Monday, March 3, 2014

United by the love of flight: Springfield chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, EAA Chapter 821

 


A conversation in Illinois decades ago resulted in the founding of a longstanding aircraft club in the Ozarks.

In the 1960s, Delores Langley and her husband, Jim, were living in Illinois. One day, she tossed a coupon in the trash for a free flight at a local flight school, and Jim fished it out.

Delores never liked to fly and couldn’t believe her husband wanted to give it a go.

“He had been in the Air Force but never flew in the Air Force and wanted to learn,” she recalled “(After the flight) he came home and was thrilled to death. He said, ‘I am going to take lessons.’ I said, ‘You’re crazy. When you learn to fly, what are you going to fly? We don’t have a plane.’ He said, ‘Then I’ll build one.’ I said, ‘You’re crazy.’ ”

Crazy or not, Jim went on to build 13 airplanes and a helicopter. We’re not talking about radio-operated machines, but real aircraft.

After Jim and Delores moved to Republic in 1983 with a friend, they founded the Springfield chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, EAA Chapter 821. They had belonged to chapters in other places they’d lived and decided to start one here.

The national Experimental Aircraft Association launched in 1953 in Wisconsin and boasts more than 1,000 chapters. People who belong to the club are aviation enthusiasts. Some are pilots. Some are not. Some build experimental planes. Some buy planes. But they are all united by a love of flight.

“Like a lot of kids, when I was little, if a plane flew over, I was looking up at it,” said Larry Nelson, Springfield chapter president. “I grew up in Omaha and would hear the airlines coming and going at night and wonder where they were going.”

While the organization’s foundation was home-built aircraft, it varies today, Nelson said.

Through the decades, the organization expanded its mission to include antiques, classics, warbirds, aerobatic aircraft, ultralights, helicopters and contemporary manufactured aircraft.

The Springfield chapter has about 20 members, and their professions range from lawyer to photographer to mechanic. They meet at 9 a.m. the third Saturday of each month at the Air and Military Museum. Meetings are open to the public.

“It doesn’t matter what their interest in aviation is, if they like anything that gets off the ground, they will like this kind of stuff,” said Dan Baker, the group’s webmaster.

Jeremy Dunn is constructing his first plane and said the group has helped his project because they share ideas, trends and research with each other.

“I’ve always been into machinery. Some are excellent woodworkers. It’s about pulling together and sharing so everyone learns from each other,” Dunn said.

If you build it

 
Richard Harris is a legend in this club.

With two hours of flying lessons under his belt, he took to the skies in a plane he built (actually known as an ultralight).

“It was a little spooky the first time,” said Harris, who is a machinist by day.

His ultralight is powered with a military surplus generator engine.

When Dunn’s plane is complete, it will be powered by an engine from a 1973 Porsche 914. A mechanic, he’s refurbishing it himself.

And the wings of his plane will be covered in special polyester fabric, maybe even some latex paint.

“A lot of the cutting-edge stuff in general aviation is coming from experimental aviation,” said Baker.

There is a historical precedent for this type of spirit, said Nelson, who is an architect by day.

“You’d be surprised how much that happened in the early history of aviation — when barnstormers would leave a wrecked airplane at a farm and a farm boy would restore it and teach himself to fly,” Nelson said.

The cost of building a plane ranges from thousands to more than a hundred thousand dollars.

Dunn bought a kit online for $80 and received a binder full of drawings and instructions from the seller.

He buys parts when he can afford it.

“The advantage of something like this is you can buy a little at a time. It’s a couple hundred here and a couple hundred there, not $30,000 at once,” Dunn said, standing by the steel frame of his aircraft, which he’s building in his workshop.

In the end, his plane will probably cost $7,000 to $8,000.

Some of the home-built planes are classified as light sport or ultralights and have different regulations.

Ultralights are very lightweight single-seat aircraft used for sport and recreation and can include everything from hang gliders to “cruisers” weighing less than 254 pounds. Flying an ultralight does not require a pilot certificate and there are no minimum age or training requirements. It doesn’t have to be inspected by the FAA.

It cannot exceed speeds of 63 miles per hour, said Harris.

Dunn is building a light sport aircraft, which has more regulations.

“The light sport aircraft are actually considered to be regular aircraft and require registration for the aircraft and licensing for the pilot. But the light sport category was designed to allow people to learn to fly with fewer hours of training and less cost than traditional aircraft,” said Baker.

Light sport planes also have a two-seat maximum, maximum speed in level flight at 138 miles per hour and maximum takeoff weight of 1,320 pounds (1,430 pounds for seaplanes), Baker said.

When Dunn’s plane is ready for the skies, there will be temporary heavy restrictions on where he can fly to make sure the plane holds up.

He’s confident it will.

“If something goes wrong, it won’t be construction. It will be pilot error,” he said.
A founder's enthusiasm

Although Delores Langley never wanted to fly, she frequently accompanied her husband in the skies.

She even learned how to help him work on planes.

Today, Jim Langley has Parkinson’s disease and is in a nursing home, so he no longer builds. But when he did, he could craft a plane in six months, said Delores, the club’s treasurer.

Once he retired, he lived in his shop “and only came inside to eat or sleep.”

“He could do just about anything,” said Delores. He even built a car from a kit, which his son drove daily from Republic to Springfield for college.

He’d build a plane, fly it for awhile, then go to a show and see another plane he wanted to build.

“I’d say, ‘As soon as you sell the one you have at home, you can buy it,’” said Delores.

For a woman who never liked to fly, Delores laughs to think how Springfield’s Experimental Aircraft Association club started.

“Let me tell you, don’t ever give your husband a free airplane ride or you will get in trouble for years,” she said.
 

Story, video,  photos, comments/reaction:   http://www.news-leader.com

Sonex, N732SX: Fatal accident occurred February 17, 2014 in Wellington, Florida

NTSB Identification: ERA14FA123
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, February 17, 2014 in Wellington, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/09/2015
Aircraft: WILLIAMS CHRISTOPHER T SONEX, registration: N732SX
Injuries: 1 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 had just departed the airport; one witness reported that during the initial climb the engine “sputtered,” and another reported that it “backfired.” The pilot then made a steep turn back toward the airport, but the airplane stalled and spiraled to the ground. The airplane was equipped with an electronic flight instrument system that recorded numerous engine and flight parameters. Review of the downloaded data revealed that, initially, the engine was operating normally and within design parameters. However, toward the end of the recorded data, the No. 1 cylinder head and exhaust gas temperatures had begun to decrease while the other cylinder temperature parameters remained fairly constant. The engine data then recorded a decrease in engine rpm followed by a steep 180-degree turn toward the airport. A witness who assisted the pilot with the airplane’s oil change 2 days earlier stated that the pilot had cross-threaded a spark plug in the No. 1 cylinder and attempted a helicoil repair. During examination after the accident, the No. 1 sparkplug was easily removed by hand. This was likely the cause of the power loss that preceded the pilot’s attempt to return to the airport. The pilot’s steep, 180-degree turn exceeded the airplane’s critical angle of attack, which resulted in a stall at low altitude and collision with terrain. A review of the pilot’s toxicology revealed that even though he tested positive for antidepressants, they were not a factor in the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed following a partial loss of engine power during initial climb, which led to the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's improper repair of a stripped spark plug hole, which led to a partial loss of engine power during initial climb.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On February 17, 2014, about 1250 eastern standard time, an experimental, amateur-built Sonex, N732SX, collided with terrain shortly after departing the Wellington Aero Club (FD38), West Palm Beach, Florida. The airline transport pilot/owner was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight was originating at the time of the accident.

Witnesses stated that during the initial climb, the engine "back- fired" and made a "sputtering" sound. The pilot entered a steep 180 degree turn back towards the airport. The airplane then stalled and entered a nose-down spiral, descended into a canal.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 58, held an airline transport pilot certificate for airplane multiengine land, airplane single-engine land, rotorcraft-helicopter, instrument helicopter, which was issued February 16, 2008, and a first-class airman medical certificate issued February 6, 2012, with no limitations. On the pilot's most recent application for a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certificate, he reported a total of 13,000 flight hours. The pilot's logbook was not recovered; therefore, his total flight experience could not be determined.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The single engine airplane was manufactured in 2007, and was powered by an AeroVee series engine and equipped with a Sensenich model W54JV544G-AC9751, fixed-pitch propeller. The maintenance logbooks were not located; therefore, the maintenance history of the airplane could not be reconciled.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1253, the recorded weather at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), West Palm Beach, Florida, about 10 miles east of the accident site, included variable wind 6 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, few clouds at 4,300 feet above ground level. The temperature was 21 degrees Celsius (C), the dew point was 11 degrees C, and the altimeter setting was 30.19 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located partially submerged in a pond, about 200 yards from the departure end of runway 15. The airplane came to rest on a 109 degree magnetic heading, and was 3 feet from the pond's edge. The airplane was removed from the pond for examination, and all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site.

The forward portion of the fuselage, firewall and cockpit were deformed and displaced aft. Both wings remained attached to the fuselage and were crushed along the leading edge aft. The vertical stabilizer, elevators and rudder remained attached to the empennage. Control continuity was traced from the cockpit control stick to the elevators and ailerons and from the rudder pedals to the rudder control horn. The examination of the flight control system components revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction.

Examination of the engine revealed that it was separated from the firewall with sections of engine mount still attached and bent. The engine revealed impact damage on multiple areas on the external surface. Further examination revealed that the ignition lead wires were all attached to the respective sparkplugs and separated from the coil packs on the firewall. Examination of the wires revealed no breaks or chaffed sparkplug wires.

Examination of the sparkplugs revealed that the top spark plug on cylinder No. 1 was not seated in the cylinder head and finger tight within the cylinder head threads. The lower sparkplug was found seated to the cylinder and secure. The engine cylinders revealed that the top sparkplug, associated with cylinder No. 4, top sparkplug was seated and finger tight. All other sparkplugs were found seated within the cylinders and secure. All of the spark plugs were removed and the cylinders were checked for blockage. No blockage was noted and the crankshaft was rotated freely by hand. Engine valve train continuity and thumb compression was observed on all cylinders.

The throttle body revealed that it was still attached to the throttle cables, but broken away from the manifold. The throttle body lever actuated when the throttle control was manipulated. The air filter was found crushed and impact damaged. The fuel line was connected to the throttle body and was impact damaged and separated from the electric fuel pump attached to the firewall. Examination of the accessory plate revealed that it was impact damaged. The oil cooler was crushed and the oil flow input and output lines remained attached. The oil lines were broken away from the oil pump and oil was within the lines and the oil sump can.

The propeller remained attached to the propeller hub and the hub remained attached to the crankshaft. The wooden propeller revealed that one propeller blade was splintered, and the other propeller blade displayed span-wise cracks across the forward face.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot on February 18, 2014, by Office of the District Medical Examiner, District 15 State of Florida, West Palm Beach, Florida.

Toxicological testing was performed on the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Review of the toxicology report revealed, no carbon monoxide was detected in the cavity blood. No ethanol was detected in the vitreous. The following drugs were detected in the blood cavity; 0.091 (ug/ml, ug/g) Citalopram and 0.04 (ug/mL, ug/g) N-Desmethylcitalopram detected in blood cavity. Citalopram and Desmethylcitalopram is an antidepressant drug used to treat depression.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

According to a friend of the pilot, he assisted the pilot during an oil change two days prior to the accident. He stated that while conducting the oil change the pilot attempted to change the sparkplugs and cross-threaded the upper sparkplug on the No. 1 cylinder; and made an attempt to helicoil the cylinder thread. The friend further stated that he inspected the sparkplug and noted that the sparkplug along with the helicoil were able to be pulled out of the cylinder head. The pilot continued to work on the engine but the friend did not know if the pilot eventually repaired the cylinder head or if the pilot had flown the airplane after the repair, prior to the accident flight. During the examination of the engine a helicoil was not observed within the cylinder head threads of the No. 1 sparkplug.

The airplane was equipped with a Stratomaster Enigma electronic flight instrument system (EFIS) that is capable of recording primary flight data, GPS positions and engine monitor data. The device supports data recording to a secured digital (SD) card. The SD card was recovered and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Division for data recovery. Review of the data revealed that all engine parameters were normal during the initial climb. Further review revealed that the No. 1 cylinder head and exhaust gas temperature dropped approximately 100 degrees, followed by a loss in rpm and a loss in airspeed. GPS data then showed the airplane making a banking left turn as described by witnesses.


WELLINGTON, FLORIDA - 

Leonard McGarity flew countless miles during a quarter-century as an American Airlines pilot, captaining the most sophisticated planes in commercial aviation.

But in his spare time, the 58-year-old McGarity enjoyed outings in his SUV-sized, experimental amateur-built aircraft, taking off and landing on an airstrip within throwing distance from his home at the Wellington Aero Club.


McGarity, a father of two, was killed on impact recently when his Sonex single-engine plane plunged nose first into a golf course pond.


"With aircraft, people always want to know: Why are they falling out of the sky?" said Scott Thatcher, an engineer from Palm Beach Gardens who has flown planes for 60-plus years. "But they're not. It's just that it happens so infrequently that when they do, it's of major interest."


It's of particular interest when accidents involve planes like the one owned by McGarity, which are delivered in boxes via semi-trailer trucks, cost as little as $25,000 and can be assembled by anyone with a monkey wrench and a garage. Categorized as "experimental" by the Federal Aviation Administration, the planes are limited to recreational, noncommercial purposes and must have at least 51 percent of assembly completed by an amateur builder.


Flying afficionados fear that words like "experimental" and "amateur-built" give the public the wrong impression. They point out that planes like McGarity's undergo rigorous FAA inspections and must fly for up to 40 hours over unpopulated areas before they are deemed airworthy. Pilots are required to maintain the same training and ratings as those that fly such production aircraft as Cessnas or Beechcrafts.


William Perry, a technical counselor for the Experimental Aircraft Association and an engineer at Pratt & Whitney in Jupiter, said home-built planes "are not scary at all."


"Most experimental airplanes that I've inspected have superb workmanship," said Perry, who has home-built five planes himself. "The guy building that plane knows he's going to put his butt and his family on that airplane and go flying with it. So why would he cut corners and do stupid things?"


An average home-built plane will take anywhere between 1,000 and 3,000 hours to construct, according to industry insiders. While they can be assembled within a year, former U.S. Navy pilot Kenneth Kopp spent 21 months and about $80,000 customizing his RV-8 plane that he's flown for 500 hours and used on cross-country trips.


"The word experimental makes some people nervous because they envision some uneducated guy in his garage with his hammer and blow torch hodge-podging things together," said Kopp, a helicopter test pilot in Jupiter. "But, by and large, the experimental market is represented by lots of professional, well-educated, very meticulous kinds of people who put their heart and soul into their airplanes.


Kopp points out that all planes, from Orville and Wilbur Wright's flying machine to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, began as experi­mental.


"If it wasn't for experimental planes, we wouldn't have aviation today," Kopp said. "It's part of the normal development process for flying."


But are experimental aircraft safe?


Individual owners insist they are, although the numbers are somewhat mixed.


A 2012 study by the National Transportation Safety Board revealed that amateur-built aircraft made up nearly 10 percent of U.S. general aviation planes in 2011, but accounted for 15 percent of all accidents and slightly more than 20 percent of fatal accidents. But the FAA reported last year that from Oct. 1, 2012, to Sept. 30, 2013, fatal crashes in experimental planes dropped to 35 from 50 compared with the previous 12 months.


There are about 33,000 home-built aircraft registered in the United States and about 1,000 new planes added to the rolls each year, according to industry sources. With production aircraft costing about $250,000, along with thousands more in annual maintenance fees, the popularity of experimentals isn't expected to wane any time soon even after accidents like the one that cost McGarity his life.


"There are thousands of experimental aircraft out there being flown for thousands of hours, and when one person has something like this happen, the planes get a huge bad rap," said Dr. Jeff Johnson, dean of Lynn University's School of Aeronautics and an Air Force fighter pilot for 15 years. "But they really are very safe airplanes, and the people that fly them are typically very safe."


People who get themselves in trouble in home-built planes are generally pilots with "a lot of flying experience that want to go out and do more stuff than the airplane was ever designed to do," Johnson said.


It will be months before the NTSB determines what caused McGarity's plane to crash. Friends speculate that a mechanical problem likely caused the crash.


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


http://registry.faa.gov/N732SX


NTSB Identification: ERA14FA123 

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, February 17, 2014 in Wellington, FL
Aircraft: WILLIAMS CHRISTOPHER T SONEX, registration: N732SX
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. 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 February 17, 2014, about 1250 eastern standard time, an experimental, amateur built, Williams Sonex, N732SX, collided with terrain during an uncontrolled descent after departing the Wellington Aero Club (FD38), West Palm Beach, Florida. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no fligh
t plan was filed. The flight was originating from FD38 at the time of the accident.

According to witnesses, as the airplane climbed after takeoff the engine backfired and began to sputter. The airplane made a steep 180 degree left turn, back towards the airport and went into a nose down attitude. The airplane began to spiral downward and collided with a pond. Witnesses attempted to assist the pilot and reported the downed airplane to the local 911 operator at 1255.

The wreckage was located partially submerged in a pond 3 feet deep, 200 yards from the departure end of runway 15. The airplane was on a 109 degree magnetic heading, and was 3 feet from the ponds edge. The airplane was removed from the pond for examination, and all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. Examination of the airplane revealed that the engine was separated from the firewall, impact damaged, and still attached to the engine mounts. The cockpit, fuselage, wings, and empennage were impact damaged. Flight control continuity from the cockpit controls to the flight control surfaces was confirmed. A cursory examination of the engine confirmed valve train continuity and compression on all cylinders.


Jet Airways, SpiceJet Set to Make Boeing Orders: WSJ

The Wall Street Journal

By Gaurav Raghuvanshi


March 3, 2014 7:08 a.m. ET

India's unprofitable Jet Airways Ltd. and SpiceJet Ltd. are set to unveil dozens of new aircraft orders from Boeing Co., which is likely to turn up the competitive heat in the country's increasingly crowded airline industry.

The orders, which are worth US$8.3 billion at list prices, may be announced as early as next week at India's biggest commercial aviation show in the city of Hyderabad, people familiar with the matter said Monday. They said the orders could include about 30 Boeing 737-MAX single-aisle jets for SpiceJet, as well as a formal announcement of at least 50 planes of the same type for Jet Airways.

Another carrier, IndiGo, is also evaluating orders for more Airbus Group A320 jets, according to another person familiar with the situation, though the nation's biggest discount carrier by fleet size may not place its orders before the end of the first half.

The large orders reflect strong growth potential for India's airline industry, though the nation's domestic carriers continue to struggle.

Traffic growth is robust. Domestic travel between April and December rose 6% from a year earlier, while international traffic increased 10.7%, according to data from consulting firm CAPA — Centre for Aviation.

But India's airlines are strapped financially, having reported losses in the last three years as stiff competition forced them to discount tickets while excessive government regulation stunted growth.

SpiceJet reported a 1.73 billion-rupee (US$28 million) loss in the quarter that ended Dec. 31. The airline last reported an annual profit for the year that ended in March 2011.

Jet Airways, India's biggest premium carrier, last reported a consolidated annual profit for the year that ended in March 2007. Analysts expect the two airlines and flag carrier Air India Ltd. to report losses for the current financial year.

Competition among local carriers will likely intensify, after India's government last year allowed foreign airlines invest locally. Malaysia's AirAsia Bhd. and Singapore Airlines Ltd. have announced separate plans to enter the Indian market in partnership with local conglomerate Tata Group.

In addition to increasing competition and government regulation, India's airlines face high jet fuel charges and their airport fees are steep, especially at newly built terminals in New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.

Spokesmen for Boeing, Jet Airways, SpiceJet and Indigo declined to comment Monday, while Airbus couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

Still, analysts say the industry has enormous growth potential if the country's sizable middle class chooses air travel over rail, which is the backbone of India's transportation infrastructure, despite being notoriously unreliable and inefficient.

"The losses of Indian carriers will not continue forever. The long-term outlook for the sector is extremely positive," said Amber Dubey, the head of aerospace and defense at consulting firm KPMG.

India is "getting increasingly aligned to global best practices in aviation and becoming a better place to do business in," said Mr. Dubey, noting he expects most policy problems to be resolved in the coming years.

Already, the Indian government has begun to liberalize the industry. It has allowed airlines to charge passengers for preferred seats and has permitted the A380, the world's biggest jet, to fly into India.

The government is also planning to abolish a rule that prohibits carriers from starting international service until they have a five-year track record of flying domestically and have at least 20 planes in their fleet.

Indian airlines are expected to order a combined 400 planes this year, according to CAPA, the consultancy. That compares with about 375 planes currently flying with the five national carriers.

Some of the orders will replace older aircraft. In some cases, the planes that are being replaced are only five or six years old. Many Asian budget airlines are increasingly opting to buy new aircraft and sell older planes to avoid hefty maintenance and overhaul costs.

The Indian deals likely to be announced next week will build on the more than 350 aircraft that Indian carriers have on order. The last major order by an Indian carrier was for 180 Airbus A320s by IndiGo, which was made in June 2011.


Source:  http://online.wsj.com

Storm Delays, Cancels Flights At Philadelphia International Airport (KPHL), Pennsylvania

Philadelphia News, Weather and Sports from WTXF FOX 29

PHILADELPHIA -

Philadelphia International Airport spokeswoman Victoria Lupica joined the FOX 29 Morning News to provide an update Monday morning.

She said there were no planes taking off or landing early Monday morning.

"In anticipation of the weather event, airlines preemptively canceled the majority of the flights this morning. So, travelers had a good idea that their travel plans were change," Lupica said. "It gives us a chance to have our crews clearing the runways and roadways."

Travelers are being encouraged to check on their flights either by contacting their individual airlines, checking the airport's site www.phl.org, or calling its toll-free flight information number which is 800-PHL-GATE.

Lupica said the airlines are expected to resume normal operations around noon.
The airport also tweeted shortly before 7 a.m., "The majority of arriving/departing flights had been canceled for this morning & airlines plan to resume normal operations around noon today!"

Lupica added that the airport's "very seasoned crews, at this point" are working to get all of the snow off the runways and taxiways.

She urged everyone to exercise caution whether they are traveling or picking someone up at the airport.

Story and video: http://www.myfoxphilly.com

Mooney M20R Ovation, Chair Covers Leasing Inc., N1046L: Fatal accident occurred January 06, 2014 in Boyne City, Michigan

http://registry.faa.gov/N1046L
 
NTSB Identification: CEN14FA102
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, January 06, 2014 in Boyne City, MI
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/24/2014
Aircraft: MOONEY M20R, registration: N1046L
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 instrument-rated pilot received weather data via a computerized flight planning service on the morning of the accident. The briefing included a synopsis for upper Michigan that indicated overcast conditions at 3,000 feet with cloud tops at 12,000 feet, visibility of 3 to 5 miles with light snow showers and mist, and wind from the northwest gusting to 25 knots. An airmen’s meteorological information was current for instrument flight rules conditions with ceilings below 1,000 feet and visibility below 3 miles with precipitation, mist, and blowing snow at the time of the accident. Several witnesses reported hearing the airplane heading west, which was in the direction of the departure airport. Another witness stated that, due to the snow, he could only see the airplane's lights but that it appeared that the airplane banked “hard,” pitched up and down, and accelerated as it descended. The airplane impacted terrain about 1 mile east of the airport in a heavily wooded valley. The airplane was substantially damaged from impact and a postimpact fire. One witness reported whiteout conditions and several witnesses reported that it was snowing heavily at the time of the accident. Dark light and gusting wind conditions were also present at the time of the accident. An examination of the airplane and engine did not reveal any preimpact anomalies that would have prevented normal operation. The pilot was likely trying to return to the airport after encountering dark night conditions and heavy snow showers and subsequently lost control of the airplane.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s failure to maintain control of the airplane as he attempted to return to the airport after encountering dark night conditions and heavy snow showers.


HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On January 6, 2014, at 0706 eastern standard time, a Mooney M20R airplane, N1046L, collided with trees and terrain about 1 mile east of the Boyne City Municipal Airport (N98), Boyne City, Michigan. The instrument rated private pilot and the passenger on board were both fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged from impact with the terrain and a post impact fire. The airplane was registered to Chair Covers Leasing, Inc., and operated by the private pilot as a personal flight under the provision of 14 Code of Federal Regulations 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident with a destination of the Oakland/Troy Airport (VLL), Troy, Michigan.

The pilot flew the airplane from VLL to N98 on January 3, 2014. Upon his arrival at N98, the pilot parked the airplane in his hangar and did not receive any fuel services. According to a family member, the pilot and passenger were going to return to VLL on January 5, 2014, but delayed the flight until the next day due to the weather conditions. The pilot frequently flew the airplane between VLL and N98.

At 0614, the pilot used a commercial computerized flight planning service to obtain weather data and file an IFR flight plan. The flight plan included a proposed departure time of 0715. The route of flight was direct to the Grayling (CGG), Michigan very high frequency omnidirectional range (VOR) then direct to VLL. The pilot requested an en route altitude of 5,000 feet with an estimated time en route of 51 minutes. The pilot did not receive an IFR clearance.

There were several witnesses that either heard and/or saw the airplane prior to the accident. One witness reported hearing the airplane engine while the airplane was on the airport. She stated it sounded like the airplane took off to the east. Two witnesses who heard the airplane stated the engine sounded like it "choked up" and "tightened up." Other witnesses reported hearing normal, loud engine sounds. Some of the witnesses reported that it sounded as if the airplane was heading back toward the airport. Several witnesses stated it was snowing heavily and it was dark, so they were only able to see the lights on the airplane and not the airplane itself. One witness reported seeing the airplane descend at a 45 degree angle. Another witness stated that due to the snow he could only see the airplane's lights, but it appeared the airplane banked "hard", pitched up and down, and accelerated as it descended.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with single-engine land airplane and instrument airplane ratings. He was issued a third class airman medical certificate on December 23, 2013. The medical certificate contained the limitation that the pilot must have glasses available for near vision. At the time of the examination the pilot reported having 1,400 hours of flight time, 50 hours of which were flown in the previous 6 months.

The pilot's logbook(s) were not located during the investigation. The pilot completed an insurance application on August 13, 2013. He reported on the application that he had 1,572 total hours of flight time, 1,497 hours of flight time in airplanes with retractable landing gear, 1,272 hours of flight time in Mooney M20R airplanes, and 100 hours of flight time in the previous year.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The accident airplane was a 2001 Mooney model M20R airplane, serial number 29-0275. It was a low wing, single-engine airplane, with a retractable landing gear configuration. The airplane was powered by a 310-horsepower Continental IO-550-G6B reciprocating engine, serial number 684928. The airplane was issued a normal category airworthiness certificate on April 19, 2001. The pilot's company, Chair Covers Leasing, Inc., purchased the airplane on August 17, 2001.

The airframe, engine, and propeller logbooks were not located during the investigation. An airframe and powerplant mechanic who had worked on the airplane stated that he did not have any records and that it had been about a year since he had worked on the airplane. He stated that the last work he did on the airplane was probably an annual inspection.

The last known fuel records were obtained from N98 which showed the pilot purchased 63.5 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel on December 8, 2013.

METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS

The weather conditions recorded at the Charlevoix Municipal Airport (KCVX), Charlevoix, Michigan, located 16 miles northwest of the accident site were:

At 0655: wind from 340 degrees at 18 knots gusting to 27 knots, visibility 2.75 miles with light snow, sky condition 1,800 scattered, 2,500 feet broken, 2,900 feet overcast, temperature -12 degrees Celsius, dew point -16 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 29.75 inches of mercury.

At 0715: wind from 340 degrees at 18 knots gusting to 27 knots, visibility 1.25 miles with light snow, sky condition 1,400 feet broken, 2,300 feet broken, 2,900 feet overcast, temperature -12 degrees Celsius, dew point -16 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 29.75 inches of mercury.

The weather conditions recorded at the Gaylord Regional Airport (GLR), Gaylord, Michigan, located 19 miles southeast of the accident site were:

At 0653: wind from 330 degrees at 7 knots gusting to 16 knots, visibility 4 miles with light snow, sky condition 3,900 feet broken, 6,500 feet overcast, temperature -15 degrees Celsius, dew point -18 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 29.63 inches of mercury.

At 0714: wind from 330 degrees at 8 knots varying from 290 degrees to 010 degrees, visibility 1.75 miles with light snow, sky condition 3,400 feet overcast, temperature -15 degrees Celsius, dew point -18 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 29.63 inches of mercury.

The weather conditions recorded at the Harbor Springs Airport, (MGN), Harbor Springs, Michigan, located 15 miles north of the accident site were:

At 0654: wind from 320 degrees at 9 knots gusting to 15 knots varying between 290 degrees to 350 degrees, visibility 4 miles with light snow, sky condition 1,200 feet broken, 2,600 feet broken, 2,600 feet overcast, temperature -13 degrees Celsius, dew point -16 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 29.72 inches of mercury.

At 0715: wind from 300 degrees at 10 knots gusting to 15 knots varying from 290 degrees to 350 degrees, visibility 5 miles with haze, sky condition 1,500 feet scattered, 3,600 feet broken 5,000 feet overcast, temperature -13 degrees Celsius, dew point -17 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 29.72 inches of mercury.

Records indicate the pilot received a computerized weather briefing on the morning of the accident. The briefing included local observations, area forecasts and synopsis, notices to airmen, winds aloft, significant meteorological information (SIGMETS) and airmen's meteorological information (AIRMETS). The synopsis for upper Michigan called for overcast conditions at 3,000 feet with cloud tops at 12,000 feet, visibilities 3 to 5 miles with light snow showers and mist, and wind from the northwest gusting to 25 knots. An AIRMET issued for IFR conditions with ceilings below 1,000 feet and visibilities below 3 miles with precipitation, mist, and blowing snow.

A witness who heard the airplane while it was on the airport stated the wind velocity was 10 to 15 miles per hour and gusting. She stated it was dark and snowing at the time. She stated the blowing snow occasionally created white-out conditions. Several witnesses reported that it was snowing heavily at the time of the accident.

COMMUNICATIONS

The pilot did not receive an IFR clearance for the flight and there was no radio communication between the pilot and air traffic control. Local pilots reported that it was very difficult to contact air traffic control on the ground at N98 and that most pilots departing IFR from N98 pick up their clearances once airborne.

The airplane was below radar coverage for the area.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Extreme winter weather conditions delayed the investigative team's arrival until January 9, 2014. Prior to the team's arrival, the wreckage was moved by Boyne City and Charlevoix County Sheriff's Office personnel to a secured hangar at N98.

The accident site was 1.07 miles east of the departure end of runway 09 at N98. The wreckage was located at the edge of a heavily wooded area that was in a valley between two rolling hills. The wooded area contained trees that ranged between 50 and 80 feet in height. A path of broken trees on the down sloping terrain was visible leading up to the snow covered ground impact area. The heading from the initial tree strike to the ground impact was 300 degrees. Broken tree branches indicated a descent angle of about 45 degrees. The distance from the initial tree impact to the main ground impact was about 200 feet.

The Charlevoix County Sheriff's Department reported the fuselage came to rest up against a tree that was near the initial ground impact. The engine was located about 100 feet northwest of the initial ground impact and the propeller was about 50 feet northwest of the engine. The right wing was located between the engine and the propeller. Portions of the wreckage were subjected to a postimpact fire.

The cockpit area including the instrument panel was destroyed by impact and fire damage. The center section of the fuselage below the floor remained attached to the inboard section of the right wing. The cockpit area above the floor was destroyed by impact and fire. All of the structural and flight control tubing sustained impact and fire damage. The aft fuselage was separated from the cockpit area. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer. The elevators remained attached to the horizontal stabilizers. The entire empennage sustained impact damage. The position of the landing gear jackscrew indicated the landing gear was in a transit position.

The right wing was separated from the airframe. Both the inboard and wingtip section of the wing were separated from the center portion of the wing. The inboard section of the wing, including the landing gear, remained attached to the lower portion of the fuselage. The inboard section of the wing sustained fire damage. The leading edge of the center section of the wing was crushed. The leading edge of the wing just outboard of the inboard portion of the aileron contained concave impact damage indicative of a tree strike. The aileron was attached to the wing. The flap was bent and separated from the wing. The fuel cap remained in place.

The left wing separated in numerous pieces. The flap separated from the wing in two pieces. The outboard section of the aileron remained attached to the wing. The inboard section of the aileron was crushed and separated from the wing. The leading edge of the wing, outboard of the fuel filler cap, sustained concave impact damage indicative of a tree strike. The fuel cap remained in place. The left landing gear was separated from the wing.

Flight control continuity to the wings could not be established due to the amount of impact damage and separation of the control push/pull tubes. Control continuity was established from the aft fuselage to the rudder and elevator control surfaces.

The propeller was separated from the engine. The propeller spinner was crushed around the propeller hub. All of the blades contained varying degrees of chordwise scratching and polishing. One blade was twisted and bent rearward. The tip of the blade was curled aft. Impact damage was visible on the trailing edge of the blade with a chunk of the blade missing. The outboard third of the second blade was curled aft about 270 degrees. The third blade was relatively straight with leading edge damage on the outboard section of the blade.

The engine was separated from the airframe. The engine sustained impact damage with the No. 6 cylinder pushed into the No. 4 cylinder. The piston pin on the No. 1 cylinder piston could not be removed and the pin would not clear the crankcase which prevented the crankshaft from being manually rotated. Cylinders Nos. 1, 3, and 5 were removed from the engine for examination. The intake and exhaust valves were intact. No anomalies were noted with the cylinders, pistons, crankshaft, camshaft, and bearing saddles. The magnetos, engine driven fuel pump, vacuum pump, spark plugs, fuel injection servo, oil pump, induction system, and fuel manifold were examined. The examination of the engine and engine components did not reveal any anomalies that would have prevented normal operation.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Autopsies were performed on the pilot and passenger at Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, Michigan on January 7, 2014. The cause of death for both the pilot and passenger was attributed to multiple blunt injuries.

Toxicology testing was performed by the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Aerospace Medical Institute. Testing results were negative for all substances in the screening profile.


CHARLEVOIX — Authorities on Tuesday dropped felony criminal charges against a staff member of a Northern Michigan newspaper for last month capturing video images amid the wreckage at the scene of a small airplane crash.

Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof said he dismissed a charge of "photographing bodies in a grave" against Damien Leist, 38, of Boyne City, pursuant to an agreement reached between his office and Leist, through Leist's attorney.

Following Tuesday's dismissal, Telgenhof and Leist issued a joint news release on the matter.

In the release, Telgenhof said, "The Charlevoix County Sheriff's Department and the Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney's Office respect the First Amendment rights of the news media to cover newsworthy events, and any media reports to the contrary are mistaken. In this case, the sheriff's department cooperated with a number of media outlets that were on the site, and made provisions to enable them to do their job. Unfortunately, Mr. Leist was not at the scene at the time this was done.

When Mr. Leist arrived a few hours later, the crash site was still subject to restricted access as part of the ongoing investigation into the crash. As a result of a misunderstanding of the directives of law enforcement, Mr. Leist gained access to the site and shot video footage of areas that he should not have had access to. The sheriff's department, the prosecutor's office, and Mr. Leist have pledged to work together to ensure such misunderstandings do not occur in the future."

The same release quoted Leist as saying, "I deeply respect the hard work of our friends in law enforcement, and I appreciate that they need to secure accident scenes as part of their investigation. The last thing I wanted to do was disturb the scene or their work. My only objective was to report on this tragic accident, just like my fellow journalists had done earlier that morning. My heart goes out to the families of the men who perished in the crash."

Leist, a Charlevoix County News employee, previously had a preliminary examination on the charge set for Tuesday afternoon.

The charge stemmed from a video Leist and another man made on Jan. 6 amid the wreckage at the site of an airplane crash near Boyne City. The video later could be found posted to the website YouTube.

Leist is employed by a Gaylord-based weekly newspaper called the Charlevoix County News. The paper is not affiliated with the Petoskey News-Review, nor the Charlevoix Courier.

Authorities additionally charged Leist as an habitual felon in connection with a 2011 felony of manufacturing and/or distributing medical marijuana, which could have increased his sentence on the just-dismissed felony, had he been convicted.

According to court documents, Charlevoix County deputies said Leist misled reserve deputies posted at the scene in order to gain access to the crash site. Court records also state the crash site still contained partial human remains when Leist and the other man arrived.

Leist previously told the News-Review he didn't see any bodies at the site.

Representatives from other media outlets, including the Petoskey News-Review, arrived at the crash site on snowmobiles escorted by police. However, at the site, they were not allowed within a certain distance of the wreckage. Leist appeared in the video immediately next to the wreckage.

Amended Michigan law in 1997 now includes photographing dead bodies in a grave as a crime and defines "grave" to include crash sites and disaster areas.


Source:   http://www.petoskeynews.com

 



Pilot Todd Glen Lloyd and Christopher Neumann



 Opinion: Jeremy McBain - 'Newsman' actions were not proper

 Charlevoix County is in the national media as of late thanks to the actions of a “reporter” from a small weekly newspaper out of Gaylord.

You may have heard about the issue. A reporter named Damien Leist  went to the scene of a fatal plane crash near Boyne City — and may or may not have lied to police officers to get into the scene — where he then was filmed standing in the wreckage of the plane, saying he was representing the newspaper where he works (his newspaper has no connection to the Petoskey News-Review, by the way). He then posted this video to YouTube. Other media that were at the scene earlier that day, including a News-Review reporter, were led to a location near the site by police and took photographs from this site. Leist said he did not do this with the other media because he “arrived late to the party.”

Not only was Leist filmed standing in the wreckage of a fatal accident that was still being investigated, according to the Charlevoix County Sheriff, while they could not be seen on the video, there were still remains from the men in the wreckage.

The families of the men who died in the accident were very upset to see something like this on the Internet and complained to the sheriff. As a result, the reporter was charged with “photographing bodies in a grave,” which is a crime in the state of Michigan.

I am not going to address the legality of this charge with this column. That is something that is up to the courts to decide and others to debate. What I am going to address though is the media ethics of this case. While I am concerned about the legality of the charge the reporter was slapped with, I do not feel sorry for this man based on the way he behaved at the scene of a fatal accident.

While many people are focusing on whether this charge is a violation of the First Amendment, we are forgetting what this “reporter” did was not proper procedure for covering an accident scene. It is tasteless and unethical to go to the scene and tape yourself walking through the wreckage of an accident that is under investigation. And if this reporter did do what the police claim and lied his way to the site, then that completely elevates this ethical violation higher.

While a reporter’s duty is to report the truth to the public, reporters on the scene of a crime or accident must do so without harming any investigation that is taking place. That means they may not just walk through a crime scene or accident scene without checking with a law enforcement official first to be sure they do not disturb the scene or investigation. And, by no means, may any reporter lie to a law enforcement official to gain access to a site or get information.

Furthermore, this reporter calling the scene of an accident “a party” is very disturbing to me. No accident scene is a party. Every accident scene must be covered with tact and professionalism, not only because it is what true professional journalists do, but that is the humane way to behave when someone is hurt or killed. A reporter that behaves the way this man did would not be welcome at the Petoskey News-Review.

The public already has a healthy dislike for journalists. They think we are vultures, we lie or we don’t care about the feelings of the people who are the subjects of our stories and videos. I can’t blame them when there are people like Leist, who claim to be reporters, but behave in such a distasteful way.

Journalists, and others, who act in this way make the job much harder for ethical journalists. Therefore, I can not give this situation this a pass, regardless of my feelings on any legal issues this man may be facing. To do so would be an injustice for a career that has been my passion for close to two decades.

Jeremy McBain is the executive editor of the Petoskey News-Review.


Article and comments/reaction:  http://www.petoskeynews.com


NTSB Identification: CEN14FA102
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, January 06, 2014 in Boyne City, MI
Aircraft: MOONEY M20R, registration: N1046L
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 January 6, 2014, at 0700 eastern standard time, a Mooney M20R airplane, N1046L, collided with trees and terrain about 1 mile east of the Boyne City Municipal Airport (KN98), Boyne City, Michigan. The private pilot and the passenger on board were both fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged from impact with the terrain and a post impact fire. The airplane was registered to Chair Covers Leasing, Inc., and operated by the private pilot under the provision of 14 Code of Federal Regulations 91. The purpose of the flight is unknown at this time. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident with a destination of the Oakland/Troy Airport (KVLL), Troy, Michigan.

The airplane departed KN98 just prior to the accident. At 0655, the weather conditions recorded at the Charlevoix Municipal Airport (KCVX), Charlevoix, Michigan, located 16 miles northwest of the accident site were: wind from 340 degrees at 18 knots gusting to 27 knots, visibility 2.5 miles with light snow, sky condition 2,600 broken, 3,200 broken, 4,200 overcast, temperature -12 degrees Celsius, dew point -16 degrees Celsius, and altimeter 29.76 inches of mercury.

The pilot used a commercial computerized flight planning service to file the IFR flight plan. The flight plan included a proposed departure time from KN98 of 0715. The route of flight was direct to the Grayling very high frequency omnidirectional range (VOR) then direct to KVLL. There were no known communications between the airplane and air traffic control.

Police clear slain pilot's widow, uncle

Thika ODM branch chairman Andrew Ng’ang’a Wanjukira and the second wife of the murdered former Kenya air force captain David Macharia, Joyce Wanjiku King’aara who were arrested last Friday in connection with the grisly murder of the pilot have now been released. 

 Speaking to the press in Thika yesterday Wanjukira said they were both released on Monday afternoon. He said police found out that they were not involved in the beastly killing of Macharia who was killed, tied with ropes and dumped into a septic tank. Wanjukira is the deceased maternal uncle. The deceased body was found in his compound at Karen in Nairobi last Thursday night.

 He said there were some people who wanted to put them behind bars/custody so that they can not only take the estate of the deceased but also inter him clandestinely.

He said the deceased first wife who had eloped with a white man had move in at the deceased Karen home and hired guards to guard the home.

Wanjukira, a former Thika civil leader and a veteran politician said they were released unconditionally after recording statements at Lang’ata police station where they had been locked up since last Friday.

Both were arrested at a Nairobi funeral home where they had gone to view the deceased body. Lang’ata OCPD Titus Yoma confirmed the duo had been released.

According the deceased daughter Tracy Macharia her father’s killers had earlier called her demanding a ransom of Kshs. 3 million. By Tuesday police were yet to arrest the callers who had used phone number 0755 609 679 to demand the ransom.

Sleuths are also looking for the deceased former guard who was sacked in unclear circumstances. The officers are also looking for one of the deceased car, a Toyota Hilux, a fire arm, title deeds and other vital documents found missing.

Yoma said they were yet to do any recovery although information had been circulated internally. Macharia aged 50 retired from the military where he was a pilot before becoming a commercial pilot at Wilson Airport.

- See more at: http://www.the-star.co.ke



Joy Kingara and Andrew Ng'ang'a being held at Langata Police Station on March 2, 2014 as suspects in the murder of Ex-Kenya Air force pilot David Macharia whose body was found dumped in a septic tank within his compound in Hardy Karen on Thursday night. Investigations into the murder of former Kenya Air Force captain David Macharia last Thursday took a new twist after detectives locked up his former wife and maternal uncle for questioning. Nganga was deceased uncle while Joy Kingara was deceased separated wife. PHOTO/BILLY MUTAI 


In Summary
  • The pilot is also said to have quarrelled with his elder son, only identified as Brian, two days before his murder. On the same day, Brian called a relative and informed her of the quarrel and also asked for his father’s insurance details.
  • The female suspect, Ms Kingaara, was married to the late captain after he separated with his first wife. However in December 2012, Ms Kingaara and the deceased also separated after staying for about ten years.

The murder of former Kenya Air Force captain David Macharia last Thursday took a new twist after detectives locked up his former wife and maternal uncle for questioning.

One of his cars, a firearm, title deeds and other important documents are missing from his residence.

The pilot is also said to have quarrelled with his elder son, only identified as Brian, two days before his murder.

On the same day, Brian called a relative and informed her of the quarrel and also asked for his father’s insurance details.

Lang’ata OCPD Titus Yoma on Sunday said the uncle, Mr Andrew Ng’ang’a Wanjukira, who is the Thika branch ODM chairman, and Ms Joyce Wanjiku Kingaara had been arrested in connection to the murder linked to a tussle over the pilot’s property.

Detectives were trying to link last year’s visit, by the two to Mr Macharia’s house to collect some documents, to the murder. So far, the suspects’ mobile phones have been confiscated for analysis.

By Sunday, police had not recovered one of the pilot’s vehicles, a Toyota Hilux, which went missing from the compound last Thursday night.

FEMALE SUSPECT

 
“We got the report of the missing vehicle however we are yet to find it. The vehicle’s particulars have been circulated to the relevant agencies,” said Mr Yoma. He was also a licensed gun holder but police did not find his firearm.

The OCPD however said that he was not aware that the pilot had a firearm. The law requires that when a person in lawful possession of a small arm dies, the immediate next of kin is expected to inform the local police who will in turn surrender it to the Central Firearms Bureau.

However, when a family member desires to possess the firearm, he or she will apply as required by law.

The female suspect, Ms Kingaara, was married to the late captain after he separated from his first wife. However in December 2012, Ms Kingaara and the deceased also separated after about ten years.

In March last year, the pilot fell sick and was admitted at the Karen hospital. Both the suspects went to his residence in Hardy to collect his National Hospital Fund (NHIF) card but they found his former wife, Margaret Njeri whom he had separated with for over twenty years, inside the house cooking.

Ms Njeri was later married to a white man and they are staying together in Nairobi. They quarrelled and left Ms Njeri in the house.

Mr Macharia, who had been staying alone, was last seen at the Red Cube club, in the company of his former wife Margaret’s sister. The attackers had said that they wanted Sh3million from the deceased.

They however later told the family that they had recovered part of the money through some items they had picked from the house. “We only need Sh50,000 for facilitation before we kill him,” said one of the callers. They were using the number 0755609679.

The situation worsened after Ms Njeri told the police that the two suspects in custody were linked to the missing documents at the pilot’s house.

“They separated about 25 years ago and it is strange that she knows that the documents are missing. He never lived there,” said one of the family members.

Mr Macharia, 50, retired from the military before he became a commercial pilot at the Wilson Airport.

Story and photo:   http://www.nation.co.ke