Sunday, September 28, 2014

Fly like a girl: Celebrating women in aviation

Former Lt. Cmdr. Kathleen Betts in front of the Women in Naval Aviation Display in Hangar Bay One in the National Museum of Naval Aviation aboard Naval Air Station Pensacola.
(Photo: Bruce Graner, Pensacola News Journal)

American aviator Amelia Earhart helped pave the way for female aviators in 1937 by flying solo across the Atlantic ocean. But in Pensacola, it was former Lt. Cmdr. Kathleen (Umscheid) Betts, Melanie (Castleberry) Johnson and Mary Anne Von Hazemburg who made history.

The trio of women were the first to be commissioned at the National Naval Aviation Museum as U.S. Navy Ensign in March of 1987. This out of a class of 60.

"The women that come from the academy, it is so competitive for them to get a flight slot here," Betts said. "I still can't believe I was lucky enough to get a flight spot."

Betts credits a lot of the reason she got into the academy to her recruiter at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore.

"I had a very good recruiter and I did well in college, and he really pushed me and pushed me to get that slot," Betts said, while enjoying a recent lunch at the Mustin Beach Club on Pensacola Naval Air Station.

A New York native, Betts grew to love Pensacola and stayed in the area after finishing her time in the Navy.

"There was a lot of animosity when I started in 1987, because there were a lot of men from the academy I wound up getting lumped into train with as a student.

Even after nearly 30 years, she remembers the grueling four months in the commissioning program being trained by a Marine Corps drill sergeant.

She remembers having to get her hair cut and feeling — because no mirrors were allowed in the battalions — less than an inch of hair on her head.

And all of the ladies had to get their hair cut continually until they left the academy. Betts said they could never see how bad they actually looked because of the lack of mirrors.

"We had one floor of the battalions, and I shared a room with the women," she said. "And the guys were just right next door to us. They had their own restroom and we had our own restroom, which was on another floor."

"Every time we had to go to the restroom, it was a big production because not only was it on another floor it was on the far end of the building on another floor!" she said.

And there was no neutral territory. Betts said either the guys really didn't like the ladies or they really liked them and did everything they could to help.

"It was incredibly difficult," she said.

But regardless of the intensity of the program, Betts, Johnson and Von Hazemburg persevered. Betts described it as the biggest camaraderie she ever experienced.

Betts was in the the Navy for eight years and flew commercially for 12 years, totaling 20 years as a pilot. In those 20 years, she's accumulated 7,000 hours of flight time, 4,000 of those obtained on the Boeing 757.

"I've always been an advocate of getting more women into flying and into flight school here," Betts said. "And now that they've done away with AOCS (Aviation Officer Candidate School), I think there's even less."

Betts believes there isn't enough promotion to try and recruit female aviators and she is concerned that some women may think they aren't allowed to fly in the military or don't even know the option exists.

"It's such a fascinating career," she said. "It's exhilarating."

While she no longer flies, Betts continues to study in the field of aviation and hopes to see more women in the field in the future.

"I love the Navy, and I have strong ties to this community," she said. "I'm proud of my community and proud of what I've done here."

Want to learn more?

• WHAT: Women in Naval Aviation Exhibit

• WHERE: National Naval Aviation Museum, 1750 Radford Blvd., Pensacola NAS

• HOURS: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily


• QUESTIONS: Call (800) 327-5002, email or visit

- Source:

Air traffic controller nearly works himself to death

A man in his 20s is said to have lost two litres of blood in four days because he had to work long hours, reported China Press.

A check at a hospital in Xiamen, China, revealed that the man, who is an air traffic controller known as Xiao Lai, was suffering from peptic ulcer which led to him vomiting blood.

For days, he had to work overtime and his meals were irregular. There were times when he had to skip meals completely.

Xiao Lai felt unwell and started vomiting blood on Sept 19.

However, he only sought outpatient treatment at the airport clinic since he was too busy.

His condition worsened four days later and he could not even walk up the stairs.

Colleagues rushed Xiao Lai to hospital, where it was found that he had suffered excessive blood loss of two litres, which is half the amount of blood needed in a human body. 

- Source:

Tax Avgas Like The Poison It Is - Salem, Oregon

Tax Fairness Oregon points out an important reason Salem's Corporate Welfare Playground (aka airport) costs us ordinary folks (who only see private planes on TV) so much money:

Aviation Funding

Unlike highways and roads, airports in Oregon have been relying on public funding rather than user funding for a hunk of the cost of maintenance and improvements. This public funding at the expense of education and human services isn't necessary, because Oregon's aviation fuel taxes are among the lowest in the country. While Oregon road users pay 30 cents a gallon in fuel taxes, Oregon taxes jet fuel at only 1 cent a gallon, and avgas at only 9 cents a gallon. Talk about everyone else supporting the 1%—clearly a fix is in order!

Read more here:

Eldon Burrier and Andrew Munson: Fatal accident occurred September 28, 2014 in Marstons Mill, Barnstable, Massachusetts

  Eldon Burrier
Photo Courtesy of Skydive Barnstable 

Eldon Burrier had teamed up Sunday with Andrew Munson of Nantucket in a tandem jump from the Cape Cod Airfield in Marstons Mills, a jump that ended with both men fatally injured when they missed the landing zone and slammed into a shed in a backyard.

Munson was 29 years old. Burrier, who was 48, had ties to Washington state.

In an e-mail signed Skydive Barnstable Management, the company said it believed that Burrier tried to save both parachutists’ lives before impact.

“We know without a doubt that Eldon died bravely doing what he loved while doing everything he could to protect his student Andrew,’’ the company said without explanation. “Both jumpers were obviously incredibly special individuals.’’

Burrier was popular among co-workers and in the skydiving community. “He was a great guy with a passion for sharing the sky with his students, had a great sense of humor, and loved golf, playing with the dogs on the airfield, and had an affinity for making friends anywhere he went,’’ the statement said.

“There are countless times where the team would go out for a dinner and find Eldon making new friends at other tables,’’ the statement added.

Munson and Burrier are the 22d and 23d persons to die this year in skydiving accidents, which include a Mattapan man who was killed skydiving in Pepperell this summer.

In 2010, the Seattle Times reported that Burrier was rescued after his parachute got caught on a rock outcropping in Washington state. He spent the night dangling 600 feet off the ground. According to that article, Burrier was a landscaper and former Army paratrooper.

Munson was a longtime employee of Don Allen Ford on Nantucket, where his large circle of friends included co-workers, beach volleyball players, and his neighbors on Polpis Road.

Andrew Munson (center) was killed in a skydiving accident on Sunday.

Andrew Joel "Andy" Munson 


NANTUCKET - Andrew Joel Munson, 29, of Nantucket, formerly of Goshen, died Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014, in a skydiving accident on Cape Cod.

Andy grew up in Goshen and Williamsburg, and attended local schools. He trained as an automotive technician in Illinois, before moving to Nantucket in 2005. He was employed by Don Allen Ford, where he was known for his skills as a mechanic, and where he served as shop foreman and head technician.

He was passionate about many sports and wanted everyone to experience and love them as he did, whether running obstacle courses, bicycling, playing volleyball, or pursuing his latest passion of kite boarding. In winter, he played hockey, enjoyed snowboarding throughout the country, and was always ready for the next challenge. Andy's high spirits and zest for life brought him friends wherever he went. He came home frequently to visit family in western Massachusetts, where he remained connected to lifelong friends in the hilltowns.

Andy is survived by his son Kolton of Illinois; his sister Megan Thompson-Munson; step-mother Anita Thompson of Goshen; his father Vaughn and partner Amy Carey of Deerfield; his birth mother Teresa Munson; his grandmother Alice Munson of Florence; and many aunts, uncles and cousins including Marion Delimat, Wayne and Terry Munson, and Sean Munson.

Family and friends are invited to celebrate the life of Andy Munson Sunday, Oct. 5, at 2 p.m. at Wyckoff Country Club in Holyoke.

Donations can be made to the Andrew Munson Memorial Fund for the benefit of Kolton Munson, c/o Easthampton Savings Bank, 21 Locust St., Northampton, MA 01060.

The Ahearn Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements.

To sign a Guest Book, express condolences, share memories, go to

- See more at:

Eldon Burrier

BARNSTABLE, Mass. (AP) — The two skydivers killed after they crashed into a building during a tandem jump on Cape Cod appeared to be having problems as they descended, police said. 

Andrew Munson, of Nantucket, and his instructor, Eldon Burrier, of West Lynnwood, Washington, died Sunday while skydiving at the Marstons Mills Airport in Barnstable, Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O'Keefe and Barnstable Police Chief Paul McDonald said in a joint statement Monday.

Munson, 29, and Burrier, 48, were involved in a tandem jump from a plane operated by Skydive Barnstable. They struck a shed on private property adjacent to the airport at about 5:15 p.m. Sunday.

Witnesses told police the pair appeared to be in trouble, descending too fast and out of control.

"We were notified that a student and an instructor were descending at a fairly high rate of speed having a problem with their chute," Sgt. Ben Baxter said.

Homeowner John Theriault said he rushed to the aid of both men while his wife called 911, and then stayed with them offering comfort until emergency personnel arrived.

The deaths remain under investigation.

The skydiving school said it would have no comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

"As we find out more we'll be able to make a statement but until then we ask you to respect our privacy," a school representative said in an email to the Cape Cod Times. "Our hearts go out to all family members of everyone involved."

A skydiving accident in Barnstable left two dead. 

(Photo by

UPDATE: HN just received word that both skydivers died from their injuries… (stand by for updates)

 MARSTONS MILLS – At about 5:20pm, rescue and police rushed to 885 Race Lane (right across the street from the Cape Cod Airfield in Marstons Mills) for a report of two tandem parachutists falling from the sky at a speed that was too fast.

A neighbor heard what he thought was a frantic guttural voice saying ‘I’ll break your fall…’

Sources on scene report the two men crashed into the side of a barn and landed in a horse corral…

Rescue workers sprinted to the stricken parachutists’ aid, rushing both men up onto stretchers and into two separate ambulances. Both were suffering from grave and serious injuries…

Rescue workers rushed both patients toward CCH … and then reportedly to the Hyannis Airport to be medflighted. One source at the airport believes one the patients appeared to be returned from the helicopter back into the ambulance. An ambulance then left the airport in the direction of CCH using emergency lights and sirens.

UPDATE: Sources tell HN that both patients were not medflighted, and returned to CCH from the airport…

Back at the scene of the accident, Barnstable and State Police CPAC detectives are investigating…

The  video highlights the scene with rescue workers doing their best to save these lives. It also shows the crash scene, parachute, and gear…

Story, Comments, Photo Gallery and Video:


MARSTONS MILLS, Mass. ( -- A skydiving instructor and student were both killed in a parachuting incident on Sunday in Cape Cod, according to the Barnstable Police Department.

The two skydivers, who were jumping in tandem, landed beyond the intended landing area at Cape Cod Airport and hit the property across the street at 885 Race Lane, according to the Centerville-Osterville-Marstons Mills Fire Department.

Fire and ambulance personnel arrived on scene and brought both individuals to Cape Cod Hospital. A Medflight helicopter was requested to be on standby for possible transfer to a trauma center.

The circumstances of the crash are being investigated.

Hunting Guide Struck by Plane's Propeller: Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

A man near Terra Nova Park area got caught in the propeller of a float plane this afternoon, suffering severe head injuries.

The Joint Rescue Co-ordination Center in Halifax says a Cormorant helicopter from Gander has been called to Kepenkeck Lake.
That's a fishing and hunting resort accessible only by air.

Maj. Martel Thompson says a hunting guide walked into the propeller of a float plane while tying the plane to a dock around 3 p.m.

 - Source:

National Institutes of Health: Patient exposed to Ebola lands at Frederick Municipal Airport (KFDK), Maryland

John Burklow of the National Institutes of Health said Sunday that an American doctor exposed to Ebola, but not confirmed to have the virus, landed at the Frederick Municipal Airport before being taken to the NIH clinical center in Bethesda.

A Maryland State Police escort accompanied an ambulance to the clinical center.

In a news release issued Saturday, the NIH said the doctor, who was volunteering at an Ebola treatment unit in Sierra Leone, would be admitted to the clinical center out of "an abundance of caution."

Exposure to Ebola does not necessarily mean infection, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"This situation is of minimal risk to NIH staff and the public," the NIH release says.

More information will be released by NIH later today, Burklow said.

Story and Comments:

Cessna 172M Skyhawk, N9679H, Western New York Flying Club Inc (and) Progressive Aerodyne Searey, N89KD, Fly Away Inc: Accident occurred September 27, 2014 in Lancaster, New York

NTSB Identification: ERA14FA459A
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 27, 2014 in Lancaster, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/25/2016
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N9679H
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 2 Uninjured.

NTSB Identification: ERA14FA459B
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 27, 2014 in Lancaster, NY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/25/2016
Aircraft: KEVIN D'ANGELO SEAREY, registration: N89KD
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 2 Uninjured.

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 accident airplanes, a Cessna and an experimental amateur-built Searey, were two of several airplanes participating in a volunteer event designed to provide the opportunity for young people to fly in a general aviation airplane. A route of flight for the event was established and briefed, and the pilots were instructed to make position reports over the airport’s common traffic advisory frequency at certain landmarks along the route of flight; however, no procedures were in place to account for the disparate operating characteristics and speeds of the aircraft participating in the event. Radar and GPS data showed that the Cessna overtook and descended to the altitude of the Searey as the Searey climbed slowly. During the last moments before impact, both airplanes were depicted at the same altitude and in close lateral proximity. The Searey pilot was unaware that his airplane had collided with the Cessna, but upon experiencing control difficulty, performed a forced landing to an area of thick vegetation. The Searey was substantially damaged during the landing. Immediately after the collision, the Cessna entered a descending spiral to ground contact.

A performance radar and cockpit visibility study determined that the Searey would have remained a relatively small and stationary object in the Cessna’s windscreen, appearing below the horizon and just above the engine cowling, for several minutes before the impact. The study also determined that the Searey may have been difficult to distinguish against the background of terrain. Additionally, since the airplanes were on a converging course, the Searey would have presented little relative motion to the other pilot, making detection more difficult. The Cessna would not have been visible to the Searey pilot because it approached from an area that was obstructed by the airplane’s structure.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to maintain an adequate visual lookout for known traffic in the fly-in event traffic pattern, which resulted in a midair collision.


On September 27, 2014, about 1020 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172M, N9679H, and an experimental amateur-built Searey XLS, N89KD, collided in midair approximately 2 miles southeast of the Buffalo-Lancaster Regional Airport (BQR), Lancaster, New York. The commercial pilot and passenger on board the Cessna were fatally injured. The pilot of the Searey performed a forced landing to a thicket of low brush, and the airplane was substantially damaged. The private pilot and passenger in the Searey were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for either airplane, each on local personal flights which departed BQR at 1009 (Searey) and 1012 (Cessna). Both airplanes were participating in an Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Young Eagles event, and the flights were conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Several witnesses provided statements, and their accounts were consistent throughout. They each said their attention was drawn to the sound of the airplanes and/or the sound of collision. The airplanes were both traveling westbound as one airplane overtook the other, or was on top of the other, before one airplane (Cessna) was seen to "tip" or "roll" inverted before it descended vertically in a spiral. The second airplane (Searey) descended in a 180-degree turn and the sound of the engine was increasing and decreasing, "revving" or "sputtering" throughout the descent.

Radar information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) depicted both airplanes traveling westbound on roughly the same ground track; the Cessna at 1,774 feet and 90 knots groundspeed, and the Searey ahead of the Cessna, at 1,575 feet and 70 knots groundspeed. As the Cessna approached the Searey from the east, it descended slowly to 1,625 feet. At the same time, the Searey climbed slowly to 1,625 feet. During the last moments prior to impact, both airplanes were depicted at 1,625 feet, and in close lateral proximity. Radar contact with the Cessna was lost in the vicinity of its accident site, while the Searey was depicted in a descending right turn.

The pilot of the Searey, who was flying from the left seat, said he was in cruise flight and nearing the point when he was to begin the turn north toward the airport, when he felt a sudden "bang" and heard a "snapping" sound. He said he wasn't sure if the airplane had struck something, or if something in the airplane had broken. The pilot said the airplane was unresponsive to control inputs in the pitch axis, and that he used engine power to control pitch. Due to limited controllability and trees further along on his flight path, he elected to land the airplane in the thicket to avoid greater hazards and for crash attenuation.

The passenger in the right seat of the Searey was interviewed by police in the company of her parents the day following the accident. According to the passenger, she looked out the right window and "…saw a white airplane coming at us from above and I knew it was going to hit us. I tried to warn the pilot but there wasn't enough time and the microphone was too far away." The passenger went on to describe the collision, the descent, the landing in the thicket, and her egress from the airplane.


The Cessna pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued September 16, 2014 at which time he reported 2,115 total hours of flight experience.
The Searey pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, single-engine sea, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued July 10, 2014. The pilot reported 4,270 total hours of flight experience.


According to FAA records, the Cessna was manufactured in 1975. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed April 25, 2014 at 8,069 total aircraft hours.
According to FAA records, the Searey was manufactured in 2014. Its most recent condition inspection was completed January 13, 2014, and the airplane had accrued 160 hours since that date.


The 1054 weather observation at Buffalo International Airport (BUF), Buffalo, New York, located 5 miles west of the accident site included clear skies, calm winds, and 10 statute miles visibility.


BQR was situated beneath the outer ring of the Class C airspace that surrounded BUF, at a field elevation of 752 feet mean sea level (msl). The single runway, oriented 8/26, was 3,199 feet long at 75 feet wide. The traffic pattern altitude was 1,552 feet msl, and the airport was not tower-controlled.


The Cessna came to rest on flat, wooded terrain and was examined at the accident site. All major components were accounted for at the scene. The airplane came to rest in a nose-down attitude, with the engine buried beneath the instrument panel in the initial impact crater, and was severely deformed by impact forces. The leading edges of both wings were uniformly crushed aft in compression. The airframe was cut by rescue personnel, and further sectioned for removal from the woods. Control continuity was established from the cockpit area to all flight control surfaces. The propeller blades displayed twisting, bending, leading edge gouging and chordwise scratching. Both blades displayed spiral striations about 5 inches inboard of the tips consistent with a wire strike.

The Searey came to rest upright in a dense thicket. The trailing edge of the right wing flap displayed a series of parallel slash marks, the structural tubing was severed, and the fracture surfaces were smeared. The structural cable between the wing strut and the empennage was still attached at each end, but missing an approximate 5-foot section of its middle. The two severed ends displayed features consistent with overload. The empennage displayed a vertical opening and parallel slash marks.


The Office the Chief Medical Examiner for the County of Erie, Buffalo, New York, performed the autopsy on the Cessna pilot. The autopsy report listed the cause of death as multiple blunt force injuries.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of the Cessna pilot. The testing was negative for the presence of carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol. Amlodipine was detected in the blood and urine. Amlodipine was in a group of drugs called calcium channel blockers and was used to treat high blood pressure or angina. Salicylate, a metabolite of aspirin, was detected in the urine.

The NTSB Chief Medical Officer performed a medical review of the pilot's records and the reports cited above. The review revealed no evidence of any medical condition or substance that may have contributed to the accident.


Young Eagles Event

The purpose of the EAA Young Eagles Program was to provide the opportunity for young people to fly in a general aviation airplane. The district coordinator for the event was interviewed by an FAA inspector about the conduct of the event.

The coordinator had organized the event using the instructions provided by EAA, which included an informational webinar for organizers. The volunteer pilots were required to be EAA members, and were also required to attend a briefing prior to the event. The items briefed included the current and forecast weather, the runway in use, the route of flight, and the various landmarks that defined the route.

The flight route consisted of a straight-out departure to the east, climbing to an altitude of 1,800 feet. About 10 nautical miles from the airport, the airplanes were to turn right and return to the airport on a track parallel to and about 2 miles south of the outbound track. The course terminated abeam the midpoint of runway 08/26. At or about that point, the airplanes were to descend to traffic pattern altitude, turn north to cross the runway south to north, then enter a left downwind for landing on runway 08. Traffic pattern altitude at BQR was 1,552 feet.

Pilots were instructed to use the BQR common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) for all communications, which included position reports when making turns and at several designated landmarks along the route of flight. Airspeeds were neither set nor restricted while established on the route.

According to the vice president of the local EAA Chapter, each airplane participating in the event was assigned a discrete transponder code in coordination with the control tower at BUF; however, none of the airplanes were in contact with, or receiving any services from, the control tower.

Radar Study

A radar study was performed by an NTSB Airplane Performance Specialist. The radar data used in the study were secondary returns from the short-range Airport Surveillance Radar (ASR-9) located at Buffalo Niagara International airport (BUF), Buffalo, NY (transponder codes 0433 and 0416 for the Searey and the Cessna, respectively).

In addition to the radar data, a Garmin 496 portable GPS receiver was recovered from the Searey and successfully downloaded. The radar and GPS track data was used to establish a timeline of the flights, ground and flight tracks for each airplane and to create a simulation of the flight as viewed from the cockpit of the Cessna.

According to the simulations and graphs produced by the study, as seen from the Cessna, the Searey would have been located below the horizon and just above the Cessna's engine cowling for most of the westbound leg of the flight. While the Searey may have been within the Cessna's field of view, the Searey would have been difficult to see against the background of the terrain. Further, based on the distance between the Cessna and the Searey throughout the flight, the Searey would have been a small dot in the terrain background until the final seconds before impact.

Because of the high-wing structure of the Searey, and its relative position and altitude, the Cessna was blocked from the Searey pilot's view by the right wing, roof, and aft cabin structure, as the Cessna was above and behind the Searey during the latter portion of the flight prior to collision.
Although the pilot of the Searey stated that he was reporting his position on the CTAF along the route of flight as prescribed in the pre-event briefing, this could not be confirmed, as radio communications made over the CTAF were not recorded.

FAA Advisory Circular 90-48D, "Pilots' Role in Collision Avoidance," stated, "Pilots should also be familiar with, and exercise caution in, those operational environments where they may expect to find a high volume of traffic or special types of aircraft operation. These areas include airport traffic patterns, particularly at airports without a control tower…"

FAA Pamphlet P-8740-51, "How to Avoid a Midair Collision," stated, "…an aircraft on a collision course with you will appear to be motionless. It will remain in a seemingly stationary position, without appearing to move or to grow in size for a relatively long time, and then suddenly bloom into a huge mass filling one of your windows. This is known as "blossom effect." Since we need motion or contrast to attract our eyes' attention, this effect becomes a frightening factor when you realize that a large bug smear or dirty spot on the windshield can hide a converging plane until it is too close to be avoided."

NTSB Identification: ERA14FA459A
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 27, 2014 in Lancaster, NY
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N9679H
Injuries: 2 Fatal,2 Uninjured.

NTSB Identification: ERA14FA459B
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, September 27, 2014 in Lancaster, NY
Aircraft: KEVIN D'ANGELO SEAREY, registration: N89KD
Injuries: 2 Fatal,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 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 September 27, 2014, about 1020 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 172M, N9679H, and an experimental amateur-built D'Angelo Searey XLS, N89KD, collided in midair approximately 2 mile southeast of the Buffalo-Lancaster Regional Airport (BQR), Lancaster, New York. The Cessna departed controlled flight after the collision, descended vertically in a spiral, and was destroyed by impact forces at ground contact. The Searey entered a descending right turn, and performed a forced landing to a thicket of low brush, and was substantially damaged. The commercial pilot and passenger on board the Cessna were fatally injured. The private pilot and passenger in the Searey were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for either airplane, each on local personal flights which departed BQR at 1009 (Seareay) and 1012 (Cessna), respectively. Both airplanes were participating in an Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) Young Eagles event, and the flights were conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Several witnesses provided statements, and their accounts were consistent throughout. They each said their attention was drawn to the sound of the airplanes and/or the sound of collision. The airplanes were both traveling westbound as one airplane overtook the other, or was on top of the other, before one airplane (Cessna) was seen to "tip" or "roll" inverted before it descended vertically in a spiral. The second airplane (Seareay) descended in a 180-degree turn and the sound of the engine was increasing and decreasing, "revving" or "sputtering" throughout the descent.

Preliminary radar information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that both airplanes were assigned discrete transponder codes. The data depicted both airplanes traveling westbound on roughly the same ground track. The Cessna was at 1,774 feet and 90 knots groundspeed and the Searey was further west, at 1,575 feet and 70 knots groundspeed. As the Cessna approached the Searey from the east, it descended slowly to 1,625 feet. At the same time, the Searey climbed slowly to 1,625 feet. For the last few seconds of the Cessna's flight, both airplanes were depicted at 1,625 feet, and in close lateral proximity. Radar contact with the Cessna was suddenly lost in the vicinity of its accident site, while a descending right turn was depicted for the Searey.

The 1054 weather observation at Buffalo International Airport (BUF), 5 miles west of the accident site included clear skies, calm winds, and 10 miles visibility.

The Cessna came to rest on flat, wooded terrain and all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The airplane came to rest nose down with the engine buried beneath the instrument panel in the initial impact crater, and was severely deformed by impact forces. The leading edges of both wings were uniformly crushed aft in compression. Control continuity was established from the cockpit area to all flight control surfaces. Both propeller blades displayed similar twisting, bending, leading edge gouging and chordwise scratching.

The Searey came to rest upright in a dense thicket. Examination of the airplane revealed that the trailing edge of the right wing flap displayed a series of parallel slash marks, and the structural tubing was severed, and the fracture surfaces were smeared. The structural cable between the wing strut and the empennage was still attached at each end, but missing a section about 5 feet in length in the middle. The two severed ends displayed features consistent with overload separation. The empennage displayed a vertical opening and parallel slash marks.



Any witnesses should email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

James Metz


Anthony Mercurio

LANCASTER, NY-- The pilot killed in last weekend's plane crash was remembered Friday night by friends and family.

Anthony Mercurio, 78, died when the small plane he was piloting collided with another plane on Saturday. His passenger James Metz, 14, also died.

A funeral for Mercurio is being held Saturday at Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church in Elma.

 The Metz family is mourning the loss of their 14-year old son James. His parents want people to know her was "amazing and compassionate." 

LANCASTER, N.Y. (WIVB) – Hundreds of people came together Friday, to remember a Lancaster teen who died in last weekend’s mid-air crash. James Metz was just 14-years-old.  

 Members of the wind symphony Metz was part of played as people entered Our Lady of Pompeii Church, in Lancaster,  Friday morning. A family friend says it was touching to see so many people at the funeral.

One person at the service said, “I think it’s just absolutely wonderful the turnout the community is here for family. They need our help and prayers.”

Many people were upset at the funeral, but when James Metz’s family spoke, at times the church echoed with laughter.

James’ mother said he was a loving son who made parenting fun, then joked that there were times when he didn’t clean his room or turn in his homework.

The 14-year-old died on Saturday when two small planes crashed off Townline Road in Lancaster. His pilot 78-year-old Anthony Mercurio also died. It may be several months before the investigation report is released, telling us exactly why the two planes to collided.

Metz will be laid to rest at St. Mary’s Cemetery in Lancaster.

LANCASTER, N.Y.- Calling hours began Wednesday for the 14-year-old boy who was killed over the weekend after two small planes collided into each other.

James Metz, along with 78-year-old pilot Tony Mercurio, died while taking part in a Young Eagles event at the Buffalo Lancaster airport.

The Metz family is gracious to the support they've received from the community.

"Lancaster is amazing. I've been involved in schools, [her husband has] been involved in the village of Lancaster," Suzanne Metz told 2 On Your Side Tuesday.

A sign outside of Lancaster Middle School has a message in support of the Metz family. In addition, students at Lancaster High School plan on wearing blue Friday in honor of James.

Metz's funeral will take place this Friday at 10 a.m. at the Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Lancaster.


July 9, 1936 - September 27, 2014

Resided in (E) Lancaster, NY

September 27, 2014, of Lancaster, suddenly at age 78, beloved husband of 43 years to Mary Ann (nee Donofrio) Mercurio; devoted father of Michael Mercurio, Teresa (John) Schwartzott, Roseann (Lance) Sworts and Mark (Amy) Mercurio; loving grandpa of Francesca, Nicholas, Bella, Lucas and Lincoln.

The family will receive friends on Friday from 4-8 PM at the Urban-AMIGONE FUNERAL HOME, 7540 Clinton Street (at Girdle Road), Elma. 

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday at 11:30 AM in Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary R.C. Church. Friends invited. 

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to EAA's Young Eagles Program. 

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James Metz and his younger brother, Donovan, were excited to go flying high above their hometown of Lancaster.

Their mother, Sue, dropped them off Saturday morning at the Buffalo-Lancaster Regional Airport to take part in a free flight program offered to entice youngsters into aviation.

James, 14, was the first of the two brothers to go up. He climbed into the Cessna with pilot Anthony Mercurio and took to the air.

Tragedy soon followed. The plane collided in midair with another aircraft participating in the event.

The other pilot and a 9-year-old passenger survived; James and Mercurio, 78, were killed.

By 2 p.m. Saturday, news of the fatal crash had spread throughout the tightly knit Lancaster community, where James was a rising star. He had just started high school, played in the wind ensemble and was on the varsity swim team.

“He was really coming into his own as a freshman and looking forward to the whole high school experience,” said Lancaster Superintendent Michael J. Vallely. “He was blossoming. James was just a great kid.”

The Lancaster Central School District held a news conference Monday to pay tribute to James and tell his story. An hour before the news gathering, Vallely said he met with James’ parents, Sue and Steven, who are beside themselves with grief, yet wanted others to know how wonderful their son was.

James was an athlete, the superintendent said.

In seventh grade, he participated on the district’s modified swim team. A year later, James was invited to try out for the varsity swim team.

On his second tryout, he made the team.

Throughout his school years, James progressed in his ability to play the trumpet and was a member of the district’s wind ensemble.

Just as important, school officials said, James was known for his care and concern for others, which started at home.

The superintendent recalled how James earned $20 for performing yard work for an aunt.

“One of the first things he did after earning the money was go to an Internet auction website to try to buy his brother a pair of expensive sneakers that he knew his brother wanted,” Vallely said.

The loss of such an outstanding young man was tough.

School psychologists and social workers were on hand early Monday throughout district buildings, including the middle school and high school.

“It was a difficult day at the high school,” said John Striegel, a ninth grader who had known James for years.

“His friends were crying for him today and the teachers were very upset,” John said. “I’ve known him since we went to William Street School and he’s a very nice kid, nice to everyone.”

Among those hardest hit by the loss were other student musicians, who were well acquainted with James, school officials said.

Vallely explained that social workers and psychologists mobilized on Saturday after the crash to provide counseling to members of the student marching band, who were practicing that afternoon.

Teachers at Lancaster Middle School, whose memory of James is still fresh from last year, also were distraught over the tragedy. Middle school students already have organized a tribute to James with plans to wear the color blue on Friday.

“Blue was James’ favorite color,” the superintendent said.

Students and teachers throughout the district are also brainstorming on ways to honor the memory of James in the coming days and weeks, the superintendent said.

The Metz family is well known in the Lancaster district, where James has attended since he was in kindergarten. His mother has been active in the Parent Teacher Organization and has served as a member of Lancaster’s Comprehensive District Educational Planning Team.

After dropping her boys off at the airfield Saturday, she left to attend a mandated program for parents of children participating in district sports, Vallely said.

“Both brothers were extremely excited to go flying,” Vallely said. “It was a great opportunity to experience planes and it was a free event.”

A daughter of Mercurio told The News that the family is heartbroken and grieving over the tragedy and at this point is unable to comment, though, she confirmed her father loved aviation.

There was no doubt of that.

Several miles away at the Lancaster airfield, Mercurio was a well-known figure.

One pilot said: “Tony was a great guy, a gentleman, and was always willing to pass along his knowledge to younger pilots.”

Funeral arrangements for Mercurio were unclear Monday.

A Mass of Christian Burial for James will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday at Our Lady of Pompeii Church, 158 Laverack Ave., Lancaster.

- Source:

Lancaster Schools Remember 14-Year-Old Killed in Mid-Air Plane Crash 

 LANCASTER, N.Y. -- The 14-year-old boy who was killed in a mid-air collision Saturday between two small planes was a freshman at Lancaster High School, where on Monday, he was remembered fondly by students and staff.

James Metz was killed, along with Anthony Mercurio, when the Cessna 172  they were on board collided with a Searey amateur-built aircraft during a Young Eagles Youth Flight program event at the Buffalo-Lancaster Regional Airport. Mercurio was 78.

The pilot of the other plane made an emergency landing in a field in Alden. He and the nine-year-old girl in his plane were treated for minor injuries.

Speaking on behalf of the Metz family, Lancaster Superintendent Michael Vallely described the varsity swimmer and musician as someone who was just coming into his own at the high school. He said the trumpet player had a keen sense of humor - something friends and staff recounted Monday at both the middle and high schools.

Vallely says many of James' friends learned the news Saturday afternoon during a marching band practice at the high school.

"I hope I do this justice and I hope I do this for the family and make sure that James was a special, special youngster in this school district and this has been a very difficult, difficult day for literally hundreds and hundreds of kids and adults because of his impact on this school district," Vallely said.

Metz's family is heavily involved in the district. His mother works on the Parent Teacher Organization. A younger brother attends 7th grade.

We're told no solid plans are in place for a school memorial just yet, but many students are planning to wear blue, Metz's favorite color, to class on Friday.

Vallely said grief counselors are on hand for middle and high school students.

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Group Offers Support To Family, Friends Of Crash Victims

WESTERN NEW YORK -- Diane Steel and Kelly Henning know how it feels to lose a loved one in a plane crash. They were on vacation together in Florida in 2003 when some of their family went on a site-seeing tour in a small plane. 

"I lost my husband, who was Kelly's brother. And her mother and her sister and brother-in-law were also on the plane,” Diane said. “There [were] four of our family members that day."

Diane and Kelly discovered AirCraft Casualty Emotional Support Services, or A.C.C.E.S.S., after searching the web, hoping to find an outlet for their pain.

"We reached out for help and they paired us up with volunteer grief mentors and eventually, right after 3407 actually, we decided to go about and do the same thing,” Diane said. “And we followed through and wanted to be volunteer grief mentors ourselves."

There are 250 ACCESS grief mentors around the world, and they try to pair mentors with victims who have had similar experiences.

"We started pairing up mothers to mothers, siblings to siblings, spouse to spouse, people of similar relationships lost to one another so that they can provide a road map of what's ahead for them and what it's like to go through this process," said A.C.C.E.S.S. Founder Heidi Snow Cinader.

ACCESS grief mentors are willing to communicate face to face, by Skype, e-mail, whatever makes people feel comfortable.

"Before the plane crash and our personal experience, I used to journal. I would write everything down and when I experienced what I experienced, I couldn't do it anymore,” Kelly said. “My mentor actually encouraged me to do it through e-mail to her. I would write her stories about everybody, and that's what helped me."

And now, Kelly and Diane want anyone affected by Saturday's crash to know they are not alone.

"We want to reach out to the families and let them know there's people here locally that know exactly what they're going through,” Diane said. “We understand, and we want to help them."

If you'd like help from A.C.C.E.S.S., their hotline number is 1-877-227-6435.

- Source:

NTSB  -  Transportation Disaster Assistance Division (TDA) 

Family members, friends, and survivors involved in general aviation accidents can contact TDA regarding questions pertaining to the accident.

Although there is no legal requirement for TDA to respond to general aviation accidents, TDA Specialists work with NTSB investigators and local and state agencies to coordinate assistance and information for family members, friends, and survivors either via telephone or on-scene, as requested.

The NTSB does not coordinate interviews with media for family members, friends, or survivors. However, media representatives may attempt to contact family member, friend, and survivor after an accident.

The NTSB will not determine the cause of an accident while on scene. Indeed, the cause may not be determined for 12 to 18 months after the accident.  

This brochure describes what family members, friends, and survivors can expect throughout a general aviation accident investigation.

Read more here:

Lancaster School community grieves for teen who died in plane crash 

LANCASTER, NY – On Sunday, a letter from the superintendent of the Lancaster Central School District was posted to the district website addressing the death of a student “from a tragic accident.” Although not specifically mentioned, the tragedy referred to in the letter is undoubtedly the death of a 14-year-old boy in Saturday’s plane crash near the intersection of Town Line and Kieffer roads on the Lancaster-Alden border.

You can read the complete text of the letter below.

The victim’s name had not been released by authorities at the time of this writing.

The letter states that grief counseling would be available to district students in the coming days.

On Saturday night, Two On Your Side reporter Andrea Marvin met a student at the high school who was acquainted with the victim. She had permission from her mother to speak to the media.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigator is expected to hold a press conference at Lancaster Police Department headquarters Sunday at 5 p.m., when we expect to learn more about the accident. We’ll have an update here on and on Channel 2 News Tonight at 6 p.m.

Letter from Superintendent Regarding Recent Tragedy

Dear Lancaster School Community:

The Lancaster Central School District community is mourning the loss of one of our students from a tragic accident. Our hearts go out to the family, friends, and teachers of our student. Our close-knit community will get through this by supporting one another.

On behalf of the board of education, our entire school district, myself and my family, I would like to express our sincere condolences to all those affected by this loss. As a parent, there is no greater loss than the loss of a child. As a superintendent, the scale of loss to our school community is devastating.

I would like to assure everyone in our community that the well-being of our children and our staff is, and always has been, paramount in our district. Our professional counseling and support staff, trained in crisis response and grief counseling, are prepared and will be on hand first thing Monday morning and throughout the coming days, to provide comfort and assistance to all who need it.

In the days ahead, there will undoubtedly be difficult moments for all of us to endure in the wake of this tragedy. While everyone will be responding to the situation in different ways, I have every confidence in our professional and support staff and their ability to meet the needs of individuals as they arise. If you think your child may need extra support at any time, please call your child’s principal so we can help.

Michael J. Vallely, Ph.D.
Superintendent of Schools


LOCKPORT, NY - We've reported that two small airplanes collided Saturday morning not far from the Buffalo-Lancaster Regional Airport. 

On Sunday, the National Transportation Safety Board held a press conference to report on the preliminary steps in its investigation into the crash.

Officials released the names of the two victims who were killed, and the pilot who survived, and discussed the process that will be followed for determining what exactly caused the accident. They may not have a final answer for a year or more. NTSB investigator Brian Rayner, who expects to stay in the Buffalo area at least through Monday, said he will examine more physical evidence and radar technology before providing a report for the board.

The plane crashed a little before 10:30 a.m. in a wooded area just west of Town Line Road in the Town of Lancaster. The deceased are Anthony Mercurio, 78, and James Metz, 14.

Patricia Farinacci and her brother, Michael Long, saw the crash from the porch of their mother's home. After seeing the first plane, which carried Mercurio and Metz, plunge to the ground, they immediately rushed to the scene of the crash.

"Right away, you just start thinking about the victim's families," Farinacci said. "Just shock. Sad. Wishing I didn't see it."

Not far away, the second plane made an emergency landing in a field on Kieffer Road in the Town of Alden. That pilot -- Kevin D'Angelo, 59 -- and a nine-year-old girl who was flying with him were able to walk away from their plane with minor injuries. (Her name will not be released.)


Kevin D’Angelo was just moments from the end of his second flight of the day Saturday morning – from Lancaster toward Darien Lake theme park, then back toward the Lancaster airport – when something went horribly wrong.

 “Boom – all of a sudden, the plane was out of control,” he said. The plane, which had been headed west, suddenly was headed east – away from the airport.

“In the air, you don’t understand what happened. There’s just a violent twisting of the plane and you don’t have control,” he said. You just think, ‘I have to get on the ground fast.’ You fly the plane to the ground, no matter what happens. That’s the mantra.”

At about 800 feet, another plane had struck D’Angelo’s Searey plane, resulting in a crash that killed both the 78-year-old pilot of that other plane, Anthony Mercurio, and his 14-year-old passenger, James Metz, a freshman at Lancaster High School.

D’Angelo did not know until about an hour later what actually had happened in the air to cause his plane to veer out of control.

D’Angelo, 59, lost control of his plane’s elevator, which controls the pitch that enables the plane to climb and descend.

“The plane wanted to constantly go up. It was stuck in position,” he said. “I figured out the only way to get down was to put full throttle, nose down, aim for the ground.”

In other words, he had to put the pedal to the metal to produce a burst of power strong enough to force the plane to crash.

But he needed to find someplace with enough space for him to land – and with something at the end of the clearing that would be strong enough to stop the plane from moving – if he and his 9-year-old passenger were to make it out alive.

“The only way to control it was to crash into trees and bushes,” said D’Angelo, who has logged more than 4,500 hours in the air. “When I picked out a field I tried to land on, I could not land. By the time I was running out of field, I had full throttle and had to dive into the ground. It was basically a forced crash, smashing into the trees as a brake. The plane was probably going 90 miles per hour when I hit the ground.”

The plane came to a violent stop after bouncing off a hill, hitting a stand of trees and landing in a thicket of bushes, he said.

“We stopped. I looked at my little passenger. She looked at me, and I said, ‘Honey, we’ve got to get out,’ ” he said during a telephone interview Sunday afternoon.

“She was looking at me like, ‘Was this a normal landing?’ Not a tear in her eye. She was a trouper.”

D’Angelo, a local dentist who has been flying for 33 years, has devoted much of his life to volunteering his time and talent for medical missions to Third World countries and impoverished areas in the United States.

The Orchard Park resident runs Southtowns Dental Services in Lackawanna with his wife, Elizabeth, who is also a dentist and volunteers extensively to help people who can’t afford dental care. The couple’s son, a dentist at their practice, and daughter, a resident at Sisters Hospital, are also pilots who donate their services to various charitable causes.

D’Angelo has also spent countless hours helping to interest young people in aviation. Over the years, he has flown more than 300 young would-be aviators in short flights like the ones he flew Saturday as part of a Young Eagles event.

The rally, sponsored by the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, attracted more than half a dozen volunteer pilots and about 60 kids ages 7 to 17.

The pilots met with the kids, briefed them on the basics of aviation, then took them for a short ride.

D’Angelo’s first passenger of the day was an enthusiastic 16-year-old girl with her sights set on getting her pilot’s license. The second was the 9-year-old girl who ended up in the crash landing. Authorities have not released her name.

Once the plane came to a stop in a field near Town Line Road in Lancaster, D’Angelo helped the girl out of the plane and they made their way through thick bushes. The pilot soon spotted someone nearby on an ATV, who came over and helped.

Thanks to the four-point restraints in the plane, D’Angelo said, the only injury either of them suffered was a cut from the bushes as they scrambled out of the plane.

“Not many people survive two plane crashes, so I guess I’m lucky in that respect,” he said.

On a Thursday in April 2013, D’Angelo was in Polk City, Fla., taking off in a seaplane he owned, with a passenger next to him. The plane rose about 100 feet, then crashed nose-first into Lake Agnes.

“The plane just spun two 360s into the lake,” said D’Angelo, who suffered five broken ribs in that crash. “Unbeknownst to me, someone had repaired the plane before I bought it – with faulty bolts. After eight years of flying it, my wing folded.”

That crash spurred D’Angelo to build his own plane. That way, he would know that every bolt in it was installed properly.

Seareys are kit planes, meaning people purchase and assemble the planes themselves. D’Angelo spent eight months putting his plane together, in the Searey factory in Florida, flying there for four days at a time whenever he could.

He finished the plane in January. Since then, he has flown about 180 hours in it.

On Saturday, when he felt the plane twist around, he wondered what could have gone wrong. “I built this plane myself,” he thought. “How could this happen?”

After seeing the wreckage, D’Angelo concluded that the propeller of the other plane, a four-seater Cessna 172, caught the back of his plane.

“His propeller must have come across, hit the back of my plane, almost chopped it in half, chopped up the wing flaps on my plane. The rear portion of my wing was shredded like [with] a machete,” he said.

The Cessna – a faster, bigger plane – may have overtaken his plane as they flew the same route, D’Angelo speculated, and didn’t see his plane. He did not hear the other pilot on the radio frequency shared by pilots flying out of the Lancaster airport.

D’Angelo spoke matter-of-factly about the accident on Sunday, saying he was coping by compartmentalizing what had happened. He choked up only when talking about the victims of the Cessna crash.

“I just feel so saddened for their loss,” he said. “I send my prayers out for the families.”

Brian Rayner, a senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, said Sunday afternoon that he had interviewed D’Angelo and “our conversation is going to continue.”

Rayner, speaking at a news conference in Lancaster Police Headquarters, said, “He’s been very, very, very generous with his time and very available. He assisted us with the examination of his airplane.”

Of the plane, Rayner noted that “the space in the cockpit area was unharmed” and that four-point seat belts had been installed, “which always helps.”

Lancaster Police Chief Gerald J. Gill Jr. said both planes were removed from their crash sites and were taken to the police impound yard for further examination. D’Angelo’s damaged plane was returned to him later.

Rayner said he expected that the team of NTSB investigators would wrap up their work here today, but would continue to pore through electronic records, radar reports and voice communications.

His preliminary report on the crash would be finished in about a week, he said, but the detailed report might take as long as a year.

He said that air traffic controllers at Buffalo Niagara International Airport tracked both planes on radar, but they were not in voice contact.

He noted that both planes carried transponders and that the hand-built plane should not be considered inferior.

“I’ve seen some spectacular specimens,” he said, “and I’ve seen people who buy factory airplanes and they neglect them. It wouldn’t be fair to characterize all experimental airplanes as problematic.”

On Sunday, after NTSB officials had looked at the plane, D’Angelo once again had it in his possession and was headed back to a hangar with it. The plane is probably too damaged to rebuild, but he plans to build another Searey as soon as possible.

The accident will not deter him from flying, he said. In fact, he plans to fly his family to Kentucky this weekend.

“I don’t fear anything about flying,” he said. “The chances of this are so remote.”

 - Source:

ALDEN, N.Y. -- The man and teenager killed in Saturday's fatal plane crash at the Lancaster-Alden border have been identified.

In a press conference Sunday, the National Transportation Safety Board and Lancaster Police Department said 78-year-old Anthony Mercurio and 14-year-old James Metz were aboard a Cessna 172 that crashed into a Searey experimental aircraft a few miles away from the Buffalo-Lancaster Regional Airport.

Mercurio and Metz died from their injuries.

The pilot in the Seary, identified as 59-year-old Kevin D'Angelo, made an emergency landing in a field in Alden. He and a nine-year-old girl in his plane were treated for minor injuries.

The planes were out as part of a Young Eagles youth flight program held by the Experimental Aircraft Association.

ALDEN, N.Y. (WIVB) — The pilot who made an emergency landing after a collision Saturday is still trying to come to terms with the tragedy.   Kevin D’Angelo said, “It was probably the most beautiful day for flying you could find, it was perfect, no wind, clear skies.”

In an instant that perfect day changed dramatically for him and his 9-year-old passenger.  He said, “It was just a violent jolt.”   At the time, D’Angelo thought a bird had hit his Searey experimental aircraft and that’s what caused him to lose control.

He explained, “I just knew I had to keep flying the plane; as a pilot you train over and over again and you have to keep flying the plane no matter what’s happening.”   Hoping to avoid homes in the area, he set his sights on a large field.

“I couldn’t seem to get it down to the ground so finally I had to just gun it and dive bomb right into the field by the trees over here to try and have some cushion. I was probably hitting the ground at about 80, 90 miles per hour.”

Pete Eason saw it happen and rushed to help.   Eason said, “I saw how low they were and I said that’s awful low and then when I heard the engine stop I was like they crashed so I ran outside and jumped on my wheeler and went looking for them.”    He found D’Angelo and the girl unharmed; they were able to walk to the street where police were waiting.

It wasn’t until then they learned another plane was involved and both its pilot and 14-year-old passenger had died.   “The fact that we lost two people is really, it’s very hard,” said D’Angelo.  He didn’t know the other pilot, but knew he was experienced.

D’Angelo said, “The other plane is a heavier plane, it’s all aluminum and my plane is made of fabric; it’s made of cloth and tubes and I can’t imagine how hitting my plane, the damage was enough that he couldn’t recover.”

D’Angelo’s plane was removed from the field in Alden Sunday. It lost a wing in the crash landing; investigators plan to re-attach it to help them figure out what went wrong.


The pilot who made a emergency landing after Saturday’s fatal mid-air collision spoke Sunday afternoon after authorities removed his aircraft from a field at the Lancaster-Alden border.

As a pilot with over 33 years experience and over 4,000 flying hours, Kevin D’Angelo said he’s trained to handle situations like these and knew he had to maintain his cool to land his Searey amateur-built aircraft the safest way possible.  D’Angelo said it was a beautiful day to be up in the skies. He’d already taken up one child as part of the Flying Eagles program and he was on his second flight Saturday when tragedy struck.

D’Angelo had no idea at the time that his plane had collided mid-air with the Cessna 172 aircraft, which was carrying a 78-year-old pilot and a 14-year-old boy.  D’Angelo said his plane went out of control. He turned east and used the throttle to land at about 80 miles an hour in the field off Kieffer Road and wound up in the bushes.

“We ended up in the shrubs and it was amazing, we were surrounded by shrubs, it was like we were dropped there form above. I looked at my little girl and she was looking at me like “what’s going on?” and I said honey, it’s okay, we’re going to get out of the plane now,” said D’Angelo.

D’Angelo said it’s hard knowing that lives were lost Saturday. He offered his condolences to the family of the man and young boy.

His plane is now off to the Lancaster Police Department for further investigation.

Story and Video:

Progressive Aerodyne Searey, N89KD
 September 27, 2014
Cessna 172M,  N9679H 
September 27, 2014

What a day it was to be. Their flights Saturday morning out of a small Lancaster airport in single-engine aircraft would introduce them to recreational aviation.

But soon after takeoff, two planes collided. A 9-year-old girl walked away safely. The other child, a boy, was killed.

The two youngsters and volunteer pilots were taking part in an event at the Buffalo-Lancaster Regional Airport designed to introduce young people to the wonders of flight.
And what some witnesses saw was shocking.

“It was awful,” said Patricia Harmon, who heard the collision and looked up.

On a sun-splashed autumn morning, Harmon was working in her yard on Town Line Road when she heard a crack from above. She looked up to see two small airplanes in distress after clipping one another.

One, an amateur-built Searey, spun off to the east and went out of view. The other, a Cessna 172, plummeted to the earth in front of her house, and she heard it slam to the ground behind a thicket of trees hundreds of yards off.

She called 911. And later, as police and firefighters crowded the street, Harmon hoped aloud that no children were on those planes.

But there had been.

The bodies of the boy and his pilot were found with their arms crossed in front of them, as if bracing for the impact, said a person who reached the crumpled aircraft.

The pilot of the other plane the plane down in a farm field in Alden as it started breaking apart, scattering bits of debris through residential yards.

The girl and her pilot walked away safely uninjured.

Names of the crash victims had not been released as of late Saturday.

The event was sponsored by the local chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association, an international organization of pilots and aviation enthusiasts.

Some 60 kids between the ages 7 to 17 turned out at the small airport on Walden Avenue to take flight on a gorgeous Saturday morning as part of this Young Eagles rally.

Flights began around 9 a.m., organizers said.

Parents sign a release form before their kids are matched with one of the area pilots who volunteered both their time and planes to show their young passengers what it’s like to fly, said Dick Knapinski, a spokesman for the aviation group.

The kids are shown around the aircraft and how it works, before they’re taken on a short 15 to 20 minute flight.

Their parents wait for them below at the airport.

But the event came to a tragic end at about 10:40 a.m., when the Cessna and Searey clipped each other in midair about six miles east-southeast of the small Lancaster airfield, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Up and down Town Line Road, the reaction was the same as stunned neighbors learned that children out for an adventure were up in those airplanes. Chins trembled. Tears formed.

“Oh, God,” someone said.

And small groups of people went quiet.

Word reached the Lancaster airport, where both planes had taken off with their young passengers. A mother collapsed and became inconsolable, one official said. A father drove to Town Line Road, then fought through the tangle of tree limbs and branches to reach the scene himself, said a neighbor who watched the effort.

David Sienkiewicz, who lives at Town Line Road and Jane Drive, helped clear away limbs and brush so the rescuers could make their way to the Cessna. He saw the tail standing straight up against the blue sky and realized survival would have been unlikely. Then he was told he should go, and he did.

Sienkiewicz’s father-in-law lives over on Kieffer Road in Alden. Like Patricia Harmon, Allen Wadsworth heard a crack from above and looked up to see the two planes trying to right themselves.

“I heard this crashing noise, and looked up,” Wadsworth said. “I saw a plane as I looked toward Town Line Road. It veered off toward the right. The other plane flipped and spiraled down to the ground. I heard the thud.”

Concerned about his daughter and son-in-law, Wadsworth then drove toward Town Line Road, to make sure they were safe. He did not know the pilot of the second aircraft was sputtering to an emergency landing in a farm field off of Kieffer Road, not far from his home.

“My heart goes out to the families,” said Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, who arrived at the scene Saturday afternoon. Earlier in the day, he tweeted out his hope that people leave the plane debris where it is so it can be examined by the National Transportation Safety Board investigators who are expected to arrive today.

Because Town Line Road splits the towns of Alden and Lancaster, two police agencies were involved. Lancaster Police Chief Gerald J. Gill Jr. said he was unable to say when he would be able to release the identities of the victims who died in his town.

Capt. Gregory Savage of the Erie County Sheriff’s Office, which took control of the scene on Kieffer Road, said the pilot who survived could not initially explain the event.

“He himself, when I spoke to him, was not exactly sure what had happened,” Savage told reporters.

The Experimental Aircraft Association released a statement Saturday that its thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of the pilot and the little boy.

“It’s a very sad time when you have a very rare incident like this,” Knapinski said. “You feel for not only the families of the pilot and the person involved, but all the people that work so hard to promote aviation and make these events possible for young people.”

The organization was founded in the 1950s by a small group of people who built and restored aircraft, but has grown to 185,000 members around the world who are interested in recreational aviation, Knapinski said.

It started the Young Eagles program in 1992, Knapinski said.

Since then, he said, nearly 1.9 million children have been taken up in a plane as part of the aviation program.

“It’s a wonderful program,” said Paul Pedersen, who oversees the local chapter. “It’s relatively safe. Safer than driving in a car really.”

There was one other fatal crash involving the Young Eagles program, Knapinski said. It occurred in Washington in 2006, he said, when a pilot and his two young passengers were killed.

- Source:

National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) officials leave the crash site of two small planes in Lancaster, N.Y., on Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. The Federal Aviation Administration  said the planes collided about six miles east-southeast of Buffalo-Lancaster Regional Airport at about 10:40 a.m. Saturday. The crash killed the pilot of one plane and a boy who was a passenger. 
 (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)


The Progressive Aerodyne Searey, an experimental aircraft which the pilot and passenger survived, and was involved in a mid-air collision of another plane that resulted in two fatalities, is towed out of the crash site in Alden, N.Y., Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014. 
(AP Photo/Gary Wiepert) 
Kevin D'Angelo, the pilot who survived the mid air collision with another plane, watches the Progressive Aerodyne Searey that he built get towed away from the crash site in Alden, N.Y., Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014.