Friday, May 23, 2014

Government planes — at least some of them — appear likely to fly away for good once a new premier takes office this fall

Tory leadership candidate Jim Prentice — who formally entered the Progressive Conservative leadership race this week pledging to end entitlements — suggested Friday the government’s four-plane executive fleet may be scrapped.

Speaking to a Calgary Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Prentice said that he and his ministers would fly commercial unless no other option was available.

“I don’t know why the government of Alberta is running a service back and forth between our two major cities. We have airlines that do that. They’re good at it. That’s their business,” the former federal cabinet minister told reporters.

Prentice said once auditor general Merwan Saher finishes his current review of the government air fleet, the province should examine whether there are more cost-effective alternatives, such as private charters, for ministers to be able to get to remote areas.

Alberta’s Air Transportation Service operates three Beechcraft King Air planes and a 30-seat Dash-8. The 23-person air service, which includes 13 pilots, costs $4.6 million annually, plus another $2.3 million for parts and amortization.

Edmonton MLA Thomas Lukaszuk, who resigned as jobs minister this week to run for PC leader, said he too is waiting for Saher’s report and suggested the province likely needs only one executive aircraft at most.

“I personally see very little value in them,” he said in an interview. “I wouldn’t shed a tear if I saw them gone.”

Lukaszuk said that as a minister, he generally avoided using government aircraft, saying he usually flew commercial flights out of personal preference and because it afforded the opportunity to talk to the public.

All three opposition parties in the legislature have already called for the planes to be sold.

Calgary MLA Ric McIver, the former infrastructure minister also running for Tory leader, said his position on the planes will be “evidence-based” once the auditor general report is released.

“If it’s in the best interest of the taxpayers and saves them money to keep them or sell them, then that’s what we’ll do,” he said.

Tory members will vote this fall to select their new leader — and Alberta’s next premier.

Former premier Alison Redford’s controversial use of government aircraft, including a $15,000 flight to Ottawa to catch the prime minister’s flight to Nelson Mandela’s memorial in South Africa, triggered a storm of criticism that helped lead to her March 23 resignation.

In a bid to stem the criticism of her trips, the former premier grounded all out-of-province flights on government planes this spring and asked the auditor general to review her office’s use of the aircraft.

Redford paid the entire $45,000 cost of the South Africa trip, which included a $10,000 commercial flight home, as well as $3,100 for trips on government planes in which she invited her daughter’s friends along. She also paid the cost of a flight to B.C. where she attended a relative’s funeral.


Story and comments:   http://www.calgaryherald.com

Robinson R22, registered to Sierra Flite, LLC, operated by Channel Islands Helicopters, LLC, N4081H: Accident occurred May 23, 2014 in Santa Paula, California

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA203
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, May 23, 2014 in Santa Paula, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/29/2016
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA, registration: N4081H
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.

A witness who lived near the accident site saw the helicopter flying in a northeasterly direction paralleling her property. The helicopter was below the tree line on the opposite side of the riverbed and was descending. The witness stated that the helicopter sounded normal but was unusually loud because it was so close. Shortly after losing sight of the helicopter, she heard two loud “pops.” 

Examination of the accident site revealed that the helicopter struck three unmarked overhead distribution power lines about 80 ft above ground level while traveling in a northeasterly direction. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. It is likely that the pilot did not see the power lines as he was flying along the river at low altitude. It was unknown why the pilot was flying at such a low altitude.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain clearance from power lines while flying at a low altitude.

On May 23, 2014, about 1030 Pacific daylight time, a Robinson R22 helicopter, N4081H, collided with overhead distribution power lines and terrain while maneuvering west of the Santa Paula Airport (SZP) Santa Paula, California. The certified commercial pilot, the sole occupant of the helicopter, was fatally injured. The helicopter was substantially damaged. The helicopter was registered to Sierra Flite, LLC, Camden, Delaware, and operated by Channel Islands Helicopters, LLC, Oxnard, California, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Oxnard Airport (OXR) Oxnard, California about 0930.

According to Channel Islands Helicopters, the pilot departed OXR after refueling, and flew in the area near the Camarillo Airport, Camarillo, California (CMA), where he then departed for SZP. The helicopter was refueled at OXR with 15.8 gallons of 100LL. The pilot was building time towards his rotorcraft commercial rating.

A witness, who lived near the accident site, saw the helicopter flying in a northeasterly direction paralleling her property. The helicopter was below the tree line on the opposite side of the riverbed and was descending. The witness stated that the helicopter sounded normal but was unusually loud because it was so close. Shortly after losing sight of the helicopter, she heard two loud "pops."

According to local law enforcement, three phase overhead distribution power lines were separated directly over the accident site. These lines were supported by two wooden H-frame pole assemblies at a distance of about 1,000 feet from each other and about 80 feet over the dry river bed. The separated power lines were found in the surrounding bamboo vegetation and trees adjacent to the riverbed. Near the northern positioned H-frame, small spot fires were reported in the surrounding vegetation.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 42, held a commercial certificate with an airplane single-engine land, single-engine sea, multi-engine land, rotorcraft, and instrument ratings. A second-class airman medical certificate was issued in March 2, 2011, with no limitations. The pilot reported on his most recent medical certificate application that he had accumulated 4,628 total flight hours and 56 hours in rotorcraft.

The pilot, received his Private-Rotorcraft rating on May 2, 2014 and the accident flight was his second flight since his rating.

According to the pilot's logbook, the pilot had received ground school and training and was endorsed to fly the R-22 under a special federal aviation regulation 73 (SFAR-73) in February of 2014. The SFAR-73 ensures minimum levels of training and experience for students, pilots, and flight instructors for the Robinson R-22 and R-44.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The two-seat, helicopter, serial number (S/N) 1927, was manufactured in 1991. A review of the maintenance logbooks indicated that the helicopter had a total airframe time of 4,322 hours at the last 100-hour inspection on March 29, 2014. The Hobbs meter read 4,375 at the accident site.

It was powered by a Lycoming O-320-B2C engine, serial number L-17962-39A, rated at 160 horsepower. Total time recorded on the engine at the 100-hour inspection on March 29, 2014 was 4,322 hours and time since major overhaul was 122 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

A review of recorded data from the CMA automated weather observation station revealed at 0955 conditions were wind from 200 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear sky, temperature 18° Celsius, dew point 12° Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.01 inches of Mercury. At 1055 conditions were wind 240 at 9 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear sky, temperature 19° Celsius, dew point 12° Celsius, and an altimeter setting of 30.03 inches of Mercury.

COMMUNICATIONS

A VFR flight plan was not filed and no ATC communication took place.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

The Santa Paula Airport, SZP, is a public, uncontrolled airport located in Santa Paula, California, at a surveyed elevation of 243 feet. The airport features an asphalt runway 04/22, which is 2,713 feet by 60 feet.

The SZP website reveals traffic pattern diagrams for general aviation inbound and outbound traffic for both east and west wind conditions. The Helo Ops arrival and departure routes are shown over the paralleling riverbed near the airport. Cautions and arrows are outlining the power lines over the riverbed further westward towards the accident site. The airport directory also reports in the additional remarks, "Be alert to wires crossing over river bed adjacent to ry [runway] 04/22. Locations: 1.5 miles & 3.5 miles sw [southwest] apch [approach] end ry [runway] 04. Also, 1,500 ft and 2.5 miles NE [northeast] apch [approach] end of ry [runway] 22."

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

Examination of the accident site revealed that the helicopter collided with overhead distribution power lines and terrain on a heading of about 60 degrees magnetic. The wreckage debris path was oriented on an approximate heading of 58 degrees magnetic and was about 170 feet in length. A small section of power line was found about 90 feet from where the power lines would have crossed the dry river bed. About 40 feet further from the section of power line was the first identified point of contact (FIPC) with the ground. The FIPC with the ground revealed several disturbances in the sand and rocks measuring 2 to 3 feet in length and about 3-5 inches in depth. Pieces of the right navigation light lens and the right door were found at the FIPC. A pitch change linkage and a compass instrument were found near the FIPC. Extending about 35 feet further from the FIPC with the ground was the main wreckage. The fuselage came to rest on its right side on a heading of about 65 degrees magnetic. The tailboom was partially separated and buckled near the fuselage and came to rest on a forward heading of about 335 degrees magnetic. The tail rotor assembly, vertical and horizontal stabilizers and the stinger were undamaged. The main rotors remained attached to the mast and were damaged. The forward positioned blade remained intact with leading edge and trailing edge damage. Cable strike marks were visible on the top side of the blade. The aft positioned blade was bent about 90 degrees and about 4 feet of the blade tip was missing. Cable strikes and gouging were noted on the main rotor blade. The blade also had an arc (electrical) mark on the trailing edge. The blade tip was not found during the examination of the accident site. The swash plate linkages were damaged and the mast shroud near the swash plate had cable strike marks. The engine remained attached to the fuselage and impact damage was noted on the induction box and fan shroud. The oil cooler had impact marks from the starter ring gear. The marks showed evidence of rotation of the starter ring gear during contact. The motor from the belt tensioner assembly separated and was found near the main wreckage. Both drive belts were unseated from both engine and drive sheaves. The instrument panel and the forward section of the right skid were found between the FIPC with the ground and the main wreckage. A large section of the right skid was found on the north side of the debris field. The remaining landing gear was separated from, but entangled with the fuselage. A landing gear attachment and a section of a droop stop tusk were found on the south side of the debris field. Plexiglas sections were found throughout the debris field. The battery box, battery and antenna were found further down the debris field from the main wreckage.

The cable separations were examined and a blue colored paint transfer was found on the 3rd line or most easterly positioned line.

The helicopter was recovered to Air Transport in Phoenix, Arizona for further examination.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The County of Ventura conducted an autopsy on the pilot on May 27, 2014. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was "Blunt Force Trauma."

The FAA's Civil Aeromedical Institute (CAMI) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology tests on the pilot. According to CAMI's report, carbon monoxide, cyanide, volatiles, and drugs were tested, and had negative results.

FIRE

According to the local fire department, small spot fires were ignited by the downed wires in the surrounding vegetation near the northern positioned H-frame pole assembly and were quickly extinguished.

FOLLOWUP EXAMINATION

Examination of the recovered wreckage was conducted on June 5, 2014, at the facilities of Air Transport, Phoenix, Arizona, by a representative from the Robinson Helicopter Company, under the supervision of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC). The examination did not reveal any evidence of any preexisting mechanical malfunction which would have precluded normal operation.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

On July 3, 2011, about 2021 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 180D, N6451X, was substantially damaged when it struck a telephone line supported from the two wooden H-frame pole assemblies. The airplane departed SZP and was flying southwest over the riverbed before colliding with the telephone line.

http://registry.faa.gov/N4081H

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA203
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, May 23, 2014 in Santa Paula, CA
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER R22 BETA, registration: N4081H
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 May 23, 2014, about 1030 Pacific daylight time, a Robinson Helicopter R22 Beta, N4081H, was substantially damaged when it impacted power lines and terrain while maneuvering west of the Santa Paula Airport (SZP) Santa Paula, California. The commercial pilot was the sole occupant of the helicopter and was fatally injured. The helicopter was registered to Sierra Flite, LLC, Camden, Delaware, and operated by Channel Islands Helicopters, LLC, Oxnard, California, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated from Oxnard Airport (OXR) Oxnard, California at about 0930.

According to representative from Channel Islands Helicopters, the pilot departed OXR after refueling and flew to Camarillo and then to SZP. The pilot was building flight time towards his rotorcraft commercial rating.

A witness, who lived near the accident site, saw the helicopter flying in a northeasterly direction paralleling her property. The helicopter was below the tree line on the opposite side of the riverbed and was descending. The witness stated that the helicopter sounded normal but was unusually loud because it was so close. Shortly after losing sight of the helicopter, she heard two loud "pops."

Examination of the accident site by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC) revealed that the helicopter impacted power lines and terrain about 1 and 1/2 miles west of SZP. The three phase overhead distribution power lines were separated directly over the accident site. These lines were supported by two wooden H-frame pole assemblies at a distance of about 1,000 feet from each other. The separated power lines were found in the surrounding bamboo vegetation and trees adjacent to the riverbed. Near the northern positioned H-frame, small spot fires were reported in the surrounding vegetation.


Philip Isaac Margolis

 Firefighters line up in the Santa Clara River bottom in Santa Paula as medical examiners gather evidence Friday after a helicopter crashed, killing one person.

Ventura County Fire Department crews work to put a fire that started after a crashed Friday in the Santa Clara River bottom on the west end of Santa Paula.

  A helicopter crashed in the river bottom near the Santa Paula airport Friday. The Ventura County Fire Department reported that the pilot was killed.

Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Stevenson looks over the scene of Friday’s fatal helicopter crash in the Santa Clara River bottom on the west end of Santa Paula. 

 

Officials with the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office released the identity of a helicopter crash victim Tuesday.

Phillip Isaac Margolis III, 42, of Las Vegas, was killed Friday, said James Baroni of the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The autopsy is being conducted Tuesday, so no information on the cause of death was available, he added. The results from toxicology reports, which are also part of standard procedure, would not be available for several weeks, he said.

One Dead Following Helicopter Crash In Santa Paula. Photo Courtesy of NBCLA

The helicopter reportedly clipped power lines before it went down, according to officials.
Related article:One Dead Following Helicopter Crash In Santa Paula

Authorities responded to reports of a chopper down in the 900 block of Corporation Street, according to the Ventura County Fire Department.

The search area was located the Robinson R22 about two to three miles from the Santa Paula Airport near Highway 126.

Power lines were taken down and a small brush fire was reported near the crash site, fire officials said. The unidentified chopper crashed in a dry river bed, according to a statement from Ian Gregor of the Federal Aviation Administration.

Branding on the chopper indicated it belonged to the company Channel Islands Helicopters.

Based out of Oxnard Airport, the company offers tours along the Pacific coast from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara.

Channel Islands Helicopter also offers training on the R22 and R44 helicopters.

Santa Paula firefighters assisted in the search. Here's a link to the initial crash report.

Details surrounding the crash were not immediately available. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.


http://hometownstation.com


A man was killed Friday morning when the helicopter he was flying crashed into the Santa Clara River bottom on the west end of Santa Paula. 

 The pilot, identified Saturday as 42-year-old Philip Isaac Margolis III of Las Vegas, apparently had rented the helicopter about 9 a.m. from a business at the Oxnard Airport. He was expected to return about 10 a.m.

But at 10:13 a.m., the Ventura County Fire Department responded to a report of a downed helicopter and a small fire.

Either during its descent or as a cause of the descent, the helicopter clipped some power lines in the 900 block of Corporation Street, Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Bill Nash said.

“We don’t know if the clipped power lines were a cause or effect,” Nash said.

The fallen lines started a fire in some bamboo a couple hundred yards from where the helicopter crashed. It burned less than an acre.

The wreckage was found in the nearby river bottom, a few miles west of the Santa Paula Airport, Nash said.

One person was on board and found dead at the scene, he said. The victim’s identity was not disclosed.

A few family members were near the scene of the crash but declined to comment.

The pilot had rented the Robinson R22 from Channel Islands Helicopters on Friday morning, said Jorge Rubio, the county’s deputy director of airports.

He took off about 9 a.m. and was practicing at the Oxnard Airport before leaving for Camarillo. He later got clearance to leave Camarillo air space and headed toward Santa Paula, Rubio said.

A person who answered the phone at Channel Islands Helicopters declined to comment because the crash was under investigation.

Channel Islands Helicopters has been providing flight services and instruction since 2009.

The R22 is a two-seated, two-bladed, single-engine helicopter manufactured by Robinson Helicopter Co. An entry on the Channel Islands Helicopters website says a Robinson R22 was added to its flight instruction fleet in September 2013.

By early Friday afternoon, an investigator from the Federal Aviation Administration was at the scene of the crash, and an investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board was headed to Santa Paula.

The NTSB will lead the investigation. It usually issues a preliminary report within a few weeks but takes months to determine a probable cause.

A crew from Southern California Edison de-energized the fallen power lines, said Nancy Williams, region manager for the utility. Three customers were without power, and Edison said it expected restoration around midnight.

Friday’s crash was the third fatal helicopter accident in Ventura County over the past decade. Statewide, 26 fatal crashes have occurred since 2004, according to NTSB data.

A 47-year-old Japanese man died Jan. 31, 2009, after he lost control of his Robinson R22 helicopter and it crashed along the Santa Clara River near Piru. The pilot had taken off from the Camarillo Airport and was scheduled for an hour practice flight over the Piru area when he crashed.

Two Southern California Edison workers — a 48-year-old Upper Ojai man and 41-year-old Temecula man — died Sept. 6, 2006, when their helicopter crashed while they were checking power lines north of Somis. The copter severed a high-voltage power line, although it was unclear whether that caused the crash or happened during the descent.

According to the NTSB, nonfatal helicopter crashes occurred March 11, 2008, near Oxnard; March 25, 2007, at the Camarillo Airport; Oct. 1, 2006, in Ojai; and Nov. 9, 2004, in Oxnard.

Camarillo pilot Karen Johnson, 62, died in a Kern County helicopter crash in early January 2013 while trying to protect crops during a cold spell. In cold weather, helicopters are used as a means to move warmer air down onto threatened crops.

Beech G36 Bonanza, Rural Health Outreach Inc., N536G: Accident occurred May 23, 2014 in Silver City, New Mexico

NTSB Identification: CEN14FA249 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, May 23, 2014 in Silver City, NM
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/17/2015
Aircraft: RAYTHEON AIRCRAFT COMPANY G36, registration: N536G
Injuries: 4 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 was returning from a local flight and the pilot flew a tight downwind leg for landing on runway 35, possibly due to a direct crosswind in excess of 20 knots. During the base turn, the airplane overshot the final course, and the pilot used at least 60 degrees of bank to correct the airplane back on course and over the runway. The airplane then bounced and touched down at least 20 knots above the manufacturer’s published approach speed with about 1,810 ft remaining on the runway. The airplane’s airspeed began to rapidly decrease, but then several seconds later, the airplane’s airspeed increased as the pilot rejected the landing. The airplane did not gain significant altitude or airspeed then began a slight right turn. The airplane’s roll rate then sharply increased, and the airplane quickly descended, consistent with a stall, before colliding with a transmission wire and terrain. Examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any preimpact anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Strong, variable, gusty wind, with an environment conductive to the formation of dry microbursts, was present at the airport at the time of the accident. Several lightning strikes were recorded in the vicinity of the accident site around the time of the accident. It is unknown if the presence of lightning or wind impacted the pilot’s inflight decision-making in the pattern, on approach, or during the attempted go-around. The circumstances of the accident are consistent with an in-flight encounter with a strong tailwind and/or windshear during climbout after the rejected landing.

An autopsy conducted on the pilot identified significant stenosis of a distal coronary artery without any other evidence of cardiac distress; however, if there was an associated medical event, the condition would likely result in sudden incapacitation, which is not consistent with the airplane’s coordinated flight profile. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The airplane’s encounter with a strong tailwind and/or windshear, which resulted in an inadvertent stall. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s continuation of the unstable approach, long landing, and delayed decision to conduct a go-around.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On May 23, 2014, at 1553 mountain daylight time, a Raytheon G36 airplane, N536G, impacted terrain near Silver City, New Mexico. The private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to Rural Health Outreach Inc. and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that operated without a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Whiskey Creek Airport (94E), Silver City, New Mexico, at 1536.

Several witnesses at 94E saw the airplane just prior to the accident. One witness at 94E saw the airplane in the pattern for runway 35. He noted that the airplane's position on downwind was "tight" in relation to the airport. The airplane began a "very tight base leg that was at least a 60 degree bank." The witness described the winds as gusty, around 25-30 knots, as would be associated with the passage of a thunderstorm. The airplane tightened the base to final turn and overshot the final approach leg. The witness estimated that the airplane's first touchdown occurred near mid-field, where it bounced and then settled to the runway. Shortly thereafter, the engine sounded as if the pilot had applied full engine power. The airplane was seen travelling down the runway and then took off. The airplane's landing gear and flaps appeared to both be down. The airplane began gaining altitude and started a slight right turn. The witness said that the airplane stalled and descended out of sight.

Another witness observed the airplane in a "tight left downwind approach for runway 35 at about 600-800" feet above ground level. The airplane's groundspeed increased in the base turn and the airplane flew through the runway's extended centerline. The airplane used at least 60 degrees of bank to correct back towards the runway's centerline. The airplane landed and then attempted to go around. The airplane went off the end of the runway at a high angle of attack, descended slightly into the valley, and then began to gain altitude. The airplane started a 15° bank turn to the east, began to descend, and the airplane's angle of attack got "steeper" as the airplane descended out of sight.

A witness near the accident site saw the airplane "gradually roll to the right, and then "sharply pitch" to the right where it impacted the ground."

The airplane impacted desert terrain near several trailer homes. A post impact fire ensued and consumed a majority of the airplane.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 67, held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane. The pilot flew his airplane frequently to treat patients at remote medical clinics. A review of the pilot's log book found that the last completed page ended on March 14, 2014. As of that date, the pilot logged a total of 3,547.7 hours. The preceding log book entries indicated that the pilot flew on average 15 hours per month, so the pilot's total flight time was about 3,600 hours prior to the accident. The pilot's flight review, which included an instrument proficiency check, was completed on December 16, 2012, in the accident airplane. On January 29, 2014, the pilot was issued a second class medical certificate with the restrictions that the pilot must wear corrective lenses for near and distant vision. The medical examination also noted mild cataracts and his retina showed no holes, tears, or retinal detachment.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The single engine, low wing, six-seat, retractable gear airplane, serial number E-3707, was manufactured in 2006. It was powered by a single 300-horsepower Continental Motors IO-550-B engine, serial number 675766, that drove a metal Hartzell three bladed, variable pitch propeller. The airplane's last inspection was an annual type accomplished on June 6, 2013, at an airframe total time of 1,105.8 hours. On October 3, 2013, the engine was overhauled and modified by a supplemental type certificate. The overhauled engine was installed in the airplane on November 1, 2013 at a total airframe time of 1,156.1 hours. The most recent hour meter recorded in the logbooks was for maintenance performed on April 8, 2014, at a total airframe time of 1,229.4 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

At 1555, an automated weather reporting station located at the Grant Country Airport (KSVC), located about 8.75 nautical miles southeast of the accident site reported wind from 270 degrees at 21 knots gusting to 28 knots, visibility 10 miles, ceiling broken at 10,000 feet, temperature 70 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 34 degrees F, and a barometric pressure of 30.04 inches of mercury.

A weather study was conducted for the accident area. Atmosphere data retrieved from a weather balloon launch at 1800 from Santa Teresa, New Mexico, identified an environment conducive to "dry microbursts." This area had a potential for severe weather gusts of 68 knots and microburst gust potential of 50 knots. Weather radar data identified patterns consistent with developing and decaying convective activity in the vicinity of the accident site near the time of the accident. Some storm cell decay occurred south of the accident location with 10-15 minutes prior to the accident. In addition, from 1539-1555, several lightning strikes were detected within 10 miles of the accident site.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

The Whiskey Creek Airport (94E) is a public airport located at measured altitude of 6,126 feet mean sea level. It has one runway 17/35, 5,400 feet by 50 feet, of asphalt construction in good condition.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane impacted desert terrain near several trailer homes, about 0.8 miles northeast of runway 35's departure end. The airplane's first impact point was a transmission wire located west of the accident site about 25 feet above the ground. Forty feet east of the transmission wire was a ground crater which contained the airplane's propeller. The debris path was roughly cone shaped, was aligned on a 77° magnetic heading, and was about 140 feet long and 70 feet at its widest area. A postimpact fire ensued which consumed a majority of the airplane. The main wreckage contained remnants of the cabin, fuselage, wings, and empennage. The wreckage came to rest facing a 228° heading.

Both ailerons were partially consumed by the postimpact fire and remnants remained attached to their respective wing. The left aileron trim actuator extension was measured and found to be about 1.75 inches, which corresponded to about 7° trim tab trailing edge down. Aileron control continuity was established from the flight controls to each wing bell crank. Aileron trim control cable continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to the aileron trim actuator. The flaps actuator indicated the flaps were up. The left and right elevator flight control surfaces were partially consumed by the postimpact fire. Remnants of the elevators remained attached to their respective horizontal stabilizer. The left and right elevator trim actuator extensions were measured and found to be 1.625 inches, which corresponded between 10-15° trim tab trailing edge down, airplane nose up. Elevator control continuity was confirmed from the cockpit to the elevator surfaces. The elevator trim control cables were confirmed from the cockpit to the trim actuators. The rudder was partially consumed by the postimpact fire and remnants remained attached to the vertical stabilizer. Rudder control continuity was established from the cockpit to the rudder bell crank. The gear handle was found in the down position. The fuel selector was found selecting the right main tank. No preimpact anomalies were detected with the airframe.

The engine was impacted damaged and found separated from the airframe. Both magnetos were actuated by hand and found to produce a spark at each terminal. The fuel manifold valve screen was clear of debris and all fuel nozzles were found clear of blockages. The throttle body and fuel metering unit's fuel screen contained a small amount of fibrous material but was largely unobstructed. The crankshaft was able to be turned by hand with continuity established throughout the engine. Cylinder thumb compression and suction was confirmed to each cylinder. A borescope inspection of each cylinder found normal operation and combustion signatures. No preimpact anomalies were detected with the engine.

The propeller blades were labelled "A", "B", and "C" for documentation purposes only. All three blades displayed signatures of chordwise scratches, leading edge nicks and gouges, and blade polishing. Blade B was curled near the tip and the tip of the blade was found separated. Blade C displayed S-bending along its entire length.

A Garmin Oregon 450t hand held GPS was found in the debris field and was sent to the NTSB laboratories for a data download.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was authorized and conducted on the pilot by the New Mexico Office of the Medical Investigator. The cause of death was the result of multiple blunt trauma and the manner of death was ruled an accident. The autopsy identified 80% stenosis of the distal third left anterior descending coronary artery. All other arteries were free of stenosis.

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Testing detected the presence of oxymetazonline which is a decongestant used in the treatment of nasal congestion.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Pilot Operating Handbook

Beechcraft's Model G36 Bonanza Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH), revised July 2014, listed the maximum demonstrated crosswind limit as 17 knots.

The Normal Procedures section lists the balked landing checklist:

1. Throttle and Propeller … Full Forward
2. Airspeed …80 KTS (until clear of obstacles, then trim to 110 KTS)
3. Flaps … UP
4. Landing Gear … RETRACT
5. Cowl Flaps … OPEN

Published landing performance data for the airplane is predicated on a threshold speed between 78-81 knots depending on the airplane's weight. Published performance data does not exist for landings in excess of the published approach speeds or in excess of 10 knots of tailwind. Using a gross weight of 3,400 pounds, a direct crosswind of 20 knots, 70° F, and an approach speed of 80 knots, engineers from Textron Aviation estimated the required landing distance at 1,720 feet.

The POH provided a chart of stall speeds with idle power. The chart was run for the airplane's final configuration of flaps up and airplane gross weights between 2,800-3,600 pounds. The stall speed at 30° of bank would be between 66-72 knots.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Garmin Oregon 450t

The Garmin Oregon 450t is a battery operated hand-portable GPS receiver with a 12 channel wide area augmentation system (WAAS). The unit contains an electronic compass and a barometric pressure sensor for recording pressure-based altitude information. Published GPS position location accuracy is less than 33 feet horizontal under normal conditions, and 10-16 feet with differential global positioning system (DGPS) active. Although the device was thermally damaged, the airplane's last flight track was extracted. For the accident flight, the device was powered on at 1401 and recorded the airplane's takeoff time of 1536 as the flight departed on runway 17. The airplane turned to the north and flew about 13 miles north in an area between Black Peak and New Mexico Highway 15. The airplane then returned back to 94E and entered a left base turn for runway 35. Starting at 1551, the GPS update rate began to vary and there were two episodes of where the GPS receiver momentarily lost satellite lock and continued to record position information based on projected data. About 1552:15, as the airplane turned left towards the runway, the receiver lost satellite lock and the airplane's position returned at 1552:42 as the airplane was over the runway. At that time, the airplane was about 770 feet down the runway and 175 feet above ground level. At 1552:53, the airplane touched down with a groundspeed of 120 knots, skipped, and touched down 3 seconds later at 100 knots groundspeed with about 1,810 feet remaining on the runway. The airplane slowed to 87 knots and with 1,060 feet remaining on the runway the airplane's groundspeed began to increase. The airplane lifted off from the runway, flew to the north, and began a slight climb. At 1553:12, the airplane began to turn right at a rate of about 3-4° per second. About 1553:26, the receiver again lost satellite lock and regained the airplane's position about 30 seconds later at the accident site. The final portion of the accident sequence was not captured by the device.

iPhone

An Apple iPhone was located in the airplane's wreckage and shipped to the NTSB laboratories for download. Data extracted from the iPhone showed that none of the video files were date/time stamped on the day of the accident. Thirty eight of the image files were date/time stamped on the day of the accident. Most of these files depicted persons and aircraft on the ground. Ten of these files corresponded with previews or full resolution images of the view off the right wing from inside an aircraft in-flight. The file containing the most recent image was taken at 15:46:35 MDT. There was no data which could aid in reconstructing in accident sequence.

Secure Digital (SD) Card

An SD card was found in a thermally damaged camera in the airplane's wreckage. The SD card was extracted from the camera and shipped to the NTSB laboratories for download. Data extracted from the SD card found that two of the video files were date/time stamped on the day of the accident. Twenty of the image files were date/time stamped on the day of the accident. All of the image files corresponded with external views of an airplane on the ground or in-flight views looking forward or off the right wing. The most recent image was time stamped 1546 MDT. The two video files depicted in-flight views looking forward or off the right wing from an airplane in level flight. There was no data which could aid in reconstructing in accident sequence.

http://registry.faa.gov/N536G

NTSB Identification: CEN14FA249 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, May 23, 2014 in Silver City, NM
Aircraft: RAYTHEON AIRCRAFT COMPANY G36, registration: N536G
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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

On May 23, 2014, about 1555 mountain daylight time, a Raytheon G36 airplane, N536G, impacted terrain near Silver City, New Mexico. The private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to Rural Health Outreach Inc. and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that operated without a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Whiskey Creek Airport (94E), Silver City, New Mexico, about 1530.

Several witnesses at 94E saw the airplane just prior to the accident. They stated that the airplane landed at least 3,000 feet down the 5,400-foot long runway. The airplane's engine was heard going to idle before power was reapplied to the engine. The airplane lifted off and departed the runway to the north. The airplane was observed starting a slight climb before it entered a right turn and then descended towards the ground.

The airplane impacted desert terrain near several trailer homes. A post impact fire ensued and consumed a majority of the airplane. The wreckage was retained for further examination.

At 1555, an automated weather reporting station located at the Grant Country Airport (KSVC), located about 8.75 nautical miles southwest of the accident site reported wind from 270 degrees at 21 knots gusting to 28 knots, visibility 10 miles, ceiling broken at 10,000 feet, temperature 70 degrees Fahrenheit (F), dew point 34 degrees F, and a barometric pressure of 30.04 inches of mercury.


FAA Reno FSDO-11



Courtesy photo 
The three teens killed in May 23 plane crash in Arenas Valley.
A memorial was held Sunday at WNMU.
Left-to-right: Michael Mahl, 16, Ella Kirk, 14, and Ella Myers, 16.



SILVER CITY >> A celebration of life was the theme for Sunday afternoon's memorial service for the three Aldo Leopold Charter School students who died in a plane crash May 23 at the Whiskey Creek Airport. 


A capacity crowd filled the Fine Arts Theater on the campus of Western New Mexico University to honor the lives of sophomores Ella Sala Myers, Michael Sebastian Mahl and Ella Jaz Kirk. A wide range of media was also in attendance.

Among the attendees was Herman Baca and his family. He stated that he used to care for Ella Myers when she was younger.

"I used to work for an after-school program, and I took care of Ella," Baca said. "I got to know her very well, and she was a kind and natural spirited girl who had a good heart. She will be missed."

Jodie Knight, who is the wife of Aldo Leopold teacher Scott Knight, said there has been days of grieving workshops and she is astonished by the way people have come together in the aftermath of the tragedy.

"I am amazed on how the community has gone so far in helping out this tragic situation," Knight said. "It's awesome to see this entire community and the way it has come together for something like this."

Brandon Perrault, a Silver City musician, started off the vigil by performing "Hallelujah," while pictures of all three students were displayed on a screen. Josh Reeves then spoke a little bit about how all three students came together.

"All three of their lives overlapped one another," Reeves, a recent graduate of Aldo Leopold, said. "All three were very special artists and were on the right track to change the world together."

Reeves stated that Kirk was the aquatics expert in the Youth Conservation Corps Ecological Monitoring Crew that won first place in the New Mexico Envirothon competition this year. Mahl was the soil expert and Myers was the forestry expert.

Myers was remembered in a song that performed by local musician Maddy Alfero. Raven Myers shared memories of her sister, and father Brian Myers said some strong words in remembrance.

"She was a remarkable, gifted, talented artist," Brian Myers said. "She had poise, grace and elegance."

After the audience saw a video of Mahl performing "Let Her Go" on his guitar, father John Mahl spoke about his son and family.

"I want to thank everyone for the tremendous support my family has received during this time," he said. "It's been simply overwhelming."

Mahl also stated that his son's nickname was "Gunka," and that he loved video games, including a passion for "The Legend of Zelda." But, his biggest love was for that of Jesus Christ, his father said, and he wasn't afraid of the gospel.

Kirk's mother, Patrice Mutchnick, spoke kind words of her daughter and told of how they moved to Silver City.

"She was my light, and My love," Mutchnick said. "She loved the snow, and she also loved the water. Her thing was being the first one in the Gila River (March), and the last one (November). She thought every choice she made affected others, and that's the kind of caring individual she was."

Aldo teacher Jim McIntosh wrapped the vigil by taking a moment of silence for the pilot, Dr. Peter Hochla, who was the fourth person to die in the plane crash. He also said all three students who died were gifted musicians.

"Michael had a little bit of Elvis in him," McIntosh said. "Ella Jaz was polite and razor sharp. Ella Myers wanted to know what she was made of and proved that when she rode the 31-mile Tour of the Gila with a borrowed bike with me."

The vigil ended with a poem titled, "To Understand the Wind," by McIntosh.


http://www.scsun-news.com


Michael Sebastian Mahl 


Michael Mahl 
Obituary

Michael Sebastian Mahl got to be with his Lord and Savior on Friday afternoon, May 23, 2014 after a tragic plane crash that took the lives of 3 other souls. He was 16 years old. Michael, a.k.a "Gunka", loved Jesus, was an accomplished musician, an exceptional student, and an awesome person. He had a wonderful sense of humor. Quick wit, often inappropriate or irreverent but we would all laugh anyway. He played guitar, drums, ukulele, mandolin, even the didgeridoo. He was a straight A student at Aldo Leopold Charter School and was about to enter into his Junior year as student class president. He loved video games, especially The Legend of Zelda, and had collected every single Zelda game made from the '80's to present and had beaten all of them. If we were to take the time it took to list his incredible accomplishments that he was able to perform by the young age of 16, it would fill up this entire newspaper! To get an idea of the kind of person he was, here is his birthday post from April 28th that he put on Facebook: "Had a great birthday! I'm so thankful for everyone in my life and there is not a single thing or person that I try to take for granted. Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes. It's been the greatest 16 years I could ask for, I have treasured the good moments, embraced the love, and cherished a life well lived. I look forward to the future, but I'll always admire my childhood :) " We had the pleasure of raising this wonderful person for 16 years, and the only day of grief he ever gave us was last Friday afternoon. He is preceded in death by his grandmother Mary Boucher. He is survived by his parents, John and Jennifer Mahl, his brothers, Alexander Wolfgang Mahl, Daniel Joseph Mahl, his grandparents John and Cydnia Mahl, Paul and Linda Boucher, his great grandmother Shirley Easley, his aunts and uncles Tina and Jay Mealer, Shawna and Kenny White, Phil Payette, his cousins, Conner Payette, Matthew Pelkey, Emery White, Aspen Mealer. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Ella, Michael, Ella Family Fund at YouCaring.com or the same fund that has been set up at the Silver City Branch of Western Bank. Entrusted to the care of Baca's Funeral Chapels.Exclusive provider for "Veterans &Family Memorial Care". To sign the online guest book or to send a card, please visit our website at www.bacasfuneralchapels.com. Hwy 180 East on Delk Dr., Silver City, NM 88062 – 575-388-2334

- See more at: http://www.legacy.com/obituaries


Ella Jaz Kirk

Life Legacy

Ella Jaz Kirk, 14, who loved flowers, butterflies, music, and wild places, died on Friday, May 23rd. Ella was born fourteen years ago in the mountains of New Hampshire on August 15, 1999. She has lived the last decade in her homes in Silver City and Gila Hot Springs, New Mexico. Her family, including her mother, Patrice Mutchnick , her grandmother Sandra Mutchnick, her aunts Eve and Ilene Mutchnick, as well as all her friends, grieve her passing. All are welcome to come celebrate Ella’s life on Sunday, June 1st at 2:00 at the WNMU Fine Arts Center Theater. To honor Ella’s passion for the Gila River, please visit the webpage at www.gilaconservation.org where a fund has been established in her name. Arrangements are with Terrazas Funeral Chapels and Crematory “Trusted care for the ones you love” ~ (575)537-0777. To send condolences, visit www.terrazasfuneralchapel.com 


HOCHLA, PETER K. 33 year Albuquerque resident Dr. Peter K. Hochla, Col, USAF, retired, died on May 23, 2014 doing what he loved most: flying.

 Born in Bratislava, Slovakia, he immigrated to the U.S. as a child. He attended Oklahoma City University, and the University of Oklahoma Medical School. During his psychiatric residency at OU he met his wife of 35 years, fellow psychiatrist Dr. Cheryl Greene Hochla. Relocating to Albuquerque with his family in 1981, Dr. Hochla was a psychiatrist at the Albuquerque Veteran's Hospital until his "retirement" in 2008. He served with the NM Air National Guard at Kirtland AFB for 21 years, including as State Air Surgeon of NM. After retiring from the Guard, he continued to serve in the USAF Reserves at Luke AFB in Phoenix, AZ. In 1991 he earned an MBA at UNM. Despite his retirement, Dr. Hochla continued to see patients all over NM, flying in his small airplane to VA clinics in Artesia, Farmington, Gallup, Raton, and Silver City. He also saw patients at the NM state prisons. For over 10 years he flew to clinics 3-5 days a week. He is survived by his wife Cheryl; daughter Laura; son Tyler; grandson Sebastian; granddaughter Fiona; sister Inez; & brother Victor. In lieu of flowers, the family welcomes donations to the Aircraft Owners and Pilot's Association. A private, family memorial will be held at a later date.

http://obits.abqjournal.com

How Grant County is coping in the wake of the plane crash 

Organizations are finding ways to remember the teenage victims

SILVER CITY >> While Grant County residents still reel from the grief due to the loss of the three teens in last Friday afternoon's plane crash in Arenas Valley, organizations are finding ways to help the community cope.

Gila Regional Medical Center is hosting a car wash to benefit the families of the teenage victims from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. today at Western New Mexico University's Watts Hall on Hwy. 180 E. The funds raised from the car wash will go toward the fund Aldo Leopold Charter school officials have established to try to help the families offset the funeral costs. That fund can be found online at Youcaring.com/memorial-fundraiser/ella-michael-ella-familyfund/183199 or donations can also be made at the Silver City branch of Western Bank at 330 U.S. Hwy. 180 E.

Melinda Shaner, owner and artistic director of the Conservancy of Dance, said her group is moving forward with their already scheduled performance of "The Little Mermaid," Friday night at the Fine Arts Center Theater at Western New Mexico University. According to Shaner, the show will start at 6:30 p.m. and it will be dedicated to Ella Kirk, who performed in the previous ballet, "The Nutcracker," in January. Shaner said that although Kirk had stepped back from performing in the ballet group this spring so she could focus on her political activities to stop a Gila River diversion project, Kirk was a regular member of the dance troupe in the past.

Kirk presented a petition containing 2,200 signatures to the Interstate Stream Commission in October 2013 asking them to halt a potential Gila River diversion project. Kirk then began an online petition that she delivered to Governor Susana Martinez's office in February of this year, asking the governor to stop the potential Gila River diversion. That petition contained 6,470 names from around the globe.

Aldo Leopold Charter School is hosting a memorial for the three teenagers, Ella Kirk, Michael Mahl, and Ella Myers at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Fine Arts Center Theater at WNMU. All three teens attended Aldo Leopold and had just finished up their sophomore year.

Gila Conservation Coalition is honoring the memory of the three teens in a variety of ways. GCC has established a fund in Kirk's name. The money raised through the fund will be used to protect the Gila River, according to GCC's website.

GCC is also in the process of rethinking its plans for the fourth annual Wild and Scenic Film Festival at 6:30 p.m. on June 7 at the Buckhorn Saloon and Opera House in Pinos Altos. Kirk was supposed to play a song on her fiddle at the event.

Allyson Siwik, executive director of GCC, said she asked Kirk's mother, Patrice Mutchnick, if they should cancel the film festival, but Mutchnick said the event should go on. So the GCC is working on creating a way to remember all three of the teens during the festival. The details of that have not yet been worked out.

But Siwik did say that the song Kirk was planning to perform, "Gila Glide," will still be a part of the program. The band, The Big Ditch Crickets, will perform it. The GCC will also be selling a CD and DVD compilation at the event. The proceeds from the sale of the compilation will go toward their efforts to protect the Gila River. Kirk's fiddle performance will be on the CD. 


Source:  http://www.scsun-news.com

 Courtesy photo
 Dancers from the Conservancy of Dance in preparation for their performance of "The Little Mermaid," Friday night. The performance will be dedicated to former Conservancy of Dance performer Ella Kirk.  



The three Aldo Leopold students who died in the plane crash Friday in Arenas Valley were eco-monitors for the school and posed for a photo together at Aldo Leopold's prom last month. From left to right: Ella Kirk, Michael Mahl and Ella Myers. 
(Courtesy photo)  



 
Ella Jaz Kirk
 (Courtesy photo)




SILVER CITY >>Aldo Leopold Charter School officials released the name of the third, and youngest, victim of the tragic accident that occurred Friday afternoon when a single-engine plane overshot Whiskey Creek Airport in Arenas Valley, outside Silver City, and crashed in an empty field just west of the Vans Mobile Home Park. The third teenager who died in the crash was Ella Jaz Kirk, 14. 

Authorities have not yet released the name of the pilot of the plane, but the small air plane was owned by Dr. Peter Hochla, an Albuquerque-based psychiatrist. No one else was hurt or killed. According to an eye witness, A. Gene Sharp-Torres, who lives in the mobile home park, the plane was flying upside down at a tilt and headed directly for the mobile homes when it turned at the last minute and crashed in the empty field. According to New Mexico State Police, the plane severed two wires as it went down. The plane exploded as soon as it crashed. The survivors from the mobile home park, who rushed out to try to save the victims from the crash and put out the fire that spread due to the accident, believe the pilot was responsible for turning the plane at the last minute.

"We pray for the children and for the pilot, who was apparently trying to avoid us," one resident of the mobile home park, Steve Thompson, said. "We thank him for that."

About 40 to 50 fire fighters and law enforcement responded to the crash at approximately 4 p.m. Friday, according to New Mexico State Police. The fire from the crash was quickly contained and put out. No structures burned.

According to school officials, all three of the teenagers were eco-monitors for the school, but they were not on a specific school assignment. The three teens took the trip on the plane to view the devastation from the Signal Fire, which burned 5,484 acres. On the day of the crash, forest officials announced that the fire was 100 percent contained.

Since the accident occurred, Aldo Leopold Charter School administrators have been reportedly working to help the families, teachers and students devastated by the tragedy. School officials report grief counselors were on-call Saturday to help the Aldo Leopold community process their grief. A special grief counseling session was held for the Aldo Leopold community Sunday evening.

A fund has been established to help support the families of the teenage victims with financial needs. A donation can be made to the Aldo Leopold Student Fund at the Silver City Branch of Western Bank, at 330 U.S. Highway 180 Silver City, NM 88061.

School officials say that a community-wide memorial for the victims of the crash will be held soon. School officials will announce those details as soon as they are able.

According to a news release provided by Aldo Leopold School officials, Ella Jaz Kirk had just completed her sophomore year at Aldo Leopold Charter School. She was the aquatics expert on the Youth Conservation Corps Ecological Monitoring Crew, which won first place at the New Mexico EnviroThon Competition earlier this year. As part of her YCC duties, Ella taught elementary school kids about ecology, conservation, watershed health, presented at the Children's Gila River Festival, and instructed ALCS staff and students on orientation prior to all of the school's backpacking trips. This year, Ella wrote for the ALCS newsletter; she was in line to be next year's editor and chief. She was an honor roll student each semester she attended ALCS and was a sixth grade teacher's aide. Ella played fiddle with a local group called Fiddle Club and composed many songs, some of which were entered into competitions. When Ella was in seventh grade, she went on the first tropical ecology trip to Costa Rica that was hosted by the school, and this year she was saving up to return with her fellow classmates. Ella's main passion was saving the Gila River. She delivered a petition with 6,400 signatures from around the world, to Governor Susana Martinez to stop the diversion.


http://www.scsun-news.com


 Ella Sala Myers and Michael Sebastian Mahl



 A plane crashed into a field to the west of the Vans Mobile Home Park in Arenas Valley on Friday. All four people in the single-engine plane died, including three students at Aldo Leopold Charter School in Silver City, according to school officials. According to witness accounts, the plane exploded as soon as it hit the ground.






 





















  













 


SILVER CITY >> Aldo Leopold Charter School officials have released the names of two of the victims of Friday's plane crash in Arenas Valley, approximately 14 miles from Silver City. Ella Sala Myers, 16, and Michael Sebastian Mahl, 16, were two of the teenagers who died in the crash.

The single-engine plane went down at approximately 4 p.m. Friday, according to New Mexico State Police. The plane, owned by Dr. Peter Hochla, an Albuquerque-based psychiatrist, overshot the Whiskey Creek Airport, severed two cables and crashed in a field immediately west of Vans Mobile Home Park off of Racetrack Road. About 40 to 50 fire fighters and law enforcement responded to the crash.

According to a news release from the school, Ella Sala Myers had just completed her sophomore year at Aldo Leopold Charter School. She was the forestry expert on the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) Ecological Monitoring Crew which won first place at the New Mexico EnviroThon Competition earlier this year. As part of her YCC duties, Ella taught elementary school kids about ecology, conservation, watershed health, presented at the Children's Gila River Festival, and instructed ALCS staff and students on orientating prior to the all school backpacking trips. Ella had recently been awarded a merit scholarship and was planning to attend the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's accredited Summer Arts Program studying film and video. She was recently honored by Scholastic Art & Writing Awards at the Warehouse 508 in Albuquerque with gold and silver keys for her photography and video. Two of her novels went on to the national level and both were awarded gold keys. She was in the top 25 high school kids in the country awarded this honor.

Ella's main love was her horse Gracie, according to the news release. Gracie is a big Dutch warm blood that Ella rode jumpers with. Ella was a talented equestrian and, as she put it, "Gracie is my best friend." She was devoted to her horse and rode her six days a week.

Ella was an honor roll student all of the semesters she attended ALCS, planned to be deputy editor of the ALCS Newsletter and was saving up for the tropical ecology trip to Costa Rica. Ella was an avid writer, musician, and artist. She wrote many novels, one of which won an honorable mention in a National Youth Literature Contest, she played and composed on a violin, and has art in various community spaces. Ella was very athletic, she was a part of the Silver High Lady Colts track team and won first place in her age category for the 31 mile Citizens Tour of the Gila Bike race.

According to school officials in a news release, Michael Sebastian Mahl had just completed his sophomore year at Aldo Leopold Charter School. He attended Agape Christian Academy prior to attending ALCS. Michael was vice president of the Student Council and was just elected student body president for next year. He was the soil expert on the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) Ecological Monitoring Crew which won first place at the New Mexico EnviroThon Competition this year. As part of his YCC duties, Michael taught elementary school kids about ecology, conservation, watershed health, presented at the Children's Gila River Festival, and instructed ALCS staff and students on orientating prior to the all school backpacking trips. Michael played guitar, drums and sang. He had a passion for music and arts. Michael was on the honor roll every semester since his freshman year. This year he compiled the yearbook and was an integral part of the ALCS Newsletter. Michael worked at his father's business, J&J Signs and was raising money for the school's Tropical Ecology research field trip to Costa Rica. 


 SILVER CITY >> Three of the four dead in Friday's plane crash in Arenas Valley, just outside of Silver City, were students at Aldo Leopold Charter School, school officials have confirmed. 

The crash happened just before 4 p.m., when the single-engine plane overshot the Whiskey Creek Airport and crashed into a field behind Vans Mobile Home Park off Race Track Road.

All four occupants of the plane belonging to Albuquerque psychiatrist Dr. Peter Hochla died. Police have not released the names of the victims.

Aldo Leopold school officials met with students and parents at the Grant County Administration building at about 6 p.m. Friday and reportedly told attendees the names of the victims. School officials have asked that the media respect parents', teachers' and students' need for privacy.

Aldo Leopold Charter School is relatively small. The 2014 graduating class was made up of 16 students.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation, although NMSP have confirmed the plane clipped two wires on its way down.

Richard Medina said he saw the plane flying at an altitude of about 200 feet and said he saw it attempt to land at Whiskey Creek Aiport.

"I heard the airplane flying over and it didn't sound right," Medina said.

A resident of the Vans Mobile Home Park, A. Gene Sharpe-Torres, witnessed the crash.

She said she looked out of her window, saw the plane coming straight toward her and thought, "I could be dead in the next moment."

She said the plane was upside down and tilted sideways before it veered to the right, then burst into flames as it crashed into a neighboring grass field.

Sharpe-Torres said residents of the mobile home park rushed to the crash site with shovels, axes and hoses to try to contain the blaze. Sharpe-Torres said her neighbor, Allena Thompson, rushed out in flip-flops with a pickaxe.

"She was way out there, banging out the flames," Sharpe-Torres said.

Thompson said she heard the crash and looked out the window of her mobile home and saw what she described as a big ball of fire.

"As we fought the fire, the plane exploded twice," she said.

About 40 to 50 law enforcement and fire-fighting personnel responded to the crash site and ordered residents of the mobile home park to evacuate to a nearby church.

Eugene Muñoz said he drove past the police blockade at the turnoff for Race Track Road because he was determined to find his mother, Susan Renova, who needed assistance getting out of her mobile home. Muñoz said he found Renova in the church across the street and that an emergency medical technician had helped Renova reach safety.

Muñoz said the heat from the flames of the fire melted the tarp on the back end of his horse trailer. The fire from the blaze also burned the skirt of another trailer.

"It was really peaceful here until yesterday," Muñoz said. "Then it became a nightmare."

For Thompson, the nightmare continued after the plane crash. She evacuated to her mother's house two miles away, while her husband Steve Thompson stayed in their trailer.

Allena said she didn't know the whereabouts of her daughter, an Aldo Leopold student, and after about an hour of waiting, she started to panic. Allena's daughter was not in the plane.

When Allena tried to re-enter the mobile home park, she was arrested by a Grant County sheriff's deputy and said she was cited for resisting arrest and fleeing an officer.

"He didn't understand my state of mind," Allena said.

The residents of the mobile home park were allowed to return to their homes at about 8:30 p.m. Friday night and law enforcement remained at the crash site through the night.

Someone who would not give his name said Whiskey Creek Airport is a private airport and that the airport had no comment regarding the crash.

The Office of the Medical Investigator, the Federal Aviation Administration and the Traffic and Safety Bureau are investigating the crash site. 


Story, photos, video:   http://www.scsun-news.com

More than 100 members of the Aldo Leopold Charter School community came together Friday evening at the Grant County Administration Center to console one another and to remember three of their classmates who were killed Friday afternoon in an airplane crash in Arenas Valley.

“This is a beautiful expression of what this school is all about,” said Dave Chandler, Aldo Leopold Charter School director of development. “Parents, students, staff, coming together on a moment’s notice to support one another.”

The three students, whose names have not been released, were lost after a single-engine, fixed-wing airplane crashed just south of Van’s Trailer Park, 28 Racetrack Road, in Arenas Valley shortly after takeoff from Whiskey Creek Airport. Residents of the trailer park were evacuated, but no one on the ground was hurt, according to New Mexico State Police Lt. Robert McDonald.

“I can confirm that three of our students were killed in a plane crash this afternoon,” Chandler said. “Right now, we’re focused on supporting our students and staff, and more information will be released as it’s appropriate.”

The pilot of the aircraft, also killed in the crash, had volunteered to fly the students over the area burned by last week’s Signal Fire in the Gila National Forest north of Silver City. The high school students had been involved in a forest monitoring project in the area prior to the fire. The flight was not sponsored by the school.

Johnny Cuellar of Vanadium, owner of J&J Stucco, was working with two of his employees on a job across Racetrack Road from the trailer park, and he estimated that the plane crashed about 400 feet away from them.

“We felt the boom, we felt the heat,” Cuellar told the Daily Press Friday evening.

According to Cuellar’s crew, the airplane was flying low as it cleared the ridge headed northeast, and just before it crashed, the plane banked sharply, making a nearly-180 degree turn before hitting the ground.

“The plane was sputtering, and it just went straight down,” said Robert Huerta of Silver City, who was the only member of Cuellar’s crew to witness the crash itself. “It fell in a vacant lot right south of the trailers… (the fire) must have shot up 200, 300 feet in the air.”

“We heard the crash, so we ran around to the front, and there was all flame and smoke,” said Daniel Hernandez of Silver City, the third member of the stucco crew. “We ran over and crossed through a barbed wire fence, and the plane (wreckage) was just right there.”

Cuellar and his crew stayed and attempted to keep the grass fire caused by the crash under control until fire crews arrived about five minutes later.

An investigator from the Albuquerque office of the Federal Aviation Administration has been called and is scheduled to arrive at the crash site Saturday morning.

According to Grant County Sheriff Raul Villanueva, officers from his department and the New Mexico State Police will hold the scene Friday night and Saturday morning for the FAA investigator.

Meanwhile, the community continues to pull together in an effort to make sense of the loss. Cuellar and his stucco crew plan to return to their Racetrack Road job on Monday, but he expects that the job will feel different after today.

“It’s going to be a different way of seeing everything,” Cuellar said.

Across the street from the scene, just over an hour after the fateful crash, the community began to gather.

Car after car — parents, teachers, friends — stumbled or hurried out of vehicles to grieve or comfort the tragic loss of young life.

Grant County Sheriff’s Department and New Mexico State Police, quick to the scene, blocked all but directly involved parties. Loved ones were allowed close to the scene, near the trailer park, early so that they were given the most up-to-date information.

Across Racetrack Road, loved ones gathered in small circles or blanketed the shoulders of those already there. Most cried, all shared and some wailed over the loss of some of Silver City’s best and brightest.

In a school community whose students number under 150, the loss of three is bound to make a resounding echo.

—Daily Press reporters Roger Lanse and Benjamin Fisher contributed to this story.

The Silver City Daily Press would like to extend our personal condolences to all those affected by this disaster. We, as a part of this community, feel deeply for its loss.



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

 
Four people were confirmed dead Friday after the small plane they occupied crashed during an attempted landing at an airport near Silver City, a New Mexico State Police spokesman said.

The plane crashed about 4 p.m. during a second attempted landing at the Whiskey Creek Airport, a small public airport located about four miles east of Silver City in Grant County, State Police Sgt. Damyan Brown said.

The identities of those killed remained unknown, Brown said. Authorities were on the scene of the charred aircraft late Friday, he said.

The aircraft reportedly had attempted an earlier landing, but pulled up before attempting the second landing, which resulted in the crash, Brown said. The crash caused a grass fire that led to the evacuation of a nearby trailer park, he said. The fire had been extinguished by 7 p.m.

According to a Silver City-Sun News report, one person who witnessed the crash said the plane circled around in the air before taking a nose dive to the ground.

Ivan Martinez, 26, a maintenance man for the Gospel Mission, had just gotten home from work when he saw the plane go straight down from where he lives in nearby Rio de Arenas Trailer Park.

“There was a big ball of fire,” Martinez told the Sun-News. “I saw it go down and it was a big smoke that came up.”

State Police Lt. Robert McDonald said he believes the victims were Grant County residents.

About 40 to 50 law enforcement and firefighting personnel, including the Silver City Fire Department, the Silver City Police Department, the Grant County Sheriff’s Department, the Whiskey Creek Volunteer Fire Department and State Police, responded to the call.  McDonald said the Federal Aviation Administration will arrive at the scene of the crash this morning to begin to investigate the cause.

 SILVER CITY >> Four people are dead after a single engine plane went down Friday afternoon behind Vans Mobile Home Park off Racetrack Road in the Arenas Valley, according to New Mexico State Police Lt. Robert McDonald. 

Police evacuated the residents of the mobile home park into a nearby church.

After the bodies are removed from the crash site Friday night, the mobile home residents will be allowed to return to their homes, police said.

According to McDonald the plane was trying to make a landing at Whiskey Creek Airport just before 4 p.m. but the plane could not make the landing. 

One person who witnessed the crash said the plane circled around in the air before taking a nose dive to the ground.

Ivan Martinez, 26, a maintenance man for the Gospel Mission, had just gotten home from work when he saw the plane go straight down from where he lives in nearby Rio de Arenas Trailer Park.

"There was a big ball of fire," Martinez said. "I saw it go down and it was a big smoke that came up."

McDonald said he can not yet confirm the names of the victims, but he said he believes they were Grant County residents. All four people who were in the plane are dead.

About 40 to 50 law enforcement and firefighting personnel, including the Silver City Fire Department, the Silver City Police Department, the Grant County Sheriff's Department, the Whiskey Creek Volunteer Fire Department and New Mexico State Police all responded to the call. 

A grass fire started at 4 p.m. due to the crash, but firefighters responded quickly and were able to put out the blaze.

No structures burned.

McDonald said the Federal Aviation Administration will arrive at the scene of the crash Saturday morning to begin to investigate the cause of the crash.
=========

New Mexico State Police confirmed that a small plane has crashed near Silver City, killing four people.

The accident occurred at around 4:30 p.m. as the plane attempted to land at Whiskey Creek Airport.

The type of plane, as well as the identities of the people on board, is unknown. No other injuries have been reported.

Highway 180 and Racetrack Road are both open at this time.

A small trailer park near Whiskey Creek Airport has been evacuated as a result of the crash. Residents will be allowed back into their homes once the bodies of the deceased have been removed from the scene.

High Desert Humane Society told KOB Eyewitness News 4 that they will take in animals for anyone who has been evacuated. They can be reached at 575-538-9261.  State Police will be assisting the Federal Aviation Administration with their investigation.