Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Man charged with lying to Federal Aviation Administration about pilot and mechanic certifications

A man who performed maintenance on and flew a historic plane cared for by a Monroe veterans organization has been charged with fraud after authorities say he lied to the Federal Aviation Administration about having pilot and mechanic certifications.

Paul Douglas Tharp, 53, of Greensboro was arrested Wednesday and charged with lying to the FAA about his qualifications as a mechanic and a pilot and with flying an airplane without the proper pilot’s license. If convicted, he faces a maximum of five years in prison for each of two counts of making false statements to the FAA and three years in prison for each of three counts of flying without proper authorization.

“Tharp knowingly and repeatedly lied about his qualifications to his clients and the FAA and in the process put lives at risk,” U.S. Attorney Anne Tompkins said in a news release. “Tharp’s lack of proper certification as a pilot and a mechanic is a serious safety hazard, and now Tharp must face the legal consequences of these dangerous lies.”

Federal prosecutors say Tharp was hired by the Warriors and Warbirds group in 2011. The Monroe-based organization was started by local pilots in 2005 to honor veterans and their families, according to its website. Their centerpiece is Tinker Belle, a C-46 cargo plane purchased from an aviation museum in Midland, Texas. The city of Monroe owns the plane, but the group held pancake breakfasts, air shows and hangar dances to help pay for Tinker Belle’s repair and maintenance.

During much of World War II, the C-46 was a workhorse, carrying badly needed military equipment over the Hump – the nickname given the Himalayas – from Allied bases in India to China. The supplies kept U.S. and Chinese forces in action against the Japanese.

Prosecutors say Tharp operates an airport in Davidson County, but when he was hired by Warriors and Warbirds, he was certified to fly only single-engine aircraft (Tinker Belle has two.) He also didn’t have the necessary mechanic’s license with an FAA seal of approval.

Authorities say Tharp regularly traveled to Texas to perform maintenance on the C-46, even though he wasn’t certified to do so. On three occasions, he was the second-in-command on flights, also something he wasn’t certified to do.

On June 4, 2011, Tharp – acting as second-in-command – and several other people flew to an air show in Reading, Pa. Because the plane still needed mechanical work to improve its airworthiness, the FAA required a special permit before it could be flown back to Monroe.

“An FAA inspector asked Tharp if someone had inspected the airplane’s condition to determine if the C-46F was safe for the return flight from Pennsylvania to North Carolina, and Tharp falsely represented he was an A&P mechanic who could make that determination,” prosecutors said.

“When the FAA inspector asked Tharp about his (mechanic’s) certificate, Tharp lied and told the inspector that he had forgotten his A&P certificate in a rush to prepare the C-46F for the flight to Pennsylvania.”

Prosecutors said Tharp gave the FAA inspector the number of another mechanic’s certificate.

The FAA inspector approved a temporary flight permit, and the plane flew back to North Carolina, with Tharp operating as second-in-command, authorities said.

But when the FAA learned the certificate belonged to another mechanic, it launched an investigation. Prosecutors said Tharp again lied about his certifications.


Firing up her engines! 
View from the Warriors and Warbirds Hangar, May 2011-Monroe, NC:  

Pilot inexperience contributed to deadly 2012 crash

Piper PA-31-350 Navajo Chieftain, C-GOSU, Keystone Air Service Ltd:  Accident occurred January 10, 2012 near North Spirit Lake Airport, Ontario 

A Keystone Air Service plane which crashed and killed four people and injured one at North Spirit Lake happened because of icing conditions and pilot inexperience. 

 Peter Hildebrand of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada gives an update of the crash investigation in North Spirit Lake.

"Pilots need to be aware of what their aircraft is capable of doing," he said.

Hildebrand said the flight from Winnipeg to the northwestern Ontario community was routine until they arrived and discovered the airport staff were still clearing snow from the runway from a blizzard overnight.

He said this caused the plane to stay in the air an extra 25 minutes in icing conditions in thick clouds.

The 29-page report says even after damage from the crash and fire, investigators still found ice on the right wing meaning "a significant amount of ice accumulated" which led to the plane not able to stay aloft.

Pilot Fariborz Abasabady, 41, North Spirit Lake First Nation employee Martha Campbell, 38, Aboriginal Strategies president Ben Van Hoek, 62, and accountant Colette Eisinger, 39, all died in the crash.

Lone survivor Brian Shead, who needed surgery for injuries to his ankle and foot, tried in vain to extricate others, but was only successful in getting the pilot out before flames consumed the wreckage.

Hildebrand said Keystone now sends two pilots to fly planes heading into instrument only flight conditions.

As well, Keystone has told all of its pilots that they are supposed to fly the planes out of icing conditions when encountered.


The Transportation Safety Board of Canada will release its report tomorrow on what caused the crash of a Keystone Air Service Piper Navajo into North Spirit Lake killing four and injuring one on Jan. 10, 2012. 

Up until now, it has been unknown exactly what caused the crash, but days after the plane went down the TSB issued an initial report which said the aircraft’s landing gear and flaps were down as it appeared ready to land at the reserve in northwestern Ontario.

Pilot Fariborz Abasabady, 41, North Spirit Lake First Nation employee Martha Campbell, 38, Aboriginal Strategies president Ben Van Hoek, 62, and accountant Colette Eisinger, 39, all lost their lives in the crash.

Brian Shead, who was 36 at the time of the crash and needed surgery for injuries to his ankle and foot, tried in vain to extricate others, but was only successful in getting the pilot out before flames consumed the wreckage.


Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, Microjet LLC, N88MN: Fatal accident occurred June 24, 2011 in Charlevoix, Michigan

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Grand Rapids, Michigan
Hawker Beechcraft Corporation; Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors Inc; Mobile, Alabama 

Aviation Accident Final Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: 

NTSB Identification: CEN11FA417
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 24, 2011 in Charlevoix, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 04/20/2012
Aircraft: BEECH A36, registration: N88MN
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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.

Witnesses observed the airplane exiting the low cloud ceiling halfway down the runway during an instrument approach. The cloud ceiling was about 200 feet above ground level (agl). The pilot did not execute the published missed approach procedure. Instead, he maneuvered the airplane in the vicinity of the airport at a low altitude and entered the right downwind leg of the traffic pattern for the runway. Witnesses observed the airplane turn to the right toward the runway, pitch nose up, bank to the left, stall, and enter an uncontrolled descent. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of any preimpact failure or malfunction. The circling approach weather minimums were a 700-foot agl ceiling and 1 mile visibility. Based on the witness reports and examination of the impact damage, it is likely the pilot inadvertently stalled the airplane at a low altitude during the downwind-to-base turn.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's inadequate airspeed while maneuvering at low altitude, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to not execute a missed approach in weather conditions below minimums.


On June 24, 2011, approximately 1935 eastern daylight time, a Beech A36 single-engine airplane, N88MN, sustained substantial damage when it impacted terrain and a residential garage while maneuvering near Charlevoix, Michigan. The private pilot, one passenger, and one dog sustained fatal injuries, one passenger sustained serious injuries, and one dog was not injured. The airplane was registered to Microjet, LLC, Fort Wayne, Indiana, and operated by the pilot. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. The flight had departed Smith Field Airport (SMD), Fort Wayne, Indiana, approximately 1730.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Minneapolis air route traffic control center (ARTCC) communications and radar data, the pilot filed an IFR flight plan from SMD to Boyne City Municipal Airport (N98), Boyne City, Michigan. At 1848, the pilot stated he wanted to divert to Boyne Mountain Airport (BFA), Boyne Falls, Michigan, due to weather in the area of N98 which did not have an instrument approach. The pilot requested the BFA RNAV (global positioning system (GPS)) approach to runway 35. The pilot was then cleared to ELBOT which was the initial approach fix for the RNAV approach. At 1917, the pilot contacted Minneapolis ARTCC and stated he was executing the missed approach at BFA and requested the Charlevoix Municipal Airport (CVX) RNAV (GPS) approach to runway 27. The pilot was cleared to COKOS which was the initial approach fix for the RNAV approach. At 1920, the pilot was cleared for the approach to CVX. At 1926, the pilot was then given approval for a frequency change to the CVX advisory frequency. The pilot acknowledged the frequency change. 

Witnesses, who were located in the CVX terminal building, overheard the pilot call on the CVX common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) that he was executing the GPS runway 27 instrument approach. The witnesses reported that the cloud ceiling was 200 feet above ground level (agl) and the visibility was 1 mile at the time the pilot called CTAF to report the approach. The witnesses observed the airplane break out of the clouds approximately halfway down runway 27. They heard the airplane's engine increase power and observed the airplane enter a left turn, then a turn back to the right around a water tower located southwest of CVX. The airplane stayed approximately 200 feet agl during the turn around the airport. The airplane then entered a right downwind leg for runway 27. Witnesses observed the airplane begin a right turn toward runway 27, pitch nose up, and then roll to the left in a nose high attitude. The airplane then disappeared behind a tree line and airport buildings.

Another witness, who was located at a baseball field approximately 1/4 mile west of the accident site, reported he observed the airplane appear from the clouds heading to the west approximately 200 feet agl during the approach. At that time, the airplane appeared to be between the runway and the baseball field. The witness then turned his attention back to the baseball game. A few minutes later, the witness observed the airplane overflying the baseball field at a low altitude and airspeed. The airplane was traveling to the east and began to make a right turn toward the airport. At that time, the airplane's nose pitched up and the "tail dropped and fluttered." The airplane then banked to the left, appeared out of control, and dropped. The witness lost sight of the airplane behind trees and observed a "fuel spray" after the impact. 

The airplane impacted the yard of a residence adjacent to the north perimeter of CVX. The airplane came to rest upright, partially within a three stall garage attached to the residence. Rescue and law enforcement personnel arrived on scene shortly after the accident. One dog was found deceased at the accident site, and one dog was found the day after the accident walking around the surrounding neighborhood. 


The private pilot held single-engine land and instrument airplane ratings. The pilot reported 1,300 total flight hours on his FAA third-class medical certificate dated May 25, 2010.

The pilot's logbook was recovered from the accident airplane. The logbook, identified as logbook number 3, did not contain a total hour amount forwarded from his previous logbook. The first logbook entry was dated February 28, 2004, for a flight in the accident airplane, and the last entry was dated June 19, 2011, for a flight in the accident airplane. 

In the recovered logbook, the pilot recorded 2 flights to CVX with the note "GPS" in the respective flight log entry. The most recent flight to CVX was recorded on May 29, 2009.

The pilot most recent instrument proficiency check was completed on June 25, 2010, and at the time of the accident, the pilot logged 19 instrument approaches since the check.

The pilot and passenger who sustained serious injuries were involved in an airplane accident on September 1, 2003 (see NTSB Aviation Accident Report CHI03FA291). The pilot was also pilot-in-command at the time of that accident.


The airplane was a Beech A36, serial number E-741. It was powered by a AV Power IO-550-B-AP turbocharged engine (Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) AV Power STC SE02881AT), serial number 274546-R, and a three-bladed, constant speed Hartzell propeller. The airplane was originally equipped with a 285-horsepower normally aspirated Continental Motors IO-520 series engine. A review of the FAA airworthiness records, and verified by the affixed engine data plates and hardware installation, revealed that the installed engine had been modified by an A.E.R.O. Aviation Company, Inc. STC as stated above. The modified engine was further modified with the installation of a Western Skyways turbo normalizer system STC (STC SE8677SW). 

The airplane was issued a standard airworthiness certificate on August 20, 1975, and was registered to Microjet, LLC, on May 15, 2003. The airplane was configured with four seats. 

The airplane was equipped with a Garmin GNS 530W GPS, a Garmin GNC 300XL TSO GPS, and a Garmin GDL 69 XM Data Link System.

A review of the airplane's maintenance records showed that an annual inspection was performed on the airframe on December 12, 2010, at 5,514 total airframe hours. The digital tachometer reading at the accident site was not available due to damage.


At 1914, the CVX automated weather observing system (AWOS) reported the wind from 260 degrees at 9 knots, visibility 1 3/4 miles, mist, sky broken at 400 feet, overcast clouds at 700 feet, temperature 11 degrees Celsius, dew point 10 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.71 inches of Mercury.

At 1935, the CVX AWOS reported the wind from 260 degrees at 9 knots, gusting to 15 knots, visibility 2 miles, rain, overcast clouds at 200 feet, temperature 11 degrees Celsius, dew point 11 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.72 inches of Mercury.

At 1954, the CVX AWOS reported the wind from 250 degrees at 10 knots, gusting to 14 knots, visibility 2 miles, drizzle, overcast clouds at 200 feet, temperature 11 degrees Celsius, dew point 10 degrees Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 29.72 inches of Mercury.

No airmen's meteorological information (AIRMETs) or significant meteorological information (SIGMETs) were active for the accident location at the accident time.


The Charlevoix Municipal Airport, CVX, is a public, uncontrolled airport located 1 mile southwest of Charlevoix, Michigan, at 45 degrees, 18.286 minutes north latitude, and 085 degrees, 16.520 minutes west longitude, at a surveyed elevation of 669 feet mean sea level (msl). The airport features one asphalt runway, Runway 9/27, which is 4,550 feet by 75 feet, and one turf runway, Runway 4/22, which is 1,280 feet by 200 feet.

Runway 27 was equipped with medium-intensity runway edge lights, runway end identifier lights, and a 4-light, 3 degree glidepath precision approach path indicator (PAPI) located on the right side of the runway. Runway 27 was configured for non-precision approaches, which included RNAV (GPS) and non-directional beacon (NDB).

The RNAV approach to runway 27 at CVX included an inbound course of 270 degrees. The minimum descent altitude (MDA) was 1,100 feet msl. The weather minimums for the RNAV (GPS) runway 27 approach were a MDA of 500-feet and 1 mile visibility for the straight-in approach. The published missed approach procedure instructed the pilot to conduct a "climbing left turn to 3,000 direct to COKOS and hold."


The accident site showed that the initial ground scar, located approximately 75 feet from the main wreckage, contained the left wing tip fuel tank fairing and pitot tube. The initial impact to the main wreckage was distributed along a measured magnetic heading of 090 degrees. The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, engine, empennage, and both wings. The three-bladed propeller was separated from the engine crankshaft and came to rest adjacent to the main wreckage. Miscellaneous baggage and airplane debris were noted to the west of the main wreckage. 

The left wing was partially separated from the fuselage. The leading edge was crushed aft, and the outboard 5 feet was crushed upward and aft. The fuel tank fairing was separated. The aileron was separated and came to rest on the top of the left wing surface. The flap was partially separated, and the flap actuator was found in the retracted position, consistent with the flap being retracted. The left main landing gear wheel was separated, and the strut was in the extended position. The wing fuel tank was compromised.

The right wing was partially separated and came to rest within the garage structure. The leading edge was bent aft. The aileron and flap control surfaces were separated. The flap actuator was found in the retracted position, consistent with the flap being retracted. The right main landing gear was separated and found in the extended position.

Rescue personnel reported fuel was draining from the airplane's fuel tanks upon their arrival.

The forward fuselage was crushed and deformed. The left garage structure support post was separated and the right garage structure support post was located within the cockpit area. The left side wall of the fuselage was intact and contained buckling from front to aft. The right side of the fuselage crushed and deformed. The right forward cabin door was separated and the door posts were cut by rescue personnel. The cabin utility doors were found in the open position, consistent with the rescue personnel information during rescue efforts for the passenger. The instrument panel was crushed and displaced to the right. The throw-over control yoke was found in the left seat position. The throttle, mixture, and propeller cockpit controls were found in the full forward position. The two cockpit seats were crushed and displaced to the right. The seats contained shoulder harness and lap belt restraints which were cut by rescue personnel. The rear seats, which faced aft, were intact and the lap belt restraints were found stowed. An Apple iPad1 was found between the left front seat and the left fuselage side wall. There were no paper instrument approach plates located in the airplane.

The empennage remained attached to the fuselage. The right stabilizer was bent upward at midspan. The elevator trim was found in the neutral position. 

Flight control continuity was established from all flight control surfaces to the cockpit.

The engine remained partially attached to the firewall, and the firewall was separated from the fuselage. The propeller hub was separated from the engine crankshaft. The engine crankshaft was rotated by hand and mechanical continuity was noted throughout the engine, with the exception of the number 6 exhaust valve and rocker arm. The number 6 exhaust valve push rod was found damaged consistent with the impact. The magnetos were removed and rotated by hand. Sparks were noted on all ignition leads.

The three propeller blades remained attached to the hub. The blades exhibited leading edge damage and chordwise scratching. Two blade tips were missing and not located. The remaining portions of the blades were twisted and bent aft. 


An autopsy on the pilot was performed by Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, Michigan. The autopsy report listed the cause of death as blunt force injuries to the head and chest.

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens of the pilot by the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report was negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and drugs.


The NTSB Vehicle Recorder Division examined the following non-volatile memory (NVM) devices that were recovered from the airplane: Apple iPad1, Garmin TAWS/Terrain Data Card, Jeppesen IFR Data Card, and a Jeppesen IFRW Data Card.

Examination of the Apple iPad revealed the exterior of the unit had sustained significant impact damage. The internal processor printed circuit board (PCB) appeared undamaged and was transferred to a surrogate iPad for data recovery. The iPad appeared to have a functional copy of the ForeFlight App installed. The ForeFlight App contained reference to an approach plate for the RNAV (GPS) Runway 27 procedure to CVX. The approach plate was designated and dated EC-1, 02 JUN 2011 to 30 JUN 2011. The iPad recorded last being connected to via WiFi on June 24th. Examination of the cache information indicated that the had been launched 6 times on the day of the accident. The last CFURL_CACHE_RESPONSE (found in Cache.db for was on June 24, 2011, at 20:46:34 to the following URL: No other recognizable aviation-related data was recovered from the iPad.

Examination of the data cards revealed little or no damage. In order to determine the effective dates for the mapping data stored on each card, the NVM chips were removed and read using a memory programmer. The following copyright statements were recovered from the cards:

Garmin TAWS/Terrain Card

1. Worldwide Detail Landmap Copyright 1995-2005 by Garmin Corp.
2. Copyright 2007 Garmin Ltd. US/Europe Obstacles
3. Copyright 2006 Garmin Ltd. Worldwide Airport Terrain
4. Copyright 2006 Garmin Ltd. Worldwide 30AS Terrain

Jeppesen IFR Card

1. Copyright 2009-2010 Garmin Corp.
2. Copyright 2009-2010 Jeppesen Sanderson Inc.

Jeppesen IFRW Card

1. Copyright 2011 Jeppesen Sanderson Inc.

 LOS ANGELES (21Alive) - After nearly 2½ years of recovery from a second plane crash in his lifetime, former Canterbury High School basketball standout Austin Hatch signed his national letter of intent to the University of Michigan on Wednesday.

 "When you're millimeters from death, you look at that from a different lens," Hatch says at press conference that 21Alive televised live. "I think God had his hand on me; and I think there's a plan for me."

It was the first time Hatch has spoken publicly since that fateful day.

Hatch, who moved to Los Angeles Loyola High School this summer, has not played since the crash. His father, Dr. Stephen Hatch, and stepmother, Kim, were killed in the crash on June 25, 2011, in Charlevoix, Mich.

"I woke up. I no idea where I was. I had no idea what year it was or anything. It was almost like I was just born," Hatch adds.

In September of 2003, the Hatch family had its first plane crash near Ossian. Austin and Dr. Hatch were injured. Austin's mother, Julie, sister, Lindsay, and brother, Ian, died.

Hatch committed to Michigan on June 15, 2011, ten days before the crash.

"The emotional pain is never going to subside," Hatch says. "I had to deal with the loss of my best friend, mentor, teacher, coach and fan. But the same man was also my father. Losing a father never goes away."

Michigan head coach John Beilein maintained the Wolverines would honor the scholarship. The letter of intent seals that deal.

Story and Video:

Dr. Stephen Hatch and Kim Hatch

Austin and his father survived another crash in 2003 that killed his mother, Julie, and his two siblings, Lindsay, 11, and Ian, 5 

NTSB Identification: CHI03FA291. 
 The docket is stored in the Docket Management System (DMS). Please contact Records Management Division
Accident occurred Monday, September 01, 2003 in Uniondale, IN
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/24/2005
Aircraft: Beech B36TC, registration: N8018J
Injuries: 3 Fatal,1 Serious,1 Minor.

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 impacted a utility pole and the terrain following a loss of engine power while being vectored for an ILS approach. The pilot diverted to an airport that had an ILS approach during the flight because of deteriorated weather. The pilot stated that during the approach the airplane did not seem to be descending so he disconnected the autopilot and subsequently executed a missed approach. The pilot reported that upon reaching 2,600 feet msl during the missed approach, he leaned the engine using turbo inlet temperature. The pilot reported the engine began to sputter so he pushed the mixture to rich, adjusted the throttle, and switched the boost pump to LOW, but the engine continued to sputter. He switched the boost pump to HI and the sputtering stopped momentarily before starting again. The pilot informed ATC that he was having a fuel problem and he needed to land "ASAP." The approach controller issued a vector to turn N8018J onto the approach. The pilot stated he switched the fuel selector to the left tank position and he attempted to restart the engine to no avail. The pilot reported that during the emergency descent all of the airplane lights went out except for the GPS and EFIS which had independent lighting systems. The airplane impacted the utility pole and slid across a county road before coming to rest. A post impact fire and explosion ensued. Usable fuel capacity for the airplane is 102 gallons. The fuel tanks were last topped off on August 1, 2003, and there was an addition total of 151.7 gallons added since that time. This resulted in the airplane having had 253.7 gallons of usable fuel on board since August 1, 2003. The airplane was flown 12.1 hours with 8 takeoffs since it was topped off. The pilot stated the fuel burn ranged from 12 to 30 gallons per hour with an average of 18 to 19 gallons per hour. According to Beechcraft, an additional 4 gallons of fuel would be used for each taxi, takeoff, and climb sequence. A fuel burn of 18 gallons per hour, would have resulted in the airplane using 249.8 gallons (217.8 gallons plus 32 gallons) of fuel during the 12.1 hours of flight time. A fuel burn of 19 gallons per hour would have resulted in 261.9 gallons (229.9 gallons plus 32 gallons) being used. Inspection of the engine revealed only residual fuel was present in the fuel manifold and in the fuel metering unit. There was no fuel present in any of the fuel lines or in the fuel pump. Regulation 49 CFR Part 91.167 states no person may operate a civil aircraft in IFR conditions unless it carries enough fuel to complete the flight to the first airport of intended landing, fly from that airport to the alternate airport, and fly thereafter for 45 minutes at normal cruise.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's inaccurate preflight planning which resulted in an inadequate fuel supply and subsequent fuel exhaustion. Factors associated with the accident were the low ceiling, dark night conditions, and the utility pole which the airplane contacted during the forced landing.