Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Police: You can be arrested for celebratory gunfire

Pilot shot in head while flying over Jacksonville, Florida

December 2012/January 2013:  Pilot Graham Hill was just looking for a good view of the downtown fireworks when he took his girlfriend for a New Year's Eve flight over downtown Jacksonville. Instead, he was met by gunfire. 


JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. — On New Year’s Eve, police are on the lookout for a serious problem: celebratory gunfire.

It is because like the old saying goes: "what goes up must come down." Police here in Jax Beach and across our area are encouraging people to keep the guns down.

New Year's Eve two years ago was rough for pilot Graham Hill. He and his girlfriend went up to get a bird's eye view of fireworks when he was struck in the head by a bullet.

"I let her know that we had been shot at -- and just as soon as I said that, blood starting running down my neck,” Hill said in a YouTube video.

Hill was one of the fortunate survivors -- and a prime example of why celebratory gunfire is a bad idea.

"People don't think. They just go outside and fire a gun into the air. Where's that bullet? The bullet has to come down somewhere," said Jacksonville Beach Police Department Cmdr. Mark Evans.

Indeed it does. That's why so many people get hurt this time of year. The group Shot Spotters tracked 11,508 celebratory gunfire incidents nationwide in the fourth quarter of 2013. About 1,100 of those occurred in the last six hours of the year.

Illegal fireworks are also something to watch for.

"It's all fun and games until somebody gets an eye poked out or has to end up in the hospital because they have burns on their hands," said tourist Tina Goldstrom.

Hill wasn't the only one struck Jan. 1, 2013. An 8 year-old boy was hit in the leg by a bullet. They're incidents everyone hopes to prevent this New Year’s Eve.

"It's serious stuff. You see it all the time. On Fourth of July and obviously New Year's. People get hurt," Goldstrom said.

Celebratory gunfire is not only dangerous, it's illegal. Anyone caught doing it will be arrested, with no exceptions.

- Source:

January  2013:   JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (WTLV) - Pilot Graham Hill was just looking for a good view of the downtown fireworks when he took his girlfriend for a New Year's Eve flight over downtown Jacksonville. Instead, he was met by gunfire. 

 "We were just north of the football stadium, at 1,200 feet when there was a loud pop. ...And that's when I noticed the bullet hole. And so I let her know that we had been shot at, and just when I said that I felt blood running down my neck."

In a YouTube video, Hill says he handed the controls to his girlfriend when he realized he'd been shot in the head, and used his jacket to staunch the bleeding. They landed safely at Craig Field. And he appears to have taken the incident with a dose of good humor, even posting this X-ray as his Facebook profile photo.

Jacksonville pilot and flight instructor Chris Hughes, who has actually flown the plane that was hit, heard about the incident in an online pilots' forum.

"Shocked. It's not something you would expect to really run into flying over a city like Jacksonville."

Unfortunately, the problem of celebratory gunfire is not that rare in Jacksonville. An 8-year-old boy was shot in the foot, also on New Year's Eve. And as we reported at that time, Jacksonville police say they answered 259 calls for discharged firearms on that day alone.

"They know it is wrong, it is illegal, just like any other law that is broken, they are out there doing it, they know it is not right, they just think they are not going to get caught," JSO spokesperson Melissa Bujeda told First Coast News.

Chris Hughes still views the shooting as a freak occurrence. But he will tell his flight students that it's just one more thing for a pilot to be prepared for.

"At this point, yeah, I would probably warn them, if they're flying on New Year's Eve or any other major holiday when Americans like to shoot guns, then be careful. That's probably what I'd warn them."

This incident has of course gotten a lot of attention in aviation circles. But the folks we spoke to at the FAA say the chances of it happening again are almost infinitesimally small.

Story and Video:

Stoddard-Hamilton GlaStar, N16XP: Accident occurred December 10, 2014 near Sheridan County Airport (KSHR), Wyoming

NTSB Identification: WPR15LA058
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 10, 2014 in Sheridan, WY
Aircraft: MCHOLLAND GLASTAR, registration: N16XP
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 10, 2014, about 1315 mountain standard time, an experimental McHolland Glastar amateur-built airplane, N16XP, was substantially damaged following impact with terrain after experiencing a loss of engine power during approach to landing to a private airstrip about 2 nautical miles south of the Sheridan County Airport (SHR), Sheridan, Wyoming. The private pilot, the registered owner and sole occupant of the airplane, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local flight, which was being operated in accordance with 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, and a flight plan was not filed. The flight had departed the airstrip about 30 minutes prior to the accident. 

In a telephone conversation shortly after the accident with the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge , the pilot reported that he had taken off from the private airstrip located at his residence about 30 minutes prior to the accident, and that while in the traffic pattern for landing the engine started to lose power. The pilot stated that when he realized he was too fast on the approach, he tried to lose airspeed. The airplane subsequently impacted a fence that bordered the airstrip, which resulted in substantial damage to its left wing.

The airplane was recovered to a secured location for further examination.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Casper FSFO-04

Federal Aviation Administration Aurora facility fire damage shown in photos

 AURORA, Ill. (WLS) -- Flights grounded. People stranded. We've seen images from outside of the Aurora air traffic facility, now for the first time, a look inside at the damage that crippled air travel in late September.

The I-Team obtained dozens of photos form the FAA under the Freedom of Information Act. They detail the damage caused by an intentionally-set fire inside the building known as Chicago Center. Flames melted computer cables, data lines and hard drives.

The pictures appear to show the fire was not isolated to one part of the basement room that functions as the nerve center of the air traffic control facility. Instead, the damage occurred under false floors and up on computer racks. Ceiling lights were scorched and ash covered sensitive equipment.

In all, the FAA reports that 20 racks of equipment and 10 miles of cabling had to be replaced.

"This was an act of sabotage where someone willfully and knowingly damaged key infrastructure for our national airspace system," said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta on Oct. 3.

That "someone," the government says, is FAA contractor Brian Howard. He allegedly used his access and intimate knowledge of the facility to set the fire Sept. 26 in what his attorney describes as a failed suicide attempt.

Howard's attorney tells the I-Team:

"Brian regrets the act he took at the lowest moment of his life. This single act is not reflective of the many years of dedicated and devoted service he gave to his country." 

Howard is charged with one count of destruction of aircraft facilities and remains in federal custody.

Story and Video:

Cessna 172S, VH-PFT: Fatal accident occurred December 29, 2014 near Port Arthur, southern Tasmania, Australia

The family of a pilot killed in a Tasmanian light plane crash have paid tribute to their relative as police confirm his body and that of a second man have been removed from the wreckage.

Sam Langford, 29, and passenger Tim Jones, 61, died on December 29 when the single-engine Cessna slammed nose-first into waters in the state's southeast near the Tasman Peninsula.

Recovery crews on Tuesday winched the damaged aircraft from the 90-metre seabed and brought it to Hobart by barge, with the men still in the cockpit.

In a brief statement on Wednesday, police said they had since been removed.

"Members of Tasmania Police forensics services processed the aircraft and recovered the bodies of the two men," the statement said.

On the same day, family and friends published notices in the Mercury newspaper.

"Forever in our hearts and thoughts, your drive and ambition will keep us going and looking skywards," Mr Langford's family wrote. "We will never forget your cheeky smile. Sam, we miss you."

The notices also sent "thoughts and sympathies" to Mr Jones's family.

He was taking photos of boats competing in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race when the crash happened.

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau has assessed the wreckage and police are preparing a report for the coroner

Officers on board PV Van Diemen work to recover the wreck of a light plane which crashed during the Sydney to Hobart race.

Efforts to retrieve a plane that crashed into the sea off Tasmania's south-east, killing both people on board, have been suspended due to problems with recovery equipment.

Attempts to winch the plane the 90 metres to the surface began last night but were suspended early this morning.

It is understood police had the wreckage of the plane almost to the surface when a rope holding it broke.

The plane plunged back into the ocean floor. Further sonar work will be needed to relocate its exact position and start the retrieval process again.

Sonar images have confirmed the bodies of the pilot Sam Langford, 29, and 61-year-old photographer Tim Jones are still inside the cockpit of the Cessna 172 which crashed off Cape Raoul on Monday evening.

The pair were covering the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race when the accident happened.

On Wednesday the plane was discovered in about 90 metres of water off the Tasman Peninsular, south of Port Arthur.

But Acting Assistant Commissioner for Tasmania Police, Tony Cerritelli, said there had been technical difficulties with the equipment needed to reach the wreckage.

"The plane was located on a sandy bottom in that area [off the Tasman Peninsula] and two deceased people were unfortunately located in the cockpit," Mr Cerritelli said.

"We believe that those two people are the two missing people who went down with the Cessna earlier this week."

Once the wreckage has been brought to the surface it will be examined by experts to help determine the cause of the crash.

The crash investigation is being handled by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB).

ATSB spokesman Joe Hattley said the bureau wanted to speak to anyone with any information about the crash.

"The ATSB would be interested in any information that anyone has in relation to the aircraft accident and we'd like anyone with information or photos or anything at all to contact the ATSB on 1800 020 616," he said.

A number of yachts diverted from the race to offer assistance after hearing a may day call that a plane had crashed.

Helsal III skipper John Davis said when crew members raised the alarm they immediately suspended racing and went into search-and-rescue mode.

Two tourists, who were watching the yacht race from nearby cliffs, reported seeing a plane flying "really low" in the area where the crash happened.

Airlines of Tasmania said it was devastated to receive the news of the death of its pilot Mr Langford and his passenger.

Managing director Shannon Wells said the airline staff were receiving all support possible as they came to grips with the loss of their colleague.

"Our thoughts and condolences extend to family and friends of Sam and Tim," Mr Wells said.

"Both men were highly regarded within their industries. We'll all be worse off without their presence.

"Tasmania Police, the Search and Rescue volunteers and competitors in the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, who did as much as they could to assist, have all done a tremendous job in very difficult and tragic circumstances."

Story and Photo:

McDonnell Douglas Helicopters MD530FF (369FF), N530KK, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department: Accident occurred December 31, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada

NTSB Identification: WPR15TA071
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 31, 2014 in Las Vegas, NV
Aircraft: MD HELICOPTER INC 369FF, registration: N530KK
Injuries: 2 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this public aircraft accident report.

On December 31, 2014, about 1330 Pacific standard time, an MD Helicopter Inc. 369FF, N530KK, was substantially damaged during an emergency autorotation following a sudden loss of engine power in Las Vegas, Nevada. The two commercial pilots on board sustained minor injuries. The helicopter was registered to, and operated by, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department as a public-use flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated from North Las Vegas Airport, Las Vegas, at 1322.

The pilot reported that he was orbiting when he noticed a drop in engine and rotor revolutions per minute (rpm). The pilot then rolled the helicopter out of the orbit, and the engine and rotor rpm stabilized momentarily at 97%. The pilot attempted to increase the engine and rotor rpm while turning west towards the North Las Vegas Airport. During the maneuver, the engine and rotor rpm rapidly degraded. The pilot entered an autorotation, and executed an emergency landing. The helicopter touched down hard, the tail impacted the ground, and separated from the airframe. 



  LAS VEGAS -- The officers involved in the emergency landing of a Metro helicopter on a residential street on New Year's Eve have have been identified as Officer David Callen and Officer Paul Lourenco. 

Officer Callen has been employed with the Metro since March 2000 and Officer Lourenco has been employed with the LVMPD since July 1997.

Both officers are pilots assigned to the Emergency Operations Bureau, Search and Rescue/Air Support Detail.

Both officers were treated for their injuries at the University Medical Center Trauma Center and were released the same evening. The officers are both experienced pilots, each having over 2,200 flight hours, and both are certified flight instructors.

An audio clip of the radio traffic of the incident accompanies this release.

An extensive review of each of the aircraft in the LVMPD fleet is currently underway. Initially, no LVMPD helicopters will be flying in regular service. Each of the aircraft will go through a detailed inspection and maintenance record check. At the conclusion of each inspection, the respective aircraft will be released back into service.

The six helicopters in Metro’s fleet include one Bell 407, three McDonnell Douglas 530-FF’s, and two Bell HH-1H’s. The aircraft involved in this incident was a McDonnell Douglas 530-FF. The department now has five operational helicopters in the fleet.

The investigation into this incident remains ongoing. The Federal Aviation Administration is taking the lead in the investigation.

LAS VEGAS -- A Metro Police helicopter crashed in a Las Vegas neighborhood Wednesday afternoon injuring two officers, police said.

The crash occurred at 1:30 p.m. at Bonanza Road and 21st Street. The helicopter went down in the street, according to Metro.

The officers were transported to University Medical Center, police said. The FAA reports that the injuries aren't believed to be life-threatening. No citizens were injured.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area. Bonanza Road is closed between Bruce Street and Eastern Avenue.

Metro purchased the new MD 530F helicopter in July 2010. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Air Support Unit began operation in 1969. The unit has 22 helicopter pilots.

The NTSB and the FAA are investigating.

Story, Comments, Video and Photo Gallery:

Alaska aviation fatalities down sharply in 2014

Alaska Dispatch News 
By   Colleen Mondor
December 31, 2014

As 2014 comes to a close, the Alaska aviation community can breathe a collective sigh of relief over dramatically improved accident statistics for the year. According to the National Transportation Safety Board aviation database, through Dec. 25, 2014, there were a total of 74 aircraft accidents in the state, resulting in five fatalities. This is a marked change from 2013, when 35 lives were lost in 94 crashes.

Sifting through safety statistics is a common activity for aviation analysts, but while the data can reveal what happened in a certain place and time, it can only offer clues as to why.

Over the past 10 years, Alaska has suffered an average of 100 aircraft accidents a year, with a high of 127 in 2005 and the lowest number (74) coming this year. About 80 percent of crashes annually involve general aviation or noncommercial flights. Overall, 2013 was the worst year for fatalities since 1997.

As the dramatic difference between 2013 and 2014 makes clear, it is difficult to come away with any broad conclusions from a short period of data and gauging potential permanent improvements in Alaska flight safety statistics requires a longer view. Therefore, year-to-year variations must be considered, at best, with cautious optimism, as determining a reasonable trend is impossible from one year to the next.

"Five years is a reasonable amount of time for a trend," said NTSB Alaska Region Chief Clint Johnson.

This means that while 2013 serves as a tragic anomaly compared to previous years, 2014 could simply be another anomaly -- albeit a far more positive one.

“Dating back to the late 1990s, when I first joined the NTSB, our office was working about 130-140 accidents a year here,” says Johnson, “and there has been a gradual decline in the overall number of accidents. However, as we’ve seen recently, that positive trend can change in an instant.”  

By looking at a larger block of accident figures, the NTSB and Federal Aviation Administration, along with civilian groups like the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, Alaskan Aviation Safety Foundation, Alaska Airmen’s Association and others can determine the best ways to reduce accidents through more targeted education, enforcement action or technology advancements.

Just as changes to the bush mail bypass system in 2002 resulted in fewer air carriers and have been also credited with sharply reduced commercial accidents (from 321 in the 1990s to 191 in the the 2000s), there are other aspects of the Alaska aviation environment which have drawn the attention of safety advocates.

Earlier this year, the NTSB took the unusual step of issuing an urgent safety recommendation to the FAA concerning oversight of the “regulatory compliance and operational safety programs” of the parent company of the Ravn Alaska air group. The NTSB's concerns extended to all three of Ravn's partner air carriers: Frontier Flying Service, Era Aviation (not associated with Era Helicopters) and Hageland Aviation, which were collectively responsible for a string of accidents and incidents between 2012 and 2014 resulting in six fatalities.

Concerns about weather reporting resources continue to dominate discussions statewide and were highlighted last month in a comprehensive article at AOPA's website, “Alaska is a weather-poor state,” written by AOPA Regional Manager for Alaska Tom George.

Further, general aviation pilots in particular struggle with loss of control at low altitude, the cause of at least four accidents in 2013. Anchorage NTSB investigator Chris Shaver completed a video on this type of accident -- sometimes referred to as “moose stalls” -- that graphically illustrates its tragic outcome.

And in May, the Mat-Su Traffic Working Group announced significant changes to common traffic advisory frequencies to the areas north and west of Anchorage. As reported in Alaska Dispatch News, the group was formed after a series of midairs including one on July 30, 2011 near Amber Lake that killed the four occupants of a Cessna 180. The pilot and passenger of the second aircraft, a Cessna 206, survived. The two pilots were transmitting on different frequencies, each believing he was using the correct one for pilots flying in that area, and were unaware of each other's positions.

“Safety is always the FAA’s top priority and improving general aviation safety in Alaska has been one of the FAA's top priorities for more than a decade,” said Kerry Long, FAA Alaskan Regional Administrator, when asked to comment on 2014's aviation record.  “Since early 2000, we have generally seen a study (sic) reduction in accidents and today Alaskans are enjoying the safest period in the state’s aviation history.”

“Despite these successes, we’re not taking our eyes off our goal of achieving even greater levels of safety," he added. "It takes both government and industry working together in a collaborative way to continually raise the safety bar.”

As federal agencies and user groups compare 2013 and 2014 however, some answers will remain stubbornly elusive. One example of this is the July 2013 crash in Soldotna that took the lives of the pilot and all nine passengers and occurred in clear weather on a paved, maintained runway with an aircraft that suffered no contributing mechanical anomalies, according to the NTSB public docket. Addressing problematic pilot decision-making behind such a crash is a daunting, if not impossible, endeavor.

Ultimately, 2014 was a great year for Alaska flying and all those pilots who made thoughtful, conservative flight safety decisions in the past 12 months are to be commended. Their stories are missing from the statistical record, but are the most critical component to aviation’s continued success in the state. It would be a fine thing if the most negative aspects of the Bush pilot myth are finally being left behind by the state's 21st century aviators, but it’s too early to be anything but hopeful going into 2015.

- Original article can be found at:

Piper PA-46-350P Malibu Mirage, N228LL: Fatal accident occurred August 31, 2014 in Erie, Colorado

NTSB Identification: CEN14FA467
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, August 31, 2014 in Erie, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 08/10/2016
Aircraft: PIPER PA 46 350P, registration: N228LL
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 private pilot was inbound to the airport, attempting to conduct a straight-in approach to runway 33. Due to the prevailing wind, traffic flow at the time of the pilot's arrival was on runway 15. Another airplane was departing the airport in the opposite direction and crossed in close proximity to the accident airplane. The departing traffic altered his course to the right to avoid the accident airplane while the accident airplane stayed on his final approach course. The two aircraft were in radio communication on the airport common traffic advisory frequency and were exercising see-and-avoid rules as required.

Witnesses reported that as the airplane continued down runway 33 for landing, they heard the power increase and observed the airplane make a left-hand turn to depart the runway in an attempted go-around. The airplane entered a left bank with a nose-high attitude, failed to gain altitude, and subsequently stalled and impacted terrain. It is likely the pilot did not maintain the necessary airspeed during the attempted go-around and exceeded the airplane's critical angle of attack. The investigation did not reveal why the pilot chose to conduct the approach with opposing traffic or why he attempted a landing with a tailwind, but this likely increased the pilot's workload during a critical phase of flight. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed and exceedance of the critical angle of attack during a go-around with a tailwind condition, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. A contributing factor to the accident was the pilot's decision to continue the approach with opposing traffic.


On August 31, 2014 about 1150 mountain daylight time, a Piper Malibu PA-46-350P airplane, N228LL, was substantially damaged when the airplane impacted terrain near the Erie Municipal Airport (EIK), Erie, Colorado. The airplane was owned by The Real Estate School, LLC, Erie, Colorado and privately operated. The private pilot and four passengers on board were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight originated at Centennial Airport (KAPA), Denver, Colorado.

Multiple witnesses located at and around EIK saw the accident airplane on final approach to runway 33 while another airplane was departing runway 15. Witnesses stated the two airplanes crossed in "close proximity." The airplane continued down runway 33 and they heard an increase in engine power "as if to go-around." A witness in the fixed-base operator's building described the airplane as being at a low altitude with full power, in a left bank with a nose-high attitude. Witnesses said it appeared the "airplane did not want to fly, it appeared to be in a stall," and "it did not accelerate or climb." The airplane continued in a "rapid descent" until impacting the terrain.


The pilot, age 67, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land, airplane multi-engine land, and instrument airplane ratings. A third-class airman medical certificate was issued on June 30, 2014, with the limitation: must wear corrective lenses. The pilot reported on his most recent medical certificate application that he had accumulated 1,300 total flight hours, with 60 hours in the previous 6 months. The pilot's logbook was not located during the investigation.


The airplane, manufactured in 1994, was a six-seat, low-wing, retractable-gear airplane, serial number 4622164, and was powered by a Lycoming Engines TIO-540 engine, rated at 350 horsepower. The engine drove a metal, 2-blade Hartzell HC-I2YR-1BF/F80 variable pitch propeller.

According to the airplane's logbooks, the most recent annual inspection was accomplished on December 4, 2013, at a Hobbs time of 2,808.8 hours. According to the airplane tachometer, the airframe's total time was 2,910.7 hours at the time of the accident.

Additionally, the airplane was equipped with two fuel tanks, which hold 61 gallons per tank, of which; 1 gallon is unusable for each tank. Refueling records obtained from a fuel vendor revealed that the airplane had been most recently refueled the morning of August 31, 2014, with 12.98 gallons of 100 low lead aviation fuel at their location at EIK. Additional fuel receipts from EIK were obtained, which showed that the airplane was refueled on August 15, 2014 with 73.54 gallons, on July 18, 2014 with 39.01 gallons, and on July 13, 2014 with 67.24 gallons.


The closest official weather observation station is located at EIK. At 1135, an automated weather observation system (AWOS) reported wind from 160 degrees at 6 knots; visibility 10 miles; temperature 21 degrees Celsius (C); dew point 10 degrees C; and an altimeter reading of 29.95 inches of mercury.


Erie Municipal Airport is a non-towered airport operating in Class-G airspace underneath of Class-B airspace. The airport is equipped with one runway. Runway 15/33 is 4,700 feet in length and 60-feet wide. The reported field elevation of the airport is 5,119 feet mean sea level.


The aircraft impacted the edge of a culvert about 350 yards west of runway 33 at EIK. The initial impact point to the main wreckage was about 180 feet at a 300-degree heading. Several components of the aircraft; including the radar pod, forward baggage door and vertical stabilator with attached rudder surface, were located within the debris field west of the initial impact site. The main wreckage came to rest inverted, on a heading of approximately 158 degrees. 

The fuselage sustained crushing damage to its belly skins along most of its entire length. The engine and baggage compartment were partially separated from the forward fuselage pressure bulkhead assembly. The tail section completely separated from the aft section of the fuselage at the rear pressure bulkhead assembly but remained attached to the fuselage by control surface cables. 

The external fuselage skins exhibited wrinkling and creasing along both sides. The roof section was partially crushed inward near the right forward side window and emergency exit window. The emergency window was pushed inboard and partially separated from the window frame. The rear fuselage, in the area of the rear bulkhead section where the tail section separated, sustained extensive impact damage.

The main cabin area of the fuselage remained mostly intact. All six seats remained attached to the floor. Some of the seat bottom cushions were reportedly removed by first responders.

Continuity of the forward control cables was established. The primary aileron cables remained attached to both of their respective aileron quadrant assemblies. Both elevator control cables remained attached to their respective quadrant sectors. Both rudder cables remained attached to their respective rudder quadrant sector.

The fuel selector valve found to be in the "off" position. The cockpit fuel valve lever was also found in the "off" position. First responders reported to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that the fuel selector valve was placed into the "off" position during rescue activities.

The fuel gascolator bowl assembly was upside down when it was disassembled. The upper bowl housing exhibited a trace amount of fuel. The bowl did not contain any fuel, and was free of contaminates. The fuel filter assembly exhibited minor particles, but was otherwise mostly free of contamination. No evidence of any water contamination was observed.

The left wing remained attached to the fuselage. The wing sustained ground impact damage. Both the flap and aileron surfaces remained attached to the wing. The aileron cable assemblies remained attached to the aileron quadrant drive sector at the aileron surface. The flap actuator assembly was observed in the retracted position. The pushrod remained attached to the flap surface bellcrank assembly. The landing gear was observed in the retracted position.

The right wing remained attached to the fuselage although it was broken at the main spar. The wing sustained ground impact damage but was otherwise mostly intact. The wing exhibited a downward bow and was partially separated about 5 feet outboard of the fuselage. Both the flap and aileron surfaces remained attached to the wing. The aileron cable assemblies remained attached to the aileron quadrant drive sector at the aileron surface. The flap actuator assembly was observed in the retracted position. The flap interconnect pushrod separated at the flap drive idler arm assembly due to impact. The landing gear was observed in the retracted position.

The rear fuselage section sustained some ground impact damage and remained mostly intact up to the rear pressure bulkhead assembly. The horizontal tail section separated from the rear fuselage at the rear bulkhead and remained attached to the fuselage by control surface cables. The vertical surface, with attached rudder surface, separated from the rear fuselage and was located in the debris path near the initial ground impact area.

Visual continuity of the tail surface control cables was established. Both elevator control cables remained attached to the elevator sector assembly.

The rudder surface torque tube assembly separated where it attaches to the rudder sector control. The rudder sector control sustained impact damage and both rudder control cables remained attached to the rudder sector control.

One propeller blade was broken off mid span, with chord wise polishing and some lengthwise scratches. The second blade was relatively straight with leading edge and chord wise polishing. 

The engine was removed from the airframe and subsequently examined at the recovery facility. The examination of the engine revealed the sparkplugs appeared "worn out-normal" as compared to the Champion Aviation Check-a-Plug Chart AV-27. Both magnetos were rotated by hand and produced spark at all leads. The crankshaft was rotated by hand and compression was established at all cylinders. Engine drive train continuity was established throughout the engine crankcase. The cylinders were borescope inspected and no anomalies were noted. The oil pickup screen, oil filter and propeller governor screen were all found free of debris. The intake plenum was found crushed upward and cracked open. The left turbo charger was free to rotate but stiff; impact damage was noted. The right turbo charger was also free to rotate. The exhaust tubes were found crushed upwards. 

Fuel was noted in the fuel servo, lines, and flow divider. The flow divider diaphragm was found intact. The fuel injectors were found clear. Fuel was discharged from the engine driven fuel pump when rotated by hand.

No evidence of any preexisting mechanical malfunction that would have precluded normal operation of the airframe or engine was found.


A post mortem examination was conducted under the authority of the Office of the Coroner, Weld County, Colorado on September 1, 2014. The cause of death for the pilot was attributed to multiple blunt force injuries.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Civil Aeromedical Institute performed toxicology examinations for the pilot which was negative for carbon monoxide, alcohol and drugs.


The annunciator panel from the accident aircraft was removed by the NTSB Investigator-in-Charge (IIC) and sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory, Washington, DC., to be examined for the presence of any stretched light bulb filaments. Stretched light bulb filaments are indicators the light bulb was illuminated at the time of the accident. Each annunciator light was x-rayed to determine the status of the two bulbs inside. No stretched filaments were found in any of the annunciator lights.

Additionally, an Apple iPad tablet computer was located within the wreckage. The tablet was subsequently sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder Division, Washington, DC. for further examination.

An exterior examination revealed the device had sustained extensive structural damage. The internal board was removed from the damaged device and installed in a surrogate iPad. The device was successfully powered on. However, the unit was protected by a 4-digit passcode and after possible passcodes were unsuccessfully tried, the device reported "iPad is disabled." No further recovery attempts were made.

For further information, see the Personal Electronic Device Report within the public docket for this accident.


The NTSB's air traffic control (ATC) investigator reviewed radar data provided by the 84th Radar Evaluation Squadron (RADES) located at Hill Air Force Base in Utah. The radar data was recorded from the Denver ASR-9 (DEN).

There were no audio re-recordings available for this accident. According to radar data and witness statements, moments before the accident N228LL was on approach to runway 33 at EIK and passed in close proximity to N573MS who had departed runway 15 (opposite direction) at EIK. According to witness statements, the pilots of both aircraft were transmitting on the local common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) which was not recorded (see witness statements in the public docket). Both aircraft were operating under visual flight rules (VFR) in visual meteorological conditions (VMC) and were not in communication with ATC while operating within class G airspace at an airport without an operating control tower.

Radar data indicated that the accident aircraft was inbound to runway 33 and was flying an approximately straight course to the runway with no observed significant deviations from that inbound heading. Radar data indicated that N573MS departed runway 15 at EIK and shortly after becoming airborne, made an abrupt deviation to the west (to the pilot's right).

According to radar data, the closest proximity between N228LL and N573MS occurred when the aircraft were separated by approximately 0.12 nautical miles (729 feet) laterally, and 200 feet vertically (and increasing). The flight track of N228LL indicated nothing out of the ordinary after passing N573MS, and it continued to approach EIK on course for runway 33 at a normal rate of descent. Witness statements indicated that N228LL appeared to be going around, however the aircraft never reached an altitude high enough for radar coverage and therefore any attempt at a go around was unable to be corroborated via recorded radar data.

According to the Piper Malibu Pilot's Operating Handbook, Section 4.33 Go-Around under Normal Procedures, states:

"To initiate a go-around from a landing approach, the mixture should be set to full RICH, the propeller control should be at full INCREASE, and the throttle should be advanced to full power while the pitch attitude is increased to obtain the balked landing speed of 80 knots-indicated airspeed (KIAS). Retract the landing gear and slowly retract the flaps when a positive climb is established. Allow the airplane to accelerate to the best angle of climb speed (81 KIAS) for obstacle clearance or to the best rate of climb speed (110 KIAS) if obstacles are not a factor. Reset the longitudinal trim as required."

Pilot Oliver Frascona, his girlfriend and her three children died in an August plane crash at Erie Municipal Airport.

Frascona, a prominent Erie real estate lawyer, was flying with 41-year-old Tori Rains-Wedan and her three children, according to the Weld County Coroner. Her children were 15-year-old Mason Wedan and 11-year-old twin brothers, Austin and Hunter. A dog also died in the crash.

Witnesses saw Frascona's Piper PA-46-350P Malibu Mirage sputtering and flying low to the ground, then a cloud of dust as it struck the ground.

First responders found the plane upside down.

Rains-Wedan was the owner of Educated Minds, which provides continuing education classes for real estate brokers. Mason attended Broomfield High School, while his brothers had started at Erie Middle School.

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NTSB Identification: CEN14FA467
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, August 31, 2014 in Erie, CO
Aircraft: PIPER PA 46 350P, registration: N228LL
Injuries: 5 Fatal.

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

On August 31, 2014 about 1150 mountain daylight time, a Piper Malibu PA-46, N228LL, was substantially damaged when the airplane impacted terrain near Erie Municipal Airport (EIK), Erie. The airplane was owned and operated by The Real Estate School, LLC, Erie, Colorado. The private pilot and four passengers on board were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

In statements provided to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Investigator-In-Charge (IIC), witnesses saw the accident airplane on final approach to runway 33 while another airplane was departing runway 15. Witnesses stated the two airplanes crossed in "close proximity." The airplane continued down runway 33 and power was applied "as if to go-around." A witness in the fixed-base operator's building described the airplane at low altitude with full power, in a left bank with a nose-high attitude. Witnesses said it appeared the "airplane did not want to fly, it appeared to be in a stall," and "it did not accelerate or climb." The airplane continued in a "rapid descent" until impacting terrain.

At 1135, the EIK automated weather reporting facility reported wind from 160 degrees at 6 knots, visibility 10 miles, temperature 21 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 10 degrees C, and an altimeter reading of 29.95 inches of mercury.

The main wreckage contained all primary structural components and flight control surfaces. The wreckage was retained by the NTSB for further examination.

Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office: FAA Denver FSDO-03 

Oliver E. Frascona, Esq. 

AirTran final flight

John Souders flew the inaugural flight for AirTran Airways.

MARIETTA — Dallas-based AirTran Airways had its final flight Sunday after more than 20 years in the sky, and one east Cobb man was there for it all.

John Souders, a decorated Marine aviator and Vietnam veteran, was the first pilot AirTran hired when it began operating in 1993 and sat in the cockpit for its final flight last weekend.

The airline was bought by Southwest Airlines in 2011. 

Souders, 71, retired from flying at age 60 but stayed with AirTran as an instructor. He said he was glad to be a part of AirTran’s last flight. 

“It was a very nice experience,” he said. “The captain was the current chief pilot for AirTran, Floy Ponder, who I had hired back in 1994.”

Souders sat in the jump seat for the flight, dubbed Flight 1 in honor of the airline’s first flight, which had the same flight number. Souders said he would have rather had a different seat, though.

“One, I would have of course loved to have been flying it, and two, it was a bittersweet experience to have had such a fulfilling career,” he said.

He was the pilot for its inaugural flight in 1993 — from Atlanta to Jacksonville, Florida — and said it was exciting to be a part of an up-and-coming airline, which was originally known as ValuJet.

“They were all dynamic people,” he said. “It was a fun operation, and the people were all working together to give excellent customer service and a very good flight for a small flight. It was a very unique experience to see something start and grow. It became very successful very quickly.”

Souders became the airline’s chief pilot in 1994, then its vice president of flight operations a year or so later. 

In that position, he said he was in charge of the pilots and their training and was the airline’s primary interface with the Federal Aviation Administration.

He said he still flew, but not as much as he did when he was a pilot. 

So in 1997, he decided to go back to being a pilot.

“I was just glad to get back in a cockpit again,” he said.

Souders said he never sought out those promotions, but was asked by supervisors to take the positions. He said all he wanted to do was fly planes.

“That was my main interest,” he said.

Souders had to retire from flying in 2003 because of an age restriction imposed by the FAA 

“At age 60, the rule at the time was you can no longer fly with passengers in what’s called 121 flight operations, basically for an airline,” he said. “I then worked full time in the simulator as a check airman and instructor.”

Learning to fly

Souders enrolled in the Navy’s flight school in October 1965 at age 22. He said he knew he would be drafted to fight in Vietnam, so he decided to be a pilot, thinking by the time he finished the 18-month training program, the war would be over because North Vietnam wouldn’t be able to sustain a prolonged war with American forces.

“It’s such an insignificant little country,” he said.

Souders earned his wings in 1967, then went to Beaufort, South Carolina, to qualify to fly the A-4 Skyhawk. Sounders noted that the A-4 was both the type of plane flown by Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) as well as the planes shown in the film “Top Gun.”

After a year of training, Souders was shipped to Vietnam in the summer of 1968, where he flew 360 missions over the course of 18 months. He earned a Distinguished Flying Cross for one particular mission.

“We were supporting troops in contact, and we dropped napalm and bombs within 30 meters of the friendly troops in extremely bad weather,” he said. “The suspected North Vietnamese troops broke contact, and they helicoptered out the friendly troops.”

Souders said he also earned three single mission Air Medals and a 24-stripe Air Medal. 

He was released from active duty in 1970 as a first lieutenant, but stayed in the Marine Reserves until 1985, completing a 20-year career in the military and finishing with a rank of lieutenant colonel.

Kennesaw resident Helen Souders, John Souder’s daughter, said he told her a story about when he flew very close to Bob Hope while the comedian was in Vietnam entertaining the troops.

“So I went and rented the whole set of Bob Hope - The Vietnam Years and found the clip,” Helen Souders said. “And Bob Hope was interviewing Ms. World and my dad buzzed the show. You could see Bob Hope’s lips moving, cussing up a storm, but you couldn’t hear anything because the jet was so loud.”

While in the Marine Reserves, he flew simulated combat missions and participated in exercises with Air Force and Navy pilots.

“It was just flying the F-8 Crusader out of Dobbins (Air Reserve Base),” he said. “You would take off on a typical mission and simulate radar intercepts and simulate air tactics and maneuvers. You’d just basically go up and do what you probably refer to as dogfight.”

Souders attended Georgia Tech from 1970 to 1972 and earned a degree in mechanical engineering. He was admitted into Pi Tau Sigma, an honors society for mechanical engineers. After graduating, he was hired by Eastern Airlines, where he worked until it folded in 1991. 

He worked as an engineer for the Environmental Protection Agency for about two and a half years before being hired by AirTran in 1993.

Coming in for a landing

Souders said now that he’s retired, he plans to spend more time with family. He married his wife, Lou, in May of 1967, after he met her at a wedding while he was in flight school in Pensacola, Florida.

“I was attending a wedding of one of my best high school friends, (and) he married (Lou’s) first cousin,” Souders said.

Souders said his wife is from McCormick, South Carolina, “where she was Ms. McCormick.”

The couple have three children — Helen, John Jr. and Brooks — and five grandchildren. Helen Souders said she was young when her father first got into commercial flights.

“In the early years, it was harder because he had no seniority. There were a lot of times he was gone Christmas morning,” Helen Souders said.

Still, she said her father was always family oriented. Souders grew up in southern California, so the family was able to fly out to the west coast and see where he lived. 

They also got to take a few summer trips to Hawaii, Helen Souders said. 

“It was, I guess, a different life, than maybe some of my friends were able to have, places we were able to go,” she said. “We always knew we came first. We never felt like his career was more important than the opportunity to be with us as his children.”

Souders said he’d also like to take up flying sail planes, which are small, light aircraft without an engine that are towed into the sky.

“They’re so light that once they get going, there’s a meter that you can use to see when you’re actually in an updraft, then you just circle around in the updraft and gain altitude,” Souders said.

Souders said he owns several rental properties he takes care of, and his daughter said he does all the yard work at the properties himself.

“Sometimes he’ll take my son — he’s 19 — with him to help, but for the most part he does all of it. He doesn’t hire out any of it, so I don’t know where he gets the energy. He’s something else,” Helen Souders said.

Helen Souders said having a pilot for a father gave her a lot of unique opportunities when she was younger.

“It was incredibly cool to go to airshows and sit in the tower and watch flying in shows. I got to go in and play in an F-8 simulator when I was a kid. That’s an opportunity many people never would even think would have the opportunity to do. It was a very cool childhood.”

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John Souders flew 316 combat missions in Vietnam.

Fitchburg, Massachusetts: Residents complain of loud noise from planes approaching Logan

FITCHBURG -- Aviation experts say a change in runway selection at nearby major airports is behind the loud airplane sounds plaguing some Fitchburg and Lunenburg residents.

Kristina Zanin has lived in the same area of Fitchburg for 33 years, and in her home on Ashburnham Hill Road for the past three years. She said it wasn't until October that she started hearing jet noises, and now they come nearly every night.

"I feel like we live in East Boston," Zanin said. "It's horrible. I have a hard time sleeping as is."

She compared the sound to what she heard during the four months she lived behind Logan Airport in Boston.

Her bedroom has several windows and lets in a lot of sound.

She and her fiancé timed the jet sounds early on and said they come at five-minute intervals. She said they are louder than the TV with the volume turned up all the way.
"If we don't sleep with the TV on now, we can't sleep," she said.

In response to reports of the noise problem, Fitchburg Mayor Lisa Wong sent a letter this month to the Massachusetts Port Authority requesting a review of changes to air-traffic patterns.

The jet sounds are unrelated to aircraft coming from the Fitchburg Municipal Airport, according to Wong and airport Manager Scott Ellis.

A representative of the Massachusetts Port Authority, the entity in charge of Logan Airport, could not be reached for comment for this article, but Ellis was able to provide an explanation for the sounds: Seasonal patterns of wind have put Fitchburg into the approach for jets using Logan Airport.

Ellis said it's possible that jets using Manchester-Boston Regional Airport, in Manchester, N.H., may also produce some of the nuisance sounds. He said after talking to air-traffic controllers from Logan Airport, he's determined they haven't added new routes or altered approaches, but are utilizing a different, existing runway and approach.

"You always want to take off and land into the wind," Ellis said, adding that wind conditions are getting the pilots that use the airport to utilize the approach that takes the jets over Fitchburg.

The approach is a straight line that extends to the runway and, in aviation terms, Fitchburg is close to Boston.

He said that while the cities are about 40 miles apart, a jet traveling about 400 mph will go from Fitchburg to Boston in a few minutes.

Ellis said there could be other factors as well, such as the planes using a slightly different altitude when they utilized the approach in the past. He said the Federal Aviation Administration is reporting that nothing illegal is taking place.

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Kim Ward: Artist brings history of flight in North Texas back to life at new airport

WICHITA FALLS, Texas - Kim Ward has been lost before in the dreamy haze of Monet — the luminescent emerald green ponds, the water lilies bobbing along like landing pads for dragonflies.

Her flights of fancy usually tend to Renoir, who celebrated beauty, and to Vermeer, master of light and shadow.

So it would seem unlikely that Ward, who often paints scenes of flowers and children, would delve like a dervish into the engineered, mechanical world of World War I era biplanes, airplane hangars, firetrucks and carrier pigeons.

Since July, Ward has lost herself in the bygone era of Call Field, the World War I training base that ushered in the history of flight in Wichita Falls decades before Sheppard Air Force Base would pick up that torch.

She is bringing that seemingly lost time and place to life in a monumental mural she’s painting as part of the Museum of North Texas History-sponsored “Jenny to Jet” exhibit at the new Wichita Falls Regional Airport, a $21 million, 52,000-square-foot facility that became operational Dec. 17.

Ward’s massive “Call Field: Pioneers of Flight” mural, a background for the exhibit, blankets two walls — one 55-by-20 feet and the other 22-by-20 feet.

It will be viewed by visitors through the wings of a 1916 Curtiss JN4-D Jenny biplane, representative of the planes in which pilots trained while stationed at Call Field. The plane and a Call Field Model T Ford troop carrier car rest in front of the mural, while across the way, a modern-day T-38 jet from Sheppard Air Force Base beckons.

The scene Ward is bringing to life is of a line of planes in front of half a dozen hangars. About three dozen planes hover in the wide, blue Texas sky overhead. A firetruck sits close by — “The Jennys would backfire all the time and start grass fires,” Ward said — along with a carrier pigeon coop in one corner.

The mural is so detailed and as historically accurate as Ward could get it that the artwork even includes a United States flag flying with 48 stars, since Hawaii and Alaska were not yet states back then.

Ward, who was born in Utah and lived in New Mexico before moving to Wichita Falls (though she has lived here longer than anywhere else), is known for painting two Mane Event horses. One of them is a Monet-inspired horse called “Claude” that sits in front of the Kemp Center for the Arts, and the other is on 10th Street. She also has painted murals in schools, a hospital and private homes.

“I do people and animals and flowers, trees, landscapes — things like that, but not vehicles,” Ward said Tuesday afternoon in front of the “Pioneers of Flight” mural.

She wasn’t daunted by the idea of painting something so different in subject matter from what she usually paints. “I’m up for a challenge.”

Ward didn’t really know much about Call Field before this project, which was commissioned by the history museum.

“I had never heard anything about the history of Call Field. I thought, ‘There was a flight school here?’ I didn’t believe it.”

Now Ward might be considered a historian when it comes to the World War I flight training base. She began her research in the summer, three months before starting the artwork in October.

“I went to the library. There isn’t a book on Call Field.”

She ended up at the Museum of North Texas History and the Wichita County Archives, speaking with museum Executive Director Charles Campbell and archivist Lita Watson, from whom she gathered a wealth of information. Her research led her to a site plan of Call Field and an old album of photographs she thinks made its way back to Wichita Falls from Missouri.

She photocopied and took photographs of many of the images, then arranged them in plastic sleeves in a binder. Many of the images she has taped to the mural as references for the artwork.

“They (the history museum) called me because I wanted to be historically accurate and had done the research,” she said. The museum had received several artists’ names from the Kemp Center for the Arts and Gallery Manager Gary Kingcade.

“I did lots of research on the buildings. It took two weeks just to figure out what the firetruck (in one of the photographs) was.”

It turned out to be an American LaFrance and dates to 1917.

“We were going over them (the photographs) with magnifying glasses. I was looking at the flight line and saw a really weird plane. Sure enough, it was definitely different. We realized the county archives had a picture of that exact plane.”

It ended up being a medical air ambulance rather than a military training aircraft.

“We find these gems that were overlooked,” Ward said excitedly.

In doing her research, she learned about homing pigeons, too. They can fly up to 60 miles per hour, she said. Pilots would take the pigeons up with them, and if the pilots had an accident or some other emergency and needed to get a message home, they would send the pigeons back with a note.

“The Germans would shoot the pigeons down,” she said. “So the (American) pilots would dye the pigeons black so the Germans wouldn’t shoot them.”

Ward cruised down Call Field Road, where there’s a structure of University Academy day care that was once a stable for the commander’s horse.

Ward, with her assistant John Zimmerman, who helped pencil in the mural images before painting began, researched World War I-era hangars by looking at one from the same era at Brooks Field in San Antonio.

The challenge in painting this mural, Ward said, has been painting on the textured walls of the new terminal and trying to step back and get the dimensions right, knowing that visitors will be viewing the work from a distance.

Ward has spent almost every day, 12 hours per day, working on the acrylic mural, though of late she has taken Sundays off.

She hopes to have the artwork finished sometime in late January. She has the grass and dirt to finish and needs to paint the people, as well.

“I originally wanted to get 34 men in the mural because 34 got killed here,” she said of those who died training at Call Field.

She wants to honor those men in the mural, those serving at Sheppard Air Force Base and in the end, Wichita Falls and the city’s flight history.

“It’s really an honor to do it. ... It will outlive me. I want to do a wonderful job with it. I want it to be nice; I want it to be beautiful.”

She added: “The airport is like the gem of Wichita Falls now. ... It’s a fabulous opportunity to show off Wichita Falls.”

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