix beyond KICNE was Idaho Falls (IDA) VOR, which was approximately west of KICNE, and approximately opposite the pilot's requested route direction. The issued clearance did not include the leg from KICNE to IDA. Instead, it contained the off-airway segment from KICNE to RIW. The TETON THREE takeoff minimums specified either a minimum climb gradient of 335 feet per nautical mile to 14,000 feet, or a ceiling of 4,400 feet agl and 3 miles visibility. The initial clearance altitude was 7,000 feet above the pilot's requested altitude, but that was amended to an altitude 5,000 feet above his requested altitude.

The pilot filed two different routes and was issued a third, different route. Both filed routes were on defined airways. Review of the low-altitude IFR charts indicated that the first route (JAC-DNW-BOY) had a minimum enroute altitude (MEA) of 14,000 feet between DNW and BOY. The second route (JAC-DNW-RIW) had an MEA of 14,000 feet between DNW and RIW, and a minimum obstruction clearance altitude (MOCA) of 13,500 feet.

The cleared route contained an off-airway segment (KICNE to RIW), and therefore no MEA or MOCA were specified. Instead, pilots were to use the charted off-route obstruction clearance altitude (OROCA) unless otherwise specified by ATC. Review of the chart indicated that the OROCA for the KICNE to DIW leg was 16,100 feet. Review of IFR charts also showed an area east of KICNE where the floor of controlled airspace was 14,500 feet, and therefore flight at 14,000 feet would take the aircraft into class G (uncontrolled) airspace. Review of ATC communications indicated that the pilot did not question or attempt to change the routing, or the assigned 14,000 foot altitude.

FAA order 7110.65, "Air Traffic Control," provided guidance to controllers regarding route and altitude assignments for IFR aircraft. The order stated that controllers were to include "routes through Class G airspace only when requested by the pilot," that assigned altitudes on established airways must be "at or above the MEA for the route segment being flown," and that where MEAs have not been established, aircraft are to be assigned altitudes "at or above the minimum altitude for IFR operations."

The airplane departed JAC, and was in communication with and tracked by controllers at Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZLC ARTCC). About 1337, the controller advised the pilot that radar contact was lost. At that point the airplane was at 14,000 feet and about 22 miles east of KICNE, headed for RIW. About 9 minutes later, the controller attempted to assist the pilot, and the pilot attempted to climb to the minimum instrument altitude of 15,800 feet. The last radio communication from the airplane was received about 1352, when the pilot reported that he was descending rapidly.


ZLC Handling Controller

The controller who handled the airplane from shortly after takeoff until it was lost from communications was interviewed by NTSB air traffic specialists. The controller stated that once he was in contact with the airplane, he became engaged in other tasks in his sector, and did not notice that the airplane had gone into handoff status to the next sector. The other sector controller contacted him and advised him that she would take the airplane, but he retracted the handoff, and the airplane then turned east at KICNE. A few minutes later, radar contact with the airplane was lost. During the period that the airplane was not visible on the ERAM display, the controller referred to the backup system to update the flight track. After a few minutes, the controller noted that the airplane was again displaying radar targets in the ERAM system. He restarted the track in ERAM, and the minimum safe altitude warning alert immediately activated. He checked the overhead chart for the minimum altitude for the area and the location of nearby peaks, and then advised the pilot that the minimum instrument altitude for the area was 16,000 feet. After the pilot reported difficulty climbing to the assigned altitude, although he knew it was not an approved procedure, he asked the pilot to maintain his own terrain and obstruction clearance.

The controller stated that he believed that the pilot had filed the route, and that he was not aware that the pilot’s flight plan had been amended by JAC ATCT. He also did not realize that the cleared route passed through uncontrolled airspace. He was aware of the pilot rules for use of oxygen and correctly stated the altitude limitations.


Radar Data and Radar System Status

Radar data for the investigation was obtained from ZLC recordings from radar sites located at Ashton, Idaho (QVA), and Rock Springs, Wyoming (RKS); those two sites had the best available coverage of the flight segment between KICNE and RIW. From 0841 until 1401 on the day of the accident, the RKS radar site experienced some reliability issues, and the RKS data was therefore intentionally made unavailable for display to controllers at ZLC. However, radar data from the RKS site was still being transmitted to and recorded at ZLC. The decision to render the RKS data unavailable to the ZLC controllers resulted in the loss of ATC radar contact with the flight from 1336 to 1347, since during that period the airplane was in an area where no other radar site had coverage.

ZLC was the FAA facility responsible for monitoring and managing the operation of the RKS radar site. Operational radar data from the RKS radar site was also available to Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZDV) for use by controllers there. When the initial service interruption occurred, ZLC notified ZDV of the situation. Since ZDV was already operating with reduced capability because of an unrelated outage, ZDV elected to continue to use the data from the RKS site to preclude a more extensive loss of coverage than ZDV was already experiencing.

Shortly after the RKS data was determined to be unreliable by ZLC, a technician was dispatched to access the radar antenna site. Road conditions prevented him from reaching the antenna. About 5 hours after the initial failure, when it was determined that the technician could not access the site, ZLC personnel began remote diagnostic procedures in an attempt to restore the radar system operation. The system was successfully restored to service, and full functionality was returned to ZLC and ZDV.


Minimum Safe Altitude Warning (MSAW)

The radar data processing software in use at ARTCCs has the ability to detect situations where aircraft are operating below altitudes considered safe for IFR flight. The ZLC En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) software includes a map composed of polygons referred to as Terrain Alerting Volumes (TAV), each with a defined minimum altitude. When an aircraft that is being tracked is either within a TAV at less than the minimum altitude, or is projected to enter a TAV at less than the minimum altitude within the next 120 seconds, the controller is presented with an alert which must be evaluated and relayed to the pilot as appropriate to the situation. In severe situations, the controller may be required to issue a safety alert, warning the pilot of an imminent hazard. When the situation requires a safety alert, its issuance is a first priority duty equal in importance to separation of IFR aircraft.

During the period that the airplane approached and then entered the 15,800 foot TAV, it was not in radar contact, and was therefore, not eligible for MSAW service. Review of recorded radar data showed that if the RKS radar had been made available to the ZLC ERAM, there would have been no loss of radar contact with the airplane, and it would have remained continuously eligible for MSAW service.

In April 2011, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendations A-11-32 to A-32-34 to the FAA to address identified ATC related deficiencies. Refer to the accident docket for detailed information.


ELT Information

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website, ELTs were FAA mandated for installation on certain aircraft in the mid 1970s, and those ELTs transmitted on a frequency of 121.5 MHz. That system had several limitations, including frequency clutter, inability to verify the aircraft that was the source of the signal, and the requirement to have another aircraft within range to receive the signal.

In 1982, due to those limitations, implementation began on a satellite based system that operated on an exclusive frequency of 406 MHz. Key aspects included ELTs with a digital signal that uniquely identified each beacon, and global coverage. Although the receiver satellites were primarily designed to receive the 406 MHz beacons, provisions to receive the existing 121.5 MHz beacons were included. On February 1, 2009, in accordance with an international agreement reached in 2000, satellite reception of 121.5 MHz beacons was terminated. As of July 2012, the FAA has not mandated the replacement of 121.5 MHz ELTs with 406 MHz units.






 







CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A flight instructor had warned a Minnesota man of the dangers of flying his single-engine airplane over the mountains of northwestern Wyoming just weeks before the crash that killed the pilot and three of his sons two years ago, a new federal report says. 

The National Transportation Safety Board on Monday published its report on the Oct. 25, 2010, crash in Wyoming's Wind River Range that killed Luke Bucklin, 41 of Minneapolis, 14-year-old twins Nate and Nick, and 12-year-old Noah.

Luke Bucklin was president and co-founder of the Bloomington, Minn.-based Web development company Sierra Bravo Corp.

The NTSB report states that a flight instructor had traveled to the Minneapolis area a few weeks before the crash to provide the training Bucklin needed to get his commercial certificate. Bucklin told the instructor that he intended to fly his single-engine, 1977 Mooney propeller plane to Jackson, in northwestern Wyoming.

Michael Huhn, air safety investigator with the NTSB in southern California, authored his agency's report. He identified the flight instructor who worked with Bucklin as Walter Nindl. Attempts to reach Nindl for comment on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

"The (instructor) reported that he advised (Bucklin) about the potential hazards of a flight in that airplane in that area at that time of year," the NTSB report states. "The (instructor) reported that he specifically cautioned the pilot that since the airplane was not turbocharged or pressurized, and was not equipped for flight into known icing, there was a consequent need for the pilot to plan and operate any flights accordingly, in order to provide sufficient safety margins and escape options."

The report states that Bucklin told the instructor that he had flown into Jackson several times and knew the risks. "The (instructor) reported that the pilot gave him the impression that the pilot would conduct the upcoming flight in compliance with the (instructor's) suggestions," it states.

A voice recording of Bucklin's doomed flight shows he was struggling to gain elevation over Wyoming's highest mountains in bad weather immediately before the crash.

"Descending rapidly," Bucklin says on the recording. The Associated Press obtained the recording last year through a Freedom of Information Act request to the Federal Aviation Administration.

"Reporting severe mountain waves," Bucklin said about a minute later, referring to wind currents over the peaks. "Probably going to (garble)."

Mountaineers found the wreckage of Bucklin's plane and the bodies of the four victims after a weeklong search.

Huhn said the FAA recommends special training and education for pilots who intend to fly over mountainous regions. "It's operations in mountainous terrain so it's a different world, if you will," he said. "It's different from flatland flying."

Huhn said his agency's investigation couldn't determine whether Bucklin truly encountered mountain waves, which can create powerful downdrafts on the lee side of mountain peaks under certain conditions. "But again, mountain waves, and other weather phenomena associated with mountains, that's all in that basic exposure training to operations in mountainous areas," he said.

Following the Bucklin crash, the NTSB last year proposed new safety protocols for the Jackson Hole airport. Those are still pending before the FAA.

The NTSB recommended that the Jackson Hole airport staff should decide the safest routes for flying over mountains in the area, rather than allowing pilots to determine their own flight paths.

"The Jackson Hole airport is surrounded by mountainous terrain that can be tricky to navigate for pilots unfamiliar with the area," the NTSB stated in a statement last year. The agency also suggested installing air traffic control software to alert controllers when planes are flying too low in the area.

Read more: http://billingsgazette.com


Audio Recordings ATC and Pilot

HISTORY OF FLIGHT 

 On the afternoon of November 1, 2010, the wreckage of a Mooney M20J, N201HF, was located by ground searchers in the Wind River mountain range near Lander, Wyoming. The airplane became the subject of a week-long search after it was lost from ground-based radio communications and radar tracking facilities about 45 minutes after it departed from Jackson Hole Airport (JAC), Jackson, Wyoming, on October 25, 2010. The instrument rated owner/pilot and his three sons were fatally injured. The four had flown from the Minneapolis, Minnesota, area to JAC on October 21, 2010, and the accident flight was the first leg of the return trip to Minnesota. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91, on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan.

According to information from Lockheed Martin Flight Services (LMFS) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), on the morning of the accident, the pilot obtained his initial telephone weather briefing about 0918 mountain daylight time. About 1037, he telephoned again, obtained an abbreviated weather briefing, and filed an IFR flight plan. Both weather briefings included AIRMETs (Airmen's Meteorological Information) for mountain obscuration, turbulence, and icing along the planned flight routes and altitudes.

The 1037 flight plan specified a planned departure time of 1130, and a destination of Rapid City Regional Airport, (RAP) Rapid City, South Dakota. The filed route of flight was Dunoir (DNW) very high frequency omni-range (VOR) navigation facility, Boysen Reservoir (BOY) VOR, Muddy Mountain (DDY) VOR, and then direct to RAP. DNW, the initial navigation fix in that flight plan, was located about 22 miles north of JAC.

About 1237, the pilot used the internet to file another IFR flight plan, which again specified JAC as the origination airport. The filed departure time was 1247, and the filed route was DNW, Riverton (RIW) VOR, DDY, Newcastle (ECS) VOR, Rapid City (RAP) VOR, and Philip (PHP) VOR. The destination was Pierre Regional Airport (PIR), Pierre, South Dakota, and the filed altitude was 9,000 feet. About 1258, the JAC air traffic control tower (ATCT) controller issued the pilot his clearance, with some revisions. The altitude was amended to 16,000 feet, and the route of flight was to the KICNE intersection, then direct RIW, and then as filed by the pilot. The controller finished issuing the clearance by asking the pilot if he could accept 16,000 feet, and then informed the pilot that 9,000 feet was an "unavailable IFR altitude." The pilot responded that he would prefer 14,000 feet, and the clearance was then amended to 14,000 feet. KICNE, the initial navigation fix in the ATC-amended flight plan, was located about 26 miles south of JAC.

The airplane departed JAC runway 19 about 1306, and was in communication with, and tracked by, FAA air traffic control (ATC) at Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC). About 1340, the pilot filed a pilot report with LMFS which stated that he was 72 miles west of "Riverton" (the RIW VOR) at 14,000 feet, and that he was encountering "light chop," with a "trace of rime" icing.

The first radar target was recorded about 1309, and the airplane was tracked until about 1336, when it was at an altitude of 14,000 feet. The airplane was reacquired by ground radar about 1346, still at 14,000 feet. About 1347, the controller advised that the minimum IFR altitude in that sector was 16,000 feet, and asked if the pilot was climbing to that altitude, to which the pilot responded "..wilco." Two minutes later, the pilot reported that he might not be able to reach 16,000 feet. The controller responded that the minimum instrument altitude in that region was 15,800 feet, and asked the pilot whether he could maintain his own terrain clearance for the next 10 minutes. The pilot responded in the affirmative. About 1351, the pilot reported that he was in a "severe mountain wave" and that he was "descending rapidly out of 13,700" feet. About 1352, the last radar target associated with the airplane was recorded, with an indicated altitude of 13,300 feet. There were no further communications with the airplane.

The victims were recovered on November 2, 2010. Due to terrain elevation, topography, and seasonal conditions, the wreckage was recovered on August 24, 2011.


PERSONNEL INFORMATION

General Information

According to FAA records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and instrument airplane ratings. He obtained his private pilot certificate in May 2002, and he obtained his instrument rating in June 2009. Review of his personal flight logs indicated that neither of those flight evaluations, or any of the associated training flights, was conducted in the accident airplane make and model. The pilot became the co-owner of the accident airplane in February 2010, when he had a total flight experience time (TT) of about 760 hours. At the time of the accident, he had a TT of about 940 hours, including about 138 hours in the accident airplane make and model, all of which was in the accident airplane. The remainder of time appeared to be in Cessna 172 and Beech 23 airplanes. Review of his flight logs indicated that the pilot had limited flight experience in mountainous terrain.

The three children were all male. Two were 14 years old, and one was 12 years old.


Pilot's Instrument Time

At the time of the accident, the pilot had logged a total of about 23 hours of actual instrument flight time, and about 22 hours of simulated instrument time. His total logged actual instrument time included about 3 hours in the accident airplane. The pilot's most recent flight review included an instrument proficiency check that was conducted in two flights on 2 days, about 1 week before the accident. The first flight was on October 16, 2010, and the pilot recorded a flight duration of 1.7 hours in his logbook. The second flight, on the following day, had a logged duration of 4.0 hours. Both flights were conducted in the accident airplane. Prior to those flights, the pilot's most recent logged instrument flight was on August 31, 2009, in a Beech 23 airplane.


Flight Instructor Comments

The certificated flight instructor (CFI) who provided most of the training for the pilot's instrument rating was employed by a company whose primary business was to provide accelerated flight training to pilots located across the United States. The pilot contracted with the company, and the CFI was assigned to provide the flight training to the pilot. Prior to that, neither individual was acquainted with the other. The CFI traveled to the Minneapolis area, provided about 40 total hours of training over a period of 10 continuous days, and provided the pilot with a logbook endorsement to take his instrument rating flight test. The CFI reported that the pilot had obtained some instrument training prior to the CFI's training period with the pilot. The CFI also reported that his training sessions with the pilot were conducted in the pilot's Beech BE-23 Sundowner, a rented Cessna 172, and a ground-based flight training device. Some of the training flights were conducted in actual instrument meteorological conditions (IMC). The CFI noted that the training he provided did include the topic of aeronautical decision-making (ADM).

A few weeks prior to the accident, the pilot again contracted with the same flight training company and the same CFI to provide training for his commercial certificate. The CFI again traveled to the Minneapolis area and provided the flight training over the course of 4 days on two consecutive weekends. That training was conducted in the accident airplane, and the CFI provided the pilot with a logbook endorsement to take his commercial flight test. That endorsement was dated October 17, 2010.

During the course of that training, the pilot informed the CFI of his plans to fly the accident airplane to Jackson Hole in late October, and that he would take the commercial certificate flight test once he returned. The CFI reported that he advised the pilot about the potential hazards of a flight in that airplane in that area at that time of year. The CFI reported that he specifically cautioned the pilot that since the airplane was not turbocharged or pressurized, and was not equipped for flight into known icing, there was a consequent need for the pilot to plan and operate any flights accordingly, in order to provide sufficient safety margins and escape options. According to the CFI, the pilot told him that he had conducted flights to that location several times, and was cognizant of the risks. The CFI reported that the pilot gave him the impression that the pilot would conduct the upcoming flight in compliance with the CFI's suggestions.

In a telephone interview with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator, the CFI reported that overall, the pilot's performance was typical of the pilots he was familiar with through his employment, and that he recalled "nothing out of the ordinary" from his training sessions with the pilot. When asked, the CFI did not recall any specific strengths or weaknesses of the pilot, and did not recall any specific subject matter areas of difficulty. He stated that the pilot seemed to grasp all that was presented or taught to him, and that the pilot appeared to understand how to use the airplane performance charts. In summary, the CFI said that he had "no complaints" about the pilot.


AIRPLANE INFORMATION

General Information

The airplane, serial number 24-0152, was manufactured in 1977. It was equipped with a normally aspirated Lycoming IO-360 series piston engine, and retractable, tricycle-configuration landing gear. The maximum certificated weight was 2,740 pounds, and the fuel capacity was 64 gallons. The airplane was not equipped with any ice protection systems, and it was not approved for flight into known icing conditions.

The airplane was manufactured with a ram air induction system, which allowed bypass of filtered air in cruise to provide a slight increase in manifold pressure. Use of that system was prohibited in icing conditions. In 1992, the manufacturer issued Service Instruction M20-93, which permitted the removal of the ram air induction system. The ram air induction system had not been removed from the accident airplane.

According to both the airplane co-owner and the pilot's CFI, the airplane was equipped with the standard mechanical, electric and pneumatic flight instruments, a Garmin 430 communication and navigation radio with global positioning system (GPS) capability, and a Garmin MX20 multifunction navigation display. The airplane owners subscribed to XM weather, a commercial aviation weather datalink product, and that information could be presented on the MX20. A user's manual for a Garmin GPSMap 196 was found in the wreckage. No GPSMap 196 unit was recovered from the wreckage.

Review of the airplane maintenance documentation indicated that the most recent altimeter and encoding system inspection was completed in November 2009. The most recent annual inspection was completed in September 2010. At that time, the airplane had a TT of about 1,842 hours, the engine had a TT of about 1,842 hours, and a time since major overhaul (TSMOH) of about 362 hours. Review of the airframe and engine maintenance records did not reveal any entries that warranted additional investigation.


METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

General

The pilot's original plan was to depart JAC on Sunday October 24, but according to his wife, he did not depart due to "weather." No additional details were obtained by the investigation regarding the October 24 meteorological conditions for the planned route of flight. Refer to the accident docket for detailed meteorological information.


Pilot's Weather Briefing Information

About 0918 on October 25, the pilot first contacted LMFS to obtain a weather briefing. At the beginning of that conversation, the pilot specifically requested information from pilot reports (PIREPs) "or whatever you've got to see whether or not I can get up and out of here." The pilot was provided with two PIREPs from the JAC area. The first one, time 0812, was from an airplane over JAC, which reported cloud tops above 15,000 feet with light turbulence and no icing. The next one, time 0820, was from an airplane that departed JAC. That report included cloud tops at 18,000 feet with "light chop" and a trace of mixed icing from 10,000 to 18,000 feet.

The pilot then requested, and was provided with, the JAC terminal area forecast (TAF), which is a report established for the 5-statute-mile radius around an airport. The briefer and pilot discussed the fact that the then current conditions would exist until about noon, and then improve somewhat, primarily through an increased ceiling height (to 5,000 feet), and an end of the precipitation. They then discussed the surface conditions at RIW, and the briefer noted that it was slightly better than forecast. The pilot then mentioned that he was considering taking a commercial flight "because the weather was so crappy," but that flight was delayed or cancelled due to non-weather-related reasons, and he was therefore, "rethinking." The briefer then provided AIRMET information for mountain obscuration, turbulence, and icing along the proposed route of flight. The call ended about 0928.

About 1037, the pilot recontacted LMFS to file a flight plan and obtain an "updated briefing." His proposed departure time was 1130. After the pilot filed the flight plan, the briefer asked what weather briefing type the pilot wanted, and the pilot responded "abbreviated," with updated AIRMET information. The briefer provided the same AIRMET information as before, and added some information about AIRMETs further east than those in the previous briefing. The briefer then relayed a PIREP (time 1020) from an airplane that departed JAC, which reported "light chop" and cloud tops above 14,000 feet.

The briefer provided METAR (an aviation surface weather observation) and TAF information for several airports along the route of flight. Since the winds at the pilot's proposed destination of RAP were currently 21 knots gusting to 30 knots, and were forecast to become 27 gusting to 40, the pilot asked about conditions at PIR. The briefer informed him that PIR winds were 22 gusting to 30, and were forecast to remain at about those same values about the time of the pilot's planned arrival. The pilot then asked about Casper (Casper/Natrona County International Airport, CPR) and was told that the winds were 16 gusting 21, and forecast to become 15 gusting 25. The briefing ended about 1046.


JAC Surface Observations

On the morning of the flight, the JAC weather was changing continuously. The 0851 observation reported visibility 2 miles in light snow and mist, and an overcast cloud layer at 1,100 feet above ground level (agl). A special observation 14 minutes later reported 5 miles visibility in light snow, with a broken layer at 3,400 and an overcast layer at 4,100 feet. The 0953 JAC weather observation, which was current when the pilot filed his first flight plan, indicated that the weather was visual meteorological conditions (VMC), with light wind, 10 miles visibility, no precipitation, and broken cloud layers at 4,600 and 6,000 feet agl. The 1051 observation included 4 miles visibility, light snow, a broken layer at 3,100 and an overcast layer at 3,900 feet. The JAC observation 15 minutes later included 2 miles visibility, light snow, broken layers at 1,500 and 2,200 feet, and an overcast layer at 3,600 feet.

The 1151 observation indicated that conditions had improved slightly, with 3 miles visibility, light snow, a broken layer at 2,700 feet, and an overcast layer at 3,600 feet. The 1200 observation, which was current when the pilot filed his second flight plan about 1237, with a proposed 1247 departure time, included 10 knot winds, 1 mile visibility, light snow, a broken layer at 1,000 feet, and an overcast layer at 1,500 feet.

The 1254 observation, which was issued about the time that the pilot was in his airplane at JAC, included winds at 11 gusting to 17 knots, 1 mile visibility in light snow, a broken layer at 1,000 feet, and an overcast layer at 1,600 feet. The observation recorded about the time the airplane took off included winds gusting to 14 knots, 4 miles visibility in light snow, a broken layer at 1,500 feet, and an overcast layer at 4,500 feet.


Area Forecast

The aviation area forecast (FA) provides a picture of clouds, general weather conditions, and VMC expected over a large area encompassing several states. The 0745 area forecast for initial route of flight over the northern portion of Wyoming, current for the time of the accident, included broken ceiling at 12,000 feet above mean sea level (msl) with tops to 16,000 feet msl, isolated snow showers, and northwest winds with gusts to 30 knots. The eastern portion of Wyoming, east of the accident location, was forecast to have similar winds, with a broken ceiling at 14,000 feet msl, and cloud tops to flight level (FL) 240. Review of the pilot's recorded weather briefings with LMFS indicated that the pilot did not receive this information directly from the briefer. The investigation was unable to determine whether the pilot accessed that information via the internet.

Multiple AIRMETs for IFR, mountain obscuration and icing conditions were active over the western portion of the United States below FL 180 during the time of the flight, and three were active for the accident location. The "Sierra" (obscuration/IFR conditions) AIRMET forecast that mountains would be obscured by clouds, precipitation and mist, with those conditions ending between 0800 and 1100. The "Tango" (turbulence) AIRMET forecast that moderate turbulence could be expected below FL180, and that those conditions were forecast to exist until 2000. The "Zulu" (icing) AIRMET forecast moderate icing between the freezing level and FL 200, with a freezing level between 7,000 and 10,000 feet. Those conditions were forecast to exist until 2000. Review of the pilot's recorded weather briefings with LMFS indicated that the pilot was provided with this information.


Atmospheric Soundings

The 0600 RIW atmospheric sounding indicated the freezing level was at approximately 8,000 feet. No temperature inversions were noted in the troposphere. Calculations made by the RAwinsonde OBservation Program (RAOB) indicated scattered and broken stratiform and cumulus clouds may have existed at altitudes between 8,200 to greater than 15,500 feet. The vertical wind profile indicated a northwest wind at the surface of about 5 knots. At about 9,400 feet the wind had increased in magnitude to 31 knots. The vertical wind profile from this level through 15,000 feet consisted of a generally northwest wind between 22 and 32 knots. RAOB calculations of clear-air turbulence (CAT) indicated light to moderate turbulence potential existed between the surface and about 17,500 feet.

Icing type and severity calculations made by RAOB, based on United States Air Force studies, indicated a moderate to severe clear and rime icing potential between 12,000 and 19,400 feet.

A North American Mesoscale model sounding for the accident location at 1500 indicated the entire lower-troposphere was below 0°C. Calculations made by RAOB indicated scattered cumulus clouds may have existed between at these altitudes. The vertical wind profile indicated a westerly wind of 19 knots near the surface, and shifted to the west-northwest and increased to 37 knots at 17,900 feet. Calculations made by RAOB indicated severe/extreme CAT near the surface, with light to moderate values of CAT above 11,500 feet.


Satellite Observations

Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES)-13 and GOES-11 data indicate the accident site and the surrounding mountains were under cloudy skies. GOES-11 data from 0930 indicate that cloud-top heights in the vicinity of the accident were 13,500 to 14,900 feet. GOES-13 data from 0955 data indicated that cloud-top heights were between 14,500 and 17,300 feet in the vicinity of the accident site.


Weather Radar Data
The ground-based WSR-88D weather radar data at RIW, located about 48 miles east of the accident site, captured base reflectivity and velocity data at altitudes between about 12,200 and 17,000 feet near the accident site. The 1353 data indicated light to light-moderate values of reflectivity (a measure of precipitation) near the accident site. Base velocity information indicated wind magnitudes of approximately 30 to 40 knots from about 275 degrees at 14,300 feet in the vicinity of the accident.


Mountain Wave

According to FAA Advisory Circular AC-00-6A (Aviation Weather), "When strong winds blow across a mountain range, large "standing" waves occur downwind from the mountains…While the waves remain about stationary, strong winds are blowing through them. The air "dips sharply immediately to the lee of a ridge, then rises and falls in a wave motion downstream." A strong mountain wave requires marked stability in the airstream disturbed by the mountains, wind speeds of at least 15 to 25 knots, and wind direction within 30 degrees normal to the range. The AC continued "Amplitude of a wave is the vertical dimension, and is half the altitude difference between the wave trough and crest…Greatest amplitude is roughly 3,000 to 6,000 feet above the ridge crest."


AIRPORT INFORMATION

According to FAA Airport/Facilities Directory information, JAC was equipped with a single runway, designated 1/19, which was paved, and measured 6,300 feet long. Airport elevation was 6,451 feet above mean sea level (msl). The airport was equipped with an ATCT, which was operating at the time of the flight.


WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Search Effort Information

As a result of the loss of ATC communications and radar returns, the airplane was reported as missing on Monday October 25. The following day a winter storm moved through the area, and precluded most search activities. On Wednesday, October 27, ground and aerial search activity, under the direction of the Fremont County Sheriff's Office (FCSO) and FC Search and Rescue (SAR), concentrated on a 9-square-mile area in the vicinity of the last radar return. An FCSO press release characterized the search area as "one of the most remote areas of the lower 48 states." Terrain elevations ranged from 11,000 to 13,000 feet, and searchers reported "fresh and deep snow." Participating agencies included FCSO, United States Air Force, Wyoming Civil Air Patrol, Park County SAR, Sublette County SAR, National Outdoor Leadership School, and others. On Thursday, October 28, a weak emergency locator transmitter (ELT) was detected, but due to the topography and signal strength, the unit's location could not be determined.

The wreckage was found in a small steep drainage on the side of a mountain in a boulder field 7 days after the airplane departed from JAC. A ground search team comprised of technical mountaineers was traversing down the side of the mountain for airlift out of the area when they spotted the wreckage. The wreckage was located at the geographic coordinates of 43 degrees 9.708 minutes north latitude, 109 degrees 33.595 minutes west longitude. The terrain elevation of the site was about 11,000 feet (msl).

On-Site Wreckage Information

Fremont County law enforcement and rescue personnel, and one FAA inspector from the Casper Wyoming FSDO, documented the accident site and wreckage on November 2, 2010, concurrent with victim recovery. The impact location was a rocky slope of about 25 degrees, and the airplane nose was oriented in the upslope direction on a magnetic heading of 332 degrees. For reference purposes, the on-course magnetic heading from KICNE to RIW was 082 degrees.

The airplane came to rest in an upright orientation, and damage patterns were consistent with impact in an upright orientation. The wreckage was tightly contained, and only a small number of components were completely separated from the airframe or engine. All components were located within about 20 feet of the main wreckage. The cockpit/cabin was split and crushed/flattened in the vertical direction. Most items that separated from the airplane, including aircraft components and luggage, and the two front seat occupants, were found to the left side of the airplane. The left wing remained in its approximate design orientation, and the aft chord of the left wing exhibited more damage than the forward chord. The right wing was partially fracture-separated from the fuselage, and displaced aft and down. The forward chord of the right wing exhibited more damage than the aft chord. The engine remained attached to the fuselage, but with its longitudinal axis displaced about 75 degrees nose left of the fuselage longitudinal axis. The aft fuselage was bent up about 70 degrees at a point about 2 feet aft of the wing trailing edge. The ELT external antenna remained in place and relatively exposed. The empennage and aft aerodynamic surfaces were relatively intact. The upper prortions of the vertical stabilizer and rudder were deformed to the left.


Post-Recovery Wreckage Information

Recovery efforts necessitated partial deconstruction of the wreckage for transport to a secure location, where it was examined in September 2011. Examination of the wreckage confirmed that all major components were at, and were recovered from, the accident site. Refer to the accident docket for detailed examination results.

The accident and recovery process resulted in the engine and associated components being separated into two primary sections. One section consisted primarily of the crankcase, cylinders, and propeller hub, and three engine mounts, and the other contained portions of the forward cockpit, firewall, engine mount frame, cowling, lower windshield frame, cockpit floor, cabin door, nose gear, and some accessories. Most components exhibited significant impact and crush damage. The propeller was fractured, scored and gouged, consistent with powered rotation at the time of impact. The propeller was able to be rotated manually, which enabled confirmation of drive train continuity. Damage precluded the determination of whether the ram air system was in use at impact. Nearly all engine components and accessories were recovered, and no pre-existing mechanical deficiencies or failures that would have precluded normal operation were observed.

Most of the cabin door, portions of the instrument sub-panel, and the front right bottom seat cushion remained attached to the forward fuselage. The nose gear strut assembly was captive in this section of the wreckage. Multiple fractured segments of the aileron, elevator, rudder, and brake pedal control linkage assemblies were also found captive in this section. Damage precluded assessment of any control continuity in the forward fuselage and cockpit. The fuel selector was found set to the left tank. The pilot side instrument panel was found separated from the structure. The master and avionics master switches were found in the "on" position.

All wing sections exhibited significant crush and/or tearing damage. The left aileron and left flap remained attached to the left wing. The right flap was fracture-separated from the wing, and the right aileron remained attached to the wing. Aileron control continuity was established from the ailerons to the center wing/fuselage section. The flap setting at impact could not be directly determined due to the fracture-separation of the actuation linkage, but evaluation of the flap jackscrew indicated that the flaps were retracted at the time of impact.

Both main landing gear assemblies remained attached to the wing structure. The left gear remained captive in the retracted position by wing structure crush and deformation. The right gear was free to pivot between the retracted and extended positions.

The empennage had been cut from the fuselage during the recovery process. The vertical and both horizontal stabilizers remained attached to this segment, and the rudder and both elevators remained attached at all hinge points to their respective stabilizers. Control continuity was established from the elevators and rudder to the recovery cuts of the two longitudinally oriented control tubes in the empennage.

The airplane was equipped with a longitudinal trim system, which varied the angle of incidence of the aft fuselage/empennage (horizontal and vertical stabilizers) with respect to the forward fuselage. The longitudinal trim jackscrew assembly was intact, properly safetied, and remained attached per design. Jackscrew extension enabled determination that the longitudinal trim was about halfway between the normal takeoff setting and the full airplane nose down setting. Damage to the autopilot longitudinal trim system precluded assessment of its pre-impact condition or functionality.

An engine monitor with GPS capability was recovered in the wreckage. It was sent to NTSB Recorders Laboratory in Washington, D.C., where data from the accident flight was downloaded. The data interval was 6 minutes. The GPS ground track was congruent with the ground-based radar track. The last data point was recorded at 1358:56, when the airplane was 3.3 miles west of the impact location. All recorded engine parameter values were within normal limits for the duration of the flight, and no indications of any abnormalities were observed.

The ELT was a Pointer Model 3000 (TSO C91), with broadcast frequencies of 121.5 & 243.0 megahertz (MHz). Maintenance records indicated that the battery was replaced in August 2009.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Trip Background Information


According to the pilot's wife, the trip was a family vacation to attend a function on Saturday, October 23, in the Jackson area. She stated that they "tend to fly privately whenever it's practical." Due to space limitations, the pilot and three children flew in N201HF, while the remainder of the family scheduled to make the same round trip about the same dates via commercial airline. The October 21 morning departure from Minnesota of four family members in N201HF, and two on commercial airlines, was as planned. The flight of N201HF from Minnesota to JAC was accomplished in two legs. The family stayed together at a hotel in the region. The original plan was for the entire family to depart JAC on Sunday, October 24, with their return to Minnesota that same day. The flight of N201HF from JAC to Minnesota was planned as two legs, to be completed in a single day.

On October 24, the wife and child, who flew to JAC via commercial airline, departed JAC via commercial airline in accordance with their original plan. However, the pilot and three children delayed their departure until at least the following day due to weather. According to the wife, the pilot considered driving and commercial airline service as an alternate means for the return to Minnesota. She stated that on the morning of October 25, the pilot and three children had boarded a commercial flight, but that flight was subsequently canceled due to non-weather related issues. The pilot and three children later departed JAC in N201HF.


JAC Customer Service Representative Observations


The airplane had been parked outdoors on the ramp at JAC for the duration of the weekend. According to the customer service representative (CSR) at the FBO, the pilot arrived at the fixed base operator (FBO) on the morning of the accident, and informed her that he planned to fly the Mooney rather than wait for a commercial flight. The CSR did not elaborate on any possible reasons to prompt that statement by the pilot. The pilot then checked the "weather computer," and "watched out the window" for a while. He then requested that the airplane be moved into a hangar to warm up. After that was accomplished, the pilot split his time between the pilot's lounge at the FBO, and occasionally checking on the airplane. After "quite a while," the pilot exited the lounge and requested that the airplane be removed from the hangar in preparation for departure. The luggage and passengers were loaded, and the pilot taxied out for takeoff.


Pilot's Flight Preparation Information


Both flight plans filed by the pilot specified DNW as the first navigation fix. The charted minimum en route altitude (MEA) for the segment between DNW and BOY was 14,000 feet, with lower minimum altitudes along the remainder of the route. No minimum obstruction clearance altitude (MOCA) was specified. The charted MEA for the segment between DNW and RIW was 14,000 feet, with a MOCA of 13,500 feet, and lower minimum altitudes along the remainder of the route. In the flight plan, which he filed by telephone at 1037, the pilot requested an initial altitude of 14,000 feet. However, in the flight plan which he filed by computer at 1237, he requested an altitude of 9,000 feet. The reason(s) for the revised route and altitude requests were not determined.

Review of the receipts from the FBO indicated that on October 24, the pilot paid for fuel, oil, oxygen, and three nights of parking. No hangar charges were invoiced on that receipt. An FBO receipt dated October 25 indicated that the pilot paid for one night of parking, plus the hangar fee. Neither receipt bore a time stamp.


Weight and Balance Information

The maximum certificated takeoff weight was 2,740 pounds, and the allowable center of gravity (CG) range at that weight was 45 to 50.1 inches. The weight and balance of the accident flight was estimated using the airplane empty weight, the pilot's weight, estimates of the passenger weights, and a full fuel load, which then enabled determination of the clothing and baggage allowance.

The pilot was seated in the front left seat, the 12-year-old son was in the right front seat, and the two 14-year-old sons were in the rear seat. Since the children's weights could not be obtained, the US Center for Disease Control 50th percentile values of 90 pounds for the 12-year-old, and 110 pounds for the 14-year-olds, were used. The resulting gross weight (less baggage) was 2,659 pounds, which resulted in a CG of 46.58 inches. Those values were within the allowable weight and balance envelope, and allowed for a total of 81 pounds clothing, accessories, and baggage. Based on those values, the takeoff weight was estimated to be the maximum gross weight of the airplane, 2,740 pounds, at a CG of 48.03 inches.

Review of performance charts from the POH indicated that the airplane would have consumed about 9 gallons (54 pounds) of fuel from the time of the takeoff from JAC. Therefore, about the time of the accident, the estimated weight was 2,686 pounds, and the CG was 48.02 inches, which were both within the allowable weight and balance envelope.

Refer to the accident docket for additional information.
 

Airplane Climb Performance

According to the Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH), the service ceiling (the altitude where the maximum rate of climb is 100 feet per minute) was about 18,700 feet density altitude at a gross weight of 2,740 pounds, and was about 23,200 feet density altitude at a gross weight of 2,300 pounds. POH stall speed in the clean configuration at maximum gross weight was 59 knots calibrated airspeed (KCAS) or 61 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS).

Review of the POH Climb Performance charts indicated that 15 minutes and 4 gallons of fuel were required to climb from JAC to 14,000 feet. The POH-predicted rate of climb at 14,000 feet was about 350 feet per minute (fpm), and decreased to about 250 fpm at 16,000 feet. POH climb speeds were 81 knots true airspeed (KTAS) at 10,000 feet and 79 KTAS at 15,000 feet.

According to the airplane co-owner, he never used the ram air induction system, and neither did the accident pilot. According to a representative of the airplane manufacturer, when the normal induction system is in use (ram air not being used), the air filter canister directs the incoming air around to the back of the filter, and solids like rain or ice are ejected out the bottom of the canister by centrifugal force. The investigation was unable to determine the activation status of the ram air induction system during the flight or at impact, and its possible effects on engine induction icing and airplane climb capability.
 

Icing Information
According to AC-00-6A (Aviation Weather), "Aircraft icing is one of the major weather hazards to aviation. Icing is a cumulative hazard. It reduces aircraft efficiency by increasing weight, reducing lift, decreasing thrust, and increasing drag."

The AC stated that "Rime ice forms when drops are small, such as those in stratified clouds or light drizzle. The liquid portion remaining after initial impact freezes rapidly before the drop has time to spread over the aircraft surface. The small frozen droplets trap air between them giving the ice a white appearance… Rime ice is lighter in weight than clear ice and its weight is of little significance. However, its irregular shape and rough surface make it very effective in decreasing aerodynamic efficiency of airfoils, thus reducing lift and increasing drag."
 

Supplemental Oxygen Information
Paragraph 91.211 ("Supplemental Oxygen") of the Federal Aviation Regulations required that the pilot be provided with and use supplemental oxygen for that part of the flight that was of more than 30 minutes duration at cabin pressure altitudes above 12,500 feet (msl) and up to and including 14,000 feet (msl), and continuously at cabin pressure altitudes above 14,000 feet. In addition, the regulations required that at cabin pressure altitudes above 15,000 feet, each occupant was to be provided with supplemental oxygen.

The pilot's wife stated that that the pilot had a supplemental oxygen system, which she described as an "oxygen canister with nasal cannulas" that he used when flying at high altitudes. She was not familiar with his specific supplemental oxygen usage patterns. She also reported that although one child on the airplane had asthma, his symptoms were controlled by medication, and she was not aware of his ever using oxygen on the airplane. Records obtained from the FBO at JAC indicated that the pilot had paid for an oxygen fill prior to departure. An Aerox brand portable aviation oxygen cylinder with a 2-port outlet was recovered in the wreckage. The valve was found in the open position, the cylinder was unpressurized, and an oxygen line was entangled with the pilot's legs, but it could not be determined whether he was using the oxygen during the flight. There was no evidence to suggest that any of the other occupants were using supplemental oxygen during the flight.


Air Traffic Control Information

The clearance that was issued to the pilot differed in routing and altitude from the one he had requested. The routing difference included an obstacle clearance departure (TETON THREE), which involved a departure to the south instead of the north, and an off-airway segment. On the charted procedure, the fix beyond KICNE was Idaho Falls (IDA) VOR, which was approximately west of KICNE, and approximately opposite the pilot's requested route direction. The issued clearance did not include the leg from KICNE to IDA. Instead, it contained the off-airway segment from KICNE to RIW. The TETON THREE takeoff minimums specified either a minimum climb gradient of 335 feet per nautical mile to 14,000 feet, or a ceiling of 4,400 feet agl and 3 miles visibility. The initial clearance altitude was 7,000 feet above the pilot's requested altitude, but that was amended to an altitude 5,000 feet above his requested altitude.

The pilot filed two different routes and was issued a third, different route. Both filed routes were on defined airways. Review of the low-altitude IFR charts indicated that the first route (JAC-DNW-BOY) had a minimum enroute altitude (MEA) of 14,000 feet between DNW and BOY. The second route (JAC-DNW-RIW) had an MEA of 14,000 feet between DNW and RIW, and a minimum obstruction clearance altitude (MOCA) of 13,500 feet.

The cleared route contained an off-airway segment (KICNE to RIW), and therefore no MEA or MOCA were specified. Instead, pilots were to use the charted off-route obstruction clearance altitude (OROCA) unless otherwise specified by ATC. Review of the chart indicated that the OROCA for the KICNE to DIW leg was 16,100 feet. Review of IFR charts also showed an area east of KICNE where the floor of controlled airspace was 14,500 feet, and therefore flight at 14,000 feet would take the aircraft into class G (uncontrolled) airspace. Review of ATC communications indicated that the pilot did not question or attempt to change the routing, or the assigned 14,000 foot altitude.

FAA order 7110.65, "Air Traffic Control," provided guidance to controllers regarding route and altitude assignments for IFR aircraft. The order stated that controllers were to include "routes through Class G airspace only when requested by the pilot," that assigned altitudes on established airways must be "at or above the MEA for the route segment being flown," and that where MEAs have not been established, aircraft are to be assigned altitudes "at or above the minimum altitude for IFR operations."

The airplane departed JAC, and was in communication with and tracked by controllers at Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZLC ARTCC). About 1337, the controller advised the pilot that radar contact was lost. At that point the airplane was at 14,000 feet and about 22 miles east of KICNE, headed for RIW. About 9 minutes later, the controller attempted to assist the pilot, and the pilot attempted to climb to the minimum instrument altitude of 15,800 feet. The last radio communication from the airplane was received about 1352, when the pilot reported that he was descending rapidly.
 

ZLC Handling Controller

The controller who handled the airplane from shortly after takeoff until it was lost from communications was interviewed by NTSB air traffic specialists. The controller stated that once he was in contact with the airplane, he became engaged in other tasks in his sector, and did not notice that the airplane had gone into handoff status to the next sector. The other sector controller contacted him and advised him that she would take the airplane, but he retracted the handoff, and the airplane then turned east at KICNE. A few minutes later, radar contact with the airplane was lost. During the period that the airplane was not visible on the ERAM display, the controller referred to the backup system to update the flight track. After a few minutes, the controller noted that the airplane was again displaying radar targets in the ERAM system. He restarted the track in ERAM, and the minimum safe altitude warning alert immediately activated. He checked the overhead chart for the minimum altitude for the area and the location of nearby peaks, and then advised the pilot that the minimum instrument altitude for the area was 16,000 feet. After the pilot reported difficulty climbing to the assigned altitude, although he knew it was not an approved procedure, he asked the pilot to maintain his own terrain and obstruction clearance.

The controller stated that he believed that the pilot had filed the route, and that he was not aware that the pilot’s flight plan had been amended by JAC ATCT. He also did not realize that the cleared route passed through uncontrolled airspace. He was aware of the pilot rules for use of oxygen and correctly stated the altitude limitations.


Radar Data and Radar System Status

Radar data for the investigation was obtained from ZLC recordings from radar sites located at Ashton, Idaho (QVA), and Rock Springs, Wyoming (RKS); those two sites had the best available coverage of the flight segment between KICNE and RIW. From 0841 until 1401 on the day of the accident, the RKS radar site experienced some reliability issues, and the RKS data was therefore intentionally made unavailable for display to controllers at ZLC. However, radar data from the RKS site was still being transmitted to and recorded at ZLC. The decision to render the RKS data unavailable to the ZLC controllers resulted in the loss of ATC radar contact with the flight from 1336 to 1347, since during that period the airplane was in an area where no other radar site had coverage.

ZLC was the FAA facility responsible for monitoring and managing the operation of the RKS radar site. Operational radar data from the RKS radar site was also available to Denver Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZDV) for use by controllers there. When the initial service interruption occurred, ZLC notified ZDV of the situation. Since ZDV was already operating with reduced capability because of an unrelated outage, ZDV elected to continue to use the data from the RKS site to preclude a more extensive loss of coverage than ZDV was already experiencing.

Shortly after the RKS data was determined to be unreliable by ZLC, a technician was dispatched to access the radar antenna site. Road conditions prevented him from reaching the antenna. About 5 hours after the initial failure, when it was determined that the technician could not access the site, ZLC personnel began remote diagnostic procedures in an attempt to restore the radar system operation. The system was successfully restored to service, and full functionality was returned to ZLC and ZDV.


Minimum Safe Altitude Warning (MSAW)

The radar data processing software in use at ARTCCs has the ability to detect situations where aircraft are operating below altitudes considered safe for IFR flight. The ZLC En Route Automation Modernization (ERAM) software includes a map composed of polygons referred to as Terrain Alerting Volumes (TAV), each with a defined minimum altitude. When an aircraft that is being tracked is either within a TAV at less than the minimum altitude, or is projected to enter a TAV at less than the minimum altitude within the next 120 seconds, the controller is presented with an alert which must be evaluated and relayed to the pilot as appropriate to the situation. In severe situations, the controller may be required to issue a safety alert, warning the pilot of an imminent hazard. When the situation requires a safety alert, its issuance is a first priority duty equal in importance to separation of IFR aircraft.

During the period that the airplane approached and then entered the 15,800 foot TAV, it was not in radar contact, and was therefore, not eligible for MSAW service. Review of recorded radar data showed that if the RKS radar had been made available to the ZLC ERAM, there would have been no loss of radar contact with the airplane, and it would have remained continuously eligible for MSAW service.

In April 2011, the NTSB issued Safety Recommendations A-11-32 to A-32-34 to the FAA to address identified ATC related deficiencies. Refer to the accident docket for detailed information.


ELT Information

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website, ELTs were FAA mandated for installation on certain aircraft in the mid 1970s, and those ELTs transmitted on a frequency of 121.5 MHz. That system had several limitations, including frequency clutter, inability to verify the aircraft that was the source of the signal, and the requirement to have another aircraft within range to receive the signal.

In 1982, due to those limitations, implementation began on a satellite based system that operated on an exclusive frequency of 406 MHz. Key aspects included ELTs with a digital signal that uniquely identified each beacon, and global coverage. Although the receiver satellites were primarily designed to receive the 406 MHz beacons, provisions to receive the existing 121.5 MHz beacons were included. On February 1, 2009, in accordance with an international agreement reached in 2000, satellite reception of 121.5 MHz beacons was terminated. As of July 2012, the FAA has not mandated the replacement of 121.5 MHz ELTs with 406 MHz units.