Saturday, December 26, 2015

Aerostar (Mooney M20F Executive 21) 220, N6811V: Accident occurred December 26, 2015 near Nogales International Airport (KOLS), Santa Cruz County, Arizona

Mitsuo Tamayama:

NTSB Identification: WPR16LA043 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, December 26, 2015 in Nogales, AZ
Aircraft: AEROSTAR ACFT CORP OF TEXAS M20F, registration: N6811V
Injuries: 4 Serious.

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

On December 26, 2015, about 1340 mountain standard time, an Aerostar Aircraft Corporation of Texas, M20F airplane, N6811V, impacted hilly terrain about 10 miles from the Nogales International Airport (OLS), Nogales, Arizona. The private pilot/owner operated the airplane under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal cross-country flight. The student pilot, and two passengers received serious injuries. The airplane sustained structural damage. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan had been filed.

According to responding law enforcement, the airplane collided with a hillside before coming to rest upright a short distance from the first identified point of impact (FIPI). One of the landing gear had separated and came to rest near the FIPI, and the engine separated from the firewall, but remained in its relative normal position at the front of the airplane.

Reported weather from OLS at 1354 was wind from 320 degrees at 11 knots, gusting to 26 knots; clear skies; 10 statute miles visibility; temperature 06 degrees Celsius; dew point -13 degrees Celsius; altimeter setting 29.86 inches of mercury.

Pacific Rim Aviation, Inc:

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Scottsdale FSDO-07

Plane crash could have been worse, officials say

The pilot of a small plane that crashed Saturday afternoon near the Nogales International Airport is in critical condition at a Tucson hospital, but one expert says his efforts to land the struggling aircraft on a hillside in rugged terrain amid windy conditions may have saved him and his three passengers from instant death.

“It’s awful when you have to use all your skills in a situation like that, but I think that he pulled off a life-saving gesture there at the end,” airport manager Larry Tiffin said. “I think he did a good job with a bad situation.”

The pilot, 57-year-old Mitsuo Tamayama, was the most seriously hurt in the crash. Two passengers were in stable condition and another was listed as critical but stable, Sheriff Antonio Estrada said Monday. All were airlifted to Banner University Medical Center after being extracted from the plane.

Tiffin, who was at the hospital Sunday, said the victims suffered spinal injuries and lacerations. “They were all hurt pretty bad,” he said.

Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) arrived at the scene Sunday and removed the wreckage. Estrada said one of the investigators told his office that the plane, a single-engine, four-seat 1971 Aerostar M20F, was 300 pounds overweight, which caused the crash.

Tiffin was less certain that excessive weight was the culprit. “It could have been, but maybe not. It’s a powerful airplane,” he said, adding that mechanical failure will need to be considered as well.

“The investigation will find out what caused it, but at this point I think (the pilot) did proper things to minimize the impact,” he said.

The FAA’s initial investigation could be finished in as soon as a week, though the National Transportation Safety Board’s final report may not be finished for months, Tiffin said.

First on scene

The initial 911 call reporting the crash came in from the airport at 1:47 p.m. Saturday, said Sheriff’s Lt. Raoul Rodriguez. Tiffin said he was at home at the time, but one of his staffers witnessed the aircraft struggling after takeoff.

“The plane was having some trouble climbing,” he said, noting that the wind was strong that day and had led to the cancellation of most training flights. Tiffin, who has more than 40 years of experience as a pilot, runs a flight school at the airport.

The witness saw the pilot try to turn away from the most dangerous terrain. “I think it was the action of the pilot that got them to a place where they could land,” Tiffin said.

As the plane approached the grassy hillside where it eventually came to rest, its wheels caught the edge of a canyon, which ripped the landing gear off. The plane then slid approximately 40 feet on its belly before stopping.

“It was probably going 70 to 80 miles per hour at that point, and to stop in 40 feet – that’s why they got hurt,” Tiffin said.

A pilot at the airport took flight to pinpoint the location of the crash, and Tiffin was escorted to the scene by a member of the Patagonia Marshal’s Office. They were the first to arrive at the spot, approximately a half-mile from the northeast end of the runway near Forest Service Road 235.

They found the pilot and four passengers trapped inside, bloodied and in urgent need of extraction.

“If it had caught fire, they wouldn’t have got out,” Tiffin said.

A law enforcement officer arrived and he and Tiffin used a tire iron to try to free them from the cabin. “It took us dang near 15 minutes to get the door open,” he said, adding that by that time, emergency responders were at the scene. A crew from the Nogales Suburban Fire District reportedly used the jaws of life to extract the victims.

The aircraft was leaking fuel and fire crews pulled hoses as a precaution, the Rio Rico Fire District said in a news release.

Tubac Fire District personnel were also on scene to evacuate the victims, and the U.S. Border Patrol, Patagonia Marshal's Office and Sheriff’s Office provided assistance as well.

Tiffin noted that the last fatal accident at the airport was in 1994 and involved a plane that went down in similar conditions at a spot within 200 yards of Saturday’s crash.

‘Very fortunate’

The Sheriff’s Office identified one of the passengers as 67-year-old Takako Fujisawa and another as a Brazilian-Japanese student pilot named Thiago Fugumoto, whose age was not immediately available. The fourth passenger, whose name was not made available to the Sheriff’s Office, was reportedly the wife of Tamayama, the pilot.

“Obviously, it’s very fortunate that not all four of them were killed,” Estrada said.

A search of the plane's tail number N6811V on the website listed it as being registered in Fairfield, Calif., and Tiffin said the group was on its way to California at the time of the crash.

A story published in November 2013 by the Aviation Business Gazette reported that the FAA had included Tamayama in its “prestigious” Airmen Certification Database. The database, the story said, “names Tamayama and other certified pilots who have met or exceeded the high educational, licensing and medical standards established by the FAA.”

Tamayama was identified in the story as being a resident of Fairfield, Calif.


NOGALES- The pilot of a small plane that crashed in Nogales this weekend is in critical condition at a Tucson hospital.

According to the Santa Cruz County Sheriff's Office, 57-year-old Mitsuo Tamayama suffered the worst injuries out of the three other passengers. 

Two are currently in stable condition and one is in critical condition but is expected to survive.

The small plane crashed near the Nogales International Airport around 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

FAA investigator's initial report reveals that the plane was over its weight limit. The plane was not built to carry four people and their luggage. When it took off, it was unable to gain altitude and crashed.

The plane has now been taken to Phoenix where it can be further examined.


NOGALES, AZ (Tucson News Now) -   According to Santa Cruz County Sheriff, Tony Estrada, the FAA Investigator looking into the cause of the plane crash near Nogales says the preliminary cause of the crash is that the plane was over its weight restrictions.

Estrada says there were too many passengers and luggage on board the plane which was not manufactured to handle the weight.

Sheriff Estrada says the pilot, 57-year-old Mitsuo Tamayama is in critical condition. 

Another passenger is in critical condition and the other two are listed as stable.  

The student pilot is from Japan. 

All four victims are being treated at the Banner UMC Trauma ICU in Tucson.

First responders rushed to Nogales International Airport after the plane had trouble during takeoff Saturday afternoon.

 Sheriff Estrada says the small plane landed hard shortly after takeoff.

The pilot suffered the most injuries to his head, according to Estrada. 

The plane was headed to California when something went wrong, and it grazed the top of a hillside on the way down.  

Those on board were airlifted to Banner UMC. 

First responders from Nogales Suburban Fire District, Rio Rico Medical & Fire District, Tubac Fire District, Patagonia Marshal’s Office, Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office and the US Border Patrol all responded to the crash.


Four people were flown to a Tucson hospital Saturday afternoon after the small plane they were traveling in crashed near the Nogales International Airport.

Lt. Raoul Rodriguez of the Santa Cruz County Sheriff’s Office said the initial 911 call came in from the airport at 1:47 p.m.

An eyewitness said the plane appeared to be having trouble as it took off.

“It just seemed like it wasn’t gaining altitude,” he said. “It went behind some mountains … it went down and few seconds later they heard a ‘boom.’”

The crash site was approximately a half-mile from the northeast end of the runway. 

There were no obvious sign of fire or explosion at the scene.

None of the four passengers was critically injured and all were conscious when rescuers arrived, though some suffered head injuries, Rodriguez said. 

The roof of the plane had to be cut off to extract them.

The victims were subsequently airlifted to Banner-University Medical Center in Tucson. 

Rodriguez identified the pilot as Mitsuo Tamayama, 57, of Nogales, and one of the passengers as Takako Fujisawa, 67, of Patagonia. He did not have the names of the other two.

The cause of the crash was also not immediately known. 

Representatives from the National Transportation Safety Board are scheduled to arrive at the scene Sunday, Rodriguez said.

Personnel from the Sheriff's Office, U.S. Border Patrol, Patagonia Marshal's Office and Tubac, Rio Rico and Nogales Suburban fire districts were seen at the crash site Saturday.


NOGALES, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

First responders rushed to Nogales International Airport after a plane had trouble during takeoff Saturday afternoon.

A small plane landed hard shortly after takeoff, according to Santa Cruz County Sheriff Tony Estrada.

Four people, three male and one female, were on board, according to Fire Chief Carlos Parra Jr., with Nogales Suburban Fire District.

He said four helicopters were requested for all four passengers, who were strapped in and needed to be pulled out.

The pilot, a 57-year-old man, suffered the most injuries to his head, according to Estrada. He said the the pilot, a 57-year-old woman, a student pilot and an unknown fourth person were on their way home to California. 

Parra said he learned that the plane left Nogales International Airport and lost altitude because of engine problems. He said the plane grazed the top of a hillside on the way down.

The four patients were hurt badly, but expected to survive, according to Parra. He said they were airlifted to Banner UMC. As of 7 p.m. Saturday, all four were still in the hospital, according to Estrada.

He said the Federal Aviation Administration will not be investigating the crash.

Story and video:

NOGALES, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - A small plane with four passengers crashed when it was taking off from Nogales airport, according to Santa Cruz County Sheriff.

Sheriff Antonio Estrada said they got the call about the crash just after 1:30 p.m.

Estrada said all four people are okay and have minor injuries.

Story and video:

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