Monday, February 2, 2015

Flight Design CTLS, N911TS, County of Tulare Sheriffs Office: Fatal accident occurred February 10, 2016 near Visalia Municipal Airport (KVIS), Tulare County, California

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA067 
14 CFR Public Aircraft
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 10, 2016 in Springville, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/18/2017
Aircraft: FLIGHT DESIGN GMBH CTLS, registration: N911TS
Injuries: 2 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 airplane, which was owned and operated by the local county sheriff's department, was on a low-altitude observation flight. According to GPS data recovered from the airplane, about 1 minute before the accident, the airplane was flying westbound (heading 242°) over a highway, about 500 feet above ground level (agl), and at a groundspeed of 52 knots. The GPS data and witness observations indicated that the airplane entered a left turn. According to the witnesses, the airplane's wings then dipped left and right, and the airplane descended to ground impact. The witnesses heard the engine operating in a steady tone until ground impact. A postcrash fire ensued, which destroyed the airplane. 

Examination of the wreckage did not reveal evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. The airplane's estimated weight at the time of the accident was about 152 lbs over the airplane's maximum gross weight. Because of the higher gross weight, the airplane's stall speed in a 30° banked turn was 3 knots higher than it would have been at the airplane's maximum gross weight. This resulted in a stall speed of about 48 knots calibrated airspeed, which was near the airplane's recorded groundspeed of 52 knots.

The sun position at the time of the accident was on a bearing of 241° and was 13° above the horizon, indicating that the pilot was looking directly into the sun before the left turn began. Another pilot who flew in the vicinity shortly after the accident reported that when flying westbound over the highway, he was looking straight into the sun, there was a lot of haze, and he could not distinguish the tops of the hills to the left of the highway from the sky. It is likely that the accident pilot was partially blinded by sun glare and did not see the hills rising above him on his left. After he entered the left turn moving away from the sun line, it is likely that the rising terrain suddenly came into view, and he increased the airplane's bank angle in order to avoid the terrain and exceeded the wing's critical angle-of-attack, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall. The altitude the airplane was operating at was too low to allow for a recovery.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering at low altitude in hilly terrain, which resulted in the airplane's wing exceeding its critical angle-of-attack and a subsequent aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident were the pilot's inability to recognize the rising terrain due to the sun glare and the pilot's operation of the airplane in excess of its gross weight.

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Aviation Accident Factual Report  -   National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Docket And Docket Items -   National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA067
14 CFR Public Aircraft
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 10, 2016 in Springville, CA
Aircraft: FLIGHT DESIGN GMBH CTLS, registration: N911TS
Injuries: 2 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.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On February 10, 2016, at 1617 Pacific standard time, a Flight Design CTLS airplane, N911TS, flying at low altitude entered a hard left turn and descended into terrain 4 miles southwest of Springville, California. The airline transport pilot and single passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed by a post-crash fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by the Tulare County Sheriff as a public aircraft under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on visual flight rules company flight plan. The flight originated from Visalia Municipal Airport, Visalia, California, approximately 1446 as a local flight.

Witnesses reported seeing the airplane circling a nearby area at a low altitude, then depart to the southwest. While flying in a westerly direction the airplane made a left turn, the wings dipped left and right, then the airplane descended into the ground in a sideways wing down orientation. The engine was heard operating in a steady tone until ground impact. A post-crash fire ensured, destroying the airplane.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 45, held an Airline Transport Pilot certificate, issued on October 11, 2007, with ratings for airplane multiengine land, and commercial privileges for airplane single-engine land, rotorcraft helicopter, and instrument helicopter, and private pilot privileges for gliders. He held a flight instructor certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land issued on June 29, 2014. He held a first-class medical certificate issued on April 2, 2014, with no limitations. Examination of the pilot's civilian logbook revealed that he had 3,675 total civilian flight hours, 3,526.4 hours in single engine airplanes, 1,002.6 hours in the Flight Design CTLS, and his most recent flight review was conducted on December 8, 2015.

The passenger was a Sheriff Deputy who had been employed by the Tulare County Sheriff for about 27 years and had been assigned to the air unit for about a year. His duties as a crew member onboard the airplane was to act as an observer and operate the video camera equipment.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The two-seat, high-wing, fixed-gear airplane, serial number F-11-02-05, was manufactured in 2011. It was powered by a Rotax 912ULS normally aspirated 100-hp engine and equipped with a Sensenich ground adjustable 3-bladed composite propeller. Review of the maintenance logbooks showed that the most recent 100-hour inspection was performed on February 3, 2016, at a total aircraft time of 3,103.9 hours, and a total engine time of 1,103.9 hours.

The basic aircraft was configured as an aerial observation aircraft with the following additional equipment. In the luggage compartment a FM transceiver, mini PC, video interface system, GNSS (global navigation satellite system) receiver, Airlink wireless modem, and a 12V to 28V DC converter. Located on the cabin roof was the GNSS antenna. Located in the cabin was an ARS mapping system, 15-inch LCD monitor, and camera control joy stick. On the bottom of the airplane was a spotlight. Located on the right wing was the video camera pod. Maintenance records showed that the most recent weight & balance performed on August 27, 2015, documented an empty weight plus 90 kg of fuel of 511 kg. Two crewmembers plus 4.5 kg personal gear for each, and a 2.3 kg survival kit added an additional 175.5 kgs. The total weight of the airplane at takeoff was 686.5 kgs. The maximum gross weight as stated in the manufacturers pilot operating handbook is 600 kgs. The center of gravity (cg) was calculated to be 0.448 m (meters) which was within the forward limit of 0.282 m and the aft limit 0.478 m. The airplane had been airborne for 90 minutes before the accident and would have burned about 6 gal of fuel (16.4 kg) which would equate to an aircraft weight at the time of the accident of 669.6 kg.

The Flight Design Pilot Operating Handbook states the following concerning aerodynamic stalls:

"Stalling speed for the CTLS with a weight of 600 kg (1320 lbs) is 72 km/h (39 kcas)with the flaps set at 35°, 77 km/h (42 kcas) with the flaps set at 0° and 90 km/h (44 kcas) with flaps set at -12°. Approaching stall is indicated by a sluggishness around the vertical axis. The controls become "soft" about 5 km/h (3 kts) above stall speed. Release the aft pressure on the stick to increase airspeed. Close to stall the aircraft can only be controlled by rudder and stabilizer. In a stall, the effectiveness of the ailerons is greatly reduced.

When the nose drops during a stall, the aircraft will lose approx. 50 m (165 ft)
altitude. Thus, near the ground a safety minimum speed of approx. 115 km/h (62 kts) should be maintained."

Aviation Circular 23-8C Flight Test Guide states that the following formula can be used to calculate the stall airspeed when the airplane's weight is different than the specified weight, Vs=Vstv(Ws/Wt) where Vs= new stall airspeed, Vst= standard stall airspeed, Ws= new weight, Wt = standard weight. Since the weight of the airplane at the time of the accident is known to be 669.6 kg, the standard weight is 600 kg, and the stall speed with zero flaps of 42 kcas (knots calibrated airspeed), results in a corrected stall speed of 44.4 kcas.

Flight Design provided additional aerodynamic stall information in the form of a stall speed, bank angle, and gross weight table. At a weight of 600 kg and 0° flaps the calculated stall airspeed while in a 15° angle of bank turn is 43 kcas. The stall airspeed in the same configuration at 30° angle of bank is 45 kcas. Using the formula in AC 28-8C to determine stall speeds for the airplane's higher weight of 669.6 kg results in a zero flap stall airspeed at 15° angle of bank of 45.3 kcas, at 30° angle of bank the value is 47.6 kcas, and at 45° angle of bank value is 52.7 kcas.

METEOROLGOICAL INFORMATION

The Porterville Municipal Airport automated weather observation system-3 (AWOS-3), located 11 miles southwest of the accident site, at an elevation of 443 feet mean sea level, recorded at 1556, wind from 300° at 8 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, and altimeter setting of 30.18 inHg. A visual inspection of radial velocity observations close to Hanford, CA, located 45 miles west-north-west from the accident site, for altitudes near 1000' msl revealed a wide variety of wind magnitudes, generally below about 7 knots, coming from the northwest or north-northwest. North American Mesoscale model sounding was obtained for the accident area valid at 1600 PST, which identified a wind from about 290° true at 3-4 knots applicable for an altitude of about 1600' msl.

Sun position at the time of the accident was determined by using the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Solar Calculator. The Sun's position on February 10, 2016, at 1617, as viewed from the accident location was on an azimuth of 241° true and elevation of 13° above the horizon.

A pilot who had flown over the accident site shortly after the accident occurred stated that he was flying out of Springville around 2,000 feet, towards Lake Success, and that the angle the road (Highway 190) was lined up on was straight into the sun and there was a lot of haze. He could not distinguish the tops of the hills from the sky because of the (sun) visibility.

AIDS TO NAVIGATION

A Garmin GPSMAP 496 portable GPS receiver was recovered from the wreckage. The device was sent to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory and the data contained within the unit was recovered. The data contained 10 tracklogs from February 4, 2016, through February 10, 2016. The accident flight was recorded starting 1446:36 Pacific standard time (PST) and ending 1614:11 on February 10, 2016. The aircraft departed Visalia Municipal Airport to the northwest at 1456 and turned northeastward. The aircraft briefly orbited a location in the vicinity of Ivanhoe, CA, at 1504, at an altitude of about 550 feet above ground level (agl) and continued eastward. The aircraft proceeded to make a touch and go at Woodlake Airport at 1515. The aircraft continued generally northward following the Friant Kern Canal until reaching a point east of East Orosi, CA, at 1530. The aircraft proceeded southward, briefly orbiting a location approximately 2.5 nautical miles northeast of Farmersville, CA, before continuing southeast. At 1601, the aircraft orbited a location on the northwest corner of Lake Success before continuing eastward. The aircraft maneuvered over a location northeast of Lake Success. At 1613:47 the aircraft was heading 249° true, at 1613:49 heading was 231°, at 1613:59 heading was 230°, and at 1614:00 heading was 242°. The track made a left turn and the last recorded position was at 1614:11 while the aircraft tracked 114.8° true at a GPS altitude of 1,096 feet (400 feet agl) and groundspeed of 52 knots.

WRECKAGE & IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located on a steep 20° slope covered with green grass, flowering yellow mustard plants, and uneven rock-boulders underneath the vegetation. The wreckage area was 80 feet in length on a bearing of 010° magnetic. The airplane wreckage was inverted pointing from tail to nose on a bearing of 190° magnetic. The airplane structure had been subjected to a post-crash fire that completely consumed the airplane leaving only the black carbon fiber cloth remnants of the airframe. The wings and tail remained attached to the fuselage. The initial point of ground impact consisted of the indentation of the left main landing gear tire and the left wing tip. Immediately forward of the tire indentation was a 4 foot by 4 foot area of disturbed earth containing fragments from the fiberglass nose cowling. The initial impact was consistent with a high vertical energy component and very little forward velocity energy component.

The horizontal stabilator was partially fire damaged, leaving the outboard sections of the stabilator structure minimally damaged. The vertical stabilizer and rudder were consumed by fire. Both left and right flaps were attached to their respective hinge fixtures. The flap position could not be determined. Both ailerons were in place on each wing and balance weights present. The aluminum push rods connecting the ailerons through the wing to the cockpit were mostly destroyed, however the bell cranks in the wing and hinge points on the aileron were present with the control rod ends attached at each location. The aileron control mixer located in the aft cabin area was located and all attaching hardware was present and fixed in place. The aluminum push rods between the aileron mixer and bell cranks in the wing root were not located (presumed destroyed by fire). The rudder cable ends were located in the cockpit area and the attached turnbuckles were present with rudder bar attaching hardware present and cotter keyed. The cables were traced back to the tail where they remained attached to the rudder horn. The elevator push-pull cable turnbuckle in the cockpit area was separated from the rod end on the control stick torsion tube angle joint. The fractured end of the rod was bent, the fracture surface was angled at 45° and rough, consistent with overload. The push-pull cable was traced to the tail and remained attached to the stabilator bell crank. The balance weight remained attached to the bell crank.

The engine was a Rotax 912ULS, SN: 6783279. External examination revealed extreme heat damage. Fire sleeves that covered the fuel lines and oil lines were fragile and crumbled when touched. Scat tubes disintegrated when touched. All 4 cylinders were attached to the engine case. The reduction gear box remained mounted to the front of the engine. No holes or evidence of uncontained failure was observed. The 3-bladed ICH model propeller hub was attached to the propeller flange. One blade remained attached to the hub. Both carburetors were present and heat damaged. Both throttle and mixture cables remained attached to each carburetor. The accessory section on the back of the engine was destroyed by fire. The oil-air separator was detached from the engine. The oil tank was not attached to the engine. The oil cap was on the oil tank. The top spark plugs of each cylinder were removed and exhibited very light wear, light gray in color, with no mechanical damage observed. The ignition control box was mostly destroyed by extreme heat. The valve covers were removed. All valve arms, push rods, valve springs, were movable when pushed on. The engine crankshaft could not be rotated by hand. No unusual damage or wear was observed.

MEDICAL & PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot February 11, 2016, by a Microcorre Diagnostic Laboratory pathologist who had been retained by the Tulare County Coroner. The listed cause of death was "blunt force injuries."

The Federal Aviation Administration Forensic Toxicology Research Team, at the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI) performed forensic toxicology on specimens from the pilot with negative results for carbon monoxide, cyanide, ethanol, and listed drugs.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Some witnesses reported seeing a yellow single engine airplane in the vicinity at the time of the accident. The Tulare County Sheriff investigated and identified the pilot of a yellow Howard DGA15 airplane based out of Bakerfield, CA, who said that he had flown over the accident site sometime after the accident and observed first responders on-scene. He had not witnessed the accident.

Accelerated Stall Information

The Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3A) states the following concerning accelerated stalls.
"At the same gross weight, airplane configuration, and power setting, a given airplane will consistently stall at the same indicated airspeed if no acceleration is involved. The airplane will, however, stall at a higher indicated airspeed when excessive maneuvering loads are imposed by steep turns, pull-ups, or other abrupt changes in its flightpath. Stalls entered from such flight situations are called "accelerated maneuver stalls," a term, which has no reference to the airspeeds involved.

Stalls which result from abrupt maneuvers tend to be more rapid, or severe, than the unaccelerated stalls, and because they occur at higher-than-normal airspeeds, and/or may occur at lower than anticipated pitch attitudes, they may be unexpected by an inexperienced pilot. Failure to take immediate steps toward recovery when an accelerated stall occurs may result in a complete loss of flight control, notably, power-on spins."

COUNTY OF TULARE SHERIFFS OFFICE: http://registry.faa.gov/N911TS 

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA067 

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 10, 2016 in Springville, CA
Aircraft: FLIGHT DESIGN GMBH CTLS, registration: N911TS
Injuries: 2 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 February 10, 2016, at 1617 Pacific standard time, a Flight Design CTLS airplane, N911TS, while flying at low altitude entered a hard left turn and descended into terrain 4 miles southwest of Springville, California. The airline transport pilot and single passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed by a post-crash fire. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, the Tulare County Sheriff as a public aircraft under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on a visual flight rules company flight plan. The flight originated from Visalia Municipal Airport, Visalia, California, approximately 1440 as a local flight.

Witnesses reported seeing the airplane circling a nearby area then depart to the southwest. The airplane made a left turn, the wings dipped left and right, then the airplane descended into the ground in a sideways wing down orientation. The engine was heard operating in a steady tone until ground impact. A post-crash fire ensured, destroying the airplane.

The Porterville Municipal Airport automated weather observation system-3 (AWOS-3), located 11 miles southwest of the accident site, at an elevation of 443 feet mean sea level, recorded at 1556, wind from 300 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, and altimeter setting of 30.18 inHg.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Fresno FSDO-17

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov





Following the fatal crash of a Tulare County Sheriff’s Office airplane, the Kings County Sheriff’s Office has grounded its recently acquired plane.

Sheriff One, a Flight Design Composite Technology Law Enforcement (CTLE) aircraft, crashed around 4:15 p.m. Wednesday along Highway 190 near Lake Success, just west of Porterville. The crash killed the pilot, 45-year-old Hanford resident James Chavez, and Deputy Scott Ballantyne, 52, of Visalia.

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Office said the plane had assisted in catching a man brandishing a weapon prior to the crash. There was no distress call and the plane’s parachute was not deployed prior to the crash, the department said.

The plane logged more than 3,000 hours of flight time since it went into operation in mid-2011.

The Kings County Sheriff’s Office bought a Flight Design CTLEi aircraft in 2014 for about $471,000. Sheriff David Robinson said the plane, known as Sky King 1, is a newer, fuel-injected version of the one that crashed Wednesday.

Like the Tulare County plane, Sky King 1 features a parachute system that allows for safe landing in the event of engine failure.

For the safety of his pilots, Robinson said Sky King 1 has been grounded until more is known about the crash. He said he hopes to get the plane back into operation quickly.

Megan Rapozo, public relations officer for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office, said the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash. She said there is no set timeline to determine the cause.

“We’ll be waiting for their results along with everyone else,” Rapozo said.

As of Thursday, the FAA’s preliminary accident and incident report website said the aircraft “crashed under unknown circumstances and caught fire.”

Robinson said the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the research and the purchase of Sky King 1. Chavez was one of two pilots who helped train pilots for Kings County’s air program.

“He knew all of our pilots and worked with every single one of them,” Robinson said.

Chavez was hired as a pilot for the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office in 2014 and had volunteered for more than a year prior. The sheriff’s office said he was hired for his extensive aviation experience and exceptional piloting skills. He had previously served in the California National Guard, Navy Reserve and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Aerosquadron.

Robinson said Chavez was “truly an expert” with the CTLE aircraft.

Ballantyne started with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office in 1989. He became a deputy observer for Sheriff One, using high-tech equipment to guide deputies on the ground during pursuits.

“It’s just tragic,” Robinson said.

Gov. Jerry Brown announced Thursday that flags at the state Capitol would be flown at half-staff in honor of Ballantyne and Chavez.

“We are grateful for these men, who made the ultimate sacrifice doing what they did everyday – serving and protecting their community,” Brown said in a statement.

Source: http://hanfordsentinel.com COUNTY OF TULARE SHERIFFS OFFICE: http://registry.faa.gov/N911TS 

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA067 

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, February 10, 2016 in Springville, CA
Aircraft: FLIGHT DESIGN GMBH CTLS, registration: N911TS
Injuries: 2 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 February 10, 2016, at 1617 Pacific standard time, a Flight Design CTLS airplane, N911TS, while flying at low altitude entered a hard left turn and descended into terrain 4 miles southwest of Springville, California. The airline transport pilot and single passenger were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed by a post-crash fire. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, the Tulare County Sheriff as a public aircraft under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated on a visual flight rules company flight plan. The flight originated from Visalia Municipal Airport, Visalia, California, approximately 1440 as a local flight.

Witnesses reported seeing the airplane circling a nearby area then depart to the southwest. The airplane made a left turn, the wings dipped left and right, then the airplane descended into the ground in a sideways wing down orientation. The engine was heard operating in a steady tone until ground impact. A post-crash fire ensured, destroying the airplane.

The Porterville Municipal Airport automated weather observation system-3 (AWOS-3), located 11 miles southwest of the accident site, at an elevation of 443 feet mean sea level, recorded at 1556, wind from 300 degrees at 8 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, and altimeter setting of 30.18 inHg.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Fresno FSDO-17

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov


James Chavez, 45, left, and Tulare County sheriff's Deputy Scott Ballantyne, 52, were killed Wednesday in a plane crash. 
(Tulare County Sheriff's Department)






Two Tulare County Sheriff’s Department employees, one a deputy and the other a pilot, died Wednesday afternoon when the Sheriff’s Department’s airplane crashed into the side of a mountain just east of Eagle Feather Trading Post above Success Lake.

Undersheriff Robin Skiles confirmed late Wednesday that Sheriff 1, the small fixed-wing aircraft owned by the department, had crashed killing both men aboard.

Skiles said killed were pilot James Chavez, 45, and Deputy Scott Ballantyne, 52, who was the observer in the plane. Skiles said the men were the first two hired to man the aircraft.

“It’s a very sad day for the Sheriff’s Department,” Skiles said. Both he and Sheriff Mike Boudreaux went to the crash site.

The Federal Aviation Administration earlier in the day confirmed a single-engine flight aircraft crashed.

Eyewitness Karen Ramirez of Springville said she saw the plane crash and burst into flames.

“I was coming up (Highway 190) and I saw him by Success Valley,” she said as she waited at the Trading Post to speak with investigators.

She said the plane was flying very close to the hills and was right along the hillside when she saw the wing come off and the plane slam into the ground, exploding on impact.

“It was a clip and boom. It was that fast,” she said.

Omero Bravo, a community service officer with the Tule River Tribal Police, said he heard the explosion.

“It was a like a zip, plow, boom,” he said. “There was a big old fireball and a bunch of black smoke.”

Ramirez, still shaken by what she had seen, said, “It’s so upsetting. Terrible, terrible, terrible. I couldn’t believe it.”

She said she called 9-1-1 at 4:14 p.m. She said she did not hear anything before the crash to indicate the plane was having engine trouble.

Skiles said they learned of the crash almost immediately and within a few minutes learned they no longer had contact with the plane or could not locate it on GPS.

Smoke from the crash site billowed for more than 45 minutes. A Tulare County fire engine could be seen moving down the hill to the crash site and people could be seen at the site. Fire and sheriff’s department personnel kept arriving at the scene for up to an hour after the crash, and a command post was set up at the Trading Post for the department’s search and rescue team.

The department purchased the small Flight Design CTLE aircraft in 2012. It is able to fly at low speeds and hardly makes any noise. Ramirez described the plane as small, almost looking like an ultralight aircraft.

The California Highway Patrol closed Highway 190 at the Trading Post and it appeared the roadway was going to be closed for several hours. It was not known where it was closed farther up the hill, but the plane went down just east of the Trading Post about 1,000 feet off the highway. Scores of people on their way up the hill were turned around and if they needed to get to River Island Country Club or higher, were told to take the Frazier Valley Road out of Strathmore.

The Sheriff’s Department has already purchased a second aircraft, but has not taken delivery of it.

The plane only carries two people — a pilot and an observer — and is equipped with an infrared camera and heat sensor.

The plane is also equipped with a ballistic parachute, but Ramirez said she did not see a parachute deploy.


Source:  http://www.recorderonline.com



TULARE COUNTY, Calif.-- Late into the night Wednesday investigators were still on scene near the town of Springville, trying to figure out what caused a plane crash that killed two employees of the Tulare County Sheriff's Office.

The crash happened near Highway 190 and Success Valley Drive in Tulare County around 4 p.m.

On board the plane called "Sheriff One" were deputy Scott Ballantyne, 52, and 45-year-old pilot James Chavez.

Karen Ramirez was driving home when she saw the sheriff's plane flying close to the hillside. 

"And I thought, 'oh he's going to hit.' And sure enough he hit and it just exploded," Ramirez says.

Ramirez pulled over and called 911 after seeing the plane go down. 

Tulare County Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said the plane was in the Springville area helping deputies with an arrest. 

"They were assisting officers in tracking down a suspect wanted for brandeshing a firearm, as I understand they arrested that suspect, the detail was over and the plane was leaving the area."

There is no indication yet as to what caused the crash.


Story and video:  http://www.yourcentralvalley.com


Sheriff One - the 2 seater plane that crashed. The plane had 3000 hours of flight time with no prior issues.


Two people were killed when a single-engine plane crashed Wednesday near Springville in Tulare County.

Witnesses told authorities they saw the aircraft on fire.

Witness Shawn Winter, a resident of Springville, was driving down the hill to pick up his daughter from school when he saw something on the hillside.

“I saw the black color of smoke. There was a big old ball of flame,” he said.

It’s not clear whether the plane was ablaze in the air, or crashed or landed and began burning, emergency medical services officials say.

The crash occurred about 4:15 p.m. near Eagle Feather Trading Post and Highway 190.

The CHP reports the Highway 190 closure from just west of Pleasant Oak Drive on the east and Eagle Feather Trading Post on the west. The closure is expected to last indefinitely and could extend to Success Valley Drive, the CHP reported.

Lester Lawton, who lives on on Success Valley Drive, said the plane crashed just off the highway on the hill behind Eagle Feather Trading Post.

“I couldn’t even see an airplane. I could see a black spot on the ground on the hill,” he said. “It didn’t look like there was remains left.”

Story and photo: http://www.fresnobee.com




The Fresno Bee is reporting that two people have been killed in a plane crash in Tulare County on Wednesday.

FAA officials said at around 4:15 p.m., a single-engine GMBH plane was crushed under unknown circumstances around 10 miles east of Porterville.

The plane was caught fire after crashing, according to the FAA.

The FAA and NTSB is investigating this crash.

According to CHP's Central Division, SR190 is closed in both sides from East of Success Valley Dr. and Pleasant Oak Dr. No word yet on when it will reopen.

Story, video and photo:  http://www.turnto23.com





TULARE COUNTY (KFSN) -- The FAA and NTSB are investigating a plane crash in Tulare County. 

According to authorities, the plane burst into flames after hitting a mountain near Highway 190 and Pleasant Oak.

The FAA said the plane was a single-engine Flight Design. It went down under unknown circumstances around 4:15 p.m.

According to CHP a section of Highway 190 is closed east of Success Valley Drive and Pleasant Oak Drive due to the crash.

The condition of anyone who may have been on board is unknown.

Tulare County Sheriff's Office will be holding a press conference at 8:00 p.m.

Story, video and photo:  http://abc30.com

Flight Design, Composite Technology Law Enforcement (CTLE): Supervisors could approve sheriff’s plane purchase

(Photo: Tulare County Sheriff’s Department)


More than three years after buying a new sheriff’s plane, the Tulare County Board of Supervisors could approve a more than $208,000 contract to buy a second one.

The county Sheriff’s Department is asking the county Board of Supervisors to waive the bid and allow a contract to purchase the single-engine Composite Technology Law Enforcement aircraft.

That’s because the manufacturer, Airtime Aviation, is the only company manufacturing a small plane with the built-in camera and searchlight systems sheriff’s officials want.

In addition, the Sheriff’s Department already has a CTLE-model aircraft, delivered in late 2011, and having people fly the same sort of aircraft tends to improve safety, according to as sheriff’s report prepared for the superiors.

This also will help with maintenance, as local maintenance people already are familiar with the aircraft, the report continues.

The cost of the new plane will be $208,530.

That plane has features that include cameras which can remain focused on a single object while the plane circles, a built-in video screen that allows the pilot and a passenger to see what the camera sees and a spotlight with a mile-long range.

It also runs on on automobile fuel, which is less costly than aviation fuel.

The new plane will cost about $50,000 more than the last one, Sheriff’s Sgt. Dave Williams said in a written statement.

“The new aircraft will have the fuel injected engine, providing more power and more efficient fuel use as well as less maintenance. It also has more safety features such as wingtip-mounted landing and anti-collision lights and a navigation radio to allow use of the aircraft in times of reduced viability,” he wrote.

It also will include “photo” windows that can be opened so somebody in the plane can stick a camera lens out to take high-resolution photos of objects and people on the ground without the distortion of shooting photos behind plexiglass windows, Williams continued.

In a presentation to the board last year, Sheriff Mike Boudreaux said his department’s current plane — with a call sign of “Sheriff One” — is being flown most days of the week and has been instrumental in search-and-rescue operations, as well as in monitoring criminal activity from the air.

Adding a second plane would enhance those capabilities, he said.

The department is planning to hire a civilian pilot to fly the second plane and handle light maintenance on it.

As part of the purchase agreement, the county would have to put up 50 percent of the new plane’s costs down in advance, and an additional 30 percent when the plane is shipped from Germany — where it will be assembled — with the remainder due once the Sheriff’s Department accepts delivery.

Estimates are that the single-engine plane will be delivered in late February, 2016, and the cost — which includes $17,204 in sales tax for a out-of-state purchase — will come from the Sheriff’s Department’s current budget.


Story and photo:  http://www.visaliatimesdelta.com

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department owns this light sport aircraft, featured on the cover of the California State Sheriffs’ Association magazine in 2012. The Modesto Police Department is interested in buying one of its own as its latest crime-fighting tool. The aircraft has a high-definition camera with night-vision capabilities and a spotlight. Tulare County Sheriff’s Department 

The Tulare County Sheriff’s Department owns this light sport aircraft. The Modesto Police Department is interested in buying one of its own as its latest crime-fighting tool. The aircraft has a high-definition camera with night-vision capabilities and a spotlight. Tulare County Sheriff’s Department 


The Modesto Police Department wants its own high-tech crime fighter in the sky.

Police Chief Galen Carroll is expected on Tuesday to ask the City Council to approve spending as much as $660,000 for what is called a light sport aircraft that seats two and is equipped with a spotlight and a high-definition camera with long-range scope and night vision that records what it sees.

Carroll said the aircraft would be flown by volunteer pilots and police officers who are pilots. He envisions the airplane being in the sky five to six hours a day, five days a week, patrolling the city, conducting traffic enforcement, and helping with crimes in progress and special operations.

“I see this as being a force multiplier,” Carroll said. The department’s staffing is at its lowest level in many years, with 219 officers allocated in the current budget year.

The proposed purchase comes after voters last week rejected a sales tax increase the city put on the ballot to pay primarily for more public safety after city officials said the city did not have the money to adequately protect Modesto. Measure G was expected to bring in $14 million annually to the city’s roughly $115 million general fund, which primarily pays for police and fire services.

“I know naysayers will say we are wasting money,” Carroll said. “But we are trying to protect the city with the limited resources we have. This is another way of being smart with the taxpayers’ money. We have been researching this for close to a year. … We did not live or die on Measure G. We still have a department to run and a city to protect.”

Modesto already has air support through the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department. Sheriff Adam Christianson said his department’s helicopter is in the air 25 to 30 hours a week, primarily Fridays through Sundays. He said the helicopter covers the county but spends the majority of its time in Modesto. He said his department does not charge Modesto.

The Sheriff’s Department and Police Department talked about expanding the helicopter’s coverage, but Modesto would have to pay for that. Carroll said those costs would be too high. Christianson said it costs $650 an hour to operate his department’s helicopter. Based on that, it would cost the Police Department $845,000 a year for 25 hours of coverage each week. A city report states it will cost about $75,000 a year to operate the aircraft.

Still, Christianson said it appeared Modesto was trying to provide a service his department already provides. “It does seem duplicative to me,” the sheriff said, though Carroll disagreed. “We want a regular air patrol that’s not provided now,” he said. “If we had that service, we would not be looking to duplicate a free service we already have.”

Carroll said his department is not competing with the Sheriff’s Department and said there will be times when his officers need the Sheriff’s Department helicopter. “I’m looking at this more as a patrol car that happens to fly,” he said.

The Police Department wants to purchase a Flight Design CTLEi aircraft from Airtime Aviation in Tulsa, Okla. The city did not seek bids because, according to a city report, Airtime is the only U.S. dealership that sells this type of aircraft equipped with the camera and computer system. Flight Design is based in Germany.

Carroll said the airplane flies at 1,000 feet (the Sheriff’s Department helicopter flies at 500 to 1,000 feet), can circle as slowly as a helicopter and is very quiet.

The report states that the city would pay for the aircraft and its high-tech gear with $194,000 in state asset forfeiture funds; $166,00 from its traffic safety fund; $100,000 in the Supplemental Law Enforcement Services Funds it receives from the state; and $200,000 from the general fund.

The city report states the sheriff’s departments in Kings and Tulare counties have purchased Flight Design CTLEi airplanes. As part of their due diligence, Modesto police met with the Tulare County Sheriff’s Department.

“Our aviation unit has been a great success, and we feel that the light sport aircraft is a safe and cost-effective platform for law enforcement aviation,” Tulare sheriff’s Lt. Rob Schimpf said in an email. “With the cost being a fraction of that associated with larger aircraft, such as helicopters, we are able to operate our plane in a proactive patrol capacity.”

Schimpf’s department recently purchased a second plane.

Carroll also met with Modesto’s Airport Advisory Committee, the members of which are pilots and/or from the aviation industry, for feedback. Councilman Bill Zoslocki, who serves on the committee and is a longtime pilot, said committee members liked what they heard.

The City Council will meet at 5:30 p.m. in the basement chambers of Tenth Street Place, 1010 10th St.

Story, video and photo gallery: http://www.modbee.com

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