Friday, October 10, 2014

Marsh S-2F3AT Turbo Tracker, California Dept of Forestry and Fire Protection, N449DF: Fatal accident occurred October 08, 2014 in El Portal, California

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR15GA005
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Tuesday, October 07, 2014 in El Portal, CA
Aircraft: MARSH AVIATION S 2F3AT, registration: N449DF
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 public aircraft accident report.

On October 7, 2014, about 1630 Pacific daylight time, a Marsh Aviation S-2F3AT airplane, N449DF, call sign tanker 81, was destroyed by impact with terrain and a postcrash fire while maneuvering in the Yosemite National Park, near El Portal, California. The airplane was registered to and operated by Cal Fire under contract to the National Parks Service, as a visual flight rules (VFR), public use aerial firefighting tanker. The airline transport pilot, the sole occupant, received fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight that departed Columbia Airport (O22), Columbia, California.

According to a Forest Service spokesman, the airplane was stationed at the airbase at Hollister, California, and had been dispatched to the Dog Rock fire. The airplane arrived on scene, and made one drop on the fire, then proceeded to the Columbia Airport to be reloaded with fire retardant.

During the aerial firefighting operations, in addition to the aerial tanker, 2 other aircraft were used; an orbiting aerial controller that coordinated aerial operations with ground units; and a "lead plane" that tracked ahead of the tanker to define the route and the drop initiation point.

Upon returning to the fire scene, the accident airplane had coordinated its next drop with the orbiting aerial coordinator, and was following the lead airplane. The crew of the lead airplane did not see the accident. The crew of the controller airplane reported that the accident airplane may have struck a tree with its wing, which separated from the airplane. Both aircrews reported that there was smoke in the area, but visibility was good.

On October 9, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge and an additional NTSB investigator arrived on scene. Also on scene were representatives (investigators) of the U.S.D.A Office of Aviation Safety (OAS), National Parks Service (NPS), U.S Forest Service (USFS), and CAL FIRE.

 California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Geoffrey Craig Hunt was killed Tuesday when his plane crashed while battling a wildfire in Yosemite National Park.

The air tanker that went down while fighting a wildfire near Yosemite National Park this week, killing the pilot, did not appear to have mechanical issues, officials announced Friday.

The finding by National Transportation Safety Board investigators prompted state fire officials to lift an order that had grounded California's fleet of S-2T air tankers.

"We are comfortable to say that we don’t see anything that leads us to any mechanical issues," Josh Cawthra, an NTSB investigator, told reporters.

He added that his agency had concluded its on-scene investigation into the crash that killed veteran pilot Geoffrey "Craig" Hunt, but will have to wait until the Dog Rock fire is extinguished before the wreckage can be removed from the area.

The blaze has burned 245 acres at the edge of the park and is 10% contained, park officials said.

"It’s a very complex investigation. We essentially leave no stone unturned," Cawthra said.

The plane, an S-2T tanker that carries 1,200 gallons of fire retardant, crashed near El Portal inside Yosemite on Tuesday afternoon.

Hunt, a 13-year veteran, was alone in the plane and was making his second drop for the day when the crash occurred.

"This accident is extremely tragic," he said. "These pilots put their lives out there on the line."

Despite the delay in moving the plane, investigators can continue with other elements of the probe, including reviewing digital recordings associated with the flight. Investigators are expected to interview witnesses, examine radio communications, radar data and any video of the flight that may be out there, said NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway.

Because the plane was not a commercial airliner, it doesn’t have a black box, Holloway said, adding that nine of out 10 flight crashes the NTSB investigates don’t involve black boxes.

A preliminary report on the crash could be issued in the next five business days, officials said, with the final report taking as long as 18 months.

Meanwhile, Ken Pimlott, chief of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, said normal flight operations, as well as routine inspections, would be allowed to resume immediately.

Most pilots were eager to start flying again after the fleet was grounded right after the crash, but he said all had been urged to take whatever precautions they felt necessary before returning to the skies.

"We just want to make sure they are comfortable and they are ready," Pimlott said.

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Cessna T310R, N654DE: Incident occurred October 09, 2014 at South Jersey Regional Airport (KVAY), Lumberton, New Jersey

Aircraft landed gear up.

FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Teterboro FSDO-25

Robinson R66, Robinson Helicopter Co., N646AG: Fatal accident occurred July 27, 2013 in Noxen, Pennsylvania

NTSB Identification: ERA13FA336
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 27, 2013 in Noxen, PA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/06/2014
Aircraft: ROBINSON R66, registration: N646AG
Injuries: 5 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The flight departed under visual flight rules (VFR) and then obtained VFR flight following before proceeding in a southeasterly direction. About 28 minutes after takeoff, while flying about 3,000 feet mean sea level over a sparsely populated and heavily wooded area with few ground reference lights, the flight likely encountered light rain. The pilot flew south of a wind turbine, initiated an approximate 180-degree left turn with 300 feet altitude loss, then began following a dirt road associated with the wind turbines. After completion of the turn he advised the controller, "...we're inadvertent IMC [instrument meteorological conditions], reversing..." and asked for a heading to the nearest airport. The controller asked the pilot if he wanted a vector to the nearest airport and also if the flight was in IMC, but there was no reply. The controller provided a heading for a vector to a nearby airport but the pilot did not respond. The flight continued in the same orientation following the course reversal, flying past another wind turbine before turning right; the controller again advised the pilot of the direction to the nearest airport. The pilot immediately responded that he was, "...having trouble maintaining control here." The controller informed the pilot that the nearest airport was heading 068 degrees and 8 miles away, and the recorded radar data indicates the pilot flew a north-northeasterly heading with changes in altitude noted. The comments from the pilot followed by the maneuvering (changes in altitude and heading) were consistent with the known effects of spatial disorientation. Radio and radar contact were lost; the helicopter descended on an east-northeasterly heading into trees and terrain in a heavily wooded area away from any nearby wind turbines. 

Postaccident examination of the helicopter revealed extensive impact damage, although there was no evidence of a preimpact failure with the flight controls, drive line, or structure. The engine was found to operate normally and data downloaded from the engine monitoring unit indicates no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. 

While there was no record of an official preflight weather briefing before departure, a text message from the non-instrument rated pilot to his brother approximately 1 hour before departure stating, "...Waiting out weather to fly back to [Ocean City, MD] tonight" indicates that to some extent he was aware of the weather. Had the pilot obtained an official preflight weather briefing for the intended VFR flight, the briefing specialist likely would have advised him against VFR flight due to IMC (ceiling less than 1,000 feet and visibility less than 3 miles) and mountain obscuration that were forecast to exist in the accident area.

Although the left seat occupant was a student pilot, it is unlikely the pilot-in-command was giving him instruction during the accident flight. While operation of a helicopter with decreased ceiling and visibility can be safely performed, the environmental conditions in the accident site area consisting of a sparsely populated heavily wooded area with few ground reference lights and no illumination from the moon were indicators that VFR flight should not have continued.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's decision to continue VFR flight into night instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in spatial disorientation and a loss of control.


On July 27, 2013, about 2220 eastern daylight time, a Robinson Helicopter Company R66 helicopter N646AG, operated by a private individual, collided with trees and terrain near Noxen, Pennsylvania. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the area at the time and no flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight from Tri-Cities Airport (CZG), Endicott, New York, to Jake Arner Memorial Airport (22N), Lehighton, Pennsylvania. The helicopter was destroyed and the commercial-rated pilot and 4 passengers were fatally injured. The flight originated from CZG about 2151.

The flight departed VFR, and at 2153, the non-instrument rated pilot contacted Binghamton Approach Control and advised the controller that the flight had just departed CZG, and was requesting visual flight rules (VFR) flight following. The controller provided the altimeter setting (30.00 inches of Mercury) and asked the pilot the destination and requested altitude, to which he replied 22N, and 3,000 feet msl.

A discrete transponder code was assigned (4606), and the flight was radar identified 3 miles southwest of CZG. The flight proceeded in a southwesterly direction flying about 3,000 feet until about 2157, then turned to a south-southeasterly heading while flying between 2,600 and 3,000 feet msl. 

At 2204, air traffic control communications were transferred to Wilkes-Barre Approach Control; the pilot established contact with that facility advising the controller that the flight was level at 3,000 feet msl. The Wilkes-Barre Approach controller acknowledged the transmission, and issued an altimeter setting of 30.00 inches of Mercury. While in contact with that facility the flight proceeded in a southeasterly direction with altitude and slight heading changes until about 2219, at which time recorded radar reflects a left turn to a northwesterly direction. Correlation of the radar targets from recordings of the Wilkes-Barre airport surveillance radar with locations of wind turbines in the area revealed that between 2218:55, and 2219:00, the helicopter flew west of the B-26 wind turbine, and continued in a southeasterly direction, then when turning to a northwesterly direction about 2219:19, the pilot flew just south of the B-21 wind turbine. The radar targets depict the flight path above and adjacent to a road associated with the wind turbines while turning to a northwesterly direction; no determination could be made whether the pilot had visual contact with the road. At 2219:40, while just east of the B-16 wind turbine, the pilot advised the controller, "we're inadvertent IMC, reversing ah, can you give us a heading to the nearest airport, please."

The controller asked the pilot if he wanted a heading to the nearest airport and if the flight was in IFR conditions but the pilot did not respond to that transmission. The radar data reflects that the helicopter continued in a northwesterly direction until 2219:53. About 6 seconds later, the controller instructed the pilot to fly heading 068 degrees for vectors to an airport, to which he replied 5 seconds later "6 alpha golf having trouble maintaining control here." The helicopter at that time was located about 1,105 feet east-southeast of the previous radar target 10 seconds earlier, and had descended from 2,800 to 2,600 feet msl.

The radar data from Wilkes-Barre Approach reflects that between 2220:03 and 2220:17, the flight proceeded in a northeasterly heading with some altitude deviation noted. The controller then asked the pilot, "helicopter 6AG ah you having trouble maintaining altitude sir", to which the pilot immediately replied, "Affirmative 6AG." The radar data reflected that between 2220:17, and 2220:27, the helicopter descended from 2,600 to 2,300 feet, though the coordinates remained unchanged. Radio and radar contact were lost. The pilot of a nearby airline flight attempted to communicate with the pilot at 2221, but there was no reply.

The helicopter crashed on privately owned wooded land leased to an energy company; there were no known witnesses to the accident that occurred during a dark night.

A 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter (ELT) signal was received at the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) at 2224, and the Pennsylvania State Police and State Emergency Operations Center were notified. A search was initiated, but adverse weather (heavy fog) caused the search to be called off in the early morning hours. The search resumed several hours later when the weather conditions improved; the wreckage was located on July 28, 2013, about 1350.


The pilot seated in the right seat, age 30, held a commercial pilot certificate with rotorcraft helicopter rating issued January 19, 2012. He also held a certified flight instructor certificate with rotorcraft helicopter rating issued February 25, 2012. He was issued a first class medical certificate with no limitations on April 30, 2012. On the application for his last medical certificate he listed a total time of 350 hours.

His 2nd pilot logbook contained entries from the first dated February 12, 2013, to the last dated July 21, 2013. He carried forward a total flight time of 952 hours, 14.5 hours simulated instrument time, and 6.0 hours turbine powered rotorcraft helicopter, though the make and model helicopter was not specified. Including his carry forward time he logged a total time of approximately 1,328 hours, of which 1,274 hours were as pilot-in-command. He did not log any simulated or actual instrument flight time in the 2nd pilot logbook. Excluding the unlogged flights after July 21, 2013, he logged a total of approximately 92 hours night flight time, of which approximately 5 hours were in the previous 90 days, and 0.3 hour, or 18 minutes was logged in the previous 30 days. The last logged night flight occurred on July 16, 2013, and was flown in a Robinson R22.

Further review of his 2nd logbook revealed an entry dated July 19, 2013 indicating his attendance of a R66 helicopter pilot safety course at the manufacturer's facility. A total of approximately 1 hour was logged in the R66 helicopter.

Documents provided by Robinson Helicopter Company associated with the pilot/flight instructor safety course revealed that on the application dated June 28, 2013, he listed in part having accrued 1,306 hours total helicopter hours, and 6 hours in R66 helicopters. Ground training was conducted July 15 through July 18, 2013, and on July 19, 2013, an approximately 1.0 hour flight was conducted in an R66 helicopter. On the "Instructor/Pilot Evaluation" form for training conducted in the R66, the instructor indicated his proficiency was above average in "Knowledge" with a comment indicating, "Well studied on systems." He was marked average for the remainder of the maneuvers, and a comment in the General Comments section indicated, "Flew well – no problems noted. Taking delivery of R-66 today." In addition, he was approved to transition other pilot's in Robinson R66 helicopters.

Following completion of the pilot/flight instructor safety course at the manufacturer's facility, he and another pilot flew the helicopter during the course of several flights over a 3 day period from California to Hampton Roads Executive Airport (PVG), Norfolk, Virginia. While the pilot logged the time (approximately 19.6 hours) as dual received and pilot-in-command, the other individual who flew with him and who is a certified flight instructor reported flying the helicopter 7.4 hours. He also indicated he did not give the accident pilot any flight instruction during any of the flights, and further, he did not sign his pilot logbook indicating he had given him flight instruction. The individual who flew with the accident pilot reported there were no discrepancies with the helicopter, and all systems worked OK with no squawks noted. After an uneventful arrival in Virginia at PVG, the other pilot departed, and the accident pilot flew the helicopter to Ocean City Municipal Airport (OXB), Ocean City, Maryland; the flight duration was logged to be approximately 1 hour, and there were no further logged flights in the accident helicopter.

Data downloaded from the Engine Monitoring Unit (EMU) correlated with unlogged flights in the pilot's pilot logbook revealed he accrued approximately 7 hours, bringing his total time to 1,335 hours. On the accident date including the accident flight, the helicopter was operated on 6 flights totaling approximately 6 hours.

The occupant seated in the left front seat was issued a student pilot medical certificate on February 19, 2013, with a restriction to wear corrective lenses. On the application for the medical certificate he listed 10 hours flight time.


The helicopter was manufactured by Robinson Helicopter Company in 2013, under a production certificate issued on October 25, 2010, and designated serial number 0409. It was equipped with a Rolls-Royce 250-C300/A1 engine rated for 270 horsepower for takeoff limited to 5 minutes or 224 horsepower continuous. The helicopter was equipped with 5 seats.

The helicopter was approved for VFR operations day and night. VFR operation at night is permitted only when landing, navigation, instrument, and anti-collision lights are operational. Section 2 of the Pilot's Operating Handbook and FAA Approved Rotorcraft Flight Manual indicates that in "Kinds of Operating Limitations" that orientation during night flight must be maintained by visual reference to ground objects illuminated solely by lights on the ground or adequate celestial illumination.

Review of the airframe and engine logbooks revealed no entries other than those associated with production of the airframe or engine.

According to the hour meter, the elapsed time since manufacture at the time of the accident was 33.08 hours, while the engine monitoring unit indicates a total engine run time of approximately 28 hours, and 18 engine starts.


There was no record with Lockheed Martin AFSS, or either DUAT vendor (CSC or DTC) that the pilot obtained a preflight weather briefing before departure.

Airmet Sierra Update 6, for IFR conditions issued by National Weather Service (NWS) at 1645, and valid until 2300, bordered the immediate vicinity of the accident site. The Airmet indicated that between 2000 and 2300, and continuing beyond 2300 to 0500 the next day, ceilings below 1,000 feet and visibilities below 3 miles with precipitation and mist were forecast. The Airmet for mountain obscuration, which extended over the route and the accident site, indicated that between 1700 and 2000, and continuing beyond 2300 to 0500 the next day, clouds, precipitation, and mist were forecast.

The NWS Weather Depiction Chart for 1800 EDT depicted an area of instrument flight rule (IFR) conditions over eastern Pennsylvania by a shaded contour line due to visibility 2 miles in thunderstorms and moderate rain, which was surrounding by an area of marginal visual flight rule (MVFR) conditions by an unshaded contour line. Multiple stations across western Pennsylvania and New York reported rain and thunderstorms with MVFR conditions.

A surface observation taken from Binghamton Regional Airport (BGM), Binghamton, NY, at 2142, or approximately 9 minutes before the flight departed indicates the wind was from 190 degrees at 8 knots, the visibility was 2.5 miles with moderate rain and mist, broken clouds existed at 600 feet and 1,400 feet, and overcast clouds existed at 7,000 feet. The temperature and dew point were 19 and 18 degrees Celsius, respectively, and the altimeter setting was 29.99 inches of Mercury (inHg).

At 2045, or approximately 1 hour 6 minutes before the flight departed, the Area Forecast (FA) issued by the National Weather Service Aviation Weather Center indicated that for eastern Pennsylvania, expected broken clouds at 3,500 feet layered to 25,000 feet, with widely scattered thunderstorms and light rain, with cumulonimbus tops to 38,000 feet.

At 2054, or approximately 1 hour before the flight departed, the pilot sent a text message to his brother indicating, "…Waiting out weather to fly back to [Ocean City, MD] tonight." At the same time, a surface observation from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (AVP), Scranton, PA, located approximately 18 miles east-southeast of the accident site reported wind from 220 degrees at 4 knots, 10 miles visibility with light rain, scattered clouds at 7,000 feet, broken clouds at 8,000 feet, and overcast clouds at 10,000 feet. The temperature and dew point were 22 and 18 degrees Celsius, respectively, and the altimeter setting was 30.00 in Hg. 

At 2100, or approximately 51 minutes before the flight departed, the Weather Depiction Chart depicted a larger area of MVFR conditions extending over across western and central New York and northern Pennsylvania along and ahead of the approaching frontal system. The accident site was located in the area of MVFR conditions. Visual flight rule (VFR) conditions were depicted across southern Pennsylvania into Maryland, with the station models depicted overcast sky coverage.

The GOES-13 infrared satellite imagery for 2202 and 2232 EDT respectively with a standard MB temperature enhance curve applied to highlight the higher and colder cloud tops typically associated with convective activity. The images depict an extensive area of low clouds over the region with a north-to-south band of enhanced clouds moving over the route of flight at the time of the accident, with the radiative cloud top temperatures corresponding to cloud tops between 29,000 and 33,500 feet.

The closest Weather Surveillance Radar-1988, Doppler (WSR-88D) to the accident site was from the NWS Binghamton (KBGM) located approximately 46 miles north of the accident site, at an elevation of 1,606 feet. Based on the radar height calculations, the 0.5 degree elevation scan depicted the conditions encompassing the altitude between 3,230 and 7,860 feet over the accident site, with the floor just above the helicopters altitude. The KBGM 0.5 degree base reflectivity image at 2220 EDT depicts the accident site area with light reflectivity values of 15 to 20 dBZ, and several high reflectivity echoes on the range of 50 dBZ east of the general route of flight associated with embedded thunderstorms with one of the cells immediately north of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport (AVP), which was reporting IFR conditions in heavy rain at the time.

A remote automated weather station RAWS located about 24 miles northwest of the accident site reported at 2201, or approximately 19 minutes before the accident, that the wind was calm, the temperature and dew point were 67 and 66 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively, and the relative humidity was 95 percent.

A surface observation taken from AVP at 2221, or approximately 1 minute after the accident indicates the wind was variable at 4 knots, the visibility was 1.25 miles with heavy rain and mist, runway 04 visual range (RVR) 4,000 variable 6,000 feet, a few clouds at 600 feet, broken clouds at 1200 feet, and overcast clouds at 4,900 feet. The temperature and dew point were 19 and 18 degrees Celsius, respectively, and the altimeter setting was 30.00 inHg.

A RAWS located approximately 15 miles north-northeast of the accident site reported at 2229, or approximately 9 minutes after the accident, that the wind was calm, the temperature and dew point were 66 and 62 degrees Fahrenheit, respectively, the relative humidity was 88 percent, and rain was being recorded at the time of the observation.

Based on the approximate location of the accident, sunset occurred at 2025, and the end of civil twilight occurred at 2056. The Sun and the Moon were more than 15 degrees below the horizon and provided no illumination.


The helicopter was equipped with an Engine Monitoring Unit (EMU) that is a digital recording device mounted behind the right rear seatback panel. The EMU records and retains data consisting of total engine run time, an engine start counter (whenever N1 exceeds 30 percent and Measured Gas Temperature (MGT) is at least 343 degrees Celsius), and exceedances for N1, N1 run limit, N2 transient, N2 run limit, Torque Meter Oil Pressure (TMOP) transient, TMOP exceedance, TMOP run limit, MGT transient start- up mode, MGT start-up mode, MGT run limit start up, MGT transient run mode, MGT run mode, MGT run limit run mode, and torque. The EMU also records and retains data consisting of flight history (date, engine start time and duration), and in 1 second increments N1 and N2 speeds in percent, TMOP psi, and MGT in Fahrenheit.

Data downloaded from the revealed that the accident flight and 17 previous flights were recorded; 1 entry totaling 4 seconds on July 19, 2013 was noted but was not attributed to a flight. There were no recorded exceedances for any of the flights. Data associated with the accident flight totaled approximately 37 minutes 35 seconds; an approximate 14 second gap of data was noted between 0222:32 and 0222:46 Universal Coordinated Time (UTC), or between 2222:32 and 2222:46 local EMU time.

Review of the recorded data associated with the accident flight revealed that slight variation to N2 below 100 percent was noted for about 6 minutes 49 seconds after the first recorded data point, or until 0152:00.500 (2152:00.500 local), at which time the N2 (equivalent to main rotor speed), and TMOP were recorded to be consistently above 100 percent and 50 psi, respectively. The recorded N2 readings were nearly constant with slight changes for the next 29 minutes 17 seconds, or until 0221:17.312 (2221:17.312), while the TMOP readings were nearly constant with slight changes notes between 0152:00.500 (2152:00.500 local) and 0220:40.312 (2220:40.312), at which time the TMOP began to decrease. Changes to recorded TMOP occurred from then until 0222:46.937 (2222:46.937 hours local), which was the last recorded data point. A copy of the recorded data associated with the accident flight downloaded from the EMU is contained in the NTSB public docket.


The helicopter crashed in a heavy wooded area owned by several family members, who leased the land to an energy company which installed 88 wind turbines. According to the site manager, on the date and time of the accident, the wind turbines were down for maintenance and Notice to Airman # 07/025 was disseminated indicating the wind turbines were not illuminated. The site manager also advised that there was no damage to any of the wind turbines, and they do not have any cameras or recording equipment on them.

Examination of the accident site revealed damage to trees at decreasing heights and debris along an energy path oriented on a magnetic heading of 074 degrees. Major parts of the helicopter consisting of the main rotor assembly, mast, transmission, tail rotor assembly, and horizontal and vertical stabilizers were separated from the helicopter and located along the energy path southwest of the resting portion of the main wreckage. Numerous cockpit and cabin furnishings as well as cockpit and cabin doors, landing gear pieces, and personal effects were also located along the energy path. There was no smell of fuel at the accident site, and no evidence of fire. The accident site was not located near any wind turbines.

Further inspection of the accident site revealed the farthest identified impacted trees were located at 41.4546 degrees North latitude and 076.0926 degrees West longitude. The trees were nearly aligned and perpendicular to the energy path and were about 16 feet apart. When viewed from that location towards the resting point of the main wreckage, the tree to the left was damaged at an estimated height of 55 feet above ground level (agl), while the tree to the right was damaged 45.12 feet agl (measured using Theodolite App). A distance of 59.05 feet existed between the estimated impact point in the creek bed and the tree that was fractured 45.12 feet agl, while the calculated angle between the two points was 27.5 degrees.

The main portion of the wreckage consisting of the fuselage was inverted near the base of 2 trees adjacent to a creek; the wreckage was located at 41.4547 degrees North latitude and 076.0923 degrees West longitude. It came to rest on a magnetic heading of 040 degrees magnetic. The fuel tank was drained following recovery of the wreckage and found to contain 54 gallons of jet fuel; no contaminants were noted. A small amount of a liquid with the appearance and odor of Jet A fuel was drained from the fuel line to the fuel pump when the line was detached from the fuel pump. No breaches of the fuel system were noted, and there was no evidence of fuel spillage on the ground.

The airframe was almost completely destroyed. The main rotor and gearbox were detached from the airframe, with the mast fairing remaining attached to the mast tube. The mast fairing exhibited a large dent on the trailing edge, which corresponded to the bent mast tube and main rotor mast. The rear fuselage was intact and the rear cowling was attached. The tailcone was bent and wrapped around the left side of the airframe. The tailcone was separated in the approximate center of the 5th bay. The remaining 2 ½ bays were intact, but detached from the empennage. There was a large dent on the upper surface of the aft 2 bays. The empennage was intact. The lower vertical stabilizer was bent approximately 90 degrees rearward, and there was a circular shaped dent at the intersection between the lower vertical and horizontal stabilizers. The dent contained wood debris and bark scrapings. The tail rotor visual guard was fractured at the front of the lower vertical stabilizer. The forward end remained attached to the tailcone and the aft portion was attached to the lower vertical stabilizer.

Inspection of the flight controls revealed numerous fractures; however, there was no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction. Inspection of the driveline revealed no evidence of preimpact failure or malfunction.

Examination of the firewall revealed it was deformed in several places and rotational scoring from the engine output shaft at the firewall penetration point was noted. The fuel cut-off valve was in a forward, or off position, and the control cable was detached from the control arm. The control cable sheath was secure in the retention clamps. The cable end was not visible protruding from the end of the sheath, and the sheath exhibited stretching and separation of the coils between the engine and the control in the cabin.

The cockpit was fragmented, and flight and engine instruments were located along the energy path. Additionally, the instrument panel was separated. All of the removable controls were installed. The collective was in a full up position, and the friction slider was straight and was fractured at the lower end. The pilot's throttle twist grip was in the "on" or "flight position."

Inspection of the separated instrument panel revealed it contained the airspeed indicator, faceplate of the turn coordinator, and directional gyro. The housing of the turn coordinator was separated from the panel, and was accounted for at the accident site. The annunciator panel contains LED type lights; therefore, no determination could be made as to whether there were any annunciations at the time of the accident.

Inspection of the engine and engine compartment revealed the throttle valve on the engine right side was in a rearward, or 'flight' position, and the control cable was detached from the control arm. The control cable sheath was secure in the retention clamps. The cable end was not visible protruding from the end of the sheath, and the sheath exhibited stretching and separation of the coils between the engine and the control in the cabin. The power turbine governor (PTG) needle was in a position between 30 and 40, and the control cable and linkage was intact and secure. The PTG 'beep' control actuator when tested by hand. The F642-1 shaft was separated at the flex couplings at both ends. At the engine end, 1 flexplate ear was torn and one F906-1 yoke arm was torn. At the main rotor gearbox (MRGB) end, assembly was intact and in place. The sprag clutch unit locked and free-wheeled normally the flexplate arms were torn on opposite sides, and one MRGB input yoke arm was separated from both the flexplate and the input "shaft".

Main rotor blade SN 0950 exhibited a fractured spar was broken at approximately 6 feet from the coning bolt, and the tip of the blade was detached, but accounted for at the accident site. The blade skin/honeycomb was damaged at tip. There was a gentle upward bend over the inboard 6 feet of the blade, and again for the outboard 4 feet of blade. Wood was embedded in the spar of the blade at the tip. Some minor dents and one tear were visible on the lower skin. 2 small pieces of the removable tip cap were located. The spindle tusk was intact.

Main rotor blade SN 0954 "exhibited a 90 degree downward bend approximately 90 inches from coning bolt, with a partial spar fracture, and spar separated at 160 inches from coning bolt. Skin/honeycomb portion detached from spar at separation, and was not located. The outboard approximate 36 inches of main rotor blade was later accounted for; the spindle tusk was intact. A report concerning the separated outboard section of main rotor blade is contained in the NTSB public docket.

Examination of the engine revealed it exhibited little visible damage. The output shaft/sprag clutch assembly exhibited significant damage. The engine which was secure in its mount points was removed, and sent to the manufacturer's facility, where with FAA oversight, it was placed in a test cell and found to operate normally. The report from the manufacturer and statement from the FAA inspector that witnessed the engine run are contained in the NTSB public docket.


Postmortem examinations of the pilot and left seat occupant were performed by Forensic Associates of NEPA, Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania. The cause of death for both was listed as multiple traumatic injuries.

External examinations only were performed on the remaining occupants. The cause of death for all was listed as multiple traumatic injuries.

Forensic toxicology was performed on specimens of the pilot and left seat occupant by the FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The toxicology report for the pilot stated the results were negative for carbon monoxide, volatiles, and tested drugs, while testing for cyanide was not performed.

The toxicology report for the left seat occupant stated the results were negative for volatiles and tested drugs, while the specimens were unsuitable for carbon monoxide testing; testing for cyanide was not performed.


The first uncorrelated radar target at 2151:34, was located at 42 degrees 04 seconds 23.88 seconds North latitude and 076 degrees 06 minutes 23.40 seconds West longitude, or about 0.42 nautical miles from the center of a ramp at the departure airport. Review of the EMU recorded data revealed the estimated takeoff was at EMU time 0152:00.500 (2152:00.500). No determination could be made as to how the helicopter proceeded between the EMU time estimated at takeoff and the first uncorrelated radar target.

Correlation of the EMU data with the transmissions from the pilot and the radar data indicates that the changes to the TMOP from the near steady state condition after takeoff occurred about 4 seconds after the pilot advised the controller that the flight was inadvertent IMC, which also was at a point when changes in heading and altitude were noted.


Weight and Balance Data

At the time of manufacture, the basic empty weight was 1,346.2 pounds and the empty weight moment was 146392. No modifications were recorded in the maintenance records between the time of manufacture and the accident flight.

Baggage and personal effects that were found either in bags in the baggage compartment, on the ground adjacent to the main wreckage, or loose at the accident site were recovered and secured at a facility of the Pennsylvania State Police. The items that were wet were air dried, and the weight of all items was determined to be 159.5 pounds.

Weight and balance calculations were performed using the empty weight of the helicopter (1,346.2 pounds), the weight of the pilot and left front seat occupant per the Coroner (140 and 170 pounds), respectively. The weights of the rear seat occupants from left to right also reported by the coroner were 127, 33, and 190 pounds, respectively. Additionally, the calculations included the weight of the luggage (159.5 pounds), and full usable fuel amount of 493.1 pounds. The calculations determined that at the moment of engine start, the gross weight was 2,658.8 pounds.

According to the helicopter type certificate data sheet, the design gross weight is 2,700 pounds.

Spatial Disorientation

According to Advisory Circular (AC) 60-4A titled, "Pilot's Spatial Disorientation," surface references and the natural horizon may become obscured even though visibility may be above VFR minimums and that an inability to perceive the natural horizon or surface references is common during flights over water, at night, in sparsely populated areas, and in low-visibility conditions.

From the editorial page 
4:55 p.m. EDT October 10, 2014

Most Tier motorists know enough to stay off the roads when a sheet of ice coats the highway. Even the most macho truck driver knows to pull over at the nearest rest stop when weather makes it too dangerous to navigate treacherous road conditions.

Drivers aren't forced off the road by state or federal law. Common sense warns them of the real potential for catastrophe if they dare to continue driving at normal speeds and fail to slow down when faced with less than ideal road conditions.

Evidently, some novice airplane and helicopter pilots are either too proud or too self-assured to observe the same caution as most motorists. They hope to "beat" the weather, or they believe their piloting skills are more advanced than they actually are. Some pilots are overconfident; others underestimate the weather conditions on takeoff and still others run into an unexpected turn in the weather while in flight. The results are often fatal for themselves and their passengers.

A recent analysis of National Transportation Safety Board data by reporter Steve Reilly revealed that at least 533 general aviation accidents between 1983 and 2013 were the result of pilots who lacked the proper credentials to fly in less than ideal weather conditions. Those accidents resulted in 955 deaths.

No one — air traffic controllers or any regulations from the Federal Aviation Administration — can stop these less experienced pilots from taking off when weather conditions worsen. Although federal regulations mandate non-instrument-rated pilots stay grounded in inclement weather, experts and officials say it is virtually impossible to keep pilots from violating them.

The unqualified flights cost uncounted millions of dollars in property damage and expenses for emergency responses and investigations.

When non-instrument-rated David Jenny took flight in a helicopter from Endicott's Tri-Cities Airport on the night of July 27, 2013, he apparently failed to obtain pre-flight weather briefings prior to takeoff. When he encountered bad weather about a half-hour into his flight that required skills beyond his level, he made a desperate call to air traffic controllers, looking for a safe landing spot. It was too late. Moments later, the helicopter went down in a wooded section of Pennsylvania's Wyoming County. The resulting crash took the lives the pilot and his four passengers, including a 3-year-old boy.

Though pilot training stresses the dangers of flying in instrument conditions, many still ignore the advice, thinking they can get by on their wits and their limited skills. Too often, they are wrong. The results, as they were in this case, are tragic.

Most pilots exercise sound judgment. Those who do not put their own lives, and often the lives of others, in danger.

The Federal Aviation Administration needs to develop a system to protect these unqualified pilots from themselves. Give amateur pilots an identifying code that would show air control if a pilot had sufficient qualifications for instrument flying. If adverse weather conditions exist, they can refuse to provide further flight information. Or, the FAA could develop another procedure that would protect passengers and those on the ground from amateur pilots who fail to exercise good judgment.

What's next

The Federal Aviation Administration should have tighter rein on pilots not capable of flying in adverse weather conditions.

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Pilot David Jenny posted a photo to his Facebook page on Saturday, July 27, 2013 shortly before the group left for the flight with the caption: 'Raiding the kitchen before we head out.' From left are: Pilot David Ernest Jenny Jr., 31, of Towson, Md.; Noah Robert McKain Woodland, 3, of Leesburg, Va.; Woodland's father, Carl Robert Woodland, 29, of Lovettsville, Va.; Leanna Mee Kelly, 27, of Savage, Md.; and her father, Bernard Michael Kelly, 58, of Ellicott City, Md. 

General Electric Unit is in Talks to Buy Milestone Aviation Group: GE Capital-Milestone Deal Could Value Helicopter Lessor at Over $2.5 Billion

The Wall Street Journal
By Dana Cimilluca, Ted Mann and Dana Mattioli

Updated Oct. 10, 2014 5:50 p.m. ET

General Electric Co.’s finance arm is negotiating a deal to buy Milestone Aviation Group Ltd., according to people familiar with the matter, as the industrial giant seeks to expand its aircraft-leasing operation into helicopters.

Milestone, co-founded by NetJets Inc. founder Richard Santulli, has announced plans for an initial public offering of stock. It’s not uncommon for a company exploring an IPO to simultaneously explore a full sale. The purchase price for Milestone could be more than $2.5 billion, according to some of the people.

Milestone, founded in 2010, is the world’s largest helicopter-leasing company by fleet value. Private-equity owned Milestone has acquired a $2.2 billion fleet of helicopters and placed orders for around $3 billion more. The company leases helicopters for uses including flying workers and supplies to and from oil platforms, search and rescue and emergency medical services.

GE Capital Aviation Services, or Gecas, as the unit is called, maintains a fleet of more than 1,600 aircraft it leases to airlines, cargo businesses and other customers. Acquiring Milestone would broaden Gecas’s portfolio beyond the competitive plane-leasing business, as it currently owns no helicopters.

Profits in the GE unit fell in 2013 to $896 million from $1.2 billion, on relatively flat sales of $5.3 billion. The aviation-leasing unit reported assets of $45.9 billion, out of $517 billion across GE Capital’s five businesses.

The company is in the midst of an effort to shrink the overall size of GE Capital, which generates significant profits for the parent company but ran into trouble during the financial crisis. GE management has stepped up its efforts to reshape the finance arm in recent years, including through the IPO this year of its consumer-finance business, which backs store-branded credit cards.

That business, rebranded as Synchrony Financial Inc., is to be fully split off from GE in a tax-free transaction next year, which will substantially reduce the company’s exposure to the consumer credit risks that have irked some investors since the crisis.

GE Chief Executive Jeff Immelt and others close to the company remain bullish on other aspects of GE Capital, which remains a critical portion of the parent’s earnings and is on track to contribute $3 billion in dividends to it this year.

The unit intends to continue shedding consumer-related assets while focusing on its “commercial core,” GE Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Bornstein told investors in July.

The Milestone deal, should it come to fruition, would be the latest sale of an aircraft-leasing operation and could presage more such activity. American International Group Inc. last year agreed to sell control of its big aircraft-leasing business to AerCap Holdings NV for $5.4 billion.

Surging demand for big helicopters from the Sikorsky Aircraft unit of United Technologies Corp. and others has prompted a number of new private equity-backed entrants into the business of renting rotorcraft.

These include Waypoint Leasing, backed by funds linked to the family office of Michael Dell and Soros Fund Management LLC, and Lobo Leasing Ltd., which is backed by Blackstone Group LP.

Analysts have pointed to Waypoint, No. 2 in the helicopter-leasing business after Milestone, as another potential sale or IPO candidate.

—Doug Cameron contributed to this article.

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Beach Flight Aviation's 'trike' makes an impression at National Shrimp Festival, flights available over the beach


GULF SHORES, Alabama -- It may look like a scooter attached to a hang-glider, but Beach Flight Aviation's sport plane, called the "trike," is a real, working aircraft that is drawing a lot of attention in the Outdoor Village vendor area at the 43rd Annual National Shrimp Festival in Gulf Shores. 

Dozens of people at a time are stopping by to check out the three-wheeled, open-cockpit aircraft, with some sitting in the cockpit and posing for photos. It's one of the more popular attractions in the Outdoor Village, which is saying something, two tents down from the Tacky Jacks' chainsaw carving demonstrations (more on those later). 

Beach Flight Aviation began setting up operations out of Jack Edwards Airport in Gulf Shores a few months ago, offering passengers the chance to ride in the trike with a pilot or learn to fly it themselves. Packages start at $95 for a 20-minute flight and progress up to $295 for a 90-minute experience that could go as far as Dauphin Island, weather permitting. 

Beach Flight co-owner Tony Castillo was with one trike on the festival grounds while his partner Gary Berdeaux took flights over the beach in the other. 

Castillo said their most popular routes were from Jack Edwards along Ala. 59 to the beach during the 20-minute flights, or east over Orange Beach for longer trips. But, he said there were possibilities of flying over other destinations. 

"Most people want to see the beach, but flying over the bay is beautiful too," Castillo said. 

The trikes are officially light sport aircraft, subject to FAA regulations like any other plane. Both Castillo and Berdeaux are long-time trike flyers who moved from Kentucky and Atlanta to the Alabama Coast, choosing to set up their new business in Gulf Shores. 
"There's nothing like it in this area," Castillo said. "They have it in California, Florida, Colorado, Hawaii, so we said 'why not here?'"

The sample aircraft is on the festival grounds this weekend at the 43rd National Shrimp Festival, which runs through 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday and until 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information on the trikes, see the Beach Flight Aviation web site, and keep checking for full coverage of the National Shrimp Festival. 

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Kenton County leader: Airport is ours, let us keep control • State auditor calls for change to airport board

FLORENCE —Kenton County's judge-executive says there doesn't need to be changes in the composition of the board that oversees the region's largest airport.

Steve Arlinghaus sent a letter to the Northern Kentucky Legislative Caucus this week, asking lawmakers to resist a call by the state's auditor to change the airport's board to 11 members, only three of which would be appointed by Kenton County.

In the letter, Arlinghaus said that Auditor Adam Edelen says that the county doesn't claim the airport among its assets, which Arlinghaus says isn't true.

Read: Arlinghaus' letter 

He points to an "oversight" by a previous administration that left the airport off the county's list and notes that the majority of the airport's land is owned by the county or the airport board and has been for decades.

Arlinghaus also takes issue with Edelen's claim that no other single agency appoints all the members of the airport board, noting that Lexington's mayor appoints all 10 members of Lexington's board, and that Louisville's board members are appointed by only two people.

The judge-executive also states that anger over travel, food and drink used by members was caused by an "overzealous" reporter who failed to state that taxpayer dollars weren't being spent on those items.

The letter also refers to the "tremendous anger of Cincinnatians from the very beginning days of Kentucky getting the airport instead of Ohio."

Arlinghaus states that Kenton County gets no money from owning CVG, as opposed to the $1.5 million that Boone County gets annually in payroll taxes, "yet they provide little to no services." He states that he offered to sell a stake in the airport to Boone County and Hamilton County, but was rebuffed.

"Should you decide to follow the misguided recommendation of the State Auditor  and pressure from outside jurisdictions or others who agree with him, purely for political reasons, you will be doing a grave injustice to the taxpayer's (sic) of Kenton County; the rightful and only owners of CVG," Arlinghaus concluded.

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Former airport chairman could be sentenced this year: Foothills Regional (KMRN), Morganton, North Carolina

The former chairman of Foothills Regional Airport could be sentenced in December.

Officials at federal courthouse in Asheville said Randy Hullette has been penciled in on the court calendar for December and could be sentenced on Dec. 4 or Dec. 16. The federal court in Asheville holds sentencing every other month and there are two dates in late October set for sentencing, according to court officials.

A final presentence investigation report for Hullette has been filed, which is the last step before sentencing, according to court officials. The presentence investigation report, which can contain sensitive information including medical and psychological reports, is sealed and not available to the public.

Hullette pleaded guilty Aug. 21, 2013, to embezzlement and witness tampering after an FBI investigation into wrongdoing at the airport. Hullette faces a total maximum sentence of 30 years.

The FBI raided the airport in June 2012, seizing files, records, computers, log books and other information. The warrant included records from the airport involving former airport manager Alex Nelson, former operations manager Brad Adkins and Hullette. The investigation revealed the three defrauded the airport of at least $100,000.

Nelson was sentenced in February to three years in prison and three years supervised probation. He also was ordered to pay $179,781.51 in restitution. Nelson reported to prison in Beckley, West Virginia, June 9.

In March, Nelson appealed his sentencing to the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Richmond, Virginia, saying he had questions about the process. That process is on-going, according to federal court documents.

He pleaded guilty in September 2012 to conspiracy, embezzlement and money laundering.

Adkins was sentenced June 3 to time served, four months of house arrest and three years supervised release; had to pay a $200 assessment; and jointly pay $85,305.59 in restitution.

The federal government revoked Adkins’ bond in February after he taped urine to his body to try to pass a drug test. In November, he admitted to taking Xanax, which is commonly used to treat anxiety.

Adkins was jailed in Marion on Feb. 11 and held until his sentencing on June 3.

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Beechcraft B200GT King Air, Osage Air LLC, N510LD: Fatal accident occurred June 07, 2013 in Baker, Louisiana

NTSB Identification: CEN13FA326 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, June 07, 2013 in Baker, LA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/15/2014
Aircraft: HAWKER BEECHCRAFT B200GT, registration: N510LD
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The accident pilot and two passengers had just completed a ferry flight on the recently purchased airplane. A review of the airplane’s cockpit voice recorder audio information revealed that, during the ferry flight, one of the passengers, who was also a pilot, was pointing out features of the new airplane, including the avionics suite, to the accident pilot. The pilot had previously flown another similar model airplane, but it was slightly older and had a different avionics package; the new airplane’s avionics and flight management system were new to the pilot. 

After completing the ferry flight and dropping off the passengers, the pilot departed for a short cross-country flight in the airplane. According to air traffic control recordings, shortly after takeoff, an air traffic controller assigned the pilot a heading and altitude. The pilot acknowledged the transmission and indicated that he would turn to a 045 heading. The radio transmission sounded routine, and no concern was noted in the pilot’s voice. However, an audio tone consistent with the airplane’s stall warning horn was heard in the background of the pilot’s radio transmission. The pilot then made a radio transmission stating that he was going to crash. The audio tone was again heard in the background, and distress was noted in the pilot’s voice. The airplane impacted homes in a residential neighborhood; a postcrash fire ensued. A review of radar data revealed that the airplane made a climbing right turn after departure and then slowed and descended. The final radar return showed the airplane at a ground speed of 102 knots and an altitude of 400 feet. Examination of the engines and propellers indicated that the engines were rotating at the time of impact; however, the amount of power the engines were producing could not be determined. The examination of the airplane did not reveal any abnormalities that would have precluded normal operation. It is likely that the accident pilot failed to maintain adequate airspeed during departure, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and subsequent impact with terrain, and that his lack of specific knowledge of the airplane’s avionics contributed to the accident. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s failure to maintain adequate airspeed during departure, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall and subsequent impact with terrain. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s lack of specific knowledge of the airplane’s avionics.


On June 7, 2013 about 1310, central daylight time, a Beechcraft, KingAir, B200GT, airplane, N510LD,impacted terrain shortly after departure in a residential neighborhood near Baker, Louisiana. The airline transport rated pilot received fatal injuries and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by Osage Air LLC, Wilmington, Delaware. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal cross-country flight. The flight originated from Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport, Ryan Field (BTR), Baton Rouge, Louisiana, en route to (Pike County) John E Lewis Field Airport (KMCB), McComb, Mississippi.

The accident pilot and two passengers flew to Georgetown, Texas, in a B200 KingAir the day prior to the accident. The B200 airplane was being used as a trade-in, on N510LD. On the day of the accident and after the sale was finalized, the three people returned to BTR in N510LD, with the accident pilot as pilot in command. After dropping off the two passengers at BTR, the accident pilot planned to fly to McComb, with the recently purchased airplane. 

Several witnesses reported that the airplane heading north and was low; the airplane then dropped and impacted the roof of a house. The airplane subsequently impacted a tree and two neighboring houses before erupting into flames. 


The pilot was employed as a corporate pilot, and held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine and multiengine land, and instrument-airplane. The pilot also held several type ratings for jet airplanes. The pilot held a first class medical certificate that was issued on June 4, 2013, with the restriction, "must have available glasses for near vision". At the time of the exam the pilot reported 15,150 total flight hours and 75 hours in last six months. The pilot also reported to the insurance company that he had 5,075 in BE20 (KingAir 200) and had annual training at FSI, Simuflight, or SimCom depending on type of aircraft. The accident airplane was a B200GT and was equipped with Rockwell Collins Proline 21 avionics including an FMS-3000 (Flight Management System) suite. The amount of flight time the pilot had with the Proline 21 system was unknown; however, during delivery of the airplane another pilot noted that the B200GT's avionics were new to the accident pilot.


The Beechcraft B200GT King Air is a twin-turboprop airplane powered by two Pratt & Whitney PT6A-52 engines. The airplane was maintained under the manufacturer's maintenance program. The airplane's maintenance records were located among the wreckage and were fire and water damaged. A review of the records revealed that the airframe's phase 1- 4 inspections were completed on March 18, 2013. At the time of the inspection, the airframe had a total time of 974.2 hours; the left and right engines had also accumulated 974.2 total hours.


At 1353, the automated weather observation facility located at BTR, reported wind from 280 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 3,300 and 7,500 feet, temperature 84 Fahrenheit (F), dew point 67 F, and a barometric pressure of 29.88 inches of mercury.


According to air traffic control communications, the airplane departed BTR runway 31. Just after takeoff, the controller assigned the pilot a heading and altitude to MCB. The pilot acknowledged the transmission and indicated he would turn to a 045 heading. The radio transmission appeared normal, with no concern in the pilot's voice. However, an audio tone was present in the background of the pilot's radio transmission. Shortly thereafter, the pilot made a radio transmission stating that he was going to crash. The same audio tone was heard in the background, along with distress noted in the pilot's voice. The tone was consistent with the airplane's stall warning horn. There was no further communications with the pilot.

Review of radar data revealed the airplane departed BTR, and tracked in a right arc away from the airport. After airborne, as the airplane started to turn right, radar data showed the ground speed as 124 knots and increased to about 128 knots; the first altitude started at 700 feet and increased to 1,200 feet, as the airplane started its turn. The radar track then depicted a northeasterly heading as the airplane appeared to proceed on course. Before the airplane disappeared from radar, the airspeed decreased to 102 knots and the altitude decreased to 400 feet. 


The accident site was located about 3.5 miles northeast of BTR, in a residential area. The first impact point was the roof of one home; the airplane then impacted a tree and shed in the backyard of neighboring homes. The airplane came to rest in an upright position, in the corner of a house. The impact with the tree, split the fuselage in two, with the empennage and about an 8-10 foot fuselage section coming to rest in the yard of the neighboring home. All major components were accounted for on site. A postcrash fire consumed most of the airplane; fire, smoke/water also damaged the two homes. The left propeller was separated from the engine and was just left of the main wreckage. The propeller blades were twisted and had cord wise marks near the tips. The right propeller remained attached to the engine; the two top, exposed blades were consumed by the fire, the two bottom blades were covered by the wreckage/debris.


The Office of the Coroner, East Baton Rouge Parish, Paton Rouge, Louisiana, conducted an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death on was determined to be, "blunt force, thermal, and inhalational injures".

The FAA Toxicology Accident Research Library, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted toxicological testing on pilot. The test was negative for ethanol and cyanide; however, the test was positive for carbon monoxide in the blood at 21%. Acetaminophen was detected in the urine (15 ug/ml, ug/g), diltiazem was detected in the blood and urine, and ibuprofen was detected in the urine.

Both acetaminophen and ibuprofen are non-prescription pain medicine and are commonly marketed under the trade name Tylenol and Motrin, respectively. Diltiazem is used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure), angina (chest pain), and certain heart rhythm disorders.


After initial documentation of the wreckage site, the wreckage was recovered for further examination. The airplane's cockpit voice recorder (CVR) was located and shipped to the vehicle recorder lab in Washington, DC for download.

A CVR group was convened. The recording was audited by the CVR group Laboratory and a summary report prepared. The CVR Specialist Factual Report is located in the official docket for this investigation.

The CVR captured part of the previous flight, in which the accident pilot received help from another pilot, in explaining the operation of the new airplane. The accident pilot also received instruction, prior to his departure on the accident flight.

The NTSB along with technical representatives from the airframe, engine, and propeller manufacturer conducted a follow up exam. The left hand, four bladed propeller and front section of the reduction gearbox had separated from the engine due to a fractured engine shaft. The 2nd stage planetary gears and bolt screws, displayed rotational scoring from contact with adjacent components during separation. Rotational scoring was noted on the compressor turbine and power turbine discs from contact with adjacent components. The 1st and 2nd stage power turbine blades exhibited rubs from localized contact regions of their respective shrouds.

The left engine propeller blades rotated freely in the hub, due to the blade knobs fracturing off during impact. All blades showed some rotational scoring and slight twisting at the tips. The propeller experienced severe thermal damage. Half of the spinner was missing due to melting away.

The right hand engine displayed light torsional bending aft of the exhaust duct. The compressor turbine disc exhibited rotational scoring from contact with the adjacent component. The 1st stage power turbine blades exhibited a 360 degree rub from contact with its respective shroud. 

Two of the four propeller blades on the right engine were consumed by the post-crash fire, leaving about 10 inches of blades, from the hub assembly. The propeller was still attached to the engine. The blades rotated freely in the hub, due to the blade knobs fracturing off during impact. The spinner dome, bulkhead, three counterweights were missing.

Both engines and the left propeller displayed signatures consistent with some power being generated at impact; however, the amount of power could not be determined.

The fire damage to the right propeller and absence of signatures prevented any conclusion about power setting before impact.

The engines and propellers examination did not reveal any discrepancies that would have precluded normal operation.

John Cary Fowler had plenty of experience as a pilot, logging more than 15,000 hours in the air. 

But on June 7, 2013, he was making his first flight in a Beechcraft B200GT King Air. A national safety agency says that lack of experience with the aircraft was likely the cause of the fiery crash in Baker that day, when the plane slammed into a subdivision, set fire to three houses and killed the 71-year-old pilot.

The National Transportation Safety Board’s causal report, dated Sept. 15, found that Fowler was unfamiliar with the aircraft’s equipment and that his inexperience led to the two-engine plane losing speed and stalling before crashing to the ground.

Fowler’s only other flight with that model came hours earlier, when he was flying to Baton Rouge with two other passengers. One could be heard on the plane’s cockpit audio recorder “pointing out” to Fowler some of the features of the plane, according to an earlier NTSB report released in August.

Fowler, of Brookhaven, Mississippi, then dropped off the pilots and was flying out of Baton Rouge toward McComb, Mississippi, when the plane stalled and crashed.

“Everyone knew that this was a tragedy, but … it strikes me that this easily could have been prevented,” said Logan Greenberg, an attorney with Ungelsby Law Firm, which is representing more than 30 Baker residents affected by the crash. “This did not come out of nowhere.”

The NTSB reports also provide new details about the crash itself. Minutes after Fowler took off alone from Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport at about 1 p.m. on June 7, the two-engine plane — which is about 44 feet long and could have seated up to 11 people — began losing speed and was slowly descending. The plane’s audio captured a stall warning, and in Fowler’s last radio transmission, he said he was going to crash.

The plane crashed into the roof of a Rue Jennifer home, spilling fuel all over it, before striking a nearby tree and shed. The plane then caught fire while still sticking upright in the corner of a home. The blaze badly damaged three houses, but no one on the ground was injured. Most of the plane was destroyed by the fire, and the left propeller’s blades were found twisted and separated from the rest of the wreckage, while two other blades were burned away.

The plane’s last captured speed was 102 knots, the equivalent of 117 miles per hour.

The incident, Greenberg said, “was not some freak accident. … It was very clear cause and effect — somebody didn’t know how the plane worked, and that led to the plane crashing. It was terrible.”

Greenberg says the NTSB reports bolster lawsuits he filed in state district court against the pilot’s employer, Osage Air. The lawsuits, filed in late May, are in the early stages, but they allege the company should have taken more precautions before letting the pilot try to fly an unfamiliar plane on his own.

An attorney for the firm representing Osage Air, Bradley Schwab, denied the allegations in court documents filed in July. He declined to comment further on the lawsuit.

Greenberg said he isn’t yet sure how different the plane was from other planes Fowler had flown. On that question, the NTSB reports note that Fowler had flown “another similar model” that was “slightly older and had a different avionics package,” referring to its electronic equipment.

The monthslong aftermath of the crash has posed a host of problems for Baker neighbors. As late as January, one of the homes on Rue Jennifer still stood charred with its roof mostly caved in and looked as if the plane crashed into the roof only days earlier. Garbage bags with belongings from the home’s residents were still left in the backyard. At a Baker City Council meeting that month, neighbors also came away with no clear answers as to whether leaked jet fuel posed a health risk. Nine months after the crash, the soil was deemed safe.

The lawsuit also claims that residents are still suffering anxiety and depression nearly one year later.

“When they hear a plane now, they’re terrified,” Greenberg said.

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John Cary Fowler

To all of us who knew and loved John, he was a loving husband, father, grandfather and a friend. John was a corporate pilot, a resident of Brookhaven, MS, and a native of Oak Grove, Louisiana. He passed away June 7, 2013. - See more at: