Tuesday, December 16, 2014

60 years after plane crash, survivors recall mayhem in Brampton farm field


Remembering the "Christmas miracle," a Trans-Canada Airlines flight that crashed in Brampton farmland when the pilot undershot the runway at Malton.

Before her afternoon bridge game, Roma Watson walks calmly toward a cluster of Brampton homes where, 60 years ago, she escaped the wreckage of a fiery plane.

“It landed about where that red house is there,” says Gord McClure, 69, walking with her on this journey back in memory, through a parkette near the Mount Pleasant GO station. “It jumped over three farms and landed there . . . the ground was frozen, you’d remember that.”

“Yep. I don’t remember too much about it, but I remember burning,” says Watson, 81.

Then called Roma Neundorf, she was flying home for Christmas at the time. McClure, just 9, had been at a Christmas concert with his family and returned home to see flashing emergency lights in the normally peaceful countryside.

“23 LIVE” proclaimed the Toronto Daily Star the next day: “Christmas miracle.”

“It’s totally different now of course, with all these houses,” Watson says.

“You haven’t changed much; you’re well preserved,” says McClure, who has Watson laughing as they reach the approximate crash site, now Trudelle Crescent in Brampton, a collection of two-storey homes, one decorated with inflatable Christmas decorations.

The survivors remember a different scene: the sound of exploding oxygen tanks, the smell of singed hair, the dark, smoky interior of the plane.

The flight was travelling from Tampa, Fla., with 16 passengers and seven crew. The Super Constellation, “The Connie,” was a new plane to Trans-Canada Airlines (now Air Canada).

“Its pièce de résistance is the most modern galley kitchen in the air: a five-square-metre space, complete with refrigerator, ovens, automatic coffee machines . . . even a kitchen sink!” Air Canada notes in the historical timeline on its website.

On Dec. 17, 1954, the clouds were low and ragged, only 300 feet above what was then Malton Airport. Sleet and snow reduced visibility. The pilots, having no visual reference to the ground, were forced to make an instrument approach for Runway 10.

On a precision instrument approach, a pilot has to capture the localizer and the “glide slope” to the runway. The instrument face has two needles — one sliding up and down (glide slope) and one sliding left to right (localizer). The glide slope needle starts at the top, and when you “capture it” by flying at the correct altitude, the needle moves to the centre of the instrument and remains centered as you fly the correct slope. The idea is to keep the needles crossed in the centre to stay on the lateral and vertical path to the runway, explains Lynne McMullen, the chair of Seneca College School of Aviation.

In older planes, instruments had been colour coded, and Captain Norman Ramsay was adjusting to the new system, remembers Gary Anderson, who was the 22-year-old first officer of the flight.

On the approach to Malton, they hadn’t reached the glide slope, and Anderson told Ramsay the plane was too low. “The captain appears to have ignored the importance of this message,” the investigation notes of his continued descent.

Ramsay later told investigators he misread the altimeter as 2,800 feet rather than 1,800 feet. He instructed Anderson to conduct his “before landing” checks. The card Anderson held for the task obscured the instruments in the small cockpit.

“By the time I finished (the checks) and I put down the card and looked up, that’s when I saw we were at 850 feet; of course, that’s when all hell broke loose,” Anderson says, recalling the doomed flight from his Mississauga home.

“When I screamed to him we weren’t by the outer marker, he pulled back and it rotated the airplane enough that we hit on our gear rather than nose-in . . . it could have been a lot more damaging.”

“I thought we were still several thousand feet in the air,” passenger Samuel Young told the Star in 1954. “Then there was a terrific jolt and all the lights went out. Next thing, we were bouncing along on the ground and it seemed as if we would never stop.”

The last thing Anderson remembers of the flight is seeing a tree ahead and throwing his arm in front of his body. “Like a huge can opener,” the Star wrote, the tree sliced off the plane’s right wing. Anderson would later be carried unconscious from the plane by Ramsay and a flight attendant.

“If we’d have been in the air another 15 to 20 seconds, we would have landed in the middle of Brampton,” he says.

When it finally came to a stop, the plane was in three pieces. There were flash fires in the cabin. Roma Watson’s arms were burning.

“You could smell flesh burning, I remember you saying,” recalls Watson’s daughter, Andrea Mozas, who has come along to the crash site.

“Oh gosh, see, she remembers everything I say and I don’t remember it,” Watson says.

Watson had been sitting next to her friend Marlene Stewart (now Marlene Stewart Streit) — both accomplished golfers who attended Rollins College in Florida. Everyone was seated in the back of the plane in first class, close to the galley, Stewart Streit says.

“I looked up, and noticed there was a big gash in the side of the plane, right where my feet were — and that’s where the wing must have broken off, you see,” says Stewart Streit, who jumped through the hole.

“I yelled back in to Roma, ‘Come here, because there’s an opening here.’”

Ron Campbell, 17, on his way to Burnt River for Christmas, remembers the plane filling with smoke, and that he lost one of his penny loafers. He thinks it happened when he kicked open an emergency door.

“The funny thing about it — I can say this because I’m still here — I always figured I could get out of that some way or other, eh?” he says.

Outside the plane, everyone was dazed.

“You know, this thing is going to blow up, we gotta get out of here, we can’t just stand here,’ ” Stewart Streit recalls saying.

She saw a light in a nearby farmhouse, and they began to walk through the snow, many in sock feet, many injured. Nearby farmers had felt a “great shock wave” and rushed to help, including McClure Archdekin and Dick Crichton.

The plane was later “blown to bits,” the Star reported.

“You know, 30 years later we were still finding pieces of the plane when we plowed the field,” remembers McClure, now a town councillor in Caledon. Jim Archdekin, son of McClure Archdekin, recalls the same thing.

“He was impressed that everybody survived,” he says of his father.

Many of the passengers were taken to hospital. Some had burns, while others were able to walk away. Watson had to take tranquilizers for several years after that, any time she flew.

“Nowadays, you know what I say to myself? The pilot wants to live just as much as I do.”

A board of inquiry blamed the accident on “negligence on the part of the captain,” who believed he was much closer to the airport than was the case.

Ramsay was grounded by TCA, but regained his commercial pilot’s license in 1955 and joined Maritime Central Airways, according to the Star. In 1957, he was flying a group of British-Canadian veterans home to Toronto when he flew into a storm outside Quebec City. The plane nosedived and crashed. All 79 aboard died, including Ramsay, in what was Canada’s worst-ever air crash at the time.

Pilots usually alter the flight path to avoid storms, but investigators noted that the 1957 flight may have already been in cloud and flew unknowingly into danger. It was also possible, with low fuel and no weather reports showing the chance of storm clouds, that Ramsay “elected to penetrate what could have appeared to a tired crew to be a minor build-up.” The crew had been on duty for close to 23 hours, with more than 19 hours in the air.

Anderson was driving to Montreal when he heard the news about the fatal crash.

“I liked Norm … I found him very nice; me being 22, they were all nice,” he says.

Anderson retired from Air Canada in 1991, but aviation runs in the family, and he recently gave his grandson some advice:

“When you’re flying, it doesn’t matter who the captain is; if you see something wrong, speak up,” he says.

“It was a crew thing, but I just happened to see because I wasn’t flying and I could look around and see, where Norm was doing the flying and concentrating,” he says. “In this case it was a little too late — you call, he reacted, and bang! You hit the ground.”

In Brampton, a plane roars overhead, unseen in the clouds. McClure and Watson look to the sky, but there is no way to tell if it is coming or going.

“We’re glad we made it,” Watson says.

“I’m glad you did, too,” McClure says.

Story, Video and Photo Gallery:  http://www.thestar.com

Pieces of a Super Constellation airplane burn in a Brampton farm field in 1954.

Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, N5989Z: Accident occurred December 16, 2014 near Ronan Airport (7S0), Montana


NTSB Identification: WPR15FA062
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, December 16, 2014 in Ronan, MT
Aircraft: PIPER PA 18-150, registration: N5989Z
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

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 December 16, 2014, about 1615 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, N5989Z, impacted a hill while maneuvering in Ronan, Montana. The rear-seated passenger was operating the airplane under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The front-seated commercial pilot was fatally injured and the passenger sustained serious injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The local personal flight departed Ronan Airport, Ronan, Montana about 1600. Daytime visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed.

The passenger was a student pilot and had purchased the airplane September 30, 2014. He had recently purchased a new propeller for the airplane and the pilot, who was additionally a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certificated mechanic, installed the propeller just prior to the accident flight. 

Numerous witnesses reported observing the airplane maneuvering at a low altitude a few minutes prior to the accident. One witness recalled hearing the airplane's engine accelerate and rev higher just prior to the impact. Another witness stated that he observed the airplane perform several erratic maneuvers where it was low to the ground and would rapidly climb and descend similar to an agricultural operation (crop dusting). 

The airplane wreckage was located on a steep hillside slope about 100 feet below the peak. The accident site was about 5 nautical miles (nm) from Ronan Airport on a bearing of about 295 degrees. The wreckage came to rest on a hillside in the Valley View Hills, which is the most easterly elevated terrain from the valley where both the towns of Pablo and Ronan are located. The surrounding area was sparsely populated. There were ground scar signatures in the terrain, consistent with the propeller and left wing tip colliding with terrain at the initial impact. These first identified impact points were about 75 feet from the main wreckage on a bearing of 015 degrees and located on a 45-degree slope. The airplane's wreckage was found inverted with the nose headed upslope.

The airplane was recovered for further examination.

WASILLA -- A Wasilla pilot with a young family and a growing air taxi business died Tuesday afternoon in a plane crash in northwest Montana near Flathead Lake. 

Brett Thoft, 33, was flying a two-seater tandem Piper Super Cub with friend Tim Schauss when the crash occurred, according to Lake County authorities in Montana. Thoft was pronounced dead at the site. Schauss, who owns a grocery store in Pablo, was listed in critical condition at Kalispell Regional Medical Center on Wednesday.

Residents in the area dotted with farms and ranches said they saw the small plane crash into a hillside around 4:30 p.m., said Lake County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Karen Sargeant. Locals on four-wheelers helped rescuers find the crash site, which was in rugged terrain. Some responders knew at least one of the men.

Thoft and Lake County resident Schauss were on a “casual flightseeing trip” when the plane crashed, Sargeant said. Portland, Ore.-based investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were en route to the crash site on Wednesday afternoon.

Schauss made one of the 911 calls about the crash and never lost consciousness, according to a friend of his in Montana.  

Thoft attended high school and college in Montana and still has family there, a friend said. 

Thoft had a wife and two young daughters, whom he featured prominently on his company website. 

Thoft owned and operated Full Curl Aviation LLC, a Wasilla-based air taxi service. He spent summers in the Brooks Range ferrying hunters, rafters, and adventurers in and out of a temporary camp at Happy Valley, according to his company website.

Before he started the business, he worked for Bob Summers at Deltana Outfitters as a Happy Valley-based guide and pilot.

Summers said he was shocked when he heard Wednesday morning that Thoth had crashed.

“He was an exceptional pilot. I spent a lot of time in the plane with him,” Summers said. “He was exceptional in every sense of the word. He was a legend in the making.”

  Story and Comments:  http://www.adn.com

Brett Thoft

PABLO – An outfitter and guide whose website says he had logged “thousands of hours flying all over remote Alaska” was the victim of a late Tuesday afternoon plane crash west of here. 

Lake County authorities on Wednesday identified the pilot of the plane, who was killed, as 33-year-old Brett Thoft.

Thoft operated Full Curl Aviation of Wasilla, Alaska. He grew up in Montana, according to the website.

His passenger, Tim Schauss of Pablo, was critically injured and flown by helicopter to Kalispell Regional Medical Center, where Lake County Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Karen Sargeant said he remains in critical condition.

Authorities also said the plane, a two-seater tandem Piper aircraft, took off from the Ronan Airport, not the Polson Airport as previously reported.

Sargeant described it as a “sightseeing flight.”

Full Curl Aviation is an air taxi service that caters to “unguided hunters, rafters and adventure groups,” its website says.

“We operate a Piper Supercub and an M7 Maule on Bushwheels in the summer months and skis in the winter,” it goes on. “We are a small family owned and operated company ... Nicole handles the business on the ground ... while Brett handles the flying.”

Witnesses called 9-1-1 at approximately 4:30 p.m. Tuesday to report a small plane with two people on board had crashed into a hillside.

An investigator for the National Transportation and Safety Board was due at the crash site Wednesday.

Thoft’s body was taken to the Montana State Crime Lab in Missoula.

According to fullcurlaviation.com, Thoft earned his airframe and powerplant mechanic license, a private pilot’s license and an associate’s degree in aviation in his native Montana.

“After college Brett moved to Alaska and worked as a hunting and fishing guide, eventually earning his registered guide/outfitter license,” it says. “With flying experience dating back to his teens, Brett earned a commercial single engine land and sea pilot license and started flying full time.”

He was also an FAA-authorized aircraft inspector, it says.


Brett Thoft

IN PICTURES: Nike co-founder Phil Knight's new flight hangar

If you've driven down Northeast Brookwood Parkway in Hillsboro lately, you probably couldn't miss Nike co-founder Phil Knight's brand-new flight hangar, complete with two private jets, at the Hillsboro Airport.

The hangar, at approximately 30,000 square feet, sits next to another hangar that Nike previously built in 2002 at Brookwood and Northeast Penny Way, according to the Port of Portland.

The Portland Business Journal reported that Knight's new hangar is worth $7.6 million. In September of 2013, the Port approved a 30-year ground lease at the property with "Ochoco Administrative Services LLC" and will charge more than $53,000 in annual rent. Ochoco also paid a development charge of about $177,000.

The hangar is listed in Hillsboro public records as the "Ochoco Private Hangar."

At a September 2013 meeting, Port staffer Scott Kilgo said the hangar would house a Gulfstream V and a "brand-new Gulfstream 650." The Gulfstream G650 has been touted as Gulfstream's biggest, fastest jet and can reach speeds of Mach 0.85, or more than 90 percent of the speed of sound.

Story, Comments and Photo Gallery:   http://www.oregonlive.com

Phil Knight recently completed a new flight hangar, worth a reported $7.6 million, at Hillsboro Airport, where he keeps two private jets. The hangar is visible from Brookwood Parkway. 
(Luke Hammill / The Oregonian)

White Elephant No More: Flagler County Approves 5-Year Lease of Costly Ginn Hangar in Deal With New Company

In the latest of a string of successes for the Flagler County Airport’s economic zone, the Flagler County Commission Monday evening agreed to a five-year lease, potentially expandable to 30, with a Delaware-based aircraft certification company that will take possession of the old, 14,000-square-foot Ginn hangar and offices that had been costing the county considerably more money than it was bringing in for most of its existence.

The $10,500-a-month lease with New Castle, Del.-based Delta Engineering will end that bleeding for good. The county had built the structure for the now-defunct Ginn Corporation during the housing boom year, but was left holding a $2 debt when Ginn went bankrupt. The lease to Delta Engineering means that every building at the county airport is now fully occupied and either paid for or paying for itself, a significant turn-around from a time just four years ago when the airport a small herd of white elephants. Just last summer, the National Guard announced that it was moving a large operation into another building with a troubled history at the airport.

The turn-around has largely been the result of the work of County Administrator Craig Coffey and Airport Director Roy Sieger, the latter being most instrumental in landing Delta Engineering after meetings with the company’s principals–a father and his adult two children.

Delta Engineering, according to a county news release, provides the aviation industry with certification, engineering and manufacturing services. Its projects range from small single engine aircraft to Boeing 747-400 and 777. The company provides FAA certification for aircraft modification and parts manufacturing, designs and manufactures the kits and parts for the aircraft modifications, engineers the avionics for specialized data acquisition system requirements and builds testing equipment load simulators.

Sieger announced the deal in the presence of one of the principals, Jonathan Moritz, at a county commission meeting Monday, shortly before the commission approved the lease. Delta Engineering isn’t abandoning Delaware so much as expanding in Flagler County, Moritz said.

“The reason why we’re leaving or expanding down here versus Delaware is a lot of pushback that we got from the county up in that area,” Moritz said. “So, hey, you’re going to push back, we’ll find another place, especially with being warmer in Florida. Why not?”

Moritz said the company has about 30 employees in Delaware. It expects to hire expects to hire 10 to 30 people in the next 24 months, with salaries ranging between $70,000 and $120,000. The move into the old Ginn building may be temporary. “This facility to begin with is just to get them started here,” Sieger said. “They do plan on building a bigger facility on the south side of the airport, much bigger than the current hangar they’ll be in right now.”

Significantly, the county’s economic development department was not mentioned in the announcement Monday, nor did the meetings leading up to the announcement involve it directly. Moritz explained that his family is a member of the Disney Vacation Club, had been in the area hopping from airport to airport, looking for a place to expand, and met Sieger after the older Moritz–John, who unsuccessfully ran for a state senate seat in Delaware in 2010–connected with him.

“We just came over, saw the hangar and said, it’s perfect. The county, Roy, Sally met with my father,” Moritz said, referring to Sally Sherman, the deputy county administrator, “very helpful, outgoing, and we said this is the place.”

The proposal was included on the commission’s consent agenda–the portion of the agenda that includes numerous items that are usually approved wholesale–until Commissioner Charlie Ericksen, who has always maintained close connections with the airport, pulled the item for discussion, and to give Sieger a chance to highlight the deal.

The proposal drew only one comment–from Alan Peterson, who was a county commissioner during the airport’s darkest days: he remembers being singed when the county got burned, and cautioned against a repeat of those days.

“I’m pleased to see that we finally seem to have a very viable tenant for the Ginn hangar,” Peterson said. “My only concern is that you intend to negotiate a potentially 30-year lease. If the company is planning on expanding and building their own property, my concern would be whether they would need the property for the entire 30-year period or any portion of a five-year lease, and therefore I would think that some restriction should be built-in so that it can’t be sublet to another tenant for whatever portion of the remaining five-year lease would be. But that’s my only concern. I’m very pleased that we’ve finally gotten somebody that looks like it’s going to be a great boon and a great provider of jobs for Flagler County.”

The lease, Coffey said, includes a sublet provision, “and the reality is if they brought a sub-supplier of theirs along and put them in that hangar we would work with them on that to expand jobs and opportunities here,” Coffey said. “I think we’ve got that addressed, I think it’s Ok, and they’ll still pay the rent at the end of the day, that would be great.”

All sub-leases have to come before the county commission for approval.

Source:   http://flaglerlive.com

The 14,000-square foot building, built for the Ginn Corp., seen here when it still bore the company’s name. (c FlaglerLive)

Evergreen Aviation museum caught off-guard by bankruptcy filing, but operating sustainably, lawyer says

Directors of McMinnville's Evergreen Aviation & Space Museum were surprised by the timing of last week's bankruptcy filing by Evergreen Vintage Aircraft, a for-profit entity that owns about 25 of the aircraft on display at the museum.

Even so, the museum is operating on a "sustainable" basis and expects to continue to do so, its attorney said Tuesday.

"We're going through what could be a very positive and significant transition," said Salem lawyer and former legislator Kevin Mannix, one of the museum's two lead attorneys.

Mannix said the museum's board has been thinned from about 30 members to about 15 members who met for three hours Monday in the wake of Evergreen Vintage's Chapter 11 filing. They discussed a range of issues related to the museum's operation, including its tax-exempt status and the bankruptcy filing.

Mannix acknowledged that the museum still is negotiating a final payment to the Aero Club of Southern California, the organization that sold the museum its anchor attraction, the Hercules Spruce Goose flying boat.

A lawyer for the Aero Club said the matter remains unsettled.

"We consider them to be in default," Bob Lyon, the lawyer, said by telephone Tuesday. "We are exploring our remedies."

The museum says it has more than 180 aircraft and artifacts. Mannix said "at least 50" are directly owned by the museum. Another 25 are owned by Evergreen Vintage Aircraft and the rest are on loan from government agencies or private owners, he said.

Evergreen Vintage's preliminary bankruptcy filing said it had assets of between $50 million and $100 million and liabilities between $100 million and $500 million.

According to its filing with the Oregon Department of Justice, the non-profit museum had revenue last year of $7.57 million and net assets valued at more than $11.66 million.

Mannix said the non-profit museum pays no rent for the buildings it occupies on the McMinnville campus. He said the Wings and Waves waterpark and the space museum building sit on parcels owned by the private Michael King Smith Foundation, created by Evergreen founder Delford Smith, who died last month.

The main aviation building, which houses the Spruce Goose, and its nearby theater building are owned by Evergreen Vintage, the for-profit entity that sought to reorganize its debts in bankruptcy court, Mannix said.

Despite Evergreen Vintage's filing in bankruptcy court, "the vast majority of the campus has no debt," Mannix said.

Further, Mannix said, the museum faces no "looming issue" with the Internal Revenue Service, which examined whether its operations merit a tax exemption.

"We have a satisfactory solution," he said. "We're happy and the IRS is happy."

The IRS had examined the non-profit museum following a request by the Oregon Department of Justice, which investigated whether the museum's finances were improperly entwined with those of Evergreen International Aviation, the for-profit aviation services company that sits across Oregon Highway 18 from the museum.

When Evergreen International Aviation filed for dissolution last December in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware, the state agency said, its investigation was rendered moot.

Still pending is a tax dispute with Yamhill County, which argues the museum should be taxed on some of its revenue-producing operations. Mannix said the museum continues to wait for a decision from the Oregon Tax Court. The cumulative impact of an adverse decision would approach $1 million, he said.

Story and Comments:   http://www.oregonlive.com


http://media.oregonlive.com/business_impact/other/Evergreen Museum

Flybe de Havilland Dash 8-400, G-FLBC, flight BE-130: Engine fire - diverted to Belfast International Airport

A Belfast-bound plane was forced to make an emergency landing at the international airport after one of its engines caught fire.

Fire crews, police and paramedics attended the scene on Tuesday evening as the Flybe flight, with 76 passengers and four crew on board, prepared to land at Belfast International.

Before it was diverted it was heading for Belfast City Airport before the fire broke out in the engine.

The plane landed just before 7pm and no one was injured in the incident.

After the plane landed a picture emerged on social media which showed protective foam sprayed around the aircraft as a precautionary measure.

Flybe confirmed that a "small engine fire" on flight BE130 sparked the emergency.

Passengers told UTV of their frightening experiences.

Simon Tiernan was in Scotland on business and was returning to Belfast on the early evening flight.

He described the incident as "terrifying and nightmarish".

The 31-year-old told UTV: "It was rough and I'm just pleased to be alive - I don't quite think it has quite sunk in to be honest.

He added: "People sitting closest to the fire were in a bit of a panic.

"But there was a jovial atmosphere among the other passengers and I have to say the crew were absolutely fantastic."

A statement from Flybe added: "At no time was the safety and well-being of passengers compromised.

"Flybe operates its fleet of aircraft in strict compliance with all manufacturers' guidelines."

One of the runways at the International has been closed, but a second remains functional.

The NI Ambulance Service confirmed that no one had been injured, but one person required further assessment in hospital.

Eight ambulance crews, two rapid response vehicles and one hazardous area response team were among the emergency responders.

Graham Keddie, managing director of the International, told UTV that the incident would be investigated by the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch.

"We were advised to take it on to our runway," he said.

"Obviously the captain called a full emergency and it landed at Belfast International. It was not one of our aircraft, but diverted to us from Belfast City as we have the ability to take full emergencies."

He added: "For the passengers on board, it must have been a major issue - but they are all safe which is the main conclusion.

"From our point of view, our guys have handled it superbly. We are still there and this will continue through the night."

Source:  http://www.u.tv

Eurocopter AS-350B-2 Ecureuil, State of Utah, N352SL: Accident occurred December 16, 2014 in Bicknell, Utah

Highest Injury: None

Damage: Substantial


Flight Phase:  UNKNOWN (UNK)


Police say no one was hurt when a state police helicopter made a hard landing Tuesday morning in Wayne County.

Utah Department of Public Safety officials say four people were aboard the rotorcraft when it went down while helping with an antelope capture near the south-central Utah town of Bicknell.

Officials say the helicopter was flying low, about 20 feet above the ground, when the pilot had a loss of lift that forced him to make a controlled hard landing.

The helicopter was damaged and the Federal Aviation Administration has been notified.

Source:  http://www.sltrib.com

Romania’s latest aeronautical tragedy: The helicopter that crashed in Mamaia was almost new

The Eurocopter EC 135 belonging to the emergency rescue unit SMURD which crashed on Monday in the Siutghiol lake, near the Black Sea resort of Mamaia, killing four crew members, was almost new.

It was bought in 2012 by the Constanta County Council, following a EUR 5 million investment financed from EU funds, according to local authorities’ representatives quoted by Mediafax.

The Constanta County Council initially planned to use it for emergency situations, but decided to transfer it to the SMURD emergency rescue service, because it couldn’t hire specialized personnel to operate the helicopter. 

The helicopter was transferred to SMURD on November 6 this year and SMURD started to use it on November 26.

The helicopter had only 180 flight hours and its initial warranty was of up to 1,000 flight hours.   It was produced by Eurocopter, the helicopter division of European aeronautical group Airbus.

The helicopter crashed on Monday, December 15, at 16:16, nine minutes after its pilot had announced its take-off, according to Romanian Air Traffic Services Authority ROMATSA. It was flying from the Mihail Kogalniceanu airport near Constanta to Tuzla, a small airfield near Eforie Sud.

The helicopter crashed in Siutghiol lake, about 500 meters away from shore. 

The four crew members survived the crash, but rescuers couldn’t get to them in time to save them, as they sunk together with the wreck. Divers searched for about 12 hours to find all of them.

The crashed helicopter was insured by Romanian company Omniasig, which is part of Vienna Insurance Group, according to an announcement made by the insurer. Omniasig was also the insurer for the plane which crashed in January this year in the Apuseni Mountains, killing pilot Adrian Iovan and a medical student.

Source:  http://www.romania-insider.com

Court extends house arrest of Moscow airport disaster flights chief: Dassault Falcon 50EX, Unijet, F-GLSA

MOSCOW, December 16. /TASS/. A Russian court on Tuesday extended house arrest on the head of flights at Moscow's Vnukovo airport, scene of the plane crash that killed the Total oil company's chief executive and the crew in October.

Moscow's Basmanny court ruled that Roman Dunayev should be held until April 22. Judge Natalia Mushnikova granted the motion due to lack of evidence compelling otherwise and agreeing with the prosecution that the defendant could disappear, destroy evidence, threaten witnesses and cohort with co-workers, hampering investigations.

The court ruling bans Dunayev from leaving or changing his place of residence, receiving or sending correspondence and using any communication systems, including the telephone or Internet except for making emergency calls and talking to prosecutors and lawyers.

Investigators said there were plans to question several witnesses and “carry out a number of complex technical examinations” during the period.

Total's Falcon business jet flying from Moscow to Paris hit a snow plough during takeoff, caught fire and crashed on the runway killing the crew-of-three and company chief executive Christophe de Margerie.

Russian authorities have opened a criminal case on charges of abuse of air traffic and aircraft operation safety rules.

Source:  http://itar-tass.com

Plane 'Was Uninsured': Learjet 35A, N17UF, Diplomat Aviation (Bahamas) Limited, LLC, accident occurred November 09, 2014 in Freeport, Bahamas

Attorneys representing Diplomat Aviation (Bahamas) Ltd, the company under which the ill-fated Learjet 36 carrying Bahamas Faith Ministries pastor Dr. Myles Munroe was registered, are embroiled in a court battle with a US-based insurance company over the payout from a $10m liability policy in the aftermath of the November 9 tragedy.

The plaintiff, XL Specialty Insurance Company, has insisted that it is under no obligation to honor the policy because it expired on November 5, four days before the crash, and was not renewed. Diplomat Aviation is listed as the defendant in the matter.

According to court documents obtained by The Tribune, Diplomat Aviation’s law firm Gary, Williams, Parenti & Watson, sent a letter to XL on December 5 requesting the company honor the terms of the policy. The law firm operates from Stuart, Florida.

The policy was effective from November 5, 2012, to November 5, 2013, the documents said. It was renewed for the period November 5, 2013 to November 5, 2014, with liability coverage of $10m per occurrence for the aircraft.

According to the policy, there are liability settlement limits for $100,000 for each non-crew member passenger and each crew member.

“In connection with our representation, we have been advised that XL Specialty Insurance Company issued a XL Pinnacle Aviation Hull and Liability policy of insurance to Diplomat Aviation (Bahamas) Limited LLC effective 12.01 am, November 5, 2014,” a letter sent to XL by lawyers representing the defendant noted.

“We understand that XL agreed to provide coverage under the policy unless it provided written notice of cancellation or non-renewal of the policy consistent with the requirements of the policy.

“Further we understand that if XL intended to renew the policy, XL would provide written notice of renewal terms and a statement of the premium whether actual or estimated, not less than 30 days prior to policy expiration.

“Our client received no notices falling within the requirements of the policy, which would initiate cancellation or non-renewal of the policy before November 9, 2014,” the letter from Diplomat Aviation’s lawyers added.

In its declaration to a District Court in the South Carolina Division, XL Specialty argued that “after receiving proper notice,” Diplomat Aviation did not renew the policy.

The company is asking the courts to rule that no insurance policy was in effect at the time of the crash that killed all nine on board.

“As such any coverage provided by the policy ended on November 5, 2014,” the court papers said. “The aviation crash occurred on November 9, 2014.

“XL now seeks a declaratory judgment that no policy was in effect for the date of loss, November 9, 2014. As such no coverage exists after November 5,” the company said in court documents.

“XL Specialty prays that this honorable court issue an order declaring that it is under no obligation or duty to defend and/or indemnify Diplomat Aviation under the policy in any manner regarding the November 9, 2014 incident, claims, future lawsuits, or any judgment arising therefrom and for such other and further relief as this court deem just and appropriate.”

According to the court papers, XL Specialty Insurance Company is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Connecticut.

Robert H.  Hood Jr and James Andrew Bradshaw represent the plaintiff.

Diplomat Aviation, the defendant, has a location in Lexington County, South Carolina, the court papers said. The documents were filed on December 11 in Charleston, South Carolina.

The aviation disaster claimed the lives of Dr.  Munroe, 60, his wife Ruth, along with BFMI vice-president Dr Richard Pinder, newly ordained youth pastors Lavard “Manifest” Parks, his pregnant wife Radel, their five-year-old son Johanan, pilot Captain Stanley Thurston and co-pilot, First Officer Frahkan Cooper. An American citizen, Diego DeSantiago, was also on board.

They were all killed immediately when the aircraft truck a towering crane at the Grand Bahama Shipyard and crashed into a junk pile.

According to initial reports from the Department of Civil Aviation, the plane left Nassau shortly after 4pm and crashed around 5.10pm on its approach to Grand Bahama in deteriorating weather conditions.

The group was flying into Grand Bahama from New Providence for an annual leadership conference organised by Dr. Munroe.

Story and Comments:  http://www.tribune242.com

XL Specialty Insurance Company v. Diplomat Aviation (Bahamas) Limited, LLC: Complaint http://www.offshorealert.com


NTSB Identification: ERA15RA047
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Sunday, November 09, 2014 in Freeport, Bahamas
Aircraft: GATES LEARJET CORP. 35A, registration: N17UF
Injuries: 9 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On November 9, 2014, about 1652 eastern standard time, a Gates Learjet Corp 35A, N17UF, registered to Diplomat Aviation (Bahamas) Ltd., was destroyed when it impacted a crane and terrain during approach to Grand Bahama International Airport (MYGF), Freeport, Grand Bahama, Bahamas. The airline transport pilot, copilot, and seven passengers were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight originated from Lynden Pindling International Airport (MYNN), Nassau, Bahamas, about 1600 and was operating under Bahamian flight regulations at the time of the accident.

The investigation is under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Air Accident Investigation & Prevention Unit

Bahamas Department of Civil Aviation
P.O. Box AP-59244
Nassau, N.P., The Bahamas
1 (242) 376-1617
1 (242) 377-6060 FAX
Email: aaipu.bcaa@gmail.com
website: www.aaipu-bcaa.com

This report is for informational purposes, and only contains information released by the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.

First Officer Frahkan Cooper

Captain Stanley Thurston

The passengers and pilots preparing to board the ill-fated flight.

India's Aviation Safety Mechanism May Remain Downgraded

India's aviation safety mechanism is likely to remain downgraded till March next year with the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finding deficiencies on eight counts, it was officially stated today.

The American aviation regulator, which conducted a fresh safety audit of DGCA from December eight, is likely to determine India's safety rating in March 2015, almost a year after downgrading it from the top Category-I to Category-II.

The FAA team carried out a "full audit" to ascertain India's compliance of international aviation safety standards by focusing on "eight critical elements", Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma said.

The elements cover a gamut of activities including those relating to legislation, regulations, technical personnel, training, licensing, certification, surveillance obligations, which are critical for aviation safety oversight functions, he said in reply to a question in Rajya Sabha.

FAA would provide a written report within about 65 days and hold a consultation meeting in another 30 days, which would tentatively be in the middle of February, he said.

"Based on the outcome of final decision, FAA will make a Category determination and inform India by about March 2015," the minister said.

FAA had conducted two safety audits in September and December last year, after which it had downgraded India's aviation safety mechanism to Category-II on January 31, this year.

The downgrade means that India's safety oversight system does not meet the minimum standards laid down by the UN body International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Due to the downgrade, Indian airlines -- Air India and Jet Airways, which are the only ones flying to the US, would not be able to expand their flights to that country or tie-up with any American carrier for expansion of operations.

The flights of these Indian carriers are also subject to additional safety checks at US airports.

Story first published on: December 16, 2014 20:46 (IST)

Carlsbad flights may be on hold for some time: New Mexico Airlines is booking air travel for Thursday, will refund passengers if activities do not resume by then

CARLSBAD >> New Mexico Airlines is not booking any flights to or from the Cavern City Air Terminal through at least Wednesday.

The airline is currently scheduling flights starting Thursday, and a New Mexico Airlines booking agent said that if the planes are still not fixed by that point in time, the airline will cancel tickets and completely refund customers.

The airline, which flies to and from Albuquerque, Las Alamos and Carlsbad, grounded all flights Friday, citing the need to address mechanical issues with its planes at all airports and a separate safety hazard at the Carlsbad airport.

New Mexico Airlines is the only airline at Cavern City Air Terminal.

It is still unclear what the mechanical issues are that have grounded the planes. Federal Aviation Administration officials said they have not been told what the issues are.

When asked about the mechanical issues of the company's planes, CEO Greg Kahlstorf responded by saying: "The status of our fleet is irrelevant to undocumented, seemingly intentionally misrepresented midair collision hazards in the Carlsbad Airport traffic pattern. The safest fleet, piloted by the best-trained crews, has no business anywhere near airspace containing midair collision hazards above uncontrolled airports."

The safety hazard at Carlsbad, Kahlstorf said, is a helicopter operated by a fire station near the airport. The station is used for medical helicopter flight service.

Kahlstorf said the helicopter is a midair collision hazard because it is not identified on "any FAA-issued map or chart."

Federal Aviation Administration documents show that Bill Rook, the city fire marshal, applied for helipad approval in March 2014.

A Determination of Landing Area Proposal from September, which was reviewed by the Department of Transportation and the Federal Aviation Administration, approved the request, making the helipad valid through March 8, 2016, the documents said.

The proposal indicated that it is up to the company who owns the helipad to decide whether or not to have it shown on aeronautical charts, indicating that it is not required by the Federal Aviation Administration for the helipad to be shown on charts and maps.

The Landing Area Proposal said that use of the helipad should not affect the safety of airport operations as long as certain guidelines are met.

These guidelines included such things as limiting the use of the helipad to one aircraft, making sure the area is marked appropriately and only flying when weather is clear enough for the pilot to see well, the document said.

The proposal also said the Federal Aviation Administration considered the effects the helipad would have on the existing flights out of the Cavern City Air Terminal and the effects it would have on the safety of people and private property on the ground.

"The report determined there is no safety hazard," said Lynn Lunsford, public information officer for the Federal Aviation Administration.

Lunsford said that, had a safety issue been found, it would have been published in a Notice to Airmen, which he said is available to the entire aviation community, not just one individual or company.

"The area is zoned industrially. Helipads are legal in any industrial zone in the city," said Steve McCutcheon, city administrator.

Kahlstorf said that until the Federal Aviation Administration tells him exactly how pilots are supposed to safely navigate airspace shared with the helicopter, New Mexico Airlines will not resume flights to the Carlsbad airport.

"We are awaiting FAA guidance regarding safe navigation of these hazards, without charts, notices to airmen or navigational aids, in a manner which will minimize risk and liability for the airline and EAS program," Kahlstorf said. "We will have a better idea of what the timeline will be when FAA advises us on how we can safely navigate this airspace, given the critical safety threat contained in our whistle-blower disclosure."

Source:  http://www.currentargus.com

High Sky offering different view: See the Christmas lights from above

To raise money and offer festive views from above, the High Sky Wing of the Commemorative Air Force is offering Christmas Lights Night Flights starting Saturday.

Bill Coombes, public information officer for the High Sky Wing of the CAF, said this is the first year the flights have been offered.

A C-45 Army Air Force plane will take wing about 1,500 feet over the city. High Sky Wing Leader Gena Linebarger said the flights mainly will be over Midland, so people will be able to look at the lights longer.

“You’ll be able to see perfectly” Coombes said.

“It’s really quite breathtaking,” he added. “The city at night is really pretty, even without the Christmas lights.”

Tickets are $75 per person and $140 to be in the nose with the co-pilot. The plane holds five people, he said. Flights, which last about 30 minutes, start at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday. If there’s a demand, the plane will go up Tuesday, as well.

Those interested should go to the CAF Commemorative Center. Signs will guide people where they need to go.

High Sky Wing Leader Gena Linebarger said the flights mainly will be over Midland, so people will be able to look at the lights longer.

Those interested should go to the CAF Commemorative Center. Signs will guide people where they need to go.

“It’s as safe as getting on Southwest,” Coombes said.

Proceeds will go to the High Sky Wing to keep the vintage planes flying and help it start a new museum focusing on the area’s contribution to World War II that will be called the Midland Army Air Base Museum, Coombes said. The project will probably take three to five years.

’We’re excited about the opportunity,” Coombes said. “We are going to operate everything we have out there and the air show will continue. Most of things people see when people come out to look at the planes will still there.”

Usually held in October, the CAF Airsho for 2015 will be moved to the last weekend in August and feature the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. Usually held in October, the CAF Airsho for 2015 will be moved to the last weekend in August and feature the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds. The time for the show was changed to accommodate the team.

“It’s going to be exciting; it’s going to be big,” Linebarger said.  

Christmas Lights Night Flights

For more information, visit http://highskywing.org.

Tickets are available there, as well, or call 528-0997. Leave the name of the passengers, date, time desired and a return telephone number.

Source:  http://www.oaoa.com

Auditor finds fault with sheriff’s helicopter

A representative of the Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector’s Office said  Monday a helicopter purchased by the Stephens County Sheriff’s Office wasn’t properly approved by the county commissioners and wasn’t insured for six months.

Sherri Wooldridge of the state auditor’s office hosted a conference about the annual county audit of fiscal years ending June 30, 2012, and June 30, 2013, during a meeting of the county commissioners.

The Stephens County Sheriff’s Office acquired the helicopter from the Law Enforcement Support Office, a program through the Department of Defense which provides property to law enforcement agencies.

County Clerk Cindy Kaiser said there was a one-time fee of $5,000 to transfer the title of the helicopter to the county and approval by the county commissioners is required by state statute.

Kaiser said the helicopter was uninsured from November, 2013, until April, 2014.

A vendor also donated a paint job for the helicopter, which wasn’t officially received by the commissioners, she said.

“All money is county money,” Kaiser said.

Stephens County Sheriff Wayne McKinney, who said the helicopter is used for fighting wildfires, search-and-rescue missions and other support services, said  he was unaware he needed to have the use of $5,000 approved by the commissioners.

“We didn’t purchase it,” he said. “I was told I could spend my funds if it didn’t come from the general fund.”

Kaiser said the audit also indicated 32 purchase orders totaling $287,000 weren’t encumbered prior to receiving goods and services, and the county will take measures to correct the problem.

Undersheriff John Smith said, partly because the sheriff’s office sends juvenile offenders to facilities in other counties and a high turnover rate, his office has trouble keeping track of the juveniles in custody from month-to-month.

“We were instructed we could pay when we got the bill,” Smith said.

Source:    http://www.duncanbanner.com

SoCal's ‘Eye in the Sky' announces good-bye: Long-time traffic reporter Mike Nolan will retire Friday after four decades of helping commuters

A legendary Southern California traffic reporter is getting ready to retire and move to Arizona.


Mike Nolan says there is just too much traffic.

Nolan, a Corona resident who has been on the radio for 41 years, the last 28 as the “Eye in the Sky” on both KFI-AM and KOST-FM, made his retirement announcement Monday. Friday will be his last day.

We spoke shortly after he got off the airwaves.

“I’m 65, my pension is kicking in and so is Social Security,” said Mike.

However, an increasingly long commute and personal frustration with snarled freeways played a big part in this decision.

“I just can’t enjoy Southern California anymore,” he said. “If you want to see a play, or got to the beach, it just takes too long to get there.”

A native Southern Californian, as a teenager Nolan worked at a Taco Bell in North Hollywood and saved his money for flying lessons. He got his pilot’s license at 19.

His career as a traffic reporter got off the ground first near Lake Tahoe, then in Phoenix and San Jose.

Nolan joined KFI in 1986, taking the place of traffic reporter Bruce Wayne, who had been killed in a plane crash that year.

For many years, Nolan had an eight-minute commute from his home to the Corona Municipal Airport where he would take off in his Cessna and report to Southern California motorists.

“I got really spoiled with the short commute,” he laughed.

His knowledge, experience and passion for the job -- during both the morning and afternoon commutes -- helped millions avoid back-ups or, if they were already in them, let drivers know what was ahead.

- Source:  http://www.pe.com 

July 20, 2012: The longtime traffic reporter for Los Angeles radio station KFI-AM (640) was seriously hurt tonight in a plane crash east of the Corona Municipal Airport. 

KFI confirmed on its Facebook page that Mike Nolan, the station’s “Eye in the Sky,” was injured in the crash.

“KFI traffic’s Mike Nolan has been seriously hurt in a plane crash in Corona,” the station said. “Injuries do not appear to be life-threatening.”

A second person aboard the plane was identified by Corona police as an 18-year-old, but the person’s name and sex have not been released.

Both Nolan and the 18-year-old were taken to a hospital for treatment, the dispatch center

The crash of the plane, identified by FAA spokesman Allen Kenitzer as a Cessna 182P, was reported at 6:18 p.m., the Corona police/fire dispatch center confirmed. The crash happened at Lincoln Avenue and River Road, which is about 1½ miles east of the airport.

The FAA’s Kenitzer said the crash site was an open field. The dispatch center said the plane “may have gone into power lines due to engine failure,” but investigators from Corona police as well as from the National Transportation Safety Board and the FAA were still on scene.

The plane’s registered owner-trustee is Michael A. Nolan, who lives in the 2100 block of Adobe Avenue in Corona. The plane’s tail number, N640AM, suggests it is connected to the radio station.

NTSB Identification: WPR12FA316
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 20, 2012 in Corona, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 02/14/2013
Aircraft: CESSNA 182P, registration: N640AM
Injuries: 2 Serious.

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.

At the end of a 3-hour-long traffic-watch flight, the pilot began to return to the departure airport. As the airplane transitioned the airspace of an adjacent airport, the engine speed dropped to idle and surged twice. The pilot performed a precautionary landing at the adjacent airport. After an uneventful landing, the pilot performed an engine run-up and more troubleshooting steps and was unable to replicate the engine problem. The pilot then decided to depart for the home airport; however, shortly after departure, the engine speed variations began again, eventually resulting in a total loss of engine power. The pilot performed a forced landing in a nearby field, where the majority of the airplane, including most of its fuel supply system, was consumed by postimpact fire. The engine sustained minimal damage, however, and postaccident examination revealed no evidence of preaccident mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

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

A loss of engine power shortly after takeoff for reasons that could not be determined because postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s decision to take off with a known but unidentified airplane deficiency.


On July 20, 2012, about 1815 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 182P, N640AM, collided with power lines during a forced landing near Corona, California. The certificated commercial pilot/owner was operating the airplane under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, as an aerial observation flight. The pilot and passenger sustained serious injuries. The airplane sustained substantial damage during the accident sequence, and was subsequently consumed by post impact fire. The local flight departed Riverside Municipal Airport, Riverside, California, about 1800, with a planned destination of Corona Municipal Airport. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot was a traffic reporter, and the flight was a traffic-watch mission for a local radio station. He stated that he had previously been a full time traffic reporter, utilizing the airplane on a regular basis for such missions until November 2007. After that time, he began reporting directly from his studio, but retained the airplane for breaking news. He continued to fly traffic-watch missions once a month in order to keep the airplane active. The accident flight was one such mission.

On the day of the accident, the pilot and passenger departed from Corona at 1450, and for the next 3 hours, the flight proceeded uneventfully. While returning to Corona, the engine speed dropped twice from 2,200 to approximately 1,000 rpm. The pilot performed troubleshooting steps, with no resolution, and as such, elected to land at Riverside as a precaution. After landing, he taxied to the departure end of the runway, and performed an engine run-up, which included cycling the propeller, and checking the carburetor heat and both magnetos. All checks were normal, and he was unable to replicate the problem. After discussing the anomaly with his passenger, he elected to proceed to Corona.

The departure and climbout were normal, and after about 5 minutes, the engine speed again began to oscillate, followed by a loss of power sufficient to prevent the airplane from maintaining altitude. The pilot began troubleshooting procedures, and having deduced that he would not be able to reach Corona Airport, prepared for a forced landing. As the descent progressed, and they passed over a housing development, the pilot realized he would not be able to reach his intended landing point. He subsequently turned the airplane towards a field adjacent to the houses. During the final approach, the airplane struck a set of power lines, and then collided with the ground.

The airplane came to rest on a heading of 280 degrees magnetic, at the end of a dirt field, about 6,500 feet east of the arrival end of runway 25 at Corona.


A review of Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records revealed that the 62-year-old pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, helicopter, and instrument airplane. He held an expired second-class FAA medical certificate issued in April 2, 2010, with the limitation that he possess corrective lenses that correct for near vision. The pilot reported 35,326 total hours of flight experience, 12,000 of which were in the accident airplane make and model. He stated that his last flight review was performed in the accident airplane, and took place on October 23, 2009.


The high-wing, single-engine airplane was manufactured in 1975, and was equipped with a Continental Motors O-470-R engine, serial number 133000-6R. Maintenance records indicated that the engine was overhauled, and installed in the airplane in August 2006. At the time of the most recent annual inspection, dated August 5, 2010, the engine had accrued a total flight time of 1,609 hours since overhaul. At that time, the airframe had accrued 15,253 total flight hours. Fire damage precluded an accurate determination of the total flight time prior to the accident, however, the pilot reported a total airframe time of 15,400 hours.


An automated surface weather observation at Corona was issued about 20 minutes prior to the accident. It indicated wind from 300 degrees at 13 knots; 10 miles visibility with clear skies; temperature at 32 degrees C; dew point 14 degrees C; and an altimeter setting at 29.88 inches of mercury.


The airplane was recovered from the accident site, and examined by the NTSB investigator, and representatives from the FAA, Cessna Aircraft, and Continental Motors, Inc.


Fire consumed the entire cabin from the empennage, through to the firewall, along with the inboard wing sections. The empennage and the outboard section of the right wing sustained minimal damage; the left wing sustained leading edge crush damage midspan to the tip. The threaded portion of the flap actuator was not visible, which the Cessna representative stated was consistent with a fully retracted flap position.

With the exception of the fuel filler caps, which remained securely in place at their respective filler necks, the entire fuel supply and storage system from the bladder tanks, through to the gascolator inlet fitting, was completely consumed by fire. The gascolator sustained thermal damage and was disassembled; its screen was clear of obstruction.


The engine remained attached to its mounts, and sustained crush damage to the forward section of oil sump. The lower section of the number six cylinder head exhibited a similar damage, just below the rocker boss. The magnetos remained firmly attached to their mounting pads, and the spark plugs were secure at each position, with their respective leads attached. The throttle, propeller governor, mixture, and carburetor heat control cables were continuous from the cockpit controls through to their respective control arms.

The top spark plugs were removed and examined. Their electrodes remained mechanically undamaged, were coated in light gray deposits, and displayed “worn out–normal” wear signatures when compared with the Champion Spark Plugs AV-27 Check-A-Plug chart. The crankshaft turned freely when rotated by hand utilizing the propeller, and cylinder compression was observed throughout. Sparks were observed at the termination of each top spark plug lead, and both magneto impulse couplings audibly triggered simultaneously.

The carburetor sustained extensive thermal damage, with pink discoloration to its outer surface. Disassembly revealed that all gaskets and seals had become charred, fragmented, and thermally destroyed. The float was of the metallic type, and remained attached to the pivot arm.

The propeller and hub remained attached at the crankshaft flange; both blades sustained minimal damage, and displayed similar pitch angles at the hub.

A post impact examination did not reveal any anomalies with the remnants of the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation. Refer to the engine and airframe report included in the public docket for further details.


A fuel receipt provided by Corona Air Ventures revealed that the airplane was serviced with the addition of 36.70 gallons of aviation gasoline at 1020. The pilot reported that at that time, the airplane (which was equipped with two wing fuel tanks of 42 gallons capacity each) was serviced to capacity.

  Regis#: 640AM        Make/Model: C182      Description: 182, Skylane
  Date: 07/21/2012     Time: 0122

  Event Type: Accident   Highest Injury: None     Mid Air: N    Missing: N
  Damage: Substantial

  City: CHINO   State: CA   Country: US


INJURY DATA      Total Fatal:   0
                 # Crew:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   1
                 # Pass:   0     Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:   1
                 # Grnd:         Fat:   0     Ser:   0     Min:   0     Unk:    

  Activity: Unknown      Phase: Unknown      Operation: OTHER

  FAA FSDO: RIVERSIDE, CA  (WP21)                 Entry date: 07/23/2012

West Covina Police Officer Mike Weatherman has been honored by the Burn Institute for courage during the rescue of a pilot and passenger from a fiery airplane crash in Corona on July 20, 2012. 
(Courtesy of the West Covina Police Department)

September 26, 2012:   WEST COVINA – A West Covina police officer received the Burn Institute’s 2012 Inland Empire Spirit of Courage Award last weekend for pulling an injured pilot and passenger from the burning wreckage of an airplane crash in Corona. 

Officer Mike Weathermon was given the honor at a Sept. 21 ceremony in Riverside, officials said.

“I’m very proud of him,” West Covina Police Chief Frank Wills said. “He brought a tremendous credit and distinction to the West Covina Police Department.

He was the observer in an El Monte police helicopter being piloted by Fontana police captain and El Monte reserve helicopter pilot Dave Faulkner on July 20, West Covina and El Monte police officials said at the time. The crew members heard a distress call reporting mechanical problems from an airplane piloted by KFI traffic reporter Mike Nolan, who also had a teenage passenger on board.

The officers saw the plane lose power, plummet from the sky and strike power lines before crashing about 6:30 p.m. in a field about a mile and a half east of the Corona Municipal Airport,according to Federal Aviation Administration officials. Faulkner set the helicopter down about 100 yards from the scene of the fiery crash.

“Officer Weathermon quickly responded to the burning wreckage and safely pulled the pilot and passenger from the plane and escorted them to safety,” West Covina police said in a written statement.

Shortly after the officer pulled the pilot and passenger from the plane, it burst into flames, according to KFI.

The crash also touched off a brush fire, and Weathermon pulled the injured occupants of the airplane to safety, Wills said.

Both Nolan and his passenger suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries in the crash.

The Spirit of Courage Award is presented annually to individuals who have risked their lives to save others from death or injury by fire.

Founded in 1972, the Burn Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing burn injuries and deaths in San Diego, Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

The FAA’s final report on the July 20 airplane crash has not been completed. The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation.

Source:  http://www.sgvtribune.com