Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New look marks Ohio Bird Sanctuary entrance, honors Fonseca: Beech 55 Baron, N5816S, fatal accident occurred May 18, 2015 in Saltville, Virginia

George and Pam Ihrig Fonseca 

George Fonseca

MANSFIELD, Ohio -- The Ohio Bird Sanctuary has an improved entrance thanks to the family of the late George and Pam Fonseca and the efforts of the Friends and Flowers Garden Club. 

The garden club has helped us for 10 years,” said Gail Laux, executive director of the Ohio Bird Sanctuary. “They’ve been real troopers because as the sanctuary grows, we put in new gardens, and one thing the garden club wanted to stay involved with was the entrance.”

The Ohio Bird Sanctuary has been the garden club’s project for the last 10 years. Even before that, they planted at the former Boy Scout camp. But the entrance to the site was a consistent problem. Club Secretary Cheryl Callis explained there was a deep ditch; and dandelions, crabgrass, and poison ivy were a problem. Deer ate some of the club’s plants.

The site was also blocked by large trees and didn’t receive much rain. The sign at the entrance was easily lost in the vegetation. After a tornado destroyed the large trees, succession growth posed a problem.

But club member Pam Fonseca said she knew someone who could help.

“And then she went to Florida for the winter,” Callis said.

In the spring, club members began making plans for the project for when Fonseca returned. Tragically, George and Pam Fonseca didn’t make it back to Mansfield. Their twin-engine plane crashed in Smyth County, Virginia, during their return flight in May.

“It just hit us like a ton of bricks,” Callis said.

After coping with the loss of a friend, they needed to decide how to proceed with the project.

“She was the one who was really the instigator and the contact with Joel (Darling) and Isaac (Freeman). As it turned out, her children were willing to go ahead and fulfill her financial support,” Callis explained, noting that the Fonescas had planned to finance the project.

The Fonesca family paid for the labor and materials.

“We just wanted to highlight, in her memory, and their labor and donation and generosity, what was done,” Callis said.

Isaac Freeman of Liberty Lawn Care, Bellville, designed the landscaping.

“We reused some of the plants that were already here to fill in different areas," Freeman said. "Most of them are deer resistant and don’t take a lot of care. Once they’re established, they won’t have to worry about watering.”

The plants were watered this summer by Mary Collet and her husband after they devised a way to use a 50-gallon garbage can to water the new plantings. Joel Darling of JD Darling Masonry constructed the stone retaining wall.

“People couldn’t see our sign coming down the hill,” Laux said. “People would come in and say, ‘Wow, we didn’t know how nice this place was.’ It was because the entrance didn’t look like much.

"That was when Pam came forward and said, ‘I think what we need to do is tack on and create boundaries on this upper part. It was Pam’s brainchild to bring in the experts and create this retaining wall.

“It’s made all the difference. I’ve had a lot of complements on it and people can now see the sign.”

What’s next for the entrance?

The next goal for the Ohio Bird Sanctuary is to get a new sign. The current sign was erected in 1995.

“We now have a permanent logo and Wordsmith has designed us a new sign and it has our logo on it. And it’s blue; you’ll see it when you come over the hill," Laux said. "So our plan is, when we have some funding, to put in a new sign to go with our new landscaping."

Story and photos:

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA215
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, May 18, 2015 in Saltville, VA
Aircraft: BEECH 95 B55 (T42A), registration: N5816S
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 May 18, 2015, at 1238 eastern daylight time, a Beech 95-B55 (T42A), N5816S, was destroyed during collision with terrain near Saltville, Virginia. The commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane departed Spruce Creek Airport (7FL6), Daytona Beach, Florida, about 0920, and was destined for Mansfield Lahm Regional Airport (MFD), Mansfield, Ohio. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91.

Preliminary radar and air traffic control information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that at 1214:05, the airplane was in cruise flight at an altitude about 9,000 feet when the pilot contacted Tri-Cities Approach Control. The air traffic controller acknowledged the pilot and issued the altimeter setting. At 1220:02, the controller asked the pilot his on-course heading; the pilot responded 356 degrees. The controller advised the pilot of scattered areas of unspecified weather of unknown intensity about 40 miles directly ahead of the airplane. The pilot stated he would like to deviate east if possible. The TRI air traffic controller approved deviations left and right as necessary, and instructed the pilot to maintain 9,000 feet. At 1232:16, the air traffic controller switched the pilot to the Indianapolis Air Route Traffic Control Center (ZID) and the pilot acknowledged the communications transfer. There were no further communications between the accident airplane and air traffic control.

Radar data depicted an easterly deviation off course, along with a gradual descent, before radar contact was lost.

A search was initiated, and the airplane wreckage was discovered in heavily wooded, mountainous terrain on May 19, 2015.

At 1235, the weather recorded at Tazewell County Airport, 8 miles north of the site, included scattered layers at 2,900 feet, 3,600 feet, and a broken ceiling at 8,000 feet with 10 miles visibility. The wind was from 210 degrees at 5 knots. The temperature was 24 degrees C, and the dewpoint was 18 degrees C. The altimeter setting was 30.26 inches of mercury. A Center Weather Advisory issued at 1204, valid west of the airplane's flight track, forecasted areas of heavy to extreme precipitation in isolated thunderstorms.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued July 2, 2013. A review of the pilot's logbook revealed he had accumulated 2,852.3 total hours of flight experience, 167 hours of which were in the accident airplane make and model.

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1965, and was equipped with two Continental Motors Inc IO-470, 260 hp reciprocating engines. The airplane's maintenance records were not recovered; however, a maintenance invoice revealed that its most recent annual inspection was completed August 15, 2014, at 4094.9 total aircraft hours.

The wreckage was examined at the accident site and all major components were accounted for at the scene. The initial impact points were an approximate 50-foot-tall tree and a deep ground scar collocated near the peak of a mountain, at an elevation of about 4,400 feet. . The airplane fragmented outside the crater, and was contained in an arc that reached about 50 feet beyond the crater on an approximate 192 degree magnetic heading, and widened to about 60 feet at its widest point.

Control continuity could not be established due to extensive impact damage, however; parts associated with both wings, left and right wing flaps, and left and right ailerons were identified. Sheet metal and cabling associated with the horizontal and vertical stablizers, as well as the elevators, were also identified.

The propellers were separated from their respective engines, and all propeller blades exhibited similar twisting, bending, leading edge gouging, and chordwise scratching. One tree trunk displayed deep, angular cuts with paint transfers consistent with propeller contact.

The wreckage and some personal electronic devices were recovered for examination at a later date.

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