Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cloud seeding trials take off in Mysore

At a time when the residents of Mysore and Mandya districts wait for rains to alleviate the water crisis, a private company has been conducting ‘basic trials’ in cloud seeding in the City of Palaces.

Speaking to Deccan Herald, chief pilot Captain Arvind Sharma of Agni Aviation confirmed that cloud seeding trials have started. A Piper Cheyenne aircraft has been kept on ‘operational standby’ to undertake seeding, depending on the formation of clouds in the catchment areas of the Kabini, the Cauvery and the Hemavathi River basins.

“The seeding will be carried out depending on the cloud formation in the coming days by the Piper Cheyenne aircraft, which has been stationed at Mandakalli Airport in Mysore,” Sharma said.

According to Sharma, “Cloud seeding is a technique of precipitation enhancement.” But unless there are “good clouds available,” it becomes impossible to carry out the process. 
 

Pointing out that there were good rains on Saturday, Sharma said that while nature was doing its job, the technique has only increased the amount of rainfall. He credits cloud seeding with having contributed 20 to 25 per cent of the rainfall.

Agni Aviation plans to employ cloud seeding techniques for the retreating monsoon, which will end by the first week of December.

“The window of opportunity is available until the first week of December. Cloud seeding will continue into Sunday and Monday,” Sharma said.

As there is no guarantee as to when clouds form, Sharma said that the aircraft and personnel involved in seeding will be placed on operational standby from morning to sunset until the first week of December.

Cloud seeding will not be undertaken at night because of safety reasons, he added.
 

Officials at the Agriculture Department have feigned ignorance over the seeding trials. A senior official, who requested anonymity, said that he was not aware of the development.

http://www.deccanherald.com

Ab Sportine Aviacija GENESIS, N4KN: Accident occurred October 20, 2012 in Roseland, Virginia

http://registry.faa.gov/N4KN

NTSB Identification: ERA13CA035  
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 20, 2012 in Roseland, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/31/2013
Aircraft: AB SPORTINE AVIACIJA GENESIS 2, registration: N4KN
Injuries: 1 Minor.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot stated that as the glider reached flying speed, it began to oscillate with the right wing dipping and impacting the grass runway, which resulted in a loss of control. The tow line disconnected, as designed, and the glider came to rest in an inverted position. A postaccident examination revealed substantial damage to the wings and the vertical stabilizer. The pilot reported there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the glider that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s failure to maintain glider control during takeoff.


The pilot stated that as the glider reached flying speed it began to oscillate with the right wing dipping and impacting the grass runway, which resulted in a loss of control. The tow line disconnected, as designed, and the glider came to rest in an inverted position. The pilot sustained minor injuries. A post-accident examination conducted by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed substantial damage to the wings and the vertical stabilizer. The pilot reported there were no mechanical malfunctions or anomalies with the glider that would have precluded normal operation.


 
IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 4KN        Make/Model: EXP       Description: GENESIS 2 GLIDER
  Date: 10/20/2012     Time: 1610

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

LOCATION
  City: ROSELAND   State: VA   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT CRASHED ON TAKEOFF, NEAR ROSELAND, VA 

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   1     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    


OTHER DATA
  Activity: Pleasure      Phase: Take-off      Operation: OTHER


  FAA FSDO: RICHMOND, VA  (EA21)                  Entry date: 10/22/2012 



An afternoon of aviation in Roseland came to a halt Saturday when a member of Shenandoah Valley Soaring, a local gliding club, crashed a glider before taking off. The crash happened just after 2 p.m.

Will Moore, 46, had no major injuries as a result of the incident. He was taken from the scene, a grassy field off Route 151, in an ambulance for treatment.

Moore was given medical treatment “for precautions more than anything else,” Carl Irvine, of the Nelson County Sheriff’s Department, said. Where Moore was transported was unavailable at press time.

Irvine said the glider’s left wing got caught on the ground during takeoff, causing the glider to flip forward and land upside down.

Irvine said both of the department’s on-duty deputies responded to the scene. State police and members of the Piney River Volunteer Fire Department also responded to the incident.

Graham Pitsenberger, the club’s president, said Moore just scratched his head.

“It’s broken up badly,” Pitsenberger said of the glider. He said the glider, owned by club member Hal Loken, likely cost more than $100,000.

Loken also owns the property the group was using for takeoff, Pitsenberger said.


http://www2.dailyprogress.com



A Staunton man is recovering from serious injuries after a minor plane crash Saturday afternoon in the Roseland community of Nelson County. 

Police say a single-engine Piper aircraft was in the process of taking off with a Genesis 2 glider in tow. 

When the glider attempted to align itself with the Piper for takeoff, its wing was caught on the ground. 

The glider then overturned. 

The Piper did not have any damage. 

The glider’s pilot, Presley W. Moore, III, 46, of Staunton, was transported by ambulance to Augusta Medical Center for treatment of serious, but non-life threatening injuries.

First responders test disaster preparedness at Newark Liberty International Airport (KEWR), New Jersey

NEWARK – It was all a drill Saturday morning, but the scenario was all too real:
The Port Authority held a full-scale emergency drill Saturday involving two airplanes at Newark Liberty International Airport.

An incoming United Airlines flight had made a hard landing at Newark Liberty International Airport, skidded and crashed into a departing FedEx cargo plane, injuring numerous passengers.

Volunteer “passengers” covered in faux blood were sprawled on the ground around the planes while thick smoke drifted up from both aircraft. The FedEx plane, emergency responders learned, also was reported to have hazardous materials on board.

Now it was up to federal, state and local authorities and first responders to test how they coordinate extinguishing the fires, investigating the hazardous cargo and tending to the injured and dead.

“It’s creating a scenario that’s as real as the real thing and challenges them to use the same types of communication and responses that they would in a real scenario,” said Anthony Hayes, assistant director of media at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“This is something that is a necessary item to make sure that we know what happens and everybody knows their duties in an actual emergency,” said Ramon Martinez, commanding officer of Newark Liberty International Airport and Teterboro Airport for the Port Authority Police. “It’s all about learning how to make it better.”

The Federal Aviation Administration requires that disaster drills be held every three years.

Saturday’s two-hour drill, sponsored by the Port Authority, involved 300 first responders, 150 volunteers, 100 support personnel, 30 mannequins and 80 vehicles.

Multiple agencies and companies were involved including Newark and Elizabeth firefighters; Essex and Union County emergency officials; State Police; the FBI; and the FAA.

The exercise’s estimated cost — which authorities placed at “under $200,000” — was funded with a Department of Homeland Security grant, Hayes said.

Normal airport operations were not disrupted by the drill, which was held at the FedEx ramp at the south end of the airport. Information was also distributed throughout the week to alert the public and pilots to not be concerned about the smoke and numerous emergency vehicles responding to the scene.

The drill bore some resemblance to a real emergency in February when a twin-engine jet had to make an emergency landing, forcing one of the country’s busiest airports to briefly close. The plane landed and skidded on the underside of the aircraft’s nose but no passengers were injured.

Here’s how the drill played out Saturday:

At 10 a.m., emergency responders were alerted that the United aircraft – coming from South America – was reporting problems three miles away. As it landed, the plane, which carried 150 passengers, skid and struck a departing FedEx cargo plane. The FedEx plane had 10 people on board and 15,000 pounds of cargo.

Port Authority fire trucks were the first to arrive on the scene of the two planes — positioned nose to nose — pretending to put out fires and rescue passengers. The United plane’s emergency chute was activated.

Hazmat crews from Union County and Port Authority police also set up a perimeter around the FedEx plane and contained the materials.

Shortly after, a line of ambulances rushed along the airfield to the area. The crews quickly assessed the severity of injuries to passengers, who wore make-up to simulate severe gashes and broken limbs and moaned for help.

Rebecca Kim, 19, of Carlstadt, was one of about 16 Rutgers University students who participated as an injured actor for her volunteer-management class.

“You volunteer for fundraisers but this is a totally different type of volunteering,” she said. “Nobody thinks to volunteer for this stuff.”

The exercise came just one day after the Transportation Security Administration moved to fire 25 airport employees and suspend 19 others for improper screening of checked luggage.

 http://www.northjersey.com

Aero Commander 500-B, N1165Z: Aircraft force landed on a dirt road - Porterville, California

RECORDER PHOTO BY RENEH AGHA 
Aero Commander 500-B (N1165Z) made an forced landing on a dirt road off of Road 224, just south of Teapot Dome Avenue at about 3 p.m. Wednesday.


A Aero Commander aircraft made an emergency landing just prior to 3 p.m. Wednesday on a dirt road between two young citrus groves, 2 miles south of the Porterville Airport. 

 The plane landed an approximate 200 yards west of Road 224, just south of Teapot Dome Avenue. No injuries were reported.

Fortunately, the plane landed where the citrus trees were not much taller than 3 feet, giving plenty of room for the aircraft. It came to stop just before some utility lines.

Numerous law enforcement entities responded. However, as of press time, Sgt. Chris Douglass, TCSO Public Information Officer, said she had no additional information.

Porterville Airport manager Jim McDonald said the aircraft is a twin engine, six-passenger plane contracted with the U.S. Forest Service chartered by the Porterville Air Attack Base.

“I don’t have any other information other than it landed off the airport and our mechanic has gone out to take a look at it,” McDonald said. “I don’t know why he landed where he did. All I know is that the aircraft and one other person is fine.”

Raul Contreras, Porterville Air Attack Base manager, was also on site but said he did not know anything, other than a plane landed where there was no airport.


IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 1165Z        Make/Model: AC50      Description: 500 Commander 500, Shrike Commander
  Date: 10/10/2012     Time: 2200

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

LOCATION
  City: PORTERVILLE   State: CA   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT FORCE LANDED ON A DIRT ROAD, NEAR PORTERVILLE, CA

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    


OTHER DATA
  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Landing      Operation: OTHER


  FAA FSDO: FRESNO, CA  (WP17)                    Entry date: 10/11/2012 

http://registry.faa.gov/N165Z

 http://www.airport-data.com/aircraft/photo

Man accused of pointing laser at Seminole County police helicopter, temporarily blinding pilots

SEMINOLE COUNTY — A Winter Park man is facing charges, accused of pointing a laser at a Seminole County Sheriff's helicopter eight times.

Deputies said Usman Tufail, 24, pointed the laser at them while they were chasing a burglary suspect. They said the chopper pilots had to halt their pursuit because they were blinded by the beam.

"Some of his statements were such that he wanted to see how far he could shine a laser -- if he could hit the helicopter," said Steve Farris, chief pilot for Seminole County Sheriff's Office.

WFTV found out the laser doesn't have to be pointed directly at pilots' eyes to blind them. All the laser has to do is hit any one of the eight windows on the chopper and the laser's beam will fill the entire cockpit.

"Airliners fly at 10-20 thousand feet, the beam gets wider as it gets higher so it can become like a very big flood light even though it's a small laser purchased on the Internet," Farris said.

The sheriff's office said the pilots were temporarily blinded as if they looked directly at a flash on a camera. It said the laser flashed through the cockpit eight times, while the chopper was 800 feet above the ground.

Tufail is facing multiple charges that include pointing a laser at a pilot, which is a felony.

The FAA and FBI are also investigating the incident along with two other laser-related arrests involving the Seminole County Sheriff's Office helicopter earlier this year.

Those agencies are involved because it is a federal offense to shine a laser pointer at an aircraft or into its flight path.

The law, passed earlier this year, requires prosecutors to prove a suspect knowingly targeted an aircraft.

Anyone convicted of the crime could be fined up to $11,000 for each count and get a 5-year prison term.


 http://www.palmbeachpost.com

Globe GC-1A Swift, N80823: Accident occurred October 20, 2012 in East Moriches, New York

NTSB Identification: ERA13FA032
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 20, 2012 in East Moriches, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/30/2013
Aircraft: Swift Museum Foundation, Inc. GC-1A, registration: N80823
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The airplane departed with an adequate supply of fuel in the main fuel tank but an unknown amount of fuel in the tip tanks. After the airplane took off, the mechanic who performed the last condition inspection and who was near the departure end of the runway noted an unusual sound; he said the sound was abnormal and expected the pilot to return, but he did not. The airplane’s GPS indicated that the flight proceeded south to the southern Long Island coastline then turned to the west, paralleling the coastline while climbing to a maximum altitude of 2,602 feet. The flight continued on the westerly heading along the southern coast of Long Island and descended to 2,383 feet and then turned north; the VHF transceiver was set to the Farmingdale automatic terminal information service. The flight continued on the northerly heading and descended to 1,812 feet, then turned to an easterly heading, followed by a southeasterly heading toward the southern coast of Long Island. The flight then turned back to an easterly heading with a steadily decreasing altitude and a steady groundspeed of about 86 knots. When just west of Moriches Inlet, the GPS altitude was noted to be 60 feet, and the groundspeed was 85 knots.

Several witnesses located near the crash site heard a sputtering engine. One witness stated that the airplane was running flawlessly, but he thought it was going to land because it was flying “way too slow.” Another witness who was located about 1,000 to 1,500 feet west of the Moriches Inlet reported seeing a flock of birds take flight followed by the airplane pitching up and then pitching down into the inlet.

Postaccident inspection of the airframe, flight controls, engine, and engine systems revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. Although minimal damage was noted on the propeller, no evidence of a bird strike was noted on any component of the airplane. The flaps and landing gear were extended, consistent with a precautionary landing.

During the postaccident examination, the left side of the engine exhaust, where it enters the muffler, was circumferentially fractured at a weld, and cracks were noted in a weld-repaired area of the left side exhaust system components; the fracture and cracks can be attributed to overload as a result of impact. There was no evidence of exhaust gas escaping the repaired area. Further, no carbon monoxide was detected in specimens of the pilot or passenger taken during the postmortem examinations. Although a crack to the left side exhaust system had been detected 9 days earlier and repaired at a non-aviation facility, it did not play a role in the accident.

The fuel selector was found positioned to the tip tanks, both of which were breached during the impact sequence; therefore, no determination could be made as to the quantity of fuel in the tanks at the time of the accident. Although the remaining quantity of fuel in the main fuel tank was not quantified during the postaccident investigation, the airplane had only been operated for 40 minutes since the main fuel tank was filled; the main fuel tank can hold over 2 hours of fuel. No obstructions of the fuel supply from the main or tip tanks were noted, and the engine-driven fuel pump tested satisfactorily. Although about 6 ounces of water was drained from the main fuel tank, the water was consistent with ocean water; no other contaminants from the tank were noted. Water contamination was also noted from a sample of fuel and water drained from an open fuel supply line for the right tip tank; however, the right tip tank was breached and the water was likely from the ocean. No fuel or contamination was noted in the carburetor bowl.

Although a valve on the left side of the firewall was inoperative, which allowed heated air to enter the cockpit by the pilot’s side, no determination could be made as to how or if that factored into the accident sequence. Further, that condition had been known by the pilot since September.

Based on the flight track and groundspeed recorded by the GPS and the fact that the landing gear and flaps were extended, it is likely that the pilot was performing a precautionary landing. However, the reason for the attempted precautionary landing could not be determined from the available evidence. Based on the witness statement of birds in the area, it is likely that during the precautionary landing, the pilot reacted to the birds by pitching the airplane up, stalled the airplane, and was unable to recover because of the low altitude.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:

The failure of the pilot to maintain airspeed, while attempting a precautionary landing for reasons that could not be determined from the available evidence. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s pitch-up reaction to birds that took flight during his approach for the precautionary landing, which resulted in an inadvertent stall.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 20, 2012, about 1504 eastern daylight time, a Swift Museum Foundation, Inc., GC-1A, N80823, owned by the pilot, impacted the water of Moriches Inlet, East Moriches, New York. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight from Spadaro Airport (1N2), East Moriches, New York, to Republic Airport (FRG), Farmingdale, New York. The airplane was substantially damaged and the private pilot and 1 passenger were fatally injured. The flight originated from 1N2 about 1455.

The reported purpose of the flight was to return to FRG. An airframe and powerplant mechanic who signed off the last condition inspection was at the south end of 1N2 when the accident flight departed. He reported that what first caught his attention was the sound. The airplane at that time was past the departure end of the runway about 100 feet above ground level (agl), and he described hearing a noise from the engine he described as an “after noise.” He was asked if it was an after fire, and he advised it was not. He again referred to it as an “after noise”, which in all his years of experience he could not describe. Because of the noise which he perceived as abnormal, he expected the pilot to return but he did not. He did not observe any smoke trailing the airplane, which disappeared from his view. The witness was asked if he wears any hearing aide devices and he said he does, but at that time was not wearing them because they were in for repairs.

According to data downloaded from the on-board GPS receiver, after takeoff the flight proceeded south to the southern coast of long Island while climbing to 1,473 feet, then turned to the west paralleling the coastline climbing to a maximum altitude of 2,602 feet at 1459:10. The airplane continued on the westerly heading along the southern coast of Long Island and descended to 2,383 feet where at 1500:47, a right turn to the north was made. The flight continued on the northerly heading and descended to 1,812 feet, and at 1501:37, the flight turned to an easterly heading, followed by a southeasterly heading towards the southerly coast of Long Island. The flight then turned to an easterly heading with decreasing altitude and steady groundspeed value of approximately 86 knots. When just west of Moriches Inlet, at 1504:14, the GPS altitude was noted to be 60 feet and the groundspeed was 85 knots, while 7 seconds later, the GPS altitude was noted to be 87 feet and the groundspeed was 75 knots. The final GPS target at 1504:22 indicates the GPS altitude was 89 feet and the groundspeed was 67 knots. The last target was located at 40 degrees 45.8736 minutes North latitude and 072 degrees 45.396 minutes west longitude.

A witness driving eastbound on the beach approximately 200 yards west of the Moriches Inlet jetty reported the accident airplane flew over his vehicle about 30 feet agl. The witness heard a sputtering engine, and assumed that the airplane was in distress, and was going to land on the beach. He then lost sight of the airplane and assumed it had impacted the water in the inlet. He proceeded to the area and observed boaters secured the airplane with anchor lines. The comment about the sputtering engine was echoed by another witness located on the west jetty of Moriches Inlet.

One individual who was on the beach located 1,000 to 1,500 feet west of the Moriches Inlet reported seeing the airplane flying low in an easterly direction. The witness reported the airplane appeared to spook a flock of birds which became airborne, and then observed the airplane pitch up, followed by the nose pitching down; the airplane crashed into the water of the Moriches Inlet.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector-in-charge, the accident pilot did not establish contact with any FAA air traffic control facility at any time during the flight, and there was no radar data available for the accident flight.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 51, seated in the left seat, was the holder of a private pilot certificate with airplane single engine land rating. He was issued a third class medical certificate with no limitations on September 7, 2011. On the application for his last medical certificate he listed 480 hours as his total flight time, and 20 hours in last six months. There was no record of enforcement action, and he did not hold a repairman certificate.

Review of the aircraft insurance application dated August 21, 2012, with an effective date of August 25, 2012, indicates the pilot listed his total time to be 500 hours, and 15 hours were in a tailwheel equipped airplanes in the last 90 days. The application also indicates his last flight review was in July 2012.

The passenger, age 72, seated in the right seat, was last issued a student pilot medical certificate on August 16, 2006. On the application for his last medical certificate he listed a total time of 300 hours. There was no record that he obtained any further pilot certificates.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was manufactured in 1946 by Globe Aircraft Corporation, Fort Worth, Texas, as model GC-1, and was designated serial number 226. It was certificated in the normal category in accordance with Civil Air Regulation (CAR) 4A, and originally equipped with a 85 horsepower Continental C85-12 engine and a fixed pitch propeller.

An application was requested by Palomar Aviation, Inc., to place the airplane in the experimental category for the purpose of conducting flight tests on various modifications including installation of a 180 horsepower Lycoming O-360-A1A engine, leading edge change, rudder size change, and tip tank installation. The FAA Engineering & Manufacturing District Office (WE-41) approved the request on May 2, 1963, and issued operating limitations that expired November 2, 1963. The airplane remained in the Experimental Category by application every year until October 1979, at which time it remained in the experimental category with no expiration date.

The fuel system consisted of two tanks in the wing center section each located inboard of the wing outer panel attach point and also between the forward and aft spars, and two fiberglass fuel tanks installed at each wingtip, selectable by the fuel selector, and plumbed to the engine compartment. The two tanks installed in the wing center section are considered the main tank; the total capacity of the main tank is listed to be 27.8 gallons. While the capacity of each fiberglass tip tank was not determined by paperwork, the fuel selector indicated “176” for the left and right tip tanks respectively.

The engine was equipped with an exhaust system that is similar in design to that for a Mooney M20A or M20B airplane equipped with a Lycoming O-360 engine; however, it was modified.

Paperwork provided to FAA and NTSB indicates that the pilot purchased the airplane from the previous owner in December 2011. There was no record with the FAA that a registration application and bill of sale for his purchase were submitted to the agency. The pilot picked up the airplane on August 25, 2012, at Waterbury-Oxford Airport (OXC), Waterbury, Connecticut. The mechanic who performed the last condition inspection reported he did not perform a pre-buy inspection of the airplane for the pilot. Since purchase, the pilot based the airplane at the Republic Airport (FRG), located in Farmingdale, New York.

Heated air for the cockpit and cabin is provided by a shroud assembly which covers an exhaust manifold on the bottom forward portion of the engine. A scat hose connects to a duct on the shroud assembly and also to a valve located on the lower left portion of the firewall. A Bowden wire connected to a control knob on the co-pilot’s side of the instrument panel controls the valve which has a moveable flap on the engine compartment side of the valve and also a second flap located on the interior of the valve. By design, with the cockpit and cabin heat knob in the closed position, the flap on the interior is vertical or parallel to the firewall while the flap on the engine compartment side of the valve is open preventing heated air from entering the cockpit and allowing it to escape into the engine compartment.

Ram or fresh air to the cockpit and cabin is provided by a scat hose that connects to a duct at the engine cowling and also to a valve located on the lower center portion of the instrument panel. A Bowden wire connected to a control knob on the co-pilot’s side of the instrument panel controls the valve which has a moveable flap on the engine compartment side of the valve and also a second flap located on the interior of the valve. By design, with the cockpit and cabin fresh air knob in the open or pulled position, the flap on the interior is horizontal or perpendicular to the firewall while the flap in the engine compartment is closed allowing fresh air to enter the cockpit.

The maintenance records were obtained from the airframe and powerplant mechanic who performed the last condition inspection. The airframe logbook contained only 1 entry and was for the last condition inspection which was signed off as being completed on October 11, 2012, or 9 days before the accident. The entry did not specify tachometer time nor airframe total time. The mechanic who performed the inspection later reported to the FAA-IIC that he signed the inspection off on the wrong date after being informed that the accident airplane was seen by another FAA inspector at FRG on October 8, 2012.

During the last condition inspection, the airframe and powerplant mechanic noted the left side exhaust was cracked. The exhaust was removed from the airplane, and taken to a non-aviation facility for repairs. The individual who performed the repair was interviewed by several FAA inspectors and the individual reported the general condition was, “…was about 50 percent good but pretty rotted and cracked at the ‘Y’ and very dirty.” The person did not have a jig but eyed the repair for alignment, and used ER705-2 steel rod for the repair. The person recommended getting a new exhaust for the left side and he also stated that he had no prior experience welding an aircraft exhaust system.

The airframe and powerplant mechanic reported the repaired exhaust looked good and he advised the accident pilot to check for stress/misalignment when installing the exhaust. The mechanic reported the pilot informed him there was no stress/misalignment when he installed the exhaust system onto the engine.

The mechanic who performed the last condition inspection reported he began the inspection about 1 week before the accident. When asked what reference data he used (maintenance manuals, 14 CFR Part 43, homemade checklist, etc.) he said he did not have any data and based his inspection on his years of experience as a mechanic. He was asked if he test flew the airplane after the condition inspection was performed and he said no, but did state that the accident pilot flew it on 3 takeoffs and landings and after the flight did not report any discrepancies.

The engine logbook contained entries from February 2, 1960 to the last entry dated October 11, 2012. Further review of the engine logbook revealed an entry dated March 10, 1967, indicating the Lycoming O-360-A1A engine was given a major overhaul and then installed in the accident airplane. No entries were noted between March 10, 1967 and June 7, 1975; November 18, 1982, and May 5, 1998; May 5, 1998, and “8/08”; “8/08” and “9/10”; and “9/10” to “October 11, 2012.” There was no record that the engine had been removed since installation in 1967, and there was no record excluding the entry for the last condition inspection indicating any work performed to the exhaust system.

Although the time since the last condition inspection could not be determined because the airframe and engine logbook entries did not contain the tachometer time, data downloaded from the installed global positioning system (GPS) receiver indicates that on October 7th, the GPS recorded the position to be at 1N2, and about 25 minutes later the GPS recorded the position to be on the ramp at FRG, which is the airport where the airplane is based. Recorded or calculated ground speed values were consistent with flight. Two roundtrip flights were recorded on October 13, 2012, and also on October 18, 2012. The total flight duration for the flights on October 13 totaled approximately 1 hour 27 minutes, while the total flight duration for the flights on October 18 totaled approximately 1 hour 12 minutes. The next recorded flights occurred on the accident date.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

A surface observation weather report taken at HWV Airport at 1456, or approximately 10 minutes before the accident indicates the wind was from 200 degrees at 12 knots, the visibility was 10 miles, and clear skies existed. The temperature and dew point were 19 and 14 degrees Celsius respectively, and the altimeter setting was 29.68 inches of Mercury. The accident site was located approximately 5.8 nautical miles and 123 degrees from the HWV Airport.

FLIGHT RECORDERS

The airplane was not equipped, nor was it required to be equipped, with a cockpit voice recorder (CVR) or flight data recorder (FDR). However, the airplane was equipped with a Garmin GPSMAP 196 global positioning system (GPS) receiver. The component was retained and shipped to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory located in Washington, DC.

Upon arrival at the Vehicle Recorder Laboratory, internal corrosion was noted. The main board was removed and rinsed in fresh water, and then air dried. The non-volatile memory chip was removed from the board, the memory image downloaded, and the contents decoded.

The track data extracted spanned the time period from August 26, 2012 through October 20, 2012. The accident flight was recorded starting at 18:50:41 UTC and ending at 19:04:22 UTC. Extracted data concerning the accident flight were overlayed onto Google Earth, and also placed in an Excel spreadsheet; the report is contained in the NTSB Public Docket.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage came to rest near the west edge of the Moriches Inlet jetty, East Moriches, New York; the airplane was inverted. Bystanders who watched the crash tied ropes to the airplane in an effort to keep it from sinking to the bottom. The wreckage was located at 40 degrees 45.9 minutes North latitude, and 072 degrees 45.3 minutes West longitude.

The airplane and all observed components were recovered from the water the same day about 2300 hours local. Pictures of the airplane following recovery from the water provided by the Suffolk County Police Department depict the right wing still attached. The right wing was removed, and the wreckage was transported to the Suffolk County Police Department Impound yard where it was secured.

Following recovery, the wreckage was inspected by NTSB, representatives of the FAA, and a representative of the engine manufacturer. All components necessary to sustain flight with the exception of both flaps were recovered. Inspection of all recovered components revealed no evidence of bird strikes. As first viewed, the left wing was fractured and separated just outboard of the attach point, but recovered. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers were separated, but recovered. The engine remained attached to the airframe and the propeller remained attached to the engine. A portion of the lower cowling remained partially attached; however, the upper engine cowling was not located or recovered.

Examination of the left wing and wing center section revealed the main spar remained attached to the inboard attach point but was bent aft and fractured due to bending overload about 12 inches outboard of the attach bolt. The aft spar attach bolt was in place but the aft spar fitting was bent forward and overload fractured about 1 inch outboard of the attach bolt. The separated section of the wing exhibited a 45 degree compression wrinkle on the upper wing skin surface that begins about midspan of the aileron extending through the main and aft spars to about the outboard edge of the aileron. Both aileron control cables remained attached to the bellcrank near the control surface, and were pulled inboard towards the fuselage tearing the upper wing skin for about 21 inches. The cables were fractured and exhibited tension overload near the wing attach. The aileron containing a fixed tab remained attached at all three hinge points but the flap was separated and not recovered. The flap actuator push/pull rod near the control surface was fractured and exhibited tension overload. The inboard bearing bracket was not fractured, while the middle flap hinge was bent outboard with a section of flap still attached. The outboard flap/aileron hinge bracket was bent outboard. The inboard 39 inches of the leading edge was crushed. The fuel cap was in place, and with the airplane in a nose-low attitude, fuel escaped from the opening when the fuel cap was unscrewed. Although the amount of fuel was not quantified, it was consistent with a nearly full fuel tank. The tip tank was separated but recovered; no fuel remained in the breached tank. The aluminum fuel supply line from the tip tank was fractured near the wing separation point. Air was blown into the fuel line at the fracture point and no obstructions were noted from the line fracture point to the engine compartment with the fuel selector in the as-found “B” position. The main landing gear was down and locked. The flap actuator push/pull rod exhibited bending overload approximately 9 inches outboard from the bellcrank attach point near the actuating cylinder.

Examination of the right wing and wing center section revealed the outer wing panel was removed at the attach point by normal disassembly method during the recovery process. The main spar was displaced aft. Fuel was dripping from the tip tank fuel supply line where disconnected for recovery at the wing attach point. The dripping fuel was captured into a glass jar and found to be blue colored fuel consistent with 100LL mixed with water. The inboard 38 inches of the wing leading edge was crushed aft. The tip tank remained attached but was breached and did not contain any fuel; air was blown into the tip tank fuel supply line at the wing attach point and no obstructions were noted from the line to the engine compartment with the fuel selector in the as-found “B” position. The aileron equipped with a fixed tab remained attached at all hinges. The middle hinge of the aileron was bent inboard. The aileron flight control cables remained connected to the bellcrank near the control surface but were cut near the wing attach point during the recovery process. The flap was separated and not recovered. The flap actuator push/pull rod remained connected to the flap attach bracket, while the inboard flap hinge hole showed deformation of the hole. The middle flap hinge has section of flap attached by the bolt, castellated nut, and cotter pin. The remaining portion of the flap exhibited overload fracture. The outboard flap hinge has the bracket attached. A metal fuel tank was installed in the wing cavity; however, it was not equipped with a provision for a fuel cap. The main landing gear was down and locked. A compression wrinkle was noted in the lower wing skin from the leading edge of the wing to the aft spar of the wing; the wrinkle was noted between the middle and outboard aileron hinges. The flap actuator push/pull rod exhibited bending overload approximately 15 inches outboard from the bellcrank attach point near the actuating cylinder.

Examination of the fuselage and empennage revealed the fuselage was circumferentially fractured near the rear window and remained connected by the battery cable and flight control cables. Compression wrinkles were noted on the right side of the fuselage aft of the battery compartment area. The vertical stabilizer was separated from the airplane but recovered. The front spar attach rivets of the vertical stabilizer were sheared, and the aft spar bracket exhibited overload fracture. The separated vertical stabilizer exhibited a compression wrinkle on the right side indicating displacement to the right. The rudder was separated from the vertical stabilizer but remained connected to the airplane by the flight control cables. The upper and lower rudder attach bolts remained connected to the vertical stabilizer. Both horizontals were separated at the root but recovered; the structure exhibited overload failure. Both elevator primary control surfaces remained connected to each separated horizontal stabilizer, while the elevator trim tab remained attached to the left elevator. The elevator push/pull rods exhibited cup and cone fractures consistent with tension overload. The elevator trim tab appeared neutral; the elevator trim tab actuator drum exhibited 6 wraps on the forward side and 4 wraps on the aft side, also consistent with the neutral position. The elevator jackscrew had 4 full threads exposed aft of the trim tab actuator housing. The flap actuator cylinder was at the forward stop consistent with the flaps full down position.

Examination of the cockpit revealed the front windshield was nearly completely missing. The No. 1 communication transceiver was set to the FRG airport automated terminal information service (ATIS) frequency of 126.650 megahertz. A knob located on the co-pilot’s side of the instrument panel that controlled the cockpit and cabin heat was partially extended, while a knob that controlled fresh air into the cockpit and cabin was extended about 1.75 inches and was bent to the right. Bowden wire continuity was established for both knobs; however, movement of the knob for the cabin heat did not move the valve at the firewall, it only resulted in flexing of the cable housing that was only secured by 1 plastic tie wrap. The corresponding valve positions on the cockpit and firewall sides were both open, though impact damage was noted to the lower left portion of the firewall. Also, the housing near the control knob was split, and bent to the left, which allowed movement of the cable housing with movement of the knob. The second valve installed on the lower center portion of the firewall which allows ram or fresh air into the cockpit and cabin was completely closed on the firewall side. The fuel selector was found positioned to the “B” position and was in the detent, which corresponded to fuel being supplied by both wing tip fuel tanks.

An approximate 9 ounce sample was collected from the main fuel tank. The 9 ounce sample consisted of approximately just under 6 ounces of cloudy water consistent with salt water and the remainder being blue colored fuel consistent with 100LL. A second sample of 8 ounces was collected which consisted entirely of blue colored fuel consistent with 100LL.

Testing of the fuel supply system was performed with the fuel selector position to the main position; no obstructions were noted to the engine compartment.

Examination of the Lycoming O-360-A1A engine, serial number L-2038-36, revealed the No 3 cylinder top spark plug lead was finger loose; however, abrasion damage was noted to the barrel nut. Additionally, the intake and exhaust valve pushrod seals for the No. 4 cylinder were noted to be pushed in; however, impact damage on the left side of the engine was noted, and there was no evidence of an oil leak in the area. The exhaust stack assembly for the No. 2 cylinder was separated at the inlet of the muffler. A crease on the lower portion of the No. 2 cylinder exhaust stack extended from the fracture surface forward approximately 3.0 inches in length. The crease nearly collapsed the complete wall thickness near the fracture surface and was progressively less in depth moving forward, while the mating fracture surface at the muffler did not exhibit any discernible deformation. The oil filler dipstick was in place but separated at the engine attach point; safety wire securing the dipstick to the engine was broken. Crankshaft, camshaft, and valve train continuity was confirmed, and suction and compression was noted in each cylinder during hand rotation of the crankshaft. Borescope examination of each cylinder revealed no anomalies noted. Magneto to engine timing could not be confirmed because the ring timing gear was fractured; however, both magnetos were tightly secured to the accessory case. The magnetos were removed from the engine, dried using compressed air, and rotated by hand revealing spark at all ignition towers. The carburetor was fractured across the throttle bore and was retained by the throttle, mixture, and carburetor heat control cables. Disassembly inspection of the carburetor revealed no fuel or debris inside the carburetor float bowl, and no anomalies noted. Inspection and hand operation of the engine-driven fuel pump revealed no discrepancies noted. The auxiliary fuel pump which remained attached to the firewall was inspected by removal of the pump filter; no debris was noted. The filter had an odor consistent with that of aviation fuel. A section of exhaust from the No. 2 cylinder was retained for further examination.

The exhaust system was loosely attached to the engine, and the lower engine cowling was placed in proper position in order to mock-up the components. Although impact damage was noted to the No. 2 cylinder exhaust riser which caused damage at the repaired area of the exhaust, the mock-up depicted heat damage on the interior surface of the cowling and the proximity of the exhaust system components.

Examination of the propeller which remained secured to the engine revealed blade marked “A” exhibited spanwise scratches on the cambered side of the blade and did not exhibit any appreciable bend or blade twisting, while the blade marked “B” exhibited some chordwise and spanwise scratches on the cambered side of the blade and was bent aft about 5 degrees at about ¾ span and was twisted towards low pitch.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Postmortem examinations of the pilot and passenger were performed by the Suffolk County Medical Examiner’s Office. The cause of death for both was listed as blunt force trauma.

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens of the pilot and passenger by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and also the Division of Medical-Legal Investigation and Forensic Sciences, Suffolk County, New York. The toxicology report for the pilot by FAA stated the results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and tested drugs. The toxicology report for the pilot by the Division of Medical-Legal Investigation and Forensic Sciences stated the results were negative for ethanol, carbon monoxide, basic and acidic drugs.

The toxicology report for the passenger by FAA stated the results were negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and tested drugs. The toxicology report for the passenger by the Division of Medical-Legal Investigation and Forensic Sciences stated the results were negative for ethanol, carbon monoxide, basic and acidic drugs.

TEST AND RESEARCH

An individual who was in Moriches Inlet on a boat equipped with a recording camera provided the SD card and operating software to NTSB Vehicle Recorder Division in an effort to determine if the accident sequence was captured.

According to the NTSB Image Recorder Specialist’s Factual Report, no files were found on the SD card. Recovery software was used to recover a large number of proprietary video files; however, no video files depicted the accident site. The owner of camera reported to NTSB there may have been operational issues with the recording system at the time of the accident.

On the morning of the accident date the pilot flew from FRG (home base airport) to Brookhaven Airport (HWV); the flight duration was about 41 minutes as determined by the on-board GPS receiver. The pilot did not fly while at HWV, and while there about 1220, the main tank was filled per his request. The flight departed HWV about 1247, and flew to 1N2 arriving there about 1318 based on GPS data. While there the pilot and passenger had lunch with a friend at the airport; no maintenance was performed while at 1N2.

The individual who had lunch with the pilot and passenger advised the NTSB that while at lunch, the pilot “looked sweaty, but the doctor was not.” She stated that the pilot was heavy in the stomach and the doctor/passenger was thin. She said goodbye to the pilot, and both occupants boarded the airplane which was then taxied to the approach end of runway 18, and paused. The witness at that time was located outside on the east side of the departure end of runway 18.She watched the takeoff and noted the airplane rotated about the first 1/3 of the runway, began climbing and noted the landing gear retracted. To her the engine sounded fine during the takeoff. She also reported that the pilot flew the airplane into 1N2 on September 1st or 2nd, 2012, and after arrival he complained about the heater and the fact that he could not shut it off.

Examination of the retained portion of the exhaust by the NTSB Materials Laboratory revealed the fracture surface exhibited a rough grainy surface consistent with an overload event, on a uniform pipe thickness that measured 0.027 to 0.025 inch thick. No evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction was noted. Examination of the repaired area of the exhaust revealed the patch repairs displayed a rough uneven lumpy appearance but did not exhibit any indications of escaping exhaust gases. Further, cracks in the weld repaired area were consistent with compression buckling related to impact damage.


NTSB Identification: ERA13FA032 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 20, 2012 in East Moriches, NY
Aircraft: Swift Museum Foundation, Inc. GC-1A, registration: N80823
Injuries: 2 Fatal.


This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On October 20, 2012, about 1506 eastern daylight time, a Swift Museum Foundation, Inc., GC-1A, N80823, registered to and operated by a private individual, impacted the water of Moriches Inlet, East Moriches, New York. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed for the 14 CFR Part 91 personal flight from Spadaro Airport (1N2), East Moriches, New York, to Republic Airport (FRG), Farmingdale, New York. The airplane was substantially damaged and the private pilot and 1 passenger were fatally injured. The flight originated from 1N2 about 1500.

On the morning of the accident date the pilot flew from the home base airport (Republic Airport), to Brookhaven Airport (HWV). He did not fly while there and at 1220, the main tank was filled for the pilot’s request. The flight departed HWV and flew to 1N2 arriving there between 1315 and 1330. While there the pilot and passenger had lunch with a friend at the airport; no maintenance was performed while at 1N2.

After lunch the pilot started the engine, taxied to the approach end of runway 18 and departed. One witness reported that the airplane became airborne about the first 1/3 of the runway and saw the landing gear retract. She also reported that to her the engine sounded fine. Another witness who is an airframe and powerplant mechanic and who was located near the departure end of runway 18 heard a sound from the engine that caught his attention. At that time the airplane was past the departure end of runway 18 about 100 feet above ground level (agl). He described the sound as an “after noise” which he had trouble describing. He thought because of the abnormal sound the pilot would return but he did not. The witness did not see any smoke trailing the airplane.

One witness who was located at his house which was located about 14 miles west of the crash site reported seeing a red colored airplane with tip tanks (matches the accident airplane’s description) flying 20 to 30 feet agl in an easterly direction. The witness advised FAA the airplane flew about 100 feet abeam from his deck.

Another witness who was driving eastbound on the beach near the Moriches Inlet (close proximity to the accident site) reported the airplane flew overhead his position about 30 feet agl. The witness heard a sputtering engine, and assumed that the airplane was in distress, and was going to land on the beach. He then lost sight of the airplane and assumed it had impacted the water in the inlet. Another witness who was on the west jetty immediately adjacent to the accident site reported seeing the airplane flying low with a sputtering engine. He called 911 at 1506 to report the accident. One witness who was located about 1,000 to 1,500 feet west of the inlet also reported seeing a low flying airplane. The witness stated that the low flying airplane spooked a flock of birds which lifted off. The witness then reported seeing the airplane pitch up followed by a pitch nose down and impact in the water.

An individual who was in a boat in the Moriches Inlet at Buoy 3 facing southwest observed the airplane flying in an easterly direction, turning to the west, then saw the left wing drop, followed by it going out of sight.

 
Cyril McLavin, originally from Dysart in Co. Westmeath
 Photo by courtesy Greg Semendinger


 A small plane crash claimed the lives of an Irish immigrant and his longtime friend off Long Island this past weekend.
 

Cyril McLavin, originally from Dysart in Co. Westmeath was killed when his private plane spun out of control and plunged into the sea on Sunday afternoon.
The crash occurred near Fire Island shortly after takeoff before 3pm last Sunday, according to CBS New York.

According to police, the red and white Low Wing Globe Swift private plane had just taken off from Spadaro Airport in nearby East Moriches. The crash happened at the east end of Fire Island and the plane sank shortly after impact in about 15 to 20 feet of water.

 

The two victims were identified as Cyril Mclavin, 51, of Fresh Meadows and Dr Andrew Messana, 72, of Bayside. Their two bodies were recovered just after 11pm on Saturday night.
 

Susan Spadaro, the owner of the airport, said that the two men spent the day giving kids plane rides as part of a charity event at Brookhaven Airport.
“The only reason they took the plane out was to help at the event,” Spadaro told the NY Post.

 

“We had heroes for lunch, and then they took off. A few minutes later, they were gone.”
 

“They were great guys and loved to fly,” she added.
 

A witness who heard the plane in distress said he heard a loud noise.
 

“You could see he was in panic mode because the motor was sputtering and he was losing the motor,” the witness told CBS 2′s Cindy Hsu. “When he hit, a very loud noise and that was the last that would happen to him.”
 

The National Transportation Safety Board has begun an investigation into what caused the single-engine plane to crash. 

The New York Post has reported that an Irish man, Cyril McLavin (51), originally from Dysart, Co Westmeath, was killed in an air crash in his private plane.

According to the report McLavin had just taken off from Spadaro airport on Long Island in the company of his flying companion Dr. Andrew Messana (72), when the 1946 Globe GC-1A plunged into Moriches Inlet.

The men had been helping at a charity event in which they had given children plane rides from Brookhaven Airport in an event sponsored by an aviation group. The crash is reported to have happened about 3pm local time on Saturday. 


“The only reason they took the plane out was to help at the event,” Susan Spadaro, owner of the airport, said. “We had heroes for lunch, and then they took off. A few minutes later, they were gone.”


IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 80823        Make/Model: GC1A      Description: GLOBE GC-1A
  Date: 10/20/2012     Time: 1930

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

LOCATION
  City: EAST MORICHES   State: NY   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT CRASHED UNDER UNKNOWN CIRCUMSTANCES, THE 2 PERSONS ON BOARD WERE 
  FATALLY INJURED, EAST MORICHES, NY

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


OTHER DATA
  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER


  FAA FSDO: FARMINGDALE, NY  (EA11)               Entry date: 10/22/2012 

http://registry.faa.gov/N80823

 BROOKHAVEN  (WABC) -- A small plane that crashed off the coast of Long Island Saturday, and the bodies of two men inside, have been pulled from the water.  Coast Guard Petty Officer Erik Swanson said the bodies of two men and the plane were retrieved from the inlet shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday, about eight hours after the crash.

The aircraft went down around 3 p.m. in Moriches inlet, near the eastern end of Fire Island. After it crashed, it sunk in about 15 to 20 feet of water. Suffolk County police divers worked to reach the occupants for hours after the plane sank.
 

Medics had remained on the scene for hours after the crash in case the two survived, but they were submerged for hours and presumed dead because water had come into the cabin.

The Globe Swift aircraft departed Spadaro Airport, not far from where it crashed, earlier Saturday.

Good Samaritans on a nearby boat were first on the scene, and tried to keep the plane above water but tying a rope to it, but the aircraft sank.

The Federal Aviation Administration was sending inspectors to the crash site.

The victims have not yet been identified. 


 Suffolk County Parks Police assisted at Smith Point County Park while dvers tried to rescue people on board a plane that crashed into Moriches Inlet on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2012.

Suffolk County police divers are working into the night to try and rescue a reported two people from a small airplane that crashed into Moriches Inlet in East Moriches and sank under about 30 feet of water on Saturday afternoon.

A U.S. Coast Guard boat from nearby Station Shinneock was first on the scene after witnesses called 911 reporting the low-flying aircraft sputtering over the east end of Smith Point County Park on Fire Island and hit the water before going under shortly after 3 p.m.

“We’re going as long as it takes,” Mark Avrill, command duty officer at Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound, said after a boom crane truck was brought on the beach at about 8 p.m. to assist in the operation.

Two teams of three divers are alternating in shifts in the 64-degree water as they try to free the victims, a task that became harder when the plane sank upside down and settled on a rock jetty, Deputy Inspector Chris Hatton, chief of the Marine Bureau, told reporters at a press conference near the scene.

He did not speculate on the condition of the victims, although other local news outlets have reported that the pair are presumed dead. Det. Lt. Jack Fitzpatrick, chief of the Homicide Squad, was on the scene.

Federal Aviation Administration and National Safety Transportation Board investigators will continue the probe once police resurface the wreckage. An FAA spokeswoman said the the Globe Swift took off from Spadaro Airport in East Moriches, but it was not immediately clear where it was destined.

Fishermen in the area who reported the crash tried to rescue the pilot and passenger but were unable to open the cockpit door, the Coast Guard said. They tied a rope to the plane to prevent it from drifting while the tide was going out at the time.

Hatton said the witnesses reported a “large chunk” of the plane fell off, although it was unclear if that was before or after the plane crashed.

The incident came after a single-engine plane crash landed and burst into flames about eight miles away on a Shirley side street minutes after taking off from nearby Calabro Airport in August, killing two and critically injuring a third person. It is also a few miles from where TWA Flight 800 exploded over the Atlantic Ocean on July 17, 1996, killing all 230 on board.

Moriches Inlet, formed by the hurricane of 1938, is considered such a treacherous passage between the ocean and Moriches Bay that it is not marked by buoys because the Coast Guard officially considers it “non-navigable.”

-With Rashed Mian

 At 3:06pm today, a small plane crashed in the Moriches Inlet and sank.  The Coast Guard and Marine Bureau arrived at the scene along with members of the Mastic Beach Ambulance and Mastic Fire Department and Rocky Point Search and Rescue trying to recover victims from the wreck.

Dave Didio who saw the plane flying low said that he was fishing by cut 3, approximately a 1/2 mile from the end.  “I saw a red and white plane go by.  He wasn’t flying very high, about a hundred feet up.  I  heard one little noise from the plane, that is what made me turn around and then I saw the plane continue on.”

Two witnesses who were fishing on the jetty saw a plane coming right towards them.  They said that they quickly ran and hid behind their truck to protect themselves.  They explained how the plane was feet away from hitting them and then it nosedived into the water.  The front of the plane quickly submerged into the water followed by the rest of the aircraft.

A man with his two young grandchildren were on the beach when they saw the plane flying about 15 feet above the water and then crash.  At the time that they saw the plane, they did not hear any motor sounds.  The plane came gliding in, turned slightly and plunged propeller first into the inlet.

Steven Congemi who was boating in the inlet at the time of the crash stated, “We just heard it crash.  At first we thought it was a boat until we saw the tail sticking out of water.  We then motored quickly to help along with other boaters.  My mate Brian Dawson hooked the anchor around one of the wheels and threw the line to someone on the rocks.  Someone from another vessel jumped in but couldnt get to them.”

At this time, there is no word on who was piloting the plane or how many people were on board.  The Suffolk County Police stated, “At this time they are still in the water, trying to put more cables on the plane to lift it out of the water and they do not know how many victims there are.  It’s dark, there’s a strong current and the visibility is next to zero.”

AUTOGYRO MTO SPORT, N589DH: Accident occurred October 20, 2012 in Bourland, Texas

http://registry.faa.gov/N589DH
 
NTSB Identification: CEN13CA017 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 20, 2012 in Bourland, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/10/2013
Aircraft: HUNTHROP AUTOGYRO MTO SPORT, registration: N589DH
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The private pilot, who had 10 hours of dual instruction and 1.5 hours of solo flight in the gyroplane make and model, was performing touch-and-go landings in the gyroplane in pursuit of a gyroplane endorsement when the gyroplane impacted terrain during a takeoff, and the fuselage was substantially damaged. The pilot could not recall the accident sequence. The wind at the time of the accident was from 190 degrees at 19 knots gusting to 27 knots. Documentation showed that the pilot had been signed off by his flight instructor to operate the gyroplane solo in wind up to 9 knots. A visual examination of the gyroplane did not reveal any preimpact anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Based on the information available, it is likely the pilot did not maintain directional control while taking off in the gyroplane in strong, gusty wind conditions.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's decision to fly the gyroplane in gusty wind conditions that exceeded his limitations and his resultant loss of control during takeoff.

While performing touch-and-go training, the gyrocraft impacted terrain during a takeoff from the runway. The gyroplane's fuselage was substantially damaged. The Federal Aviation Administration inspector reported that the solo private pilot sustained a broken arm and a concussion; the pilot could not recall the accident sequence. In addition, the pilot was training to obtain a gyrocraft endorsement and had been signed off by his flight instructor to operate solo in winds up to 9 knots. Winds at the time of the accident were 20 degrees from runway heading at 19 knots gusting to 27 knots. At the time of the accident, the pilot had accumulated about 271 hours total time with 10 hours dual and 1.5 hours solo in make and model. A visual examination of the gyrocraft did not reveal any preimpact anomalies.



IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 589DH        Make/Model: EXP       Description: AUTOGYRO MTO SPORT
  Date: 10/20/2012     Time: 1646

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: Serious     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Unknown

LOCATION
  City: FORT WORTH   State: TX   Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT ON TAKEOFF, CRASHED OFF THE SIDE OF THE RUNWAY, BOURLAND FIELD, 
  FORT WORTH, TX

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   1     Fat:   0     Ser:   1     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: Take-off      Operation: OTHER


  FAA FSDO: FORT WORTH, TX  (SW19)                Entry date: 10/22/2012 
 
 
PARKER COUNTY — A pilot was hospitalized after his experimental helicopter crashed in Parker County Saturday morning.

 The gyroplane went down around 11:20 a.m. while performing touch-and-go maneuvers at Bourland Field Airport near Cresson, 17 miles southwest of Fort Worth.

Department of Public Safety Trooper Gary Rozzell investigating the crash said the 60-year-old pilot lost control in strong winds. No one else was on board.

The pilot was critically injured, but his condition was stabilized before being transported to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

The pilot's name was not released pending notification of his family.

Gyroplanes are a specially classified aircraft that use a rotary wing, similar to a helicopter. They fly safely at low altitudes and low speeds, but they can't hover as a helicopter can.


 http://www.wfaa.com

 A Fort Worth man is in critical but stable condition after his experimental aircraft was downed at Bourland Airfield.

Gary Rozzell with the Department of Public Safety said 60-year-old Willaim Don Hunthrop of Fort Worth was flying an experimental gyroplane.

Rozzell says Hunthrop was doing "touch and goes" for license requirements at Bourland Airfield in Cresson, TX in Tarrant County.

Hunthrop was injured in the incident and airlifted to John Peter Smith Hospital in critical but stable condition.

Steve Ridgeway: Virgin operates from where consumers want, for now that's Heathrow

Steve Ridgway, Virgin’s outgoing chief executve, talks about his frustration over the runway debate and how securing short-haul routes can keep the pressure on British Airways.

 Steve Ridgway may have another six months before he disembarks Virgin Atlantic for good, but the airline’s long-standing chief executive already appears to be in holiday mode.

The man who has dedicated the past 23 years of his life to Sir Richard Branson’s aviation group has taken an hour out to relax at a corner table at the Delaunay restaurant on Aldwych, and he’s in the mood for small talk as he sips on a fruit smoothie.

“I only went out on my boat once or twice this summer,” the 61-year-old laments, referring to a speedboat, which he hopes will see far greater use after his retirement in April.

“I told Richard I wanted to leave before a summer and I’m glad it wasn’t this one,” he adds as we bemoan the appalling weather.

When it was announced in September that Mr Ridgway planned to retire after 11 years as chief executive of Virgin Atlantic, the news was met with surprise.

Industry rumours suggested the decision was linked to Ridgway’s pay, after he said in an interview just weeks earlier that his £350,000-a-year salary and no bonus was “not as high as I’d like it to be and my bosses know that”.

It was a fair point, given that Ridgway is the poor man among his peers in the UK aviation industry. By contrast, British Airways chief executive Keith Williams receives a basic salary of £650,000, while Carolyn McCall at easyJet is on £665,000 a year before bonuses. Even Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary, who recently claimed to be the “most underpaid and underappreciated airline boss in Europe”, received €768,000 (£623,608) last year in basic salary.

Mr Ridgway laughs at the conspiracy theories. He insists that he mentioned to Sir Richard – “Richard” to him – at the start of the year that it was approaching the time for him to step out of the cockpit. As for his comments about his pay: “That was just a bit of naughty fun and it certainly wasn’t said in that context.”

So pay wasn’t a problem then? “No, not in that way,” he smiles. The Virgin chief, who lives on a houseboat in Chelsea, plans to take next summer off, but has no intention of jetting off into the sunset for good.

He hopes to take on some non-executive directorships and will get more involved in the hotel he owns in Cornwall with his brother Hugh, called St Moritz.

“I’d like to see that grow. I have also got a few other things,” he says, adding that he has always been interested in “design and innovation”.

Ridgway will leave Virgin at a turbulent time for the industry, when sky-high fuel prices and a squeeze on consumer spending are putting airlines under extreme pressure.

Virgin swung to an £80.2m loss in the last financial year, despite revenues climbing 3pc to £2.7bn. Rival long-haul carriers are sheltering from the economic headwinds behind new strategic partnerships, such as the codeshare agreement recently announced between Air France and gulf carrier Etihad, and Emirates’ tie-up with Qantas.

Analysts believe Virgin, which is 49pc owned by Singapore Airlines, is in a particularly vulnerable position following BA’s takeover of bmi, which used to feed UK domestic passengers into Virgin’s long-haul network. The £172.5m sale to BA by Lufthansa was approved in March following a short investigation by the European Commission (EC).

Sir Richard was so riled by the EC’s decision to wave through the takeover “in just 35 working days” that he launched a legal appeal, which is likely to roll on for several years.

In the meantime, Virgin has applied for the 12 pairs of Heathrow take-off and landing slots that are up for grabs following the deal to launch its own short-haul operation, serving Manchester and Scotland.

Irish carrier Aer Lingus is competing for some of the slots to launch services between Edinburgh and London. Aviation analysts believe Virgin must win the slot battle if it wants a sustainable way of feeding its long-haul network to destinations such as New York, New Delhi and, as of next week, Mumbai.

Ridgway, who has seen “three or four” serious aviation downturns during his career, shrugs off all talk of Virgin’s fight for survival.

It’s a story he has heard many times over the decades since he joined the company in 1989 as managing director of Virgin Freeway, its frequent flyer programme.

“People say to me, 'surely it’s getting much tougher for you now?’. But it was probably never tougher than when we had one or two planes [in the late 1980s].

“We were a tiny player at Gatwick, but now we are a £3bn organisation with 6m passengers a year, a set of routes and slots at Heathrow that you couldn’t replicate today.

“It’s never easy and even in the good times margins are very thin. In our 28 years we have had very few years of losses.”

Julie Southern, Virgin’s chief commercial officer, and Rob Fyfe, Air New Zealand’s outgoing boss, are among the favourites to take over from Ridgway, but the launch of short-haul is one last hurdle he’d like to clear before heading for the exit.

He admits that Virgin should have done the deal with bmi itself “a long time ago”, specifically in 2009 when Lufthansa took control. But “that’s history now”, Ridgway says hastily, and he has been shouting loudly in Europe that the only way to ensure there is effective competition with BA on key feeder routes to Heathrow is if the 12 slot pairs are kept together.

Short-haul may finally be within Virgin’s grasp, but one long-held goal – to see a clear and long-lasting aviation policy in the UK – isn’t even a spot on the horizon. A fact that Ridgway finds “frankly quite depressing”.

He has been in the industry for more than two decades and during that time, no new runways have been built in the South East.

Ridgway is usually less excitable than his industry peers, in particular IAG’s Willie Walsh, but he can’t help betraying his frustration over the inertia of successive governments.

The Coalition has kicked the airport expansion debate into the long grass by setting up the Davies commission, which won’t report until 2015.

“That is a long time and it’s an overly long time,” says Ridgway. “All I would say is, let’s get to 2015 and make sure we have a completely full evaluation, alignment right across the political spectrum and that we have cleared the decks in terms of noise, environment, planning etc... so that the day after [the final report is released] the button can be pressed. Because if you don’t, you have another five years of environmental impact studies, planning battles etc.”

In the past, Virgin has stressed the importance of a hub but has been more reluctant than the likes of BA to pin its colours to Heathrow’s mast. BA has ruled out flying from “Boris Island”, even if the Estuary airport does get off the ground.

Today, however, Ridgway makes Virgin’s case perfectly clear: “Virgin would operate from wherever there is a hub that consumers want to fly from, and right now, and for the foreseeable future, in affordability terms, that is Heathrow.”

“There are many different business models in aviation, and there absolutely needs to be regional aviation and strong point-to-point flows to other markets. But if you’re going to connect the UK to the world, you need to be doing that through a hub.”

Ridgway may be on his way out but he can’t resist one parting shot at ministers before he heads for the door.

“It annoys me that people who build bits of planes are absolutely loved – whether it’s Rolls-Royce building the engines and exporting them or Airbus building all of the wings at Broughton and exporting them.

“But what doesn’t seem to be loved is us actually flying the planes and that is bizarre.

“If you look at companies such as BA and Virgin in terms of overseas sales, we generate many billions a year, so we are a pretty large exporter in our own right.

“No one ever thinks of us as an exporter, they think we have to be taxed and regulated, whereas normally exporters are loved, so I do find it very frustrating.”

Those he is leaving behind in the aviation industry will be hoping ministers are listening.


http://www.telegraph.co.uk

Work Continues at Columbus Municipal Airport

The taxiway revitalization project at the Columbus Municipal Airport is going very well. That from Airport Director Brian Payne, who says they are about one week ahead of schedule.

The current project is a full deck restoration on taxiway "Delta" and is scheduled to be completed by November 20. Barring any unforeseen, extreme weather, Payne says the contractors should have no problem finishing the project on time.

Payne adds that the current work-rate is good news as the project is causing a few inconveniences. "Currently, we have a lot of back-taxiing operations going on," he said.

Payne says that while this project is underway, aircraft are unable to taxi to a couple of runways without going down an additional runway. Even with that, Payne says that once the current project is completed, these inconveniences will "be well worth it."

Payne also spoke briefly about future plans for the airport. He says their five-year plan calls for a lot of pavement repairs, including work on a couple of connector taxiways, specifically numbers 83 and 84. Payne adds that they also want to fully restore runway 1432.

For more information on the Columbus Municipal Airport, visit their website at www.columbus.in.gov/airport.

Gulfport man says he's cleared of 'no-fly' order, takes plane to leave Hawaii

GULFPORT -- A Gulfport man who said he was stranded in Hawaii for six days over a perplexing "no-fly order" flew in to San Francisco late Friday afternoon after learning he had been cleared to board an airplane.

Wade E. Hicks Jr., 34, said no one has explained why he was suddenly placed on the government's no-fly list Sunday while he was en route to Japan. The newlywed of eight months had been stuck in Hawaii six days since learning he wasn't allowed to finish a flight to see his wife, a Navy lieutenant stationed in Okinawa.

Nor has anyone explained how his name was taken off the list, Hicks said.

Hicks had driven to Travis Air Force Base in San Francisco last week and boarded a flight as a military dependent on stand-by. The plane landed on the island of Oahu at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, for a cleaning and refueling layover. Hicks said U.S. Customs and Enforcement agent approached him and said Hicks was on the no-fly list and he could not leave Hawaii on a commercial or military airplane.

Hicks was stuck in Hawaii at his own expense.

Something changed after Hicks went public with his story and contacted his congressmen. His story made international headlines.

Hicks said he still wants to know what happened and why, and he wants to recoup his expenses from the government. He has filed requests under the Freedom of Information Act for answers from the Transportation Security Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

"They have not apologized nor given me any reason," Hicks said.

Hicks told the Sun Herald on Friday morning he was cleared to fly and was on stand-by for a flight to the air base in San Francisco, near where his wife's family lives. His wife was expected to fly in to see him over the weekend.

After his plane touched down about 5:37 p.m., he alerted the Sun Herald, and said he felt "great."

Hicks, a former volunteer firefighter in Hancock County, suspects he was placed on the list because of his outspoken views.

Hicks has worked for a military contractor and said he has had high-level security clearances for work on surveillance vessels. He said he has an enhanced permit to carry a concealed weapon and had cleared an FBI background check on the firearm permit last month.

Representatives for U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and U.S. Rep Steven Palazzo said the congressmen had been in contact with Hicks and federal authorities. Both said the congressmen had done everything they could to respond to Hicks' concerns, but they could not comment on a constituent's private matters.

A TSA spokeswoman referred the Sun Herald to the FBI's Terrorist Screening Center, where a spokesman said he could neither confirm nor deny Hicks was on the no-fly list. The spokesman said about 500 Americans are on the list, which is reserved for persons suspected of having ties to terrorism or of using air travel to an area to commit a terrorist act.

Several years ago, Hicks started a radio show called "The Free Speech Zone." He is an assistant engineer for WQRZ Radio in Bay St. Louis and occasionally appears on a similar talk show, station manager Brice Phillips said.

"He must have ruffled somebody's feathers," Phillips said. "He is not a terrorist."


http://www.sunherald.com

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec B, Island Birds, N5553Y: Accident occurred October 13, 2012 in Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands

 http://registry.faa.gov/N5553Y 


NTSB Identification: ERA13LA019 
 14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 13, 2012 in Charlotte Amalie, VI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/12/2013
Aircraft: PIPER PA-23-250, registration: N5553Y
Injuries: 3 Fatal,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.

The accident airplane departed over water on a dark night and flew toward its destination airport at an altitude of about 1,700 feet above the water. Radar data showed that the airplane began a gradual descent on about the same heading before it leveled off at 200 feet above the water. The airplane continued at 200 feet above the water for another 18 seconds before its radar target disappeared about 5 miles from the destination airport.

The surviving passenger stated that she had flown with the pilot on this flight many times before. She stated that during the en route portion of the accident flight, the pilot flew progressively lower to "get under the weather." The passenger stated that she could see lights on the shore near the destination airport, and could see that it was raining. She recalled light turbulence and observed the pilot make his "usual" radio call. She next remembered the airplane "hitting a wall," and the airplane filled with water. She said that the pilot broke the window on his side of the airplane, and that she and the pilot egressed through it. She did not see any of the other occupants of the airplane after that. When asked if she noticed anything unusual with the flight or if the pilot provided any warning before striking the water, the passenger said no, and indicated that everything was normal.

Examination of the wreckage revealed damage consistent with a high-speed, shallow-angle impact with water, and no evidence of preimpact mechanical anomalies.

Weather data and imagery were consistent with the passenger’s account of flying beneath outer rain bands associated with a developing tropical storm southeast of the accident site. There was little to no illumination from the moon. Based on a search of flight service and commercial vendor records, the pilot did not obtain a weather briefing or file a flight plan before the accident flight.

The destination airport was tower-controlled, but the tower was closed at the time of the accident. The runway was located along the shore, with the approach end surrounded by water on three sides. Multiple instrument approach procedures were available for the airport; however, those instrument approaches were not authorized while the tower was closed. A caution printed in the plan view of the approach charts stated, "CAUTION: Pilots may encounter false illusory indications during night approaches to Runway 10 when using outside visual cues for vertical guidance."

It is likely that the pilot descended the airplane to remain clear of the lowering clouds and descended into the water due to the lack of visual cues.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's attempted visual flight rules (VFR) flight into marginal VFR conditions on a dark night over water and his failure to maintain sufficient altitude, which resulted in the airplane’s controlled flight into water. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's inadequate preflight weather planning.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 13, 2012, about 0458 Atlantic Standard Time (AST), a Piper PA-23-250, N5553Y, was substantially damaged during a collision with water in cruise flight near Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands (U.S.V.I.). The airline transport pilot was not found after the accident and is presumed fatally injured. Two passengers were fatally injured. One passenger survived the accident, and was found at sea with serious injuries. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the business flight carrying newspapers which was operated by Rainbow International Airlines under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight departed Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (TISX), Christiansted, U.S.V.I. about 0445 and was destined for Cyril E. King Airport (TIST), Charlotte Amalie, U.S.V.I.

Review of radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that a target identified as the accident airplane climbed to 1,700 feet after departure from TISX, where it leveled in cruise flight on a 330 degree heading for about 2 minutes. The airplane then entered a steady descent on the same approximate heading for the next 10 minutes until it leveled at 200 feet. The airplane cruised at 200 feet for the final 18 seconds of the flight until the radar contact was lost, approximately 5 miles from the destination airport.

The surviving passenger was interviewed by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). She stated that she was acquainted with the pilot and had flown with him on the newspaper carrying flights "many" times before. During the en route portion, the airplane flew progressively lower to "get under the weather." The passenger stated that she could see lights on the shore near the destination airport, and could see that it was raining. She recalled light turbulence, and observed the pilot as he made his "usual" radio call. She next remembered the airplane "hitting a wall" and "seeing a flash" before the airplane filled with water. She said the pilot broke the window on his side of the airplane, and that she and the pilot egressed through it. She did not see any of the occupants of the airplane after that. When asked if she noticed anything unusual with the flight, or if the pilot provided any warning before striking the water, she said no, and indicated that everything was "normal."

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with multiple type ratings. His most recent FAA first class medical certificate was issued June 1, 2012. He reported 17,000 total hours of flight experience on that date.

The pilot's most recent FAR Part 135 flight review was completed 12/30/2011.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was manufactured in 1963 and was registered to Cardair, Inc. It's most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on September 12, 2012, at 6,576 total aircraft hours.

The accident airplane was not listed in the operations specifications of the Rainbow International Airlines 14 CFR Part 135 operating certificate.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

An NTSB Senior Meteorologist provided a study of the weather surrounding the route of flight and the accident site at the time of the accident. A tropical storm advisory (Rafael) was in effect.

At 0453, the weather reported at TIST included few clouds at 3,300 feet, a broken ceiling at 4,600 feet, with 10 miles of visibility in light rain. The winds were from 070 degrees at 9 knots gusting to 15 knots.

The terminal area forecast for TISX in effect at the time of the accident expected northeast wind at 4 knots, visibility better than 6 statute miles with thunderstorms in the vicinity and a broken ceiling at 3,000 feet agl in cumulonimbus type clouds.

The terminal area forecast for TIST in effect at the time of the accident expected wind from the east at 8 knots with visibility better than 6 miles, showers in the vicinity of the airport, scattered clouds at 4,000 feet, and a broken ceiling at 10,000 feet.

The Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite number 14 (GOES-14) infrared image at 0445 depicted an area of enhanced clouds associated with the developing Tropical Storm Rafael to the southeast of the accident site. In the vicinity of the accident site several towering cumulus type clouds were evident, and were associated with rain showers immediately east of the accident site, and over the route between TISX and TIST.

According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the moon was in the eastern sky, 9 degrees above the horizon, with 5 percent of the moon's visible disc illuminated.

The weather data and imagery were consistent with the passenger’s account of flying beneath outer rain bands associated with the developing tropical storm southeast of the accident site.

According to a search of Lockheed-Martin flight service and commercial vendor records, the pilot did not obtain a weather briefing nor file a flight plan prior to the accident flight.

AERODROME INFORMATION

Cyril E. King Airport (TIST) was located about 2 miles west of Charlotte Amalie, USVI, at an elevation of 23 feet. The airport was tower-controlled, but the tower was closed at the time of the accident. Runway 10/28 was 7,000 feet long and 150 feet wide, and was located along the shore, with the approach end of runway 10 surrounded by water on three sides. Instrument landing system and area navigation approaches were published for Runway 10, and a very high frequency omni-directional range approach was also published for the airport.

The instrument approach procedures were not authorized while the tower was closed. A caution printed in the plan view of the approach charts stated, "CAUTION: Pilots may encounter false illusory indications during night approaches to Runway 10 when using outside visual cues for vertical guidance."

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

Examination of photographs taken by divers revealed the airplane came to rest inverted on the ocean floor. The right wing was partially separated but remained attached to the airframe. Both engines were in their respective nacelles, and the landing gear appeared extended and locked, or in transit. The photographs revealed that no landing gear doors remained attached to the airplane.

Hydraulic deformation and tearing of the left wing and the belly skin of the airplane was consistent with a high-speed, shallow-angle impact.

The airplane was recovered on October 20, 2012, and examined by a representative of the Piper Aircraft Company as well as FAA aviation safety inspectors. The examination revealed control continuity from the cockpit to all flight control surfaces, and no evidence of any pre-impact mechanical anomalies.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The pilot was not recovered, and therefore no medical or pathological testing was conducted.



NTSB Identification: ERA13LA019
 Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Saturday, October 13, 2012 in Charlotte Amalie, VI
Aircraft: PIPER PA-23-250, registration: N5553Y
Injuries: 3 Fatal,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. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.


On October 13, 2012, about 0458 Atlantic standard time, a Piper PA-23-250, N5553Y, was substantially damaged during a collision with water in cruise flight near Charlotte Amalie, United States Virgin Islands (U.S.V.I.). The certificated airline transport pilot and two passengers were lost, and presumed fatally injured. One passenger survived the accident, and was found at sea with serious injuries. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the cargo flight operated by Rainbow International Airlines under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135. The flight departed Henry E. Rohlsen Airport (TISX), Christiansted, U.S.V.I. about 0445 and was destined for Cyril E. King Airport (TIST), Charlotte Amalie, U.S.V.I.

Preliminary radar data revealed that the target identified as the accident airplane climbed to 1,700 feet after departure from TISX, where it leveled in cruise flight on a 330 degree heading for about 2 minutes. The airplane then entered a steady descent on the same approximate heading for the next 10 minutes until it leveled at 200 feet. The airplane cruised at 200 feet for the final 18 seconds of the flight until the radar target disappeared, approximately 5 miles from the destination airport.

The surviving passenger was interviewed by the United States Coast Guard (USCG) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). She stated that she was acquainted with the pilot and had flown with him on this flight "many" times before. During the en route portion, the airplane flew progressively lower to "get under the weather." The passenger stated that she could see lights on the shore near the destination airport, and could see that it was raining. She recalled light turbulence, and observed the pilot as he made his "usual" radio call. She next remembered the airplane "hitting a wall" and "seeing a flash" before the airplane filled with water. She said the pilot broke the window on his side of the airplane, and that she and the pilot egressed through it. She did not see any of the occupants of the airplane after that. When asked if she noticed anything unusual with the flight, or if the pilot provided any warning before striking the water, she said no, and indicated that everything was "normal."

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with multiple type ratings. His most recent first class medical certificate was issued June 1, 2012. He reported 18,000 total hours of flight experience on that date.

The airplane was manufactured in 1963, and its most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on September 12, 2012, at 6,576 total aircraft hours.

The airplane was recovered on October 20, 2012 and examination of the wreckage was scheduled for a later date.

At 0453, the weather reported at TIST included few clouds at 3,300, a broken ceiling at 4,600 with light rain. The winds were from 070 degrees at 9 knots gusting to 15 knots. According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, the moon was in the eastern sky, 9 degrees above the horizon, with 5 percent of the moon's visible disc illuminated.

FAA  IDENTIFICATION
  Regis#: 5553Y        Make/Model: PA23      Description: PA-23-150/160 Apache
  Date: 10/15/2012     Time: 1200

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

LOCATION
  City: ST CROIX   State:      Country: US

DESCRIPTION
  AIRCRAFT REPORTED MISSING NEAR ST. CROIX, VI

INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   0     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: SOUTH FLORIDA, FL  (SO19)             Entry date: 10/18/2012 


 
Captain Kirby Hodge


 ST. CROIX - What began as a search and rescue mission more than a week ago, ended Saturday when search and recovery crew members located the Piper Aztec aircraft that crashed Oct. 13 in waters south of St. Thomas.  

 Sunday morning crews were brought in to remove the bodies of Rachel Hamilton and attorney Darwin Carr from the plane that had crashed just before sunrise with Hamilton, Carr, pilot Kirby Hodge and Valerie Jackson Thompson on board.

Hodge remains unaccounted for and Thompson, who was rescued hours after the crash, remains in stable condition at Schneider Hospital.

Government House spokesman Jean Greaux Jr. said that the aircraft was located on the ocean floor, five miles southwest of the King Airport runway, a little more than one mile northeast of where the plane disappeared from the radar screen a week before.

Greaux said DPNR Commissioner Alicia Barnes made the official calls to notify the families that the two passengers were confirmed dead and the medical examiner will be contacting them to do the official identification of the bodies before an autopsy is conducted later this week.

Family and friends continued to grieve on Sunday, and Hamilton's mother, Ramona Hamilton, said finding the bodies brings a sense of closure for them.

No information has been made available as yet about funeral or memorial services.

Thompson continues to recover at Schneider Hospital on St. Thomas, where families say she continues to be under close observation by her doctors and has been recovering slowly. She initially had been expected to be released after a few days last week, but took a turn for the worse, and is now also struggling after confirmation that her cousin, Hamilton, has been confirmed dead, according to Thompson's father, Valencio Jackson.

Despite Hodge still being missing, Greaux said the recovery mission has been officially suspended, but some consideration has been given by members of his family and the aviation community to do a few more independent missions, including sweeps of the many cays around the island in hopes that his body may have washed up in recent days.

Greaux said that situations such as this do not happen often and there is much to learn for all of the parties involved.

He said an official debriefing meeting will be held later this week that will include the government agencies, private entities and all of the volunteers who were a part of the search, rescue and recovery efforts.

"Through this, we found Capt. Cleo Hodge and the pilots of Ace Flight Center as very valuable resources," he said. "They provided essential information about the how, where, when and what, when it came to the flight information."

Saturday afternoon about 1 p.m. an area of oil sheen was discovered on the ocean's surface, and dive crews entered the water at that location in search for the missing aircraft, according to Greaux. Divers went into more than 100 feet of water and spotted the aircraft.

The aircraft was resting on its roof with one wing-tip separated and the other wing bent under the body of the aircraft; the engines were not separated from the wing.

Though scraped and dented, the fuselage, otherwise, was generally intact.

About four hours after the plane was located, the fuselage was floated and towed by Sea Tow Inc., using an inflatable air bag device. Divers secured the plane's openings and began the slow process of towing the aircraft to St. Thomas to facilitate removal of the bodies and securing the aircraft for investigations into the cause of the crash.

Greaux said recovery crews, including a number of local government agencies, a salvage company and a number of private boat operators had been involved in the search missions.

"At sunrise Sunday, the multi-agency team pulled the craft into a small jetty area and raised it more out of the water near UVI's marine center," Greaux said. "We removed the bodies at that time, and then proceeded to take the plane out of the water."

Neither of the two passengers had been fastened in their seats when they were found, Greaux said.

According to Greaux, a crane had been positioned from Saturday night and was used to lift the aircraft from the water and onto a waiting platform truck where it will remain for processing by the local and federal agencies handling the parallel ongoing investigations.

Eric Weiss, spokesman with the Transportation Security Administration Board, and Ronald Herwig, speaking on behalf of the Federal Aviation Administration both have said that their agencies have launched investigations into the crash and will be deploying on-site investigation to the territory once the plane was located.

Greaux said Sunday the agencies are expected to have men on the ground as early as today.

A Coast Guard helicopter had located Thompson in the water around 2 p.m. - nine hours after the crash - and vectored in a marine unit from the Department of Planning and Natural Resources to rescue her.

Thompson had been swimming and struggling to stay afloat in the water without out a life vest, according to her statement to authorities.

She said the flight from St. Croix to St. Thomas had appeared to be a normal one with just minor turbulence along the way until she felt the aircraft hit the sea.

She said she felt water rushing into the plane and someone held her and pushed her out of the plane and into the cold dark Caribbean Sea, but she did not believe that the others aboard the plane were able to make it out, because the plane was sinking fast and she never saw anyone again.

Hodge had delivered a shipment of The Daily News newspapers to St. Croix and was returning to St. Thomas about 4:40 a.m. with a shipment of St. Croix Avis newspapers and the three passengers when the plane went down. Searchers found a bundle of The St. Croix Avis newspapers about 3 miles west of Buck Island off St. Thomas the next day.

Hodge is the only occupant of the plane still unaccounted for as of early today.

Greaux said Friday night the search crews had initially been using plotted paths based on Hodge's most probable flight path and the fact that Hodge was located eight miles away from the airport when he last made contact with the St. Thomas tower. Greaux said searchers later received information from the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Florida that gave a more specific location of where the aircraft was when it disappeared from the radar before the crash.

Hodge's plane fell off radar shortly thereafter at 4:57 a.m., more than 17 minutes into the 20 minute flight.

The U.S. Coast Guard led the rescue mission until they suspended the search and pulled their resources after three days. The mission of the remaining crews then shifted to that of recovery and was led by DPNR with the ultimate objective being to locate the aircraft and recover the missing passengers.

Greaux said the private and public multi-agency recovery team has also included: VITEMA; the Office of the Governor; St. Thomas Rescue; the V.I. Port Authority; and Sea Tow Inc. On Saturday, the Medical Examiner's Office and the V.I. Police Department's Forensics Unit joined the recovery efforts which were completed Sunday afternoon.


http://virginislandsdailynews.com


A crane lifting the plane from the waters adjacent to Cyril E King airport. 
Photo credit: The St. Thomas 
Source and Government House

 
The aircraft in water. 
Photo Credit: The St. Thomas 
Source and Government House

US Virgin Islands – A second body has been found aboard the Piper Aztec aircraft that crashed in the US Virgin Islands just over a week ago. 

 The St. Thomas Source is reporting that a crane lifted the bodies of Rachel Hamilton and Darwin Carr from waters adjacent to Cyril E. King Airport runway today (October 21).

Earlier reports indicated that the plane was spotted yesterday with one body aboard. However, when the aircraft was fully removed from the waters a second body also emerged.

Pilot Kirby Hodge is still missing.

The lone survivor, Valerie Jackson Thompson, was pulled from the water about nine hours after the plane crashed on October 13 during one of its usual newspaper delivery trips between St. Croix and St. Thomas.

On Thursday, the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Team in Florida provided local authorities with radar coordinates that were very instrumental in locating the plane early yesterday afternoon.

A search team found the aircraft after spotting oil sheen on the water relatively close to where the crash took place.

According to the St. Thomas Source, “the aircraft was lying on its roof with one wing separated but the fuselage generally intact”.

It took the search team several hours to remove the plane using an inflatable air-bag device as well as the crane.


http://bvinews.com


 
A wing of the recovered plane breaks the surface. 
The plane was floated using air bags.
 (Government House photo)

Searchers Saturday located the missing Piper Aztec airplane that disappeared Oct. 13 on a routine newspaper delivery run between St. Croix and St. Thomas.

Government House spokesman Jean Greaux said there was one body on board. He said searchers found no trace of the other missing people.

“It’s suspected to be a female, but I can’t confirm,” Greaux said of the body on board the plane.

He later said the identity of the passenger recovered from the fuselage will not be made public until it has been confirmed and the next of kin notified.

In addition to pilot Kirby Hodge, the plane had Rachel Hamilton, Darwin Carr, and Valerie Jackson Thompson on board. Thompson was pulled alive out of the water about nine hours after the plane went down when a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter spotted her. A Planning and Natural Resources boat picked her up. Until Saturday no trace of the plane or the three missing people had been found, although searchers found a bundle of St. Croix Avis newspapers Oct. 14.

Hodge and his passengers left Henry E. Rohlsen Airport on St. Croix at 4:40 a.m. Oct. 13 bound for St. Thomas. Hodge’s last radio contact to the Federal Aviation Airport control tower at Cyril E. King Airport on St. Thomas came when he was about eight miles out from the airport. Hodge’s plane fell off radar shortly after at 4:57 a.m.

Using radar coordinates supplied Thursday by the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Team in Florida, searchers were able to close in on the area where the plane went down. Greaux said at about 1 p.m. Saturday they spotted an oil sheen on the water a little over one mile northeast of where the plane fell off the radar a week ago. He said searchers located the plane in about 100 feet of water. The aircraft was lying on its roof with one wing separated but the fuselage generally intact. Divers also spotted one body in the aircraft.

About four hours later, using an inflatable air-bag device, the fuselage was floated. Divers secured the plane’s openings and began the slow process of towing the aircraft to St. Thomas to facilitate removal of the body and secure the aircraft for a subsequent investigation into the cause of the crash.

At 8:30 p.m., searchers were still bringing the plane with the body on board into the west end of Cyril E. King Airport, but it was expected to arrive sometime Saturday night, Greaux said.

The Coast Guard launched a mission early Oct. 13 with searchers from several government agencies as well as the Sea Tow company joining in. The Coast Guard suspended what was termed a rescue operation at sunset Oct. 15, but teams from the Planning and Natural Resources Department, the V.I. Territorial Emergency Management Agency and the V.I. Port Authority continued searching in recovery mode throughout the week.

The multi-agency recovery team also included the Governor’s office, the Medical Examiner’s Office within the Department of Justice and the V.I. Police Department’s Forensics Unit.

This story updates and replaces an earlier version posted at 6 p.m. Saturday.


ST. CROIX - A full week of searching after veteran pilot Kirby Hodge and three passengers aboard his Piper Aztec aircraft plunged into the dark Caribbean Sea just south of St. Thomas about an hour before sunrise has yielded no signs of the wreckage.

Today, the crews are expected to return to the seas to continue looking.

Hodge and passengers Rachel Hamilton and Darwin Carr have not been found.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter located passenger Valerie Jackson Thompson in the water about 2 p.m. Saturday. By then she had been in the water swimming and struggling to stay afloat for more than nine hours. She was taken to Schneider Hospital where she received emergency treatment and has been there since.

Friday's search-and-recovery operation marked the first time since the crash that searchers have had specific data to use to try and find the plane.

Government House spokesman Jean Greaux Jr. said Friday night the search crews began using information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration that gave a more specific location of where the aircraft was when it disappeared from the radar just minutes before 5 a.m. on Oct. 13.

"We requested the data from the U.S. Air Force Rescue Coordination Center in Florida earlier in the week, and they got it to us on Thursday," he said. The data was requested once it became apparent that the search, based on where the plane would have been eight miles out from St. Thomas, turned up no findings for several days in a row, according to Greaux.

Sea Tow, a private company that has been volunteering its time and resources all week, and government assets were back on additional missions Friday, Greaux said.

The last radio contact Hodge had with the FAA control tower on St. Thomas was when he was eight miles away from the King Airport. At that point, he radioed in his location to a recording system at the tower. Greaux said the tower was not operating at that time of the flight either to St. Croix from St. Thomas or from St. Croix back to St. Thomas.

Greaux said the search ended at sunset Friday night and was scheduled to resume at sunrise today.

"The objective remains to locate the passengers and the aircraft," he said. "The search mission will continue as long as it remains practical to do so."

Since the mission turned from rescue to recovery on Monday, Sea Tow, has led the volunteer efforts with a boat equipped with a side-scan sonar device that has capabilities to scan the sea floor to identify any objects that might be the aircraft.

The sonar system on the Sea Tow boat sends out sound waves to create images of the sea floor in 400-foot wide swaths as they traverse a path plotted out by other pilots that showed the most probable route taken by Hodge as he approached St. Thomas.

Friday night Thompson's father, Valencio Jackson, said she had developed some complications and may be hospitalized into next week.

"We are just being patient with her and following the advice and judgement of the doctors," he said. "We are still praying and hoping that she continues to get better, but it was a great ordeal for her. It has all been very traumatic."

Authorities said Thompson told them that she may have been the only occupant aboard the plane who made it out of the aircraft because water was rushing in and the plane was sinking fast.


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