Saturday, March 29, 2014

Are general aviation airports economically feasible?

LIMA — Area airport managers and an economic development director espouse the importance of general aviation airports, but one national organization wants to see a thorough and objective report showing their value and worth to local economies.

Lima Allen County Airport Manager Ryan Huizinga, Neil Armstrong Airport Manager Sean Stroh and Allen Economic Development Group Executive Director Jeff Sprague contend airports in Allen, Auglaize, Hancock, Hardin, Putnam and Van Wert counties help maintain and generate new economic opportunities.

“There are more than 5,000 public-use airports in the United States, and each airport is an economic generator in its community,” Huizinga said. “Airports generate revenue through activities that include fuel sales, hangar and tie-down rental, aircraft maintenance and services on the airport, such as flight schools, restaurants, aircraft sales and rental. Other revenue comes to the community as visitors rent cars, check into area hotels and visit restaurants and other attractions.

“General aviation in the U.S. is a $150 billion industry that employs more than 1 million people, and airports play an important part in generating that revenue,” he said. “In addition, each airport is part of a national transportation system that links communities and markets.”

Sprague said this importance is stressed during meetings with businesses and filling out questionnaires.

“I know when we are dealing on attracting potential companies, where companies are looking to locate into a community, one of the questions on their inventory list of items they are looking for is do you have a regional airport and the specifics of the airport,” Sprague said. “It is an added check-mark on the plus side for our community when submitting potential site applications.”

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Off-duty pilot convicted of groping 14-year-old girl on flight

SALT LAKE CITY –  An airline pilot was convicted this week of two counts of abusive sexual contact for groping a 14-year-old girl while he was a passenger on a flight from Detroit to Salt Lake City last year.

Michael Pascal, who has homes in Park City, Utah, and Texas, was found guilty Thursday by a jury after a three-day trial in U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City.

The girl told investigators that she woke up from a nap on an Oct. 26 Delta Airlines flight and found Pascal's hand under her, gripping her buttocks. She was sitting next to a window, and Pascal was in the middle seat.

Pascal, 45, who worked at the time as a pilot for a regional airline carrier that contracts with Delta, told investigators he fell asleep with his hands in his lap and doesn't know how one ended up underneath the girl.

He's scheduled to be sentenced July 29 and could face up to five years in prison.

The girl told authorities she elbowed Pascal after waking up with his hand underneath her and said, "What the hell are you doing?" court documents show.

She says Pascal pulled his hand out from under her and said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I was asleep, I have to use the bathroom."

She said the armrest that she had pushed down was in the upright position. Pascal said he pulled up the armrest between him and the girl because the man on the other side of him was taking up a lot of room, according to documents.

The girl, who was flying alone, told flight attendants what happened and changed seats. She maintained Pascal was "clearly awake" and put some of his body on her.

Pascal's attorney, Rhome Zabriskie, has said his client was in shock about being charged. He has a teenage daughter of his own, Zabriskie said, and any touching that occurred was inadvertent.

It took the jury a couple of hours to reach the verdict.



FOX 29 Investigates: Pilot Fighting For What He Believes Is Owed - Jason Flood - Bellanca 8GCBC Scout, Heads Up Advertising, N87020: Accident occurred August 02, 2011 in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

FOX 29  

FRANKLINVILLE, N.J. -   A FOX 29 investigation: a young New Jersey pilot survives a devastating crash only to learn that his employer does not hold the important insurance policy that is vital in getting him back on his feet.

Jeff Cole and FOX 29 Investigates have the story tonight of Jason Flood and his fight for what he believes he's owed.

A warning, some of the images in this report are hard to look at.

"...This is what it's made to do. Doing the aerobatics--flips, rolls, spins..." said Flood.

Jason Flood is happy when he's around his aerobatic plane. He feels pure joy when he's strapped in its seat, control in hand---defying gravity.

"Free. I'm at home. It's a place of enjoyment. It's freedom. It's what I love..." said Flood.

Flood is a 23-year-old pilot who flies out of a small airfield near his Franklinville, New Jersey home. However, every time he soars, he remembers the day that he came tumbling to earth.

"...August 2nd. was a very devastating, life changing event for me..." he said. "I can't talk. I am in a strange room trying to figure out where I am. I can't get up to go to the bathroom. My life changed that day."

August 2nd., 2011, He's is flying low trying to hook-on an advertising banner to pull above beach goers along the Jersey Shore. Suddenly, the engine quits and Flood spirals down.

Federal Investigators found that the 20-year-old pilot made an error.

Flood says he had just moments to lift the nose of the aircraft before it slapped the earth.

"On the scene you could hear in the police recordings they said this doesn't look good," Flood said.

Jason Flood was knocked-out. Rescue workers found him bent-over and bloodied in the cockpit. Pictures show his crumpled body in the yellow tee-shirt. Flood had suffered massive injuries including broken bones, organ damage and internal bleeding.

Flood was eventually rushed to Camden's Cooper Hospital where, after 3 weeks in a coma and multiple surgeries, he emerged with rods and pins holding his broken body together.

"...How did you survive?" asked FOX 29's Jeff Cole.

"By the grace of God..." he replied.

Jason Flood's rehab was painful and long. Furthermore, he says it was made more difficult when he learned the family friend who'd hired him to fly banner planes failed to carry state-required insurance that would have gone a long way to help him get back on his feet."

That man is Herbert Degan of Woodbine, New Jersey. He can be seen behind the wheel of the Lexis recording FOX 29's Jeff Cole and his crew with his cell phone.

You can see Degan in happier times with Jason Flood in a photo posted on a web site which documents aerobatic air shows. They're also side by side in a video of a fund raiser held for Flood.

According to a State of New Jersey Workers Compensation Order, Degan's banner business Heads Up Advertising, LLC, which is under his and his wife's names, was uninsured. It did not carry state-mandated workers' compensation insurance.

While the Degan's did pay Flood his weekly wages of about 200 bucks for half a year in 2012, Flood's won a 190,000 dollar workers' compensation judgment against Heads Up Advertising and the Degan's, but he has not collected.

And there's something else you should know about Herbert Degan. He's an air traffic controller at the Atlantic City Airport. He's directed aircraft to depart and land safely for 22 years. In fact, he's listed as the "safety rep." at the Atlantic City air traffic control Tower for the National Air Traffic Controllers Union.

Jeff Cole tried to talk to Herbert Degan, but as he approached his SUV, he noticed his young son in the back seat, so he asked Degan to take his card so they could talk later.

Degan would not talk. His bankruptcy attorney, in an e-mailed statement to FOX 29, accused Jason Flood and his parents of spreading "venomous lies" about the Degan's.

He wrote that the Degan's would like "nothing more than to respond" but are unable to because the "Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Case is still pending."

Herbert Degan and his wife filed the Chapter 7 bankruptcy in November of 2013 claiming that they owe between One-million and 10-million dollars.

Listed as creditors: Jason Flood for his 190,000 dollar workers' comp. judgment and the State of New Jersey for almost 1.2-milion dollars, most of it for Flood's medical bills. Those bills have now been cut to $400,000 and paid by a special state fund.

In a recording of the December bankruptcy hearing, Herbert Degan admits his banner business had no workers' compensation insurance at the time of Flood's devastating crash, but claimed it was an accountant's fault.

"He failed to obtain workers compensation insurance for us without us knowing," Degan said.

In the meantime, Jason Flood is back fighting gravity and battling for what he believes he's owed.

"I'm left in the dust, left at the bottom, trampled on again--even after the plane crash," said Flood.

FOX 29 called New Jersey accountant Michael Shumski who's listed on the Degans' bankruptcy filing. He said he did work for Degan's Heads Up Advertising but does not recall Degan asking him to arrange workers' comp insurance. He says he forwards such requests to insurance brokers. The Degan's Attorney calls the crash a "tragic event" which has forever altered the lives of the Floods and the Degans.

Degan's attorney says they will also not respond at this time due to an "open criminal charge" against Jason Flood's father. Flood's father was charged with harassment after he accused the Degan's of lying on their bankruptcy filing after that December hearing. Flood says he'll fight the charge.

Story, video, photo gallery:


Bellanca 8GCBC Scout, Heads Up Advertising, N87020: Accident occurred August 02, 2011 in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey

NTSB Identification: ERA11LA437 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, August 02, 2011 in Egg Harbor Township, NJ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/26/2012
Aircraft: BELLANCA 8GCBC, registration: N87020
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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

After the airplane’s fourth unsuccessful attempt to pick up a banner, a witness reported that the airplane was flying about 100 feet above ground level and the wings were "wobbling." The airplane then descended, and spun before it impacted the ground. The pilot stated that he did not have any recollection of the accident or the events prior to the accident. No preimpact anomalies were noted with the airframe or engine during a postaccident examination.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering near the ground, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall.

On August 2, 2011, at 1500, eastern daylight time, a Bellanca 8GCBC, N87020, registered to an individual and operated by Heads Up Advertising, incurred substantial damage when it impacted terrain in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. The pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a company flight plan was filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, banner towing flight. The flight originated from Woodbine Municipal Airport (OBI), Woodbine, New Jersey, about 1450.

The responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector stated that the pilot fueled the airplane prior to flying towards the banner pick up area. The pilot attempted 3 banner pickups prior to the accident. He maneuvered the airplane for the fourth attempt but failed to pick up the banner. The banner ground handler looked away and started to prepare the banner for another attempt, when moments later he heard a loud impact noise and observed the airplane had crashed into the ground about half mile away from the pickup area, on the crosswind for the banner tow pattern.

According to a witness, the airplane was observed flying approximately 100 feet above ground level. She noted that the wings were "wobbling" and the airplane was not climbing although it was in a nose up attitude. Next, she saw the airplane begin to "nosedive" and start spinning but was unable to see the airplane impact the ground.

The pilot stated that he did not have any recollection of the accident or the events prior to the accident.

The airplane was manufactured in 1974 and was equipped with a Lycoming O-360 series, 180-horsepower engine. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on February 3, 2011. At the time of the inspection, the reported aircraft time was 6698.0 total hours and the recorded tachometer was 2090.15 hours. The tachometer located in the wreckage 2236.91 hours.

The pilot, age 20, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) second-class medical certificate was issued in May 2011. He reported 600 total hours of flight experience, of which, 65 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.

A post accident examination of the wreckage by the FAA revealed that control continuity was verified to all flight control surfaces. Fuel samples were taken from each wing with no water or contaminants noted. Examination of the engine was performed and the top and bottom sparkplugs were removed and no issues were noted. The crankshaft was rotated by the propeller flange and compression was observed on all cylinders. In addition, spark was obtained from the spark plug leads during the rotation.


Published on Mar 17, 2013
WARNING: Graphic material. Viewer discretion is advised.

This is a video montage of photos that were acquired by Jason Flood, an aerobatic pilot based in Southern New Jersey. On August 2, 2011, Jason was flying a Bellanca 8GCBC Scout on a routine banner tow flight when, in the process of picking up a banner, the engine seized on the airplane and he and the aircraft crashed in Egg Harbor Township.

As a result of the accident, Jason sustained the following injuries: crushed left calcaneus heel, right ankle explosion, broken right tibia and right femur, an assortment of broken ribs, lumbar spine explosion, the total loss of his left kidney and spleen, and lastly a ruptured aorta. Jason underwent numerous surgeries to fix his heel, ankle, and tibia with rods and screws as well as the insertion of plates and screws in his body, including rods and screws in his back.

Amazingly, Jason made a full recovery. He took his first airplane flight a mere two months after the accident and flew the family's Piper Cub shortly afterwards. Ten months after the accident, in late June 2012, Jason competed in the Widlwood Acroblast competition in Cape May County, NJ, placing second in the intermediate category out of nine competitors. Not even two months after that Jason flew his first airshow performance since the accident - the airshow taking place at the New Garden Flying Field in Toughkenamon, PA.

Jason would like to thank the Egg Harbor Township Police Department, the Scullville Fire Company, the Cardiff Fire Department, and their respective EMS personnel for assisting in his rescue as well as the EMTs and pilots for the New Jersey State Police's SouthStar Medevac unit, along with staff at AtlantiCare Regional Medicare Center and Cooper University Medical Center in Camden for going above and beyond to ensure Jason got the best medical care possible. He would also like to thank his family and friends for always being by his side during that time, and of course throughout the entire recovery phase and beyond.

You can visit Jason's website at 

Video of Jason's performances at the 2012 New Garden Airshow can be found at .


Master Instructor Dick Rochfort: Six Steps and Three Questions for Getting on the Approach


Video by RWR Pilot Training on March 27, 2014

Getting on the Instrument Approach Using a Six Step Process: Ride along with Master Instructor Dick Rochfort on an in-flight demonstration of how to get on the instrument approach in the Piper PA46 JetProp aircraft. Dick uses proper call-outs and well documented, disciplined procedures to ensure the safety of this challenging flight. Dick Rochfort is a full-time pilot trainer specializing in the PA46 Matrix, Malibu, Mirage and Meridian aircraft. He provides pre-purchase valuation, training, corporate service and expert witness services worldwide.

Alister Grierson’s Deep Water: Disaster film about jet crash at sea put on hold

HONG KONG — A disaster movie about a jet that crashes into the ocean on its way to Beijing has been put on hold because of its similarities to the disappearance of a Malaysian plane.

Arclight Films, the company behind “Deep Water,” said this week that preproduction has been halted.

“We’re delaying it out of respect for what’s going on,” managing director Gary Hamilton said.

An international search effort is scouring a remote stretch of the southern Indian Ocean for a Malaysia Airlines jet that disappeared March 8 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Malaysian officials said this past week that the jet probably crashed in the sea, taking the lives of all 239 people aboard.

“It’s a pretty tragic event,” Hamilton said at Hong Kong’s Filmart trade show.

He played down the similarities to the disappearance of Flight MH370, saying that the “movie that is not actually the same — it just deals with a plane crash.”

The film is about a flight from Sydney to Beijing that goes down in the ocean, leaving an air marshal and a handful of surviving passengers and crew members to fight off giant tiger sharks and other dangers.

According to a synopsis of the film posted on the company’s Web site, “As the downed aircraft takes on water with every passing second, the surviving passengers and crew must face terror beyond reckoning.”

The movie is a loose follow-up to the 2012 film “Bait,” about a shark terrorizing shoppers in an Australian supermarket flooded by a tsunami.

The government film agency Screen Australia was funding “Deep Water,” which was budgeted at $25 million and was to be a co-production with China, according to a report last year by the Australian publication Inside Film.


Patrick Cannon scandal could propel change over control of Charlotte airport

During last year’s fight over control of the Charlotte airport, those who supported creation of a new authority voiced concerns about how city officials were running the airport but never publicly mentioned a possible criminal investigation.

Some of those supporters now say they had heard rumors of a possible government probe and it helped fuel their drive to create an independent commission to run Charlotte-Douglass International Airport. The legislation passed last year, but the new commission remains tied up in court.

Commission supporters expect last week’s arrest of former Mayor Patrick Cannon will help buttress their case that the city should not be in charge of the airport, a vital economic engine for the region. They’re likely to revive the issue when the General Assembly meets again in May, they say.

“I think the legislature will now see that there was some validity to the concerns that were raised,” said former Charlotte City Council member Stan Campbell, a driving force behind legislation.

The charges against Cannon have raised questions about the integrity of local government, although city and county officials have worked to assure the public that their operations are not corrupt and working smoothly.

The allegations could reignite a months-long fight over the airport that had seemingly cooled in recent weeks. Cannon had been working on a compromise with Gov. Pat McCrory, an effort that now could be jeopardized. The pair had talked as recently as Wednesday, the day Cannon was arrested. 

Charlotte City Manager Ron Carlee said he continues to be concerned about a legislative proposal that has the airport director reporting to 13 politically appointed commission members, rather than the longtime approach of reporting to the city manager. The FBI’s allegations against Cannon include accusations that he received payments from undercover agents in exchange for promises to use his influence as a public official to help fictional businesses and development projects.

“What happened this week reaffirms why the city department directors do not report to the mayor,” Carlee said.

Driving force for change

During a months-long legislative fight last year, a Republican-led state legislature in Raleigh passed a bill to create a new, independent commission to run the airport instead of being a city department, a move the city fiercely opposed.

Although the commission was created, the city sued to block it and the commission remains powerless. The fight is tied up in court and with the Federal Aviation Administration, with no clear resolution in sight.

Although the commission doesn’t have permission to run the airport, the 13 commissioners are meeting monthly. This month, commission members piled into a shuttle bus and rode around Charlotte Douglas, touring runways, the new rail cargo yard and new parking decks.

Longtime aviation director Jerry Orr lost his job last year in the airport fight, and he was replaced by Brent Cagle, a city employee. Cagle also serves as interim executive director of the commission. 

Campbell, a Republican who served on the city council from 1987 to 1995, wouldn’t disclose details, but said he had heard about a possible investigation of the city as early as late 2012. “When we heard the rumors floating around, and saw what was happening at the airport we thought we would do what we could to protect it,” he said.

A main driver of the fight was concern that city officials were trying to force Orr into retirement, he said. Campbell said he was also concerned that city officials were eager to take money from the airport for pet projects such as a streetcar line.

Campbell took his concerns to his friend, state Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Matthews, who introduced the legislation in February 2013. Not everyone he talked to in the legislature believed the rumors about the possible investigation, Campbell said.

Anthony Foxx was mayor when the airport fight began but stepped down in July to become U.S. Transportation Secretary. Cannon was mayor pro tem before being elected mayor in November. 
In an interview, Rucho said he had heard rumors of a possible investigation, but knew nothing substantiated. While the rumors played a role in deciding to back an airport authority, Rucho said it was not the driving factor. Other factors included the city’s decision to transfer airport security to Charlotte police.

“We were trying to find a way to guarantee the airport and insulate the airport from any type of cronyism,” he said. “It was a collection of everything. The priority of keeping that airport economically viable is absolutely critical to this city and the region.”

Ruth Samuelson, the Republican conference leader, said she heard rumors about an investigation near the end of last year’s legislative session, but wasn’t sure if they were true.

“I said I don’t deal with rumors,” she said. “I’m not even sure I trusted the source.”

Orr said he, too, had heard rumors about an investigation of some city official. He was interviewed by the FBI in the course of some type of inquiry, but said he wasn’t aware of its nature.

“You never know exactly what was going on. Sometimes you get some hints,” he said. “Nobody said what they’re investigating for or about.”

Orr said concerns about an investigation were a factor in pushing for a change in control of the airport.

“That’s why you want an airport authority,” Orr said. “That’s why you want your governing board to be focused on the business, running the airport.”

To be sure, airport authorities are not insulated from corruption. Some experts believe the separation from local government can make them more susceptible to wrongdoing. Authorities typically aren’t audited as rigorously as cities, which could make it possible for unethical practices, such as collecting bribes from companies seeking work.

McCrory still wants deal

Cannon and McCrory had been leading the effort to find a compromise on the contentious issues of who should run the airport. Last month, when the chairman of the airport commission said he thought compromise talks had failed, Cannon shot back a message saying he “completely disagreed” with that idea.

“I do not believe that we have exhausted all options and remain hopeful that city and state leaders can find common ground,” said Cannon in February. McCrory and Cannon had been negotiating for more than three months about the future of Charlotte Douglas, in what Cannon said were productive talks.
Robert Stolz, the commission chairman, could not be reached for comment on Saturday.

Although there weren’t any compromises formally advanced, a solution could have involved a beefed-up version of the airport’s former advisory committee, which the city disbanded after the airport commission was created last year.

Josh Ellis, a spokesman for McCrory, said Cannon’s departure does not affect the governor’s desire to reach a compromise. McCrory would like to reach a deal before the legislature returns in May, Ellis said.

Orr said he believes the legislature will make a move on airport governance in the coming session. Rucho said the vociferous opposition from those who wanted the airport to remain under city control likely will be tempered by the news about Cannon.

“Everybody was saying, ‘If it ain’t broke, you don’t have to fix it.’ Now what you’re seeing is that there can be problems out there,” Rucho said. “People have had their eyes opened.”

Campbell said plans for the session haven’t been developed.

“The city proposal hasn’t changed,” he said. “They want it to go back the way it was. I don’t think that’s possible now.”

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Sonerai II-LT, N63917: Fatal accident occurred March 29, 2014 in Highlands Ranch, Colorado

NTSB Identification: CEN14FA173
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 29, 2014 in Highlands Ranch, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/23/2014
Aircraft: WORTHINGTON DONALD WAYNE SONERAI II LT, registration: N63917
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.

On the morning of the accident, the pilot terminated his first flight early due to a fuel leak in the fuel tank sight gauge. The pilot made a repair before taking off for a second flight. During the second flight, witnesses reported seeing the airplane in distress and hearing the engine sputtering as it approached an open field. The airplane overflew a set of power lines before rolling and impacting terrain, consistent with the pilot reducing the airspeed in an attempt to clear the power lines during a forced landing and subsequently stalling the airplane. The majority of the airplane fuselage and cockpit were consumed by a postimpact fire. Flight control continuity was verified from the cockpit to all flight control surfaces. Examination of the fuel system and engine were limited due to the fire damage, and a reason for the apparent loss of engine power could not be determined.
The pilot hadn’t flown in 10 years and had recently purchased the airplane. The pilot logged one flight with an instructor about 2 months before the accident, and he had not logged experience in the airplane type before the day of the accident.

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

The pilot’s loss of control during a forced landing following a loss of engine power for reasons that could not be determined due to postimpact fire damage.


On March 29, 2014, about 1440 mountain daylight time, a Worthington Sonerai 11L experimental airplane, N63917, crashed near Highlands Ranch, Colorado. The private pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, which was not operated on a flight plan.

The pilot purchased the airplane in November, 2013. The pilot's first flight in the airplane occurred the morning of the accident. The pilot told a family member that the first flight had terminated early due to a leak in the fuel sight gauge. The pilot made a repair to the airplane and took off for a second flight. Witnesses reported seeing the airplane "struggling to stay airborne," and that the engine was running roughly as the airplane approached an open field. The airplane was observed to cross over a set of power lines, roll to the left, and descend into the ground. A post-impact fire ensued.

Clear tubing and materials suitable for replacing the fuel sight gauge were located in the pilot's hanger. A cracked section of tubing consistent with the fuel sight gauge was recovered from a garbage can in the hanger.


The pilot, age 60, held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land. His last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Third-class medical certificate was issued on April 19, 2006, with no limitations.

An examination of the pilot's flight records indicated 573 total flight hours, with no hours in the accident model airplane. The flight records indicated a break in flying between September 19, 2003, and January 1, 2014. The pilot did not log any additional flight time following a single 1.2 hour flight on January 1, 2014, and the day of the accident.


The 1999-model airplane, serial number 00024, was a low wing, fabric and metal covered airplane, with a fixed tricycle landing gear, and was configured for two occupants. The airplane was powered by a direct drive, horizontally opposed, carbureted, air-cooled, four-cylinder engine. The engine was a Volkswagen Aero Vee rated at 75 horsepower, and was driving a two-bladed constant pitch wooden propeller. The last inspections on the airframe and engine were each conditional type inspections on November 1, 2013.


Weather at APA at 1453 was reported as wind 330 degrees at six knots, 10 miles visibility, few clouds at 17,000 feet, a broken ceiling at 25,000 feet, and altimeter 29.97.


The airplane impacted an open field eight miles west of APA on a heading of 033 degrees. The airplane traveled approximately 50 feet from the initial impact point before coming to rest upright. The initial impact point consisted of a scrape mark where the left wing impacted and a shallow crater where the engine impacted. Fragments of the majority of the propeller were located at the engine impact point, or in the immediate area.

The airplane fuselage was constructed primarily of metal tubing covered by fabric material. Fire consumed the fuselage covering from the engine cowling area aft to just forward of the horizontal stabilizer. The wings were manufactured of aluminum spars and ribs covered by a metal skin. Fire consumed the center sections of the wings that were connected to the fuselage, and outboard of the fuselage about one to two feet on each side of the fuselage.

Flight control continuity was continuous from all control surfaces to their respective controls in the cockpit.

An engine examination on scene revealed both propeller blades were broken off and splintered about eight to ten inches from the propeller hub. The propeller spinner exhibited crushing deformation to about two-thirds of its surface, with little to no rotational scoring or rotational deformation evident. The left and right cylinder head covers were separated, exposing the rocker arms for each cylinder. The propeller was rotated by hand and all rocker arms exhibited movement.

The airplane was equipped with a 10 gallon aluminum fuel cell mounted aft of the engine firewall, and forward of the instrument panel. The fuel system included a sight gauge to monitor fuel available. The sight gauge consisted of a transparent rubber hose that was mounted vertically on the forward instrument panel so as to be visible during flight. About two-thirds of the fuel tank was consumed by fire. The sight gauge was not located in the wreckage.

Fuel was gravity fed directly from the fuel tank to an Aerocarb slide style carburetor mounted on the engine. The carburetor was impact and fire damaged. Functional testing of the carburetor could not be accomplished due to the damage. The portion of the fuel feed lines from the finger strainer mounted in the tank to the gas valve was located. The portions of the fuel system that were located exhibited impact and fire damage. The remainder of the fuel system was not located due to fire and impact damage.

No anomalies were noted with the available wreckage and the engine that would have precluded normal operation prior to impact.


The Douglas County coroner, located in Castle Rock, Colorado, performed an autopsy on the pilot on March 30, 2014. The cause of death was attributed to multiple blunt force injuries.

The FAA, Toxicology Accident Research Laboratory, located in , conducted toxicological testing on the pilot. Testing for carbon monoxide and cyanide were negative. No volatiles or drugs were detected.

  NTSB Identification: CEN14FA173 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 29, 2014 in Highlands Ranch, CO
Aircraft: WORTHINGTON DONALD WAYNE SONERAI II LT, registration: N63917
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 March 29, 2014, about 1440 mountain daylight time, a Worthington Sonerai 11L experimental airplane, N63917, crashed near Highlands Ranch, Colorado. The pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, which was not operated on a flight plan.

The pilot purchased the airplane in November, 2013. The pilot's first flight in the airplane occurred the morning of the accident. The pilot told a family member that the first flight had terminated early due to a leak in the fuel sight gauge. The pilot made a repair to the airplane and took off for a second flight. Witnesses reported seeing the airplane "struggling to stay airborne," and that the engine was running roughly as the airplane approached an open field. The airplane was observed to cross over a set of power lines, roll to the left, and descend into the ground. A post-impact fire ensued.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — A man who died after his single-engine plane crashed into a field in Highlands Ranch Saturday has been identified.

Tuesday afternoon, the Douglas County Coroner’s Office identified 60-year-old James Peoples of Littleton as the victim in Saturday’s plane crash.

Peoples’ small aircraft crashed into an open field just south of C-470 and east of Lucent Boulevard in Highlands Ranch.

RELATED LINK: Deputies: Small plane crashes in field in Highlands Ranch, kills 1

Witnessed said the plane flew low over a H2O Carwash before plummeting into the field. After impact, the plane caught fire.

On Sunday, Centennial Airport Operations confirmed to FOX31 Denver that Peoples took off from Centennial Airport at approximately 2:30 p.m. in an experimental plane on the day of the crash.
The coroner said that an autopsy was performed and, while the manner of death was indicated as accidental, a cause of death has yet to be determined.

Deputies from the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office are continuing to investigate.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. - The pilot of a small, experimental plane died when it crashed in Highlands Ranch Saturday afternoon. 

The crash was reported at about 3 p.m., according to FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer.

The plane was identified by Kenitzer as a Sonerai II LT Experimental.  He said it crashed under unknown circumstances. The plane was placed on the back of a tow truck and taken to a hangar at Centennial Airport around 7:45 p.m.

"(It's a) really, really small plane with very short wings. As small as a car," said flight instructor Sean Cavan.

Cavan said he was landing at Centennial around 2 p.m. when he saw an experimental plane readying to take off.

"The home built airplane that they're saying it was, that looked exactly like what it was," said Cavan.

The plane caught fire on impact and several good Samaritans tried, but were unable to extinguish the flames.  Kenitzer said only the pilot was on board.

"We got a report that there was a fireball when it landed," said Douglas County sheriff's deputy Chad Teller.

7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger talked with one man who ran to help pilot after the crash. He believes the pilot is a hero for missing a nearby shopping center.

"It's obviously populated over here, there is a residential area, businesses in the area, so we're fortunate that it was able to land over here in this area," said Teller.

Photos posted on Twitter by Larry Steller show emergency units in an open field near Town Center Drive and Lucent Boulevard, south of C-470 shortly after the crash.

The location is about 8 miles southwest of Centennial Airport.  The Sonerai II is a two-seater aircraft. Teller said it was not known if anyone else was on board.

The FAA and NTSB will investigate the crash.

KUSA - A small plane crashed in Highlands Ranch on Saturday afternoon, killing the pilot, the Douglas County Sheriff's Office has confirmed.

The crash occurred near Lucent Blvd. and C-470 at approximately 3 p.m., about eight miles southwest of Centennial Airport, Allen Kenitzer with the FAA told 9NEWS. Kenitzer said the plane was a SONERAI II LT Experimental.

The plane went down in a field across from a Target shopping center and next to a car wash.

Workers at the car wash said it appeared the pilot was having problems with the plane and made an effort to steer it to the field, away from the road and shops. Two workers told 9News they ran to help after the plane nose-dived, but the aircraft was engulfed in flames.

Sean Cavan, a pilot and flight instructor at Aspen Flying Club, came to the scene concerned he might know the pilot.

"As soon as we heard about it, we were just panicking, checking the schedule and seeing if it was one of us," said Cavan.

He said he believes he saw the pilot who crashed take off from the Centennial Airport around 2 p.m. as he was returning from a flight. He said the plane he saw had very short wings and was no bigger than a car.

"It's just strange, strange that there's been three accidents in how many weeks?" Cavan said. "It's crazy, but it's part of the game. You build your own airplane, you got to make sure you build it right."

He said pilots typically build their own experimental planes.

The circumstances of the crash are unknown. Both the FAA and NTSB are now investigating.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. - An  experimental plane crashed in Highlands Ranch Saturday afternoon.  

The crash was reported at about 3 p.m., according to FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer.

The plane was identified by Kenitzer as a Sonerai II LT. He said it crashed under unknown circumstances.


The plane caught fire on impact and several good Samaritans tried to help extinguish the flames but were not able.  Kenitzer said only the pilot was on board.

7NEWS reporter Marshall Zelinger talked with one man who ran to help pilot after the crash. He believes the pilot is a hero for missing a nearby shopping center.

Photos posted on Twitter by Larry Steller  show emergency units in an open field near Town Center Drive and Lucent Boulevard, south of C-470.

The Douglas County Sheriff's Office confirmed the crash but had no further details.

The locations is about 8 miles southwest of Centennial Airport.

The FAA and NTSB will investigate the crash.

HIGHLANDS RANCH, Colo. — A small aircraft crashed in an open field in Highlands Ranch Saturday afternoon.  

Reports of a plane crash came in shortly before 3 p.m. Saturday.

A spokesperson from Douglas County Sheriff’s Office told FOX31 Denver that the accident is south of C-470 and just east of Lucent Boulevard — this is right behind a major shopping center and a Super Target.

The Sheriff’s Office was unable to confirm how many people were on board and whether or not there was a fire.

Pictures posted on Twitter by Larry Sellers showed emergency crews on already on scene.

Sellers also tweeted that the plane flew low over a H2O Carwash before crashing into the field. He said the pilot initially survived the impact, but died when the plane caught on fire. 

Ships Head to New Search Area for Missing Malaysia Airlines Plane: Some Objects Have Been Retrieved From the Ocean, but None Have Been Confirmed as Flight 370 Debris

The Wall Street Journal
By Robb M. Stewart And Shani Raja
Updated March 29, 2014 8:55 a.m. ET

PERTH, Australia—A fleet of ships is steaming toward an area of the Indian Ocean newly identified as the likeliest place where missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 may be found.

Three ships arrived in the search zone Saturday and six more were due to descend on Sunday, said Australia's maritime safety agency, which is leading the multinational operation. That would bring the total number of vessels scouring the region to nine, with more scheduled to arrive.

"We have many more ships involved than we had previously," said a spokesman for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, or AMSA, in an interview. "The job of locating the objects will still mainly be the role of the aircraft, while the vessels will be tasked with attempting to recover and identify those objects."

The contingent of ships was being beefed up just as aerial photographs of several floating objects analyzed overnight failed to determine whether they belonged to the Malaysian airline, which disappeared from civilian radar about three weeks ago with 239 people on board.

A Chinese air force Ilyushin IL-76 reported sighting three objects in the search area on Saturday and an Australian P3 Orion spotted numerous objects in a different part of the search area, the maritime agency said in a statement summing up the day's efforts. Haixun 01, a vessel from China's maritime safety administration, and the Australian navy's HMAS Success managed to retrieve a number of objects from the ocean, but so far none have been confirmed as coming from the Malaysian aircraft, the agency said.

The search is set to resume again early Sunday.

The AMSA spokesman said ships, several of which carry helicopters, remained in the best position to identify whether the objects spotted Friday by aircraft were debris from flight MH370.

"In principle, it's possible that if a large enough object with clear markings was sighted and photographed it could be recognized," he said. But he added that "the most likely method of verification remains a close-up analysis by a ship."

Haixun 01 has been at the site identified by the aircraft—far off Australia's western coast in the newly identified search area—since first light.

Earlier, eight aircraft flew to the zone from Perth, including planes from Australia, New Zealand, Japan and China.

Smoke flares are sometimes dropped by aircraft to help ships zoom in on objects that are located, but they tend to last only about 45 minutes.

Objects sighted earlier this week, where Australia's HMAS Success was merely 30 miles away, failed to yield a recovery because the flare extinguished before the ship could get there, said Royal Australian Air Force Warrant Officer Brenton Bell.

Spotters also sometimes tag debris on digital maps using hand-held triggers the moment it's seen. However, objects can drift quickly and are hard to relocate even an hour or two later.

The ideal scenario is that a nearby ship arrives quickly with a helicopter to scan the area, warrant officer Bell said.

The weather was favorable for much of Saturday's operation, but AMSA had warned that worsening conditions may be on the way. Rough weather and poor visibility have forced searchers to suspend operations a number of times.

Friday's search area was hundreds of miles north of where fleets of planes and ships had previously been looking. The zone was shifted after international air-crash investigators in Malaysia updated their analysis of the missing jetliner's likely movements after it vanished from radar screens on March 8.

Five aircraft had spotted objects in the new area on Friday, but none have so far been verified as belonging to MH370. Australia's maritime agency said it wasn't clear how much flotsam is ordinarily in this area of the ocean, and that at least one of the objects spotted appeared to be fishing debris.

The search has also become a race to detect signals from the missing Boeing 777-200's black-box flight recorder before the batteries in its underwater locator beacon wear out.

Authorities calculate that they have no more than eight days before expiration is expected. That could mark a turning point in the search effort, they say, which would become immensely more difficult.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said a black-box locator—able to detect pings from the flight recorder at great depths—was ready to be deployed if needed.

Sent to Perth by the U.S. Navy, the device would be towed behind an Australian navy ship, which itself would take days to reach the search area. ADV Ocean Shield, which will be fitted with the equipment, was due to arrive in Perth on Saturday, according to ship-tracking sites.

"We're trying to find small bits of wreckage in a vast ocean," Mr. Abbott told reporters Saturday. "The task goes on."

The new area is more hospitable than the previous one. Aircrews no longer have to battle the "Roaring 40s," an area of strong winds and high seas lying between latitudes 40 and 50 degrees south. Better weather would mean fewer stoppages—aircrews were grounded by gale winds twice already this week.

The area is also closer to the Australian mainland, extending the time planes can spend in the search area before having to return to base to refuel.

Still, the decision to dramatically revise the search zone also means aircraft are now scouring a vast new search area without the aid of markers laid down by search crews to monitor ocean currents and the movement of possible debris.

The new area is roughly four times the size of what was being searched a day earlier. Investigators aren't saying for sure that this will be the final search zone. Officials from both Australia and Malaysia said the data may be analyzed again, prompting them to look elsewhere in the southern Indian Ocean.

Aircraft that spotted the objects Friday dropped a GPS drift marker that broadcasts its location to a satellite so naval personnel can track its drift on the ocean surface, and help model the likely movement of debris in the water.

The ships arriving in area will be sent to the GPS position and guided toward any debris by aircraft overhead, New Zealand Air Vice Marshall Kevin Short said in an interview Saturday. He said a New Zealand aircrew had spied 11 objects, one of which was orange and looked like a fishing buoy.

Vice Marshall Short said most of the debris was about one meter in length and white, and that one item was blue and slightly larger. "We can't tell you what these objects are, and that's why we need the ships to pick them up," he said.

—Rebecca Howard in Wellington and Daniel Stacey in Perth contributed to this article.


Piper L-4A from WWII's Finney Field found in aircraft salvage yard

Don and Donny Port  
John W. McCullough/Texas Tech University
The father-son team of Don and Donny Port located the frame of a Piper L-4A which was assigned to Finney Field during World War II. Donny Port purchased the frame from Duff’s Salvage Yard in 2004, and Don Port was able to get the history of the craft from the Smithsonian Institute.

NOTE: This is the 23rd article about Clent Breedlove’s Plainview Pre-Glider School at Finney Field.

By John W. McCullough

Texas Tech Graduate Student — History

In the last article, some details about a letter from the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum provided more information about a Piper L-4A aircraft which Joe Morris purchased in 2006. Morris bought the aircraft frame from a man who lived outside of Denver, Colo.

The plane was just a shell at the time Morris bought it, and was not flyable.

“It was really just the frame of the plane when I purchased it and it showed a lot of wear. It obviously had been exposed to the weather for many years,” commented Morris.

The letter from the Smithsonian, which came with the aircraft frame when Morris purchased it, was addressed to Don Port of Golden, Colo.

Sidney Donald “Don” Port did not actually purchase the Piper L-4A aircraft frame, but his son did. Don Port gave some details about his involvement with the Piper L-4A, but then referred other questions to his son, Donald E. “Donny” Port of Bailey, Colo., for more answers about the purchase and restoration of the aircraft frame.

In a recent interview, Donny Port stated that he stumbled across what he thought was a Piper “Cub” aircraft frame at Duff’s Salvage Yard just outside of Denver, Colo., in 2004. Port said that Duff only dealt in aircraft salvage.

He said that Duff passed away just a year ago or so, but that the business was still operating under a new owner.

A search online found this listing: J.W. Duff Aircraft Co. at 8131 E. 40th Ave, Denver, Colo. When checking the website, the name of the company was listed as Acme Aircraft Sales & Salvage.

In a recent interview, Ken Harris, owner of Acme Aircraft Sales & Salvage (, said that he purchased Duff Aircraft Salvage in July 2013.

Harris had discussed purchasing the business from Duff several times, and that they were negotiating a deal when Duff died in early 2013.

He left his entire business to his nephew, Jim Duff, who lives in Pueblo, Colo., said Harris. Harris then purchased the business from Jim Duff.

Harris said that to the best of his knowledge, J.W. Duff started his aircraft salvage business about 65-70 years ago, just after WWII ended.

According to Harris, Duff originally used his site as a temporary storage facility for wrecked aircraft. The insurance companies were interested in seeing the wrecks. Eventually, Duff had so many wrecked aircraft that he opened an aircraft salvage business.

An additional search online found the obituary for J.W. “Bill” Duff. The website ( said that Duff was born June 24, 1926, and died Jan. 10, 2013.

The website stated that Duff owned and operated J.W. Duff Aircraft Company for more than 60, years and that it had expanded into “the largest small aircraft salvage yard in the country.” Duff had been inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, stated the obituary.

Harris said that Acme Aircraft covers 19 acres and that, like Duff, he only deals in aircraft salvage.

Donny Port said that in 2004, Duff’s Salvage was comprised of acres and acres of airplane frames, wings and parts. It was bounded by a high chain link fence on all sides.

Donny Port said that he was looking for a Piper J3 “Cub” when he stumbled across what appeared to be a Piper L-4A frame when he visited Duff’s Aircraft Salvage Yard in 2004.

“It was in a pile of all kinds of planes. I mean, you really had to look to see what it even was back there. You know, the fuselage was laying there with the seats and everything in it. I knew what it was,” chuckled Port.

When asked how he knew what type of aircraft it was, Port replied that he had restored a Piper J3 “Cub” before. He also recognized the “greenhouse” framework on the back, top side of the L-4A plane which was used for observers. The observer’s seat would actually swing all the way around so that the man sitting in it could look rearward out of the back of the plane.

Port described the frame in which he was interested as a Piper J3 “Cub” when he asked Duff about purchasing it from him. Port said that the Piper L-4A frame is much more rare than the Piper J3 “Cub,” and thus much more expensive.

Duff had wings in his salvage yard which would fit an L-4A, but Port was not sure if the wings he found came from the same aircraft frame he had purchased. He said that the tail section, the “tail feathers,” were on the L-4A frame when he bought it.

“I paid for that fuselage, and it had landing gear, all the brakes and stuff that were in it; it was only $1,800,” said Port.

“It had the seats, but otherwise just the metal tubing of the frame of the aircraft. It did not have an engine, but it did have the floorboards and all the cables in it,” he recalled.

Port later paid an additional $1,500 for the wings, which he attached to the aircraft frame. He had to replace all the wood spars in the wings, however. The wings could have been from a Piper J3 “Cub,” but Port was not sure. He said that the wings of a J3 are interchangeable with the wings of an L-4A.

The horizontal stabilizer came with the frame, but he later purchased the elevators and rudder from Duff. He finished the rudders by covering them in fabric in olive drab color, or “OD green” as the Army calls that shade, said Port.

Port also bought an engine from Duff. It was a 65-hp Continental. He never purchased a propeller for it. He never completed the restoration of the airplane enough to be able to start the engine. It also had the boot cowling on it when he bought the frame.

Donny Port thinks that he spent about two to three months of total time restoring it over a year.

He is fairly certain that he purchased the Piper L-4A aircraft frame from Duff in May 2004 because his father, Don Port, wrote his letter to the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum requesting information about the aircraft shortly after the aircraft frame was purchased. The letter was dated May 26, 2004.

More about this history of Joe Morris’s Piper L-4A aircraft that was used in glider pilot training at Finney Field in early 1943 will be discussed in the next article.

Readers are asked to visit the Breedlove CPTP research website at for more details about the pre-glider program Finney Field.

Anyone with information about the Plainview Pre-Glider School at Finney Field should contact John McCullough at 806-793-4448 or email

Story and photos:

Wings Over South Texas Air Show Underway


The South Texas Air Show is back again. This after a taking a break in 2013. Hundreds of residents are at NAS enjoying the beautiful day and the different aircraft. For more information on today's schedule you can check the link below.

Yakovlev Yak-52, G-YAKR: Accident occurred March 29, 2014 in Cooksmill Green, near Chelmsford, Essex, UK

The wreckage of the Yak 52 is cleared on the Sunday

Simon Chamberlain

Andrew Sully served with the Royal Air Force before becoming a commercial airline pilot

The YAK aircraft piloted by Andrew Sully during an evening air display at North Weald 2012  


An airline pilot killed in a plane crash over Essex had served in both the Falklands conflict and the Gulf War, his widow has said. 
British Airways pilot Andrew Sully, 50, and 29-year-old Simon Chamberlain died in the YAK 52 plane crash near Chelmsford on Saturday afternoon.

Inquests into their deaths were opened in Chelmsford earlier. Full hearings will be held at a later date.

Mr Sully's widow Aileen said: "Andrew died doing what he loved."

As a teenager, he joined the air cadets before flying with the University of Birmingham Air Squadron and joining the Royal Air Force as an officer pilot.

He saw active service flying the Hercules C130 out of RAF Lyneham during the Falklands in 1982 and in the 1991 Gulf War.

Mr Sully, who lived in Writtle, near Chelmsford, was a senior first officer with British Airways' 747 fleet.

"Both men are described by those who last saw them as happy and excited about going airborne," Mrs Sully said.

"The incident occurred 15 minutes after departing from North Weald.

"Andrew was a highly experienced and skilled pilot, especially in aerobatics.

"Andrew was passionate about flying and extremely skilled in all aspects of aviation."

British Airways said Mr Sully was "a highly-respected and popular member" of its pilot team.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating the crash.

Inquests open into Writtle plane crash victims Andrew Sully and Simon Chamberlain

The two victims of a plane crash near Writtle on Saturday died from multiple injuries. 

An inquest hearing opened today at Essex’s coroner’s court in Victoria Road South also heard the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) was continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

The pilot of the light aircraft, father-of-three Andrew Sully, 50, of Chancery Place, Writtle, and passenger Simon Chamberlain, 29, of Cambridge Road, Harlow, died when the Yak 52 plunged into a field in Cooksmill Green at about 2.55pm.

The plane took off from North Weald airfield.

Eyewitnesses claim they saw the plane attempt a “loop the loop” before crashing and bursting into flames.

Coroner’s office Paul Roberts said today: “This 50-year-old (Andrew John Sully) gentleman was piloting a two-seater small light aircraft when the plane crashed into a field.”

He added: “The post mortem examination found a provisional cause of death of multiple injuries.”

A post mortem examination of Mr Chamberlain’s body also concluded the same cause of death.

Essex coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray stated the court required complete post mortem examination results, toxicology results, a report from both the men’s GPs, a report from Essex Police and a report from the AAIB.

An inquest mention hearing is fixed for May 19.


The heartbroken family of a senior British Airways pilot and Gulf War veteran who was killed when the light aircraft he was flying crashed into a field near Writtle have paid tribute to the loving father and son. 

Experienced flyer Andrew Sully, 50, a father-of-three of Chancery Place, Writtle, died in the crash along with Simon Chamberlain, 29, of Harlow, when the YAK 52 he was flying nose-dived into a rapeseed field next to the A414 at Cooksmill Green on Saturday and burst into flames.

Emergency services raced to the scene at 2.55pm, with firefighters and police shutting the A414 as smoke billowed from the wreckage, but it was too late for the occupants of the plane, which eyewitnesses say had been attempting a loop-the-loop.

Andrew is survived by his ex-wife Aileen and his three sons, Thomas, James and Peter.

In an exclusive interview with the Chronicle, Mr Sully's mother Christine, a reverend who lives in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, said: "We are devastated, I'm not sure words can explain. He was our oldest child and a loving father and son. He always loved flying and his dad John was a pilot.

"We know that he was doing what he loved when he died, he loved old planes and old cars. He will be sadly missed by me, his father John, sisters Julia and Elizabeth and his many friends."

Mr Sully, a regular at The Wheatsheaf pub in Writtle, was educated at Kimbolten School and Birmingham University before entering the RAF.

He flew the Hercules C130 during the first Gulf War and was also a respected training pilot. After leaving the military, he entered a career in civil aviation, flying the Boeing 747 for British Airways.

The A414, between Writtle and Ongar, was cordoned off by police as well as other routes into the site while firefighters tackled the blaze.

The airspace is popular with pilots practising aerobatics from North Weald airfield and people were watching the plane performing stunts before the crash.

In April 2011, two people were killed when a Yak 52 aircraft from North Weald airfield crashed into a field near Langford on the Dengie peninsula. Instructor Simon Hulme, 33, and his 43-year-old student, Spencer Bennett, were killed when the aircraft they were flying spun and plummeted 1,800ft into a lake.

Mr Sully's passenger Simon Chamberlain was a father-of-one and secretary of the North Weald airfield museum and was not scheduled to fly that day. His parents are understood to have raced to the scene after learning of the crash.

Chairman of the museum Peter Gardner, who is godfather to Mr Chamberlain's young son Charlie, said: "He was a hardworking, much-loved and much-respected young man who is going to be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with all of his family – mum and dad, his wife and boy."

Mr Chamberlain was helping the airfield prepare for a helicopter event, scheduled for Sunday, and had taken his wife Lizzie and son Charlie along with him for a family day out.

Mr Gardner said: "As often happens, a plane was going up and the pilot said 'do you want to come for a ride'? And he went for the ride, which he had done many times before. He was dedicated. There were two things in his life – his family and his aircraft.

"We are devastated. They say the loss of people leaves a hole in your heart and this has left a chasm. After my mum died five years ago, he and Lizzie took me under their wing."

Simon's family said in a statement: "Lizzie, his wife, has lost her best friend and soul-mate. His son, Charlie, who will be two years old in August, has lost his father. And his parents, Paul and Steph, have lost a loving son. We love him more than anything in the world. Our hearts also go out to the other person involved in this tragedy."

Investigators from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) are investigating the cause.

Andrew Sully

The flag at North Weald Airfield is flying at half-mast after the fatal crash at the weekend

Andrew Lansdell said he took this picture of the plane about 15 minutes before it crashed 

Photo Courtesy/Credit:   Essex County Fire and Rescue Service 

The man in charge of a light aircraft that crashed in Essex was an experienced British Airways pilot, it has emerged.

Andrew Sully and 29-year-old Simon Chamberlain died in Saturday afternoon's crash near Chelmsford.

British Airways confirmed Mr Sully, from Writtle, near Chelmsford, was "a highly-respected and popular member" of its "pilot team".

The YAK 52 plane they crashed in has been taken away for investigation.

Mark Reynolds saw the accident and described how the cockpit had "bent underneath" the plane.

Mr Reynolds, a chef at a pub opposite the crash site, said he was standing outside on a break with a colleague when they saw the plane overhead.

"While standing out the back of the building we saw a plane overhead doing what seemed to be, at first sight, aerobatics," he said.

"And then... it seemed more distress than aerobatics.

"It twisted and then took an immediate nose-dive... and at that point, I knew that it was going to crash so I immediately called the emergency services and ran to get to the crash site."

At first, he said, he thought the aircraft was just smoking. But as he got closer, he saw the flames billowing from the plane.

"We got within 10ft (3m) and we could see what I know now was the passenger. The cockpit had bent underneath itself."

The plane, which crashed near Cooksmill Green, had taken off from a nearby airfield and was seen by a number of eyewitnesses as it came down near the A414.

Mr Chamberlain, of Harlow, would have been 30 in May, his family said in a statement.

"Lizzie, his wife, has lost her best friend and soulmate. His son, Charlie, who will be two years old in August, has lost his father. And his parents, Paul and Steph, have lost a loving son. We love him more than anything in the world."

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating the crash.
Two young Army cadets ran to the scene of a fatal plane crash to try and help the victims, the man who made the 999 call said. 

 The YAK 52 aircraft crashed on Saturday afternoon in a field near Cooksmill Green, west of Chelmsford in Essex.

Tristram Taylor, from Chelmsford, said he ran over to the crash site with two boys when they saw the plane hit the ground after a "backward somersault".

But the flames were so severe they could not reach the men inside.

The plane had taken off from the nearby North Weald airfield and was seen by a number of eyewitnesses looking like it was somersaulting before crashing near to the A414, at just before 15:00 GMT.

'Flames from cockpit'

Mr Taylor, 27, said he was in a car with his mother leaving a nearby garden centre when they noticed a plane flying low.

"We saw it dip behind a hedge and usually they come up - we see stunt planes carrying out moves around here quite a lot - but this time it didn't," he said.

"We went a bit further down the road and I could then see the tail end of the plane on the ground and a lot of smoke.

"I got out and ran towards it with a couple of Army cadets that were in the car behind - they were probably only about 15 or 16 years old.

"There were flames coming from the cockpit - they must have been about 10ft high.

"The wind was very strong in the field. I could feel the heat of the flames just a few feet away."

He said police, about four or five fire crews and a number of ambulances arrived soon afterwards.

"It was horrific. The plane was popping and spitting where the fuel was catching fire. I don't think anything could have been done."

Both victims' next of kin have been informed and their names will be released by the coroner upon the opening of their inquests, Essex Police said.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating the crash.
Essex plane crash victim identified as father and keen flyer Simon Chamberlain

One of the people who died after a lightweight plane he was travelling in plunged into a field near Writtle yesterday (March 29) has been identified.

Simon Chamberlain, from Harlow, died in the crash, which happened in an area adjacent to the A414 shortly before 3pm.

He has not been formally identified and it has not been confirmed whether he was the pilot or passenger on board the YAK 52.

Simon leaves behind a wife and child.

Paying tribute on Facebook, Karen Anya Williams said: “Sympathy to all. Simon used to entertain our daughter when she was young. Such a tragic accident.”

Chris Ford added: “Just found out who it was. Simon – lovely guy. Thinking of family.”

The identity of another man on board remains undisclosed at this stage.

Simon was believed to be a keen flyer and regular at the North Weald airfield, from where the plane took off.

Several onlookers described seeing the light aircraft perform a somersault-like manoeuvure before the crash.

Investigators from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) are still investigating.

A414, Cooksmill Green
29/03/2014 @ 14:55
Incident Number: 5210
In attendance: 2 x Chelmsford, 1 x Colchester, 1 x Maldon

Firefighters are attending an incident involving a light aircraft which has crashed in a field next to the A414 near Cooksmill Green.

Update: Firefighters have now extinguished the fire. On arrival the incident commander reported that the plane was completely alight. Crews used foam and had extinguished the fire by 15:55hrs.

High resolution versions of images can be downloaded from:

It has been confirmed that two people have died as a result of this crash.

Essex Police have issued the following statement:

"Two people have died after a YAK 52 light aircraft was seen to be in difficulties and then crashed into a field off the A414 near Cooksmill Green (between Writtle and Ongar) around 2.55pm today (March 29).

"Emergency services rushed to the scene and fire crews extinguished the fire caused when the plane crashed. Two men, a pilot and his passenger, both from Essex were on board. The plane had flown out from North Weald airfield.

"Investigators from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) will be investigating the cause of the crash."

We have no further details about this incident.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service: