Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Changes come to Department of Public Safety in year following fatal Alaska State Troopers helo crash

The fatal crash of an Alaska State Troopers helicopter in March 2013 has prompted changes in how the Department of Public Safety launches search-and-rescue missions -- including the implementation of a risk assessment document and the hiring of an aircraft section safety officer.

But operations requiring the use of night-vision goggles are still on hold, even as Alaska's long winter nights approach.

The most storied rescue pilot in Alaska history died March 30, 2013, during what was supposed to be a routine mission to pick up an injured snowmachiner near Larson Lake. Pilot Mel Nading from Anchorage died alongside trooper Tage Toll of Talkeetna and Carl Ober, the 56-year-old injured snowmachiner from Talkeetna.

Nading, 55, saved “hundreds of lives” during his time as a rescue pilot, according to former Alaska trooper director Col. Keith Mallard.

The National Transportation Safety Board has yet to release its final report on what caused the state's five-passenger Eurocopter A-Star 350 B3 to crash in rain, sleet and snow just before midnight.

However, a dump of investigative documents from the federal agency this year described photos taken from an in-cockpit camera. The descriptions are in line with what someone might see if a pilot became disoriented and was struggling to maintain a level flight, the NTSB reported.

The report also raised questions about the training trooper pilots were receiving in the use of night-vision goggles and instrument-based flying.

National Guard still uses night-vision goggles  

After the 2013 crash, operations requiring the use of night-vision goggles were suspended and have remained so. There are no immediate plans to reinstate use of the goggles previously worn during rescues made more dangerous by blinding snow and limited daylight of Alaska winters.

Alaska Wildlife Trooper Capt. Bernard Chastain said the department’s aircraft section has pilots with thousands of flight hours involving night-vision goggles, but it lacks the structure to implement a more robust program.

“We have discussed it and plan on implementing a (night-vision goggle) program in the future when we have examined all aspects of our current program and make sure that we can provide this service in accordance with federal regulations and our own self-imposed staffing minimums,” Chastain said, adding there is no timeline to do so.

Troopers work with other search-and-rescue agencies that still use the goggles. The Alaska National Guard responded the evening of Aug. 31 to Lake Clark National Park to rescue an injured hiker and reported using night vision during the mission.

“The terrain in the area was very steep, and when we arrived on scene it was dark, which required our crews to use night-vision goggles to execute the mission,” Lt. Col. Karl Westerlund, director of the Alaska Rescue Coordination Center, said in a press release. Rotor wash from the hovering helicopter knocked a rock loose during the rescue, injuring another hiker on the ground.

Chastain said troopers opted not to assist in that rescue after its pilot completed a safety assessment form and "determined through discussion with another instructor pilot" that the mission would be difficult with their available tools.

Enter the 'risk assessment matrix'

 That form is the Department of Public Safety’s “risk assessment matrix.” It is a work in progress, Chastain said, already in its fourth iteration since the department started using it about six months ago.

When Nading died in the 2013 crash, questions arose about who makes the calls to go airborne. Ultimately, the pilot decided whether it was safe to fly. As of February, a spokesperson said, troopers had changed some guidelines for permitted helicopter flights, including night operations and weather minimums, which involve specific altitudes, airspace and cloud visibility standards.

“Each Department of Public Safety pilot has their own individualized minimums based upon their experience and flight time,” the agency said. “Pilots are required to adhere to their minimums at all times.”

Now the matrix is used “before (pilots) launch every single mission,” Chastain said.

The form includes four categories: pilot experience; weather; type of operation; and equipment, local flying area and crew members. It also includes a preflight information checklist -- blank spaces for notes on time and place, wind conditions and visibility.

In the pilot experience category, one to five points are tallied for things like one year of experience with the Department of Public Safety and less than or equal to 30 days since their last flight. The type of operation category adds points for “hostile environment operation” and “anticipated whiteout/flat light operation,” among other criteria.

The risk of the mission is considered “low” if the points add up to 15 or fewer. In those cases, approval doesn’t need an OK from another person. If the risk is “moderate” to “high,” pilots are required to get additional permission to launch.

“Peer pilots who have the same or greater experience are asked to review the mission and whether or not it’s safe and how the risk stacks up,” Chastain said.

It’s the industry standard, he said, and everyone using the form believes it’s a more efficient process.

“I haven’t heard a single thing about slowing down the process,” he said. “But in fact, I would encourage that whole process to slow down a little bit. Deciding when to launch is based on a large number of factors. We don’t want to make brash decisions and go too quick.”

Other safety additions  

There are a couple of other additions to the troopers' aircraft section.

It now requires its civilian pilots, most of whom fly fixed-wing aircraft, to undergo regular training. Chastain said that situational training has happened Outside. The pilots trained before but now it’s an annual occurrence, he said.

Fixed-wing pilots are frequently used for search and rescue; troopers have deployed the pilots for hundreds of successful searches, said Chastain. They will all be using the matrix once properly trained. The idea is to use the matrix for all department flights, not just search and rescue.

Additionally, the aircraft section hired a safety officer in 2013. The full-time position works closely with pilots on search-and-rescue operations and routinely rides with the Anchorage-based troopers’ helicopter pilot, providing assistance.

- Source:

NTSB Identification: ANC13GA036
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Saturday, March 30, 2013 in Talkeetna, AK
Aircraft: EUROCOPTER AS350, registration: N911AA
Injuries: 3 Fatal.

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

On March 30, 2013, at 2320 Alaska daylight time, a Eurocopter AS 350 B3 single-engine helicopter, N911AA, impacted terrain while maneuvering near Talkeetna, Alaska. The airline transport certificated pilot and two passengers sustained fatal injuries. The helicopter was destroyed by impact and post-crash fire. The helicopter was registered to and operated by the State of Alaska, Department of Public Safety (DPS), as a public aircraft operations flight under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions were reported in the area at the time of the accident, and department flight following procedures were in effect. The flight originated from the passenger rescue location at 2313 and was destined for an off airport location in Talkeetna.

According to Alaska State Troopers personnel and dispatch records, at 1935, a distressed individual requested assistance in an area near Talkeetna, and a search and rescue (SAR) mission with the helicopter was initiated. The pilot departed the DPS facility at Anchorage International Airport, Anchorage, Alaska, at 2117. The pilot flew to Talkeetna and at 2142, picked up an Alaska State Trooper near the Talkeetna Trooper Post facility to aid in the SAR mission. The distressed individual was located, and the helicopter landed at the remote location at 2201. At 2313, the helicopter departed the remote location and was destined for an off airport location in Talkeetna to meet emergency medical ground support.

On March 31, 2013, at 0044, attempts were made by trooper dispatch personnel to contact the pilot and trooper via radio and their cellular telephones, without success. Due to weather conditions in the Talkeetna area, search efforts were delayed. At 0923, the helicopter accident site was located by search and rescue personnel.

The accident site was located approximately 5.6 miles east of Talkeetna in wooded and snow covered terrain. The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, tailboom, engine, and skid assembly. Several sections of fragmented fuselage were located near the main wreckage. A post-crash fire consumed a majority of the fuselage. An Appareo Vision 1000 cockpit imaging and flight data monitoring device, and a Garmin 296 global positioning system (GPS) were recovered from the accident site and sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory in Washington, DC, for data extraction. A comprehensive wreckage examination is pending following recovery efforts.

The closest official weather observation station was at the Talkeetna Airport (PATK). At 2114, an aviation routine weather report (METAR) reported, in part: wind calm, visibility 7 miles with decreasing snow, broken clouds at 900 and 1,300 feet, sky overcast at 2,400 feet, temperature 34 degrees F, dew point 34 degrees F, and altimeter 30.22 inHg.

Cessna 172P Skyhawk, N63835: Accident occurred September 10, 2014 in Spruce Creek, Florida

NTSB Identification: ERA14LA434
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, September 10, 2014 in Spruce Creek, FL
Aircraft: CESSNA 172P, registration: N63835
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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

On September 10, 2014, about 2021 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172P, N63835, operated by Liao Aviation, Inc., was substantially damaged when it collided with trees and terrain following a total loss of engine power on approach to Spruce Creek Airport (7FL6), Spruce Creek, Florida. The instructor pilot/owner-operator and the commercial-rated pilot receiving instruction sustained minor injuries. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a composite VFR/IFR flight plan was filed for the instructional flight conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Both pilots were interviewed by telephone, and each provided written statements. According to the instructor, the purpose of the flight was to log a number of approaches for the pilot receiving instruction in order to meet certificate requirements in his home country.

The airplane departed 7FL6, flew to West Palm Beach, Florida (PBI), Vero Beach, Florida (VRB), and returned to 7FL6. The crew performed touch-and-go landings at PBI and VRB and the airplane was on final approach for 7FL6 when the engine stopped producing power. The instructor said he then attempted an engine restart and ensured that best glide speed was maintained before the airplane struck trees and the ground.

The instructor held an instructor pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine and instrument airplane. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first-class medical certificate was issued on July 3, 2013, and he reported 250 hours of flight experience on that date. When interviewed, he reported about 400 total hours of flight experience, of which, approximately 300 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.

The pilot receiving instruction held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA first class medical certificate was issued July 15, 2011.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1981. Its most recent 100-hour inspection was completed December 11, 2013, at 8,312 total aircraft hours.

At 2053, the weather conditions reported at Daytona Beach, Florida, 6 miles west of the accident location, included few clouds at 2,400 feet, visibility 10 miles, temperature 27 degrees C, dewpoint 23 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.03 inches of mercury. The wind was from 080 degrees at 6 knots.

The wreckage was examined by an FAA inspector at the accident site, which revealed a separated right wing and damage to the cabin and empennage. Control continuity was established to all flight control surfaces, and the examination revealed no preimpact mechanical anomalies. The left wing tank was intact, and contained no fuel. The right wing tank was intact, and contained about 3 gallons of fuel.

An aircraft recovery specialist with FAA pilot and mechanic certificates harvested the fuel from the right tank, and placed it in the left fuel tank after the airplane was set upright. Using the airplane's own battery, an engine start was attempted. The engine started immediately, accelerated smoothly, and ran continuously until stopped by the specialist at the controls.


PORT ORANGE, Fla. —A small plane made a crash landing into a tree in Port Orange Wednesday night.

Two people on board the plane had minor injuries after the mishap at Spruce Creek Fly-In near Port Orange.

According to officials, the plane had engine failure as it was coming in for a landing and got caught up in some trees as it came down.

Both the pilot and passenger were out of the plane when rescuers got to the scene.

The Federal Aviation Administration has been notified.


Two people aboard a small plane suffered only minor injuries when it crashed in some trees Wednesday night near the Spruce Creek Fly-In community, officials said. 

Volusia County sheriff's dispatchers said it was not immediately clear what caused the plane to go down, but the two people in it did not have to be transported to a hospital.

Dispatchers said the plane was coming from the Spruce Creek Fly-In went it landed in some trees near Taylor Road and Spruce Creek Boulevard shortly before 8:30 p.m.

Vermont Tech aviation program gets Twin Seabee

Doug Smith of the Vermont Flight Academy talks with students about the school's donated Twin Seabee amphibious airplane Wednesday Sept. 10, 2014 in South Burlington, Vt. The academy, affiliated with the Vermont Technical College, will use the plane to help its students get a rare multi-engine seaplane rating. They expect to land and take off from Lake Champlain and other bodies of water in the region.
 (AP Photo/Wilson Ring) The Associated Press 

SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — Within a few months, some pilots in training at Vermont Flight Academy at Burlington International Airport will land a rare, twin-engine sea plane on Lake Champlain and other bodies of water in Vermont and upstate New York.

The nonprofit academy, affiliated with the Vermont Technical College, recently received a donated 1980 Twin Seabee, which will help students in training qualify for three pilot ratings.

"It performs delightfully," said Doug Smith, academy co-founder, commercial pilot and instructor, who flew the plane from Florida to Vermont and has flown the model in the past. "It's a training airplane. It's not going anywhere. You won't set any speed records at all. But it's safe and that's what I like about it."

Officials from Vermont Tech and the academy, at Burlington International Airport, showed off the plane Wednesday as a way to tout the four-year college program that will give students a bachelor's degree and a host of pilot ratings.

"What I love about the program is it reinforces things about Vermont Tech that we do really, really well, and that is the applied teaching, the applied learning and the hands-on student experience," said Vermont Tech interim President Dan Smith, who is not related to Doug. "These students in the professional pilot program are learning by flying planes in college."

The Seabee has an egg-shaped passenger compartment with a boat-shaped bottom and narrow rear fuselage. The original version had a rear-facing single propeller. Doug Smith said the twin-engine version was created by expanding the size of plane and mounting the engines forward on the wings.

Only about a dozen of the twin Seabees exist, he said, and the academy's plane donated by a California couple, Roger and Jeannette Glazer, enjoyed some fame in its own right. The plane was featured in the 1980 movie "Caddyshack."

The training program for the Seabee calls for students to fly it during their senior year. Since the Vermont Tech program started only three years ago, none of the 36 students is a senior. But next spring, seniors should begin flying the plane.

They will be able to land on Lake Champlain and the larger lakes and ponds across the region, Doug Smith said.

Joe Kolk, of Williston, is a second-year student who got interested in flying by taking a discovery flight at the academy. He hopes to become an airline pilot, and he's eager to fly the Seabee.

"I'm looking forward to riding around Lake Champlain with all the boats looking at you with a weird look," Kolk said.

Story and Photos:

A Twin Seabee amphibious airplane, that was donated to the Vermont Flight Academy, sits off the tarmac at the Burlington International Airport on Wednesday Sept. 10, 2014 in South Burlington, Vt. The academy, affiliated with the Vermont Technical College, will use the plane to help its students get a rare multi-engine sea plane rating. They expect to land and take off from Lake Champlain and other bodies of water in the region. 
(AP Photo/Wilson Ring)The Associated Press

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (KDCA) refuses to put up gun safety ad


WASHINGTON - Keeping guns out of the hands of children is obviously an important priority for public safety. But Reagan National Airport has turned down an ad from a firearms manufacturers on the issue.

The ads for Project ChildSafe promote locking guns, but the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority refused to allow it to run at Reagan National Airport because it -- in their words -- makes "reference to weapons" which are not allowed in the airport. The trade association for the gun manufacturers is outraged.

“This is zero tolerance political correctness run amok at the expense of actual safety,” said Larry Keane, general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The foundation, which is the trade association for the firearms manufacturers, is funding the public service campaign Project ChildSafe. It promotes responsible gun ownership and to keep guns out of the hands of children. They have given out more than 36 million safety kits that have cable gun locks since the program began in the 1990s.

This year, they started running Project ChildSafe ads in airports, and they have been seen in St. Louis at baggage claim, and also at Little Rock, Ark., Hartford, Conn., Providence, R.I., and Las Vegas.

Washington is the only airport that said no.

"The public service announcement that we sought to run at this airport, which we run in other airports around the United States with no issue, promotes responsible ownership and responsible firearms safety education,” said Keane. “There is a picture of a pistol that has a lock on it so that it's secured and that's the point of the safety message."

The airports authority said that it does not allow ads that reference weapons because guns are not allowed in the terminal or airfield. The exception is guns are allowed in checked bags if locked and unloaded.

There are clear signs at check-in where firearms have to be left before going through security. And there are many other public service ads throughout Reagan National Airport. Fliers at the airport have mixed views on the controversy.

"It's obviously an issue that people are concerned about,” said Jessica Smelser. “There's an issue about whether or not people can carry them in public, so they should be allowed to talk about it in public."

"If they are not allowed in the airport period, they shouldn't be advertising this in the airport,” said Stuart Fitzgerald.

"It's a reasonable public service announcement,” said Michael Wagner. “It's unfortunate that it's not being done in our airport that is in our nation's capital."

The Project ChildSafe safety kit comes with a bunch of paraphernalia, safety instructions as well as a cable gun lock. Unlike trigger locks, this cable lock can only work on a gun that is not loaded, which makes it more secure. 

Story and Video:

Jacquie Warda: Pilot continues fulfilling her dream

Jacquie Warda is living proof that it is never too late to chase your dreams. She lives out her passion for flying year-round as an aerobatic performer and was one of the featured pilots at the 2014 Selfridge Air Show last weekend. 

Warda took to the skies at age 32, but always had a desire to be a pilot.

"I had wanted to fly since the age of 3," she said. "When you dream of something long enough, failure is just not an option."

She readily admits that "flying is not cheap," and she saved her money until she was ready to enroll in ground school. Along with having to bide her time before getting into get into the cockpit, she found that women were not easily accepted into the world of flying.

"I didn't know any women who flew," said Warda. "As a girl I wasn't encouraged much. I had a lot to overcome because no one was encouraging me."

Knowing her task may be harder did not discourage her.

"I got tired of hearing myself say 'I wish I could fly an airplane,'" she said. "I just had to go do it; I had to try."

She earned her private pilot certificate in 1986, but did not take her first formal aerobatic lesson until 1997. Flying came as natural to her as anything she had ever done.

"I loved it," she said with a grin about how she felt after her first flight. "I couldn't get enough; it was like walking to me."

Warda said learning the tricks of the trade in the sky was the same as anyone else learning a new skill.

"I learned one thing, I could handle it and I wanted to do the next thing," she said. "You have to take baby steps and learn one thing at a time."

She will fly in 12 shows in 2014, including performing with pilots Patty Wagstaff, Melissa Pemberton and Julie Clark, as well as the Misty Blues all-female skydiving team at Selfridge.

Warda, who now lives in San Francisco, said a good season will take her to 20 air shows from March through October.

"This is the first time we have all flown together like this," she said. "Nobody has ever done an all-women air show."

She flies her Extra 300 monoplane to each show herself. Warda said it took her six "hops" to get to Springfield, Ill., and two more to get to Michigan for the weekend show.

She has logged over 2,500 hours in the air and flown in over 100 air shows since getting bitten by the aerobatics bug, and she is not slowing down anytime soon.

As for describing what a first-time flight in her monoplane is like, Warda is very straight forward.

"Your body goes through feelings you have never had before," she explained. "It is all foreign to your body; it doesn't matter what your brain is trying to do."

That is a very accurate description of a first flight with Warda, but it will make you want to climb back in with her and ask for more.

Story and Photos:

Crop duster sprays Delaware Department of Transportation workers with pesticide

Seven DelDOT maintenance workers were being evaluated at a health facility Wednesday after a crop duster, spraying a soy bean field with pesticides east of Bridgeville, contaminated the workers, state officials said.

A Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control's emergency response team was dispatched about 10:30 a.m. to the area of Coverdale Road with a decontamination unit to begin treating 13 workers exposed to the pesticide, said agency spokesman Michael Globetti.

Seaford firefighters responded and decontaminated five of the workers with a soap-and-water process, bagged their clothes and put the workers in Tyvek suits, said company spokesman Ronnie Marvel.

"They had been sprayed across the road from where they were working," he said.

The five workers that Seaford firefighters attended to were then taken to WorkPro Occupational Health on North Shipley Street in Seaford to be evaluated, Marvel said.

Sandy Roumillat, a DelDOT spokeswoman, said none of the employees showed or complained of symptoms, but seven DelDOT workers were taken to WorkPro for evalutation. Earlier, officials had said they were taken to Nanticoke Memorial Hospital in Seaford.

She said the pilot "continued to spray the area" after the substance made contact with the workers.

"They had taken refuge in the vehicle and since the crop duster continued to spray the area, the vehicle was considered contaminated," Roumillat said. "They were covered with a green liquid. We don't know what the liquid is at this point."

The plane is believed to have flown out of Laurel Airport.

Daniel Shortridge, spokesman for the state Department of Agriculture, preliminarily identified the combination of fungicides sprayed as Topsin, Ridomil Gold and Brigade Insecticide (bifenthrin).

He said information regarding the owner of the plane was part of the investigation and would not be immediately released.

The workers were doing tar-and-chip road paving work along Coverdale Road and Del. 404.

The workers, as well as Delaware Department of Transportation vehicles, were sprayed in the area of Booker T. Washington Street and Coverdale Road.

Each of the affected workers went through a decontamination process at the scene.

The Agriculture Department regulates pesticide usage and investigates reported aerial application incidents in Delaware, and Shortridge said the agency is involved in the Coverdale investigation with DNREC.

The agency typically investigates a "handful of aerial application incident reports" each year, but most investigations do not involve exposure to humans, Shortridge said.

Story, Photo Gallery and Comments:

Ayres S-2R Thrush, N4977X: Accident occurred January 10, 2011 in Oakley, California

The family of a crop-dusting pilot who died when his plane hit a meteorological tower in Contra Costa County settled a lawsuit against companies responsible for the tower for $6.7 million, their attorney said Tuesday.

Stephen Allen, 58, of Courtland (Sacramento County) died when his S-2R Thrush Commander crashed into the tower on Webb Tract Island the morning of Jan. 10, 2011. The island is in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta northeast of the Antioch Bridge.

Allen was applying seed at the time and probably didn't know the tower was there, according to a report issued by the National Transportation Safety Board.

The tower was 198 feet tall, was erected in 2009 and was just 2 feet shorter than the height that would require it to be marked and lighted under Federal Aviation Administration regulations, the board said.

"The pilot likely had limited opportunity to become aware of the (tower) before the flight, and his ability to detect it visually in flight was extremely limited," the report said.

The FAA issued recommendations in 2011 on marking meteorological towers, including painting them white and a bright color known as "aviation orange." However, the agency said it would be impractical to recommend that towers be illuminated because the remoteness of many towers "does not allow for pre-existing power sources."

The tower, manufactured by NRG Systems Inc., was installed by Echelon Environmental Energy and PDC Corp. They were hired by Renewable Resources Group, the agent of ZKS Real Estate Partners and Delta Wetland Properties. The tower was built to monitor wind levels for a potential wind energy farm on the island, said the family's attorney, Roger Dreyer.

The companies, through their insurance carriers, agreed to settle the suit filed in Contra Costa County Superior Court, Dreyer said.

"No amount of money is ever going to compensate the Allen family for the loss of Mr. Allen," Dreyer said. "He was an exceptional pilot, father and husband. His family continues to mourn his loss, but take solace in knowing that with his death, his lasting legacy will be the impact on the agricultural aviation industry that he so loved."

Story and Comments:

NTSB Identification: WPR11LA094
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Monday, January 10, 2011 in Oakley, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/17/2012
Aircraft: ROCKWELL INTERNATIONAL S-2R, registration: N4977X
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

The pilot was initiating an aerial application to a field when the airplane collided with a 198-foot-tall, unpainted metal meteorological evaluation tower (MET). No information about the MET was distributed in any Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) notices or other publications for pilots, and the MET was not equipped with any markings or obstruction lights for visual conspicuity. For these reasons, the pilot likely had limited opportunity to become aware of the MET before the flight, and his ability to detect it visually in flight was extremely limited. Although the pilot’s toxicological results were positive for dextromethorphan (an over-the-counter cough suppressant) and dextrorphan (a metabolite of dextromethorphan) in the urine, the substances were not noted in the blood; therefore, it is likely that some time had passed since the pilot had used the medication. Additionally, these substances would not normally be expected to result in any impairment.

METs are used to measure wind data throughout the United States. They can be assembled quickly and can be constructed of galvanized tubing with guy wires used as support. Because many METs (like the accident MET) are just below the 200-foot threshold at which FAA regulations would require the applicant to notify the FAA of the MET and to provide a lighting and marking plan for FAA assessment, many METs are unmarked, unlighted, and not referenced in any FAA notices or publications for pilots. Although the FAA in 2011 approved an update to Advisory Circular (AC) 70/7460-1K, Obstruction Marking and Lighting, that will provide recommended guidance on marking METs, ACs are only advisory in nature. Because of this, MET constructions will likely continue to meet only the minimum requirements and, thus, will remain a hazard to pilots operating at low altitudes. In March 2011, the NTSB published Safety Alert SA-016 to educate pilots about the flight-safety issues presented by METs. The Safety Alert is available at the NTSB’s website at

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
An in-flight collision with an unmarked meteorological evaluation tower (MET) during an aerial application flight due to the pilot's failure to see and avoid the obstacle. Contributing to the accident was the lack of visual conspicuity of the MET and the lack of information available to the pilot about the MET before the flight. 

On January 10, 2011, at 1057 Pacific standard time, N4977X, a Rockwell International S-2R, impacted a meteorological evaluation tower (MET) while initiating an aerial application on Webb Tract Island, Oakley, California. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. Alexander Ag Flying Service Incorporated was operating the airplane under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration inspector that responded to the accident site, the pilot was conducting an aerial application when the accident occurred. Witnesses indicated that the pilot overflew the area and then began the first pass over the field. The airplane then impacted a MET. Witnesses did not report seeing the airplane perform any evasive maneuvers prior to the impact. The tower was unpainted metal, and was not equipped with obstruction lights or markings.

The land owner indicated that the MET on Webb Tract Island was erected in April 2009. According to Contra Costa Country personnel that approved the construction of the MET, the permit was approved in August 2008, and applicable until August 2009. There was no extension on the permit. 

The project description stated that the tower stood 197 feet 8.25 inches tall, and was designed specifically for wind resource measurements. Additionally, it stated "The 60-meter (197 feet) tower is lower than the 200 feet threshold set by the FAA, and as such meets FAA regulations."


The pilot, age 58, held a commercial pilot certificate for airplane single and multi-engine land with an instrument rating. He held a second-class airman medical certificate issued on October 13, 2010, with no limitations. The pilot reported 26,000 total flight hours on his last medical application.


An autopsy was performed on the pilot on January 11, 2011, by the Office of the Sheriff- Contra Costa County Coroner's Division. The autopsy attributed the cause of death to trauma sustained in the aircraft accident. 

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens from the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report was negative for carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol. The toxicology report indicated that dextromethorphan, dextrorphan, and ibuprofen were detected in urine. The dextromethorphan and dextrorphan were not detected in blood.


Meteorological Evaluation Towers (METs)

METs are used nationwide to measure wind data. According to a National Agricultural Aviation Association article on METs, "Met testing towers are used for gathering wind data during the development and siting of wind energy conversion facilities. The met towers consist of galvanized tubing assembled at the site, and raised and supported using guy wires. Agricultural pilots, emergency medical services (EMS) operations, Fish and Wildlife, animal damage control, aerial fire suppression, and any other low-level flying operation may be affected. The fact that these towers are narrow, unmarked, and grey in color makes for a structure that is nearly invisible under some atmospheric conditions."

Review of accident data involving aircraft colliding with METs showed that in addition to this accident, two other fatal accidents occurred. One was in 2005 in Ralls, Texas (NTSB accident number: DFW05LA126) and the other was in 2003 in Vansycle, Oregon (NTSB accident number: SEA04LA027).

State Actions

Prior to FAA action, numerous states took action to mandate requirements for METs at the local level. Examples of these actions include South Dakota requiring that METs be marked, and Wyoming maintaining an online database of METS and requiring all METs to be registered and marked so that they are visible from a distance of 2,000 feet. State and national industry groups also worked with the FAA on recognition of the hazards posed by METs to aircraft operating at low altitudes.

FAA Guidance on METs

Title 14 CFR Part 77.13 "Construction or alteration requiring notice" states "(a) Except as provided in 77.15, each sponsor who proposes any of the following construction or alteration shall notify the Administrator in the form and manner prescribed in 77.17: (1) Any construction or alteration of more than 200 feet in height above the ground level at its site."

In January of 2011, the FAA issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (docket number FAA-2010-1326) to update Advisory Circular (AC) 70/7460-1K, Obstruction Marking and Lighting, to recommend the marking of METs. In June of 2011, the FAA approved the recommended guidance for voluntary marking of METs to be provided in the update AC 70/7460-1K. ACs are advisory and not regulatory.

Regional FAA FAAST teams have been educating operators about the dangers of METs. This has been accomplished through presentations, as well as through distribution of brochures highlighting the issue.

Beechcraft Bonanza, N1160T: Fatal accident occurred August 18, 2014 in Novato, Marin County, California

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office: Oakland FSDO-27,  California
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama
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Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Docket And Docket Items -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Robert J. Madge:

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA349
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 18, 2014 in Novato, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/26/2017
Aircraft: BEECH V35B, registration: N1160T
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.

While en route to the destination airport on an instrument flight rules flight plan in dark night conditions, the instrument-rated private pilot declared an emergency, advised the air traffic controller that the engine was losing power, and stated that he needed to divert. The controller first issued instructions to an airport about 20 miles behind the airplane's position, then offered an airport about 14 miles abeam the airplane's position. The pilot initiated a turn to the first airport, then to the second airport, accordingly. During these transmissions, the controller referred to the positions of these airports as "radials" from the airplane, despite the pilot's repeated request for headings.

As the airplane maneuvered, it descended from its cruise altitude of 6,000 ft mean sea level (msl) to about 2,000 ft msl. The controller contacted the airplane and stated that it had descended below the minimum vectoring altitude for that area. About a minute later, the pilot stated that the engine had regained power, again asked for a heading to the diversion airport, then stated that he had "lost [the] compass." Over the next 3 minutes, the airplane climbed to about 3,100 ft msl before entering a gradual descent. The controller provided the pilot with vectors, and the pilot asked how far the airplane was from the airport. The controller first provided an incorrect distance of 7 miles, then corrected himself, stating the airplane was 9.7 miles from the airport. Shortly thereafter, the pilot asked whether the airport was under visual meteorological conditions, to which the controller replied, "affirmative." The pilot then stated that he was in the clouds and asked the controller if there were "any hills" between the airplane and the airport. The controller did not answer the pilot's question, but instead provided the current weather conditions at the airport. The last transmission from the accident airplane was the pilot stating, "one thousand feet," followed by a series of microphone clicks, indicating that the pilot may have been attempting to activate the airport's pilot-controlled lighting system.

The airplane impacted terrain at an elevation about 700 ft msl about 7 miles from the airport. Examination of the airplane indicated that the landing gear was extended at the time of impact. No mechanical malfunctions or anomalies were identified with the engine, airframe, or gyroscopic flight instruments that would have precluded normal operation; therefore, the investigation was unable to identify the reason for the pilot's reported loss of engine power and "lost compass." It is likely that, following the emergency declaration, the pilot began to shed tasks and became completely dependent on the controller for providing orientation. The inaccurate and varying communications from the controller, including the use of the word "radial" rather than "heading," could have contributed to a loss of situational awareness. Further, had the controller issued a safety alert to the pilot or provided him with the elevation of terrain located between the airplane and the airport, the pilot may have been able to take action to avoid the terrain. 

Given the radar track of the airplane and the evidence that the landing gear was extended at the time of impact, it is likely that the pilot had configured the airplane for landing and elected to continue the airplane's descent in an attempt to locate the airport. However, despite the automated weather observation indicating the airport was experiencing visual meteorological conditions, witness accounts and additional sources of weather data indicated the presence of heavy fog in the vicinity of the accident site about the time of the accident. It is unlikely that the pilot was able to obtain visual contact with the ground or the airport environment, and descended into terrain as he attempted to do so.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The instrument-rated pilot's decision to conduct a visual approach to the airport in night, instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's loss of situational awareness, the controller's failure to provide clear and concise instructions to the pilot following his declaration of an emergency, and the controller's failure to provide adequate information to the pilot regarding the airplane's proximity to terrain.

On August 18, 2014, at about 2130 Pacific daylight time, a Beech B35, N1160T, collided with terrain while maneuvering near Novato, California. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. The private pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was substantially damaged. Visual and instrument meteorological and dark night conditions prevailed in the area at the time of the accident. An instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight. The cross-country flight originated from Brookings Airport (BOK), Brookings, Oregon at 1920 with a destination of San Carlos Airport (SQL), San Carlos, California.

According to air traffic control (ATC) communications, the pilot was in contact with a SeattleRoute Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) controller and was transferred to an Oakland ARTCC controller during the southbound flight. Soon after being transferred, the pilot reported a loss of engine power. The controller initially gave the pilot vectors to Sonoma County Airport (STS), Santa Rosa, California about 27 miles to the north of (behind) the pilot's position, and followed up by issuing vectors to Gnoss Field (DVO) Novato, about 19 miles to the east of the airplane's position. After that discussion, during which the airplane had turned west, north, and then later east, the pilot reported that the engine power had returned. That statement was about 5 minutes after the pilot's initial notification to ATC of an engine problem. The pilot continued eastbound, and shortly thereafter there was a simultaneous loss of radar and radio contact, when the airplane was about 8 miles west of DVO.

Review of radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration revealed a primary target, consistent with the accident airplane, was traveling on a southbound heading at 7,200 feet indicated altitude before descending over the next 7 minutes to about 6,000 feet mean sea level (msl). The radar then depicted a right turn to a northerly heading, while continuing to descend to about 5,000 feet. The data further depicted the target enter a left 270 degree left turn followed by an easterly heading while descending down to below 2,000 feet. The target then ascended to about 3,000 feet and made several left and right turns before heading east towards the DVO area. The last 10 radar targets depicted an easterly heading while descending to about 1,000 feet. The last radar target was about 1/3 mile from the accident location.

The airplane was the subject of an Alert Notification, and the wreckage was located early the next morning, near the location of the last radar contact at an elevation of about 700 feet. About 32 acres of land was burned during the postimpact fire.

A witness located about 2 1/2 miles south-southwest of the accident site described an airplane flying at a low altitude over his house about the time of the accident. He stated the sound of the engine was loud as it passed by overhead, drowning out the sound of the TV that he was watching. The witness's brother that lives 1 1/2 miles further west of the first witnesses house, also stated that an airplane flew over his house about the time of the accident and seemed to be at a low altitude and the sound of the engine was loud. He concluded that there was heavy fog at the time and that didn't clear up until the following day.


The pilot, age 51, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land, and instrument rating. The most recent third-class FAA medical certificate was issued in June 2008, with no limitations. The pilot reported on that medical certificate application that he had accumulated 650 total flight hours and 50 hours in the last 6 months. The pilot logbooks were not obtained during the investigation.


The four-seat, low-wing, Beechcraft V35B Bonanza, serial number (S/N) D-9928, was manufactured in 1976. It was powered by a Continental IO-520-BB (10) engine, serial number 285974, rated at 285 horse power and equipped with a McCauley model 3A32C76-SMR variable pitch propeller. Review of the maintenance logbook records showed an annual inspection was completed May 23, 2014, at a recorded tachometer reading of 2,707 hours, airframe total time of 2,707 hours and engine time since major overhaul of 852 hours. Due to post-accident thermal damage, the current tachometer and Hobbs hour-meter readings were not obtained.

On August 17, 2014, the airplane was refueled with 52 gallons of 100LL fuel at the Southwest Oregon Regional Airport, North Bend, Oregon.


The closest weather reporting station to the accident site was located at DVO, which was located 9 miles east of the accident site, at an elevation of 2 feet msl. At 2115, fifteen minutes prior to the accident, the station disseminated an automated observation report; wind calm, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, temperature 15° C, dew point 13° C, altimeter 29.83 inches of mercury.

At DVO, weather conditions deteriorated after 2200 with a ceiling overcast of 1,100 feet agl and lower. Similar conditions were reported at Napa County Airport (APC), Napa located about 24 miles east of the accident site and Charles M Schulz - Sonoma County Airport, Santa Rosa located about 24 miles north of the accident site.

Weather satellite imagery an hour prior to the accident shows an area of low stratiform type clouds forming along the coast and inland in the vicinity of the accident, with the cloud tops near 1,500 feet msl. Other satellite imagery at 1/2 hour before and after the accident time shows the stratiform type clouds along the coast and inland in the vicinity of the accident site.

According to the Astronomical Applications Department at the United States Naval Observatory, the official sunset was at 1959, the official end of civil twilight was at 2027, and the official moonrise was 0039.


According to ATC communications, the pilot was in contact with Seattle ARTCC and was being transferred to the Oakland ARTCC. During the communication between the two controllers, the Seattle controller stated that he never did see the airplane on his radar due to a radar outage, and for the Oakland controller to expect to hear from the pilot 85 miles north of Mendocino. The radar outage covered the southern Oregon and northern California area, which the Seattle controller relied on. The Oakland controller could not see the airplane on his radar at the expected time, and informed the pilot that his transponder was not working. After some communication, the pilot recycled his transponder, and about 4 minutes later, the controller said they had him on radar. A transcript of the recorded transmissions between the pilot of N1160T and ATC is attached to the accident docket. The following partial transcripts are noted.

At 2049:45, while N1160T is passing over the Point Reyes area, the controller issued "…after point reyes you're cleared via the point reyes one arrival into san carlos," and N1160T acknowledged by repeating the clearance.

At 2112:44, N1160T was instructed by the controller to cross Stins intersection at 5,000 feet.

At 2121:07, the controller instructed the pilot to change frequencies and contact NORCAL approach, and the pilot acknowledged.

At 2121:23, N1160T had not changed frequencies and stated to the controller, "…got some engine trouble might need uh might need to divert."

At 2121:34, N1160T then stated, "one one six zero tango is calling in an emergency."

At 2121:37, the controller asked N1160T to state the nature of the emergency.

At 2121:45, the controller again asked N1160T to state the nature of the emergency.

At 2121:50, N1160T stated "losing engine power one one six zero tango."

At 2122:01, N1160T stated "what's my best routing from here…"

At 2122:04, the controller replied by stating "uh six zero tango i have santa rosa off your three five zero radial at about twenty miles". At this time, N1160T was traveling southbound and Santa Rosa was north his current position.

At 2122:10, N1160T requested the heading again, and the controller repeated.

At 2122:20, the controller queried "…uh you wanna go to gnoss that's about ten miles."

At 2122:45, N1160T stated "out of engine in and out of engine."

At 2122:48, the controller advised "…the uh gnoss airfield is at your zero seven five radial fourteen miles."

At 2123:00, N1160T replied "which one sorry?"

At 2123:02, the controller repeated the directions.

At 2123:50, the controller asked N1160T how many people were on board the airplane.

At 2123:52, N1160T stated "Just me."

At 2124:52, N1160T asked the controller "(unintelligible) am i heading november one one six zero tango, which direction?"

At 2124:57, the controller advised N1160T "…you're in the right direction right now for novato."

At 2125:35, the controller advised N1160T that the minimum vectoring altitude in his area was 3,400 feet. At this time N1160T was descending below 2,000 feet over mountainous terrain east of the Point Reyes area.

At 2125:59, the controller stated, "november six zero tango, you're uh coming left over like a you're on like a three six zero heading right now turn uh right heading of zero seven five."

At 2126:37, N1160T stated, "okay i appear to have uh engine back and uh and power."

At 2126:40, the controller requested "…fly heading zero seven five for novato airfield."

At 2127:16, N1160T queried the controller "what heading do you show me on for one one six zero tango."

At 2127:18, the controller stated to N1160T that he was on the 360° heading and gave him a heading of 085° for DVO.

At 2127:34, the controller queried N1160T "november one one six zero tango say your intentions do you wanna try to land novato or do you wanna go somewhere else."

At 2127:39, N1160T stated "uh novato would be fine but i've lost my compass".

At 2128:06, the controller instructed N1160T to turn another 15° right, and N1160T answered "fifteen right". The controller then advised N1160T that he was on course for DVO and N1160T asked "how far one one six zero tango."

At 2128:32, the controller stated "…you're headed uh you're pretty close to heading uh in the right direction", and then added "…another 10 left now".

At 2128:42, N1160T queried the controller again, "how far for one one six zero tango".

At 2128:44, the controller answered, "oh about seven miles", followed by "actually its nine point seven miles from novato," and "november one one zero tango the novato altimeter is two nine eight three."

At 2129:48, N1160T repeated the altimeter setting and asked if DVO was VFR and the controller replied by stating "affirmative."

At 2130:05, N1160T advised the controller "i'm in the clouds…" and in the next transmission, asked "any hills between me and novato."

At 2130:20, the controller stated "i'll take a look right now" followed by "yeah i'm showing the weather at novato for one one six zero tango is uh zero four one five auto observation winds calm it's clear and ten miles visibility."

At 2130:41, N1160T stated "i'm in the cloud."

The last identified transmission from N1160T was at 2130:48 PDT, "one thousand feet."

A few minutes later, the controller asked the pilot of a Pilatus airplane, that was in the area at the time of the accident, to divert over the Novato area to see if he could observe N1160T on the ground at DVO. At 2136:00, the Pilatus pilot reported receiving an ELT signal. The Pilatus pilot further stated, "…completely overcast here, I can see the beacon at Gnoss, but uh, it's really almost completely obscured, we're gonna continue on to destination".


The accident site was about 7 miles northwest of DVO. Examination of the accident site revealed that the wreckage was located on a northeast-facing slope, with a terrain elevation of about 700 feet msl. The debris path was about 350 feet in length, in a direction of about 045 degrees magnetic. Postimpact fire damage was found throughout the debris path and surrounding terrain. A total of about 32 acres was burned, and the wreckage was partially consumed by postimpact fire.

The debris field crossed over the top of a small grass covered hill with about 30 degree slopes on either side. The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was an area of disturbed dirt and grass about 350 feet from the main wreckage. Nose landing gear components were found near the FIPC, consistent with the landing gear being in the down position. Large scrape marks about 15 to 30 feet in length were observed about 190 feet further up from the FIPC where the hill started sloping downhill towards the main wreckage. A main landing gear fixed strut door was found near the scrape marks. The upper engine cowling was found 235 feet from the FIPC along the debris path. The main wreckage was another 65 feet further downhill and was pointing in the direction of 200 degrees magnetic. The propeller assembly and crankshaft propeller flange separated from the engine. The main wreckage (fuselage, wings, cabin, rear fuselage and empennage) remained mostly intact. Both flap actuators were retracted – flaps retracted. Pitch trim actuator measurement corresponds to one-degree tab trailing edge down. Flight control system was traced from the cockpit flight controls to the flight control surfaces and was found to be intact. The left wing remained attached to the airplane. The aileron and flap remained attached to the wind trailing edge. The right wing remained attached to the airplane and its aileron and flap remained attached. The leading edge of both tank areas was consumed by fire. The outboard leading edges were pushed aft, ballooning the upper and lower surfaces outward. The nose landing gear and two main landing gear struts separated from the airplane. The landing gear actuator housing and bellcrank were consumed by postimpact fire. The orientation of the landing gear extend rods suggest that the landing gear was being commanded to the extended position. The instrument panel, forward and aft cabin areas, and baggage compartment area were partially consumed by post-impact fire; only the cabin floor remained. The rear fuselage remained intact with the empennage and flight control surfaces attached.

The wreckage was relocated to a secure facility for further examination.


The Marin County Sherriff's Office Coroner's Division conducted an autopsy on the pilot on August 23, 2014. The medical examiner determined that the cause of death was "multiple blunt impact injuries."

The FAA Civil Aeromedical Institute conducted forensic toxicology examinations on specimens from the pilot, and reported that no carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, or any screened drugs were detected.


Post-Accident Examination

Further examination of the wreckage was conducted on August 21, 2014 at Plain Parts in Pleasant Grove, California. The fuel selector valve handle, the fuel sump and the fuel strainer was consumed by post-impact fire. The orientation of the selector valve was found in the left tank position. The remains of the horizontal situation indicator (HSI) compass ring was oriented about 030 degrees, airplane heading. The artificial horizon gyro was identified and disassembled. Scoring was identified in the housing suggesting that the gyro rotor was spinning at the time of impact. The vacuum system plumbing and indicators were consumed by postimpact fire. The vacuum pump was removed from the engine, disassembled and showed normal operating signatures. The rotor and vanes remained intact. The drive coupler displayed thermal damage.

A further examination of the engine was conducted on January 12, 2015 at Continental Motors Inc., Mobile Alabama. The engine was disassembled and all of the internal components were examined. Thermal damage and discoloration was found throughout the engine and its accessories. No evidence of preimpact mechanical failure was noted during the examination. For further information, see the Engine Examination Summary report in the public docket for this accident.

The propeller was examined on May 12, 2015 at McCauley Propeller Systems, in Wichita, Kansas. According to the McCauley Examination Report, the propeller had damage as a result of impact, and there were no indications of any type of propeller failure or malfunction prior to impact. The propeller had indications consistent with rotational energy absorption above windmilling (rotation at impact with some engine power) during the impact sequence. Exact engine power levels were not able to be determined. The propeller did not have impact signature markings or component positions indicating blades outside the normal operating blade angle range. No evidence of blade angle mismatch between blades at impact was noted.

During communication with the pilot, the controller was issuing radials some of the time and radar vectors at other times. According to the FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) Pilot-Controller Glossary defines "radial" as a term used by ATC or pilots, as a magnetic bearing extending from a VOR/VORTAC/TACAN navigation facility.

FAA Rules, Regulations, and Guidance to Pilots

The AIM, paragraph 4-1-16, describes the manner in which pilots could expect to receive traffic safety alerts from ATC and states, in part, the following:

A safety alert will be issued to pilots of aircraft being controlled by ATC if the controller is aware the aircraft is at an altitude which, in the controller's judgment, places the aircraft in unsafe proximity to terrain, obstructions or other aircraft. The provision of this service is contingent upon the capability of the controller to have an awareness of a situation involving unsafe proximity to terrain, obstructions and uncontrolled aircraft. The issuance of a safety alert cannot be mandated, but it can be expected on a reasonable, though intermittent basis. Once the alert is issued, it is solely the pilot's prerogative to determine what course of action, if any, to take. This procedure is intended for use in time critical situations where aircraft safety is in question. Noncritical situations should be handled via the normal traffic alert procedures….

FAA Prescription to Air Traffic Controllers

FAA Order 7110.65, Air Traffic Control, prescribes ATC procedures and phraseology for use by personnel providing ATC services. Paragraph 2-1-2, "Duty Priority," states, in part, that controllers should "give first priority to separating aircraft and issuing safety alerts as required in this order. Good judgment must be used in prioritizing all other provisions of this order based on the requirements of the situation at hand."

Paragraph 2-1-2. "Duty Priority" states, in part, the following:

a. Give first priority to separating aircraft and issuing safety alerts as required in this order. Good judgment must be used in prioritizing all other provisions of this order based on the requirements of the situation at hand.

Paragraph 2-1-6, "Safety Alerts," states, in part, the following:

Issue a safety alert to an aircraft if you are aware the aircraft is in a position/altitude that, in your judgment, places it in unsafe proximity to terrain, obstructions, or other aircraft….

1. The issuance of a safety alert is a first priority…once the controller observes and recognizes a situation of unsafe aircraft proximity to terrain, obstacles, or other aircraft. Conditions, such as workload, traffic volume, the quality/limitations of the radar system, and the available lead time to react are factors in determining whether it is reasonable for the controller to observe and recognize such situations. While a controller cannot see immediately the development of every situation where a safety alert must be issued, the controller must remain vigilant for such situations and issue a safety alert when the situation is recognized….

TRAFFIC ALERT (call sign) (position of aircraft) ADVISE


CLIMB/DESCEND (specific altitude if appropriate)

Robert Madge

A Thanksgiving service will be held to remember a former Puckington man who died when the plane he was piloting crashed in the United States.  

Robert Madge, 51, was killed when his single-engine aircraft crashed in Marin County west of Novato in California.

He leaves behind his wife Marianne, parents John and Janet Madge, children Asha and Chloe, brother Nic and sister Ginny.

The Beechcraft 35 Bonanza plane Robert was in control of left Brookings, Oregon, and was heading to San Carlos when it got into trouble at about 9.30pm on August 19.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Robert reported engine problems and said he would try to make it to a nearby field but air traffic controllers lost contact with him shortly afterwards.

Robert, known as Bob, was the only person on board the plane and police found the wreckage several hours later.

A fire surrounding the plane burnt 32 acres of nearby fields.

Speaking to the News from their home in Puckington, Robert’s parents said he was a keen cricketer in the local area but did not wish to comment further.

He worked for corporate communications and government relations firm GlobalFoundries for more than four years and vice-president Kevin Kimball told reporters in California Robert was ‘a key leader in multiple roles’.

He added: “We are deeply saddened by this tragedy and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and our employees during this difficult time.

“During his tenure with us, Bob was a dedicated, hard-working leader who was very proud of his team and their many contributions.

His leadership will be greatly missed.”

According to Robert’s LinkedIn profile, he also worked as director of technology marketing for LSI Corp from 2004-10 and before then as director of product engineering for LSI Logic.

A thanksgiving service will be held at St Andrew’s Church in Puckington on Saturday at 2.30pm.

Donations in memory of Robert for Sports Relief c/o AJ Wakely & Sons, West Street, Ilminster, TA19 9AA – Tel 01460-52576 or online

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA349 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, August 18, 2014 in Novato, CA
Aircraft: BEECH V35B, registration: N1160T
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 August 18, 2014 about 2130 Pacific daylight time, a Beech V35B, N1160T, collided with terrain while maneuvering near Novato, California. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. The private pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was substantially damaged. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The cross-country flight originated from Brookings, Oregon at 1920 with a destination of San Carlos, California.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Northern California Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON) facility, the pilot declared an emergency, reporting engine problems and that he was unable to maintain altitude. The pilot received vectors from air traffic control (ATC) to Gnoss Field (DVO), Novato, 14 miles east from his present position. While en route to DVO the pilot reported that partial engine power had been restored. The pilot then reported that he was losing engine power again and was in the clouds at 1,000 feet. ATC lost radar and radio contact with the airplane 8 miles west of DVO.

One witness about 1 mile southwest of the accident site reported hearing an airplane flying over his house about the time of the accident and that it was low and the engine was loud. Another witness about 2 miles southwest of the accident site also reported hearing a low flying airplane at the time of the accident.

The airplane was found the next morning near the location of the last radar contact. About 32 acres of land were burned during the postimpact fire.