Saturday, May 25, 2013

Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II, Angel Flight Northeast (Campbell Associataes), N31743: Accident occurred May 24, 2013 in Johnstown, New York

NTSB Identification: ERA13FA253
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, May 24, 2013 in Johnstown, NY
Aircraft: PIPER PA-34-200T, registration: N31743
Injuries: 3 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 May 24, 2013, at 1710 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-34-200T, N31743, operating as Angel Flight 743, was destroyed during an in-flight breakup near Johnstown, New York. The certificated commercial pilot and one passenger were fatally injured; the second passenger was missing and presumed fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which departed Laurence G. Hanscom Field Airport (BED), Bedford, Massachusetts, and was destined for Griffiss International Airport (RME), Rome, New York. The flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The purpose of the volunteer medical transport flight was to return the patient and his spouse from the Boston, Massachusetts area to their home in New York. The flight departed BED about 1604, and climbed to its planned cruise altitude of 8,000 feet. Preliminary air traffic control radar data obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration revealed that the airplane was established on a northwest heading near Ephratah, New York, when, at 1708, the airplane altered its course to the north-northeast. The airplane continued on this track for approximately one minute before beginning a descending left turn towards the south. The last recorded radar return, at 1709:19, placed the airplane about 1,500 feet northwest of the accident site, at an altitude of 6,700 feet.

The wreckage path measured approximately one mile in length, beginning on the southeast side of the Garoga Reservoir, continuing to the north end of the reservoir, and oriented on a heading of approximately 360 degrees magnetic. The left side of the horizontal stabilator, the vertical stabilizer and rudder, sections of the left wing, and portions of the fuselage skin were located south of the reservoir. The main wreckage, including the majority of the fuselage and cabin area, along with the right wing and engine, came to rest in the reservoir. The left engine was found on the north side of the reservoir.

The main wreckage was recovered from the reservoir on May 28, 2013, and transported to a secure facility for further examination.

The 1653 weather observation at RME, located about 40 miles northwest of the accident site, included winds from 330 degrees magnetic at 8 knots, 10 statute miles visibility in light rain, broken cloud layers at 2,300 and 2,800 feet, overcast clouds at 3,700 feet, temperature 7 degrees C, dew point 4 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.06 inches of mercury.

Remains of Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II (N31743) that crashed in Ephratah are shown near the crash scene Wednesday. 
The Leader-Herald/Arthur Cleveland 
The Garoga Creek reservoir was in the midst of being drained Wednesday in the search for a body from Friday’s plane crash in Ephratah. On Wednesday afternoon, the reservoir had dropped 15 feet since 10 p.m. Tuesday. It was expected to be fully drained by today. 

FULTON COUNTY, N.Y. -- Investigators released the names of the people killed in the plane crash in Fulton County on Friday.  

They said Evelyn Amerosa, 58, and Frank Amerosa, 64, a couple from Utica, were killed, along with the pilot, John Campbell, 70 of Stamford, Connecticut.

The flight was an Angel Flight, a volunteer organization that provides free air travel for people with medical needs.

Searchers have recovered the bodies of John Campbell and Evelyn Amerosa. They are still trying to find Frank Amerosa.

"The rangers are coordinating a search team. We have probably anywhere between 50-60 searchers that are going to be searching today in groups. We do have the state troopers here with their dive team. They have sonar on the pond as we speak,” said Mark Souza, Rockwood Garoga Lassellsville Fire Department Chief.

Divers found the fuselage of the plane in the Garoga reservoir on Friday. It's been moved to a different part of the reservoir to look at it with special sonar equipment.

And Monday, a special recovery team is expected to pull it out of the water completely. 


Ephratah, New York - A cancer patient and his wife lost their lives to a remote Fulton County plane crash Friday afternoon that left behind a vast wreckage site that authorities still combed on Saturday in hopes of finding the aircraft's pilot, who was feared dead.

 Just hours earlier, Terence Kindlon and Dale Thuillez, two high-powered Albany lawyers, had flown the couple aboard a different plane from Rome, Oneida County, to Boston, where the man was receiving treatment.

"It's just crushing," said Kindlon the morning after the crash, his shock still palpable.

Kindlon and Thuillez are volunteer pilots for Angel Flight Northeast, a nonprofit organization that connects pilots with patients in need of non-emergency medical transport.

Angel Flight coordinated the couple's flight to Boston, piloted by Thuillez, as well their return trip to Rome aboard the Piper PA 34 aircraft that tragically went down just after 5 p.m. Friday in the sleepy, 700-person town of Ephratah.

The ill-fated plane departed Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., only a few hours after Kindlon and Thuillez had dropped the couple off at Logan International Airport.

The man, Thuillez said, was a Marine veteran of the Vietnam War who had been diagnosed with glioblastoma, a brain cancer, about a year ago. He regularly received an experimental cancer treatment at a Boston hospital. It was the second time Thuillez had been the couple's pilot.

"We saw them five hours before they crashed," said Thuillez, who had only received news of the crash early Saturday.

"It was a happy couple," he recalled. "They were really just great."

Both attorneys declined to identify the couple, deferring to authorities.

The flight to Boston on Friday morning was uneventful – there was heavy rain and low-lying clouds, but it was overall a routine hour-long ride from Central New York to Boston.

On a previous flight, Thuillez said the man sat up front in the co-pilot's seat, getting a kick out of flying in his Pilatus PC-12, a sophisticated single-engine turboprop plane.

On Friday's flight, his old Albany Law School buddy, Kindlon, tagged along, an unofficial co-pilot. Both have volunteered for Angel Flight for years – Thuillez has made over 50 volunteer flights. Angel Flight NE has scheduled more than 60,000 missions since 1996. It has recruited nearly 1,000 volunteer pilots, who are required to have completed at least 500 hours of flight time, among other rigorous conditions, before becoming volunteers.

It is still unclear what caused the return flight, piloted by another volunteer, to go awry. Witnesses said the plane appeared to have engine trouble before it crashed, according to the Fulton County Sheriff's office.

At some point, somehow the plane's fuselage broke apart, leaving fragments scattered across a debris field that authorities said was perhaps as large as one-square mile. The bulk of the plane was found submerged in a large pond.

Joan Dudley, the owner of Granny's Ice Cream Shanty, located near the crash site, heard the small plane begin its emergency descent, even before she saw it.

"It sounded like something was going to drop on top of us," she said Saturday. "It was an airplane that just fell apart in the middle of the sky and then crashed."

As its fuselage began to break apart, she said, the plane began to "roll over and over again," mid-air, until it finally crashed not even a mile from the ice cream stand. The twin-engine aircraft has a 39-foot wingspan and can reach a top speed of 235 mph.

"It was right over my business," she said. "It it had come down any sooner, it probably would have crashed right into the ice cream store."

The bodies of the husband and wife were recovered Friday. Authorities sent in divers to drag the pond, where they believed the pilot's body was likely submerged among the wreckage. The search will resume Sunday, officials said late Saturday night.

The names of the crash victims were not released Saturday afternoon.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are still investigating the crash, though the NTSB is ultimately charged with determining the probable cause of the accident.


EPHRATAH - Authorities have found the bodies of the pilot and one passenger of a twin-engine plane that crashed in the hamlet of Rockwood on Friday evening, and they continue to search for the body of the second passenger.

Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey said today the fuselage of the plane, which includes the cockpit and passenger compartment, has been found at the bottom of a 30-foot deep reservoir in Ephratah owned by Canadian renewable energy company Brookfield Power, which operates a dam near the crash site.

Lorey said a New York State Police dive team searched the area around the wreckage of the plane but didn't find a third body. He said the dive team has not yet been able to search the interior of the wreck because it has been deemed too dangerous. The dive team was attempting to stabilize and raise the structure using inflatable airbags this evening.

"When we get it to the surface, we will have to search the fuselage completely to see if there is anything in there. We have no idea where the third body is; the debris field is as far as a five miles around the crash," Lorey said. "We won't release anybody's name until we recover the third body."

The airplane was part of Angel Flight Northeast, a division of the Angel Flight not-for-profit flying organization that provides air transportation and volunteer pilots for people with serious medical needs.

Lorey confirmed Saturday that the two passengers of the plane were a married couple from Utica and the pilot was from somewhere in Connecticut. He said one of the Utica residents had been receiving medical treatment near Bedford, Mass., where the plane took off, and the flight was scheduled to land in Rome, New York.


Ephratah — Authorities searched a small reservoir today for the pilot in Friday’s deadly plane crash in the town of Ephratah, but as of noon a body had not been recovered.

Two bodies were recovered Friday evening, but their identities have not been released. The missing pilot is believed to be dead.

The search picked up around 8 a.m. today, with rescue workers primarily focused on the reservoir known locally as the Garoga Dam — by Murray Hill Road in the hamlet of Rockwood. A dive team remained out there into the afternoon, but Town Supervisor Todd Bradt said no one was really sure if that’s where the body would be since the debris field was so spread out.

“This could take all day,” he said early this morning, as a steady rain fell. “They can’t see anything. They don’t know if it’s even in there. They don’t know where it is.”

At around noon, crews were working to extract the fuselage from the dam, which is run by Brookfield Power Corp through National Grid, said Bradt.

About a dozen officials first gathered at the R.G.L. Fire Department on Route 29, before splitting up equipment and personnel between two command centers — one at the Ephratah Town Barn on Route 10 and one at Granny’s Ice Cream Shanty on Route 29 by Royal Mountain Campsite.

Granny’s owner Joan Dudley told The Associated Press that she and her employees were among the first at the scene Friday night.

“We were just leaving to get something to eat, and we heard this noise,” Dudley said.

“We looked up and saw the plane flipping in the air. Then it fell apart,” she said. “Parts and pieces of it were flying through the sky, and a body fell out.”

They called 911 as they parked their car and ran to the crash site in the rain to see if they could rescue anyone.

“Airplane parts were all over the place,” she said. “They were picking them up all over last night.”

The small aircraft — a twin-engine Piper PA 34 — crashed at around 5:10 p.m. Friday across from the ice cream shop in a wooded area south of Route 29 that is bordered on the west by Route 10. Three people were on the plane, which the Federal Aviation Administration said was en route from Bedford, Mass., to Oneida County Airport in Rome.

There is no word yet as to what caused the crash. The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the cause, and could not be reached Saturday.

The plane was flown by a volunteer with Angel Flight, a nonprofit group that provides free air service to financially strapped patients who need diagnosis or non-emergency treatment. They also fly families out to medical facilities, people who are unable to use public transportation because of their medical condition or those who live in remote areas where public transportation is not available, according to the organization’s website.

A sheriff’s patrol car blocked access this morning to a driveway at 3781 Route 10, a private residence across from the town barn and near the reservoir where rescue workers operated ATVs and trucks. At around 9 a.m., most of the search crew had left this command area and moved down the road to access the dam from a private residence across from Granny’s.

Agencies assisting in the search include Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, Rockwood-Garoga-Lasselsville Volunteer Fire Co., Montgomery County Emergency Services, New York State Police, New York State Forest Ranger and local volunteers.

Fulton County Sheriff Tom Lorey declined to comment Saturday morning. Three reporters showed up to the R.G.L. Fire Department in Rockwood at 8 a.m., having been told a news conference would be held, but officials at the scene today said no such conference would take place.


EPHRATAH — A crane and divers worked Tuesday to remove the wreckage of a small plane from a Fulton County pond as searchers used dogs to scour the area for a brain cancer patient who was on board the volunteer medical flight that crashed last week.

National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Eric Weiss said equipment and salvage personnel were in place to pull the fuselage out of a pond in Ephratah, an hour west of Albany.

Frank and Evelyn Amerosa of Utica were aboard the Angel Flight on Friday night when the twin-engine aircraft went down, according to police and family members.

Rescue workers have been scouring woods and a big, murky pond where the bulk of the aircraft was submerged. Wreckage from the crash was dispersed over a large area, with pieces of the plane and documents found as far as five miles away.

John Campbell, 70, of Stamford, Conn., was flying the couple back from the Boston area, where Frank Amerosa was being treated for brain cancer, officials and family said.

The bodies of both Campbell and Evelyn Amerosa were recovered from the crash site. Searchers continued to look for the body of 64-year-old Frank Amerosa on Tuesday, authorities said. The retired trucker had been diagnosed with brain cancer more than a year ago.

Campbell was a volunteer pilot for Angel Flight, a nonprofit group that arranges free air transportation for the sick. Angel Flight Northeast said it has set up free air transportation and medical care for more than 65,000 children and adults on about 60,000 flights covering more than 12 million miles. It was founded in 1996.

Weiss said salvage workers hoped to have the wreckage out of the pond by the end of the day. He said the fuselage as well as debris collected from surrounding woods and fields will be transported to a secure facility in Delaware to be examined by crash investigators.

The Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II departed from Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., and was headed to Rome, N.Y., before it crashed just after 5 p.m. Friday, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said. The plane did not issue a distress call before losing radar and radio contact, the NTSB said.

Weiss said a preliminary NTSB report on the accident will be issued in about two weeks, with a final report on the probable cause in about 18 months.