Thursday, December 17, 2015

Boeing B75N1, registered to 3G Classic Aviation LLC and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, N56200: Accident occurred May 11, 2016 near Winslow-Lindbergh Regional Airport (KINW) Winslow, Navajo County, Arizona

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona 

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Winslow, AZ
Accident Number: WPR16LA106
Date & Time: 05/11/2016, 1710 MST
Registration: N56200
Aircraft: BOEING B75N1
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of engine power (partial)
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal


The private pilot reported that, earlier in the day, she had flown three flights, totaling about 5 hours of flight time, which included uneventful takeoffs from two airports with a higher density altitude than that which existed at the accident airport; the calculated density altitude at the time of the accident was about 7,223 ft.

The pilot reported that, before takeoff for the accident flight, she conducted an engine run-up and pretakeoff checks, which included leaning the mixture to account for the density altitude. She also conducted a static-power check, which was in the normal range. The pilot reported that, during takeoff for the personal cross-country flight, the airplane accelerated and climbed out normally with the tachometer indicating 2,250 rpm. As the airplane climbed to about 50 ft above ground level, the engine began to lose power, and the airplane started to descend. The pilot turned the airplane left to maintain clearance from obstacles and verified the throttle, mixture, propeller, fuel, and carburetor heat settings. Subsequently, the airplane struck the ground and rolled about 20 ft, the right main landing gear impacted vegetation, and the airplane cart-wheeled. The pilot reported that, just before landing, she observed the tachometer indicating 2,000 rpm.

It is likely that the engine's partial loss of power, in combination with the high-density altitude, prevented the airplane from being able to maintain a positive climb rate during takeoff. Postaccident examination of the airplane and engine run did not reveal any evidence of any preexisting anomalies that would have precluded normal operation; therefore, the reason for the partial loss of engine power could not be determined. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The partial loss of engine power during takeoff initial climb in high-density altitude conditions for reasons that could not be determined because a postaccident examination of the airplane and engine revealed no anomalies.


Environmental issues
High density altitude - Effect on operation

Not determined
Not determined - Unknown/Not determined (Cause)

Factual Information

On May 11, 2016, about 1710 mountain standard time, a Boeing B75N1, N56200, was substantially damaged during a forced landing following a partial loss of engine power during takeoff initial climb at the Winslow-Lindbergh Regional Airport (INW), Winslow, Arizona. The airplane was registered to 3G Classic Aviation LLC., and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot and her passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The cross-country flight was originating at the time of the accident with an intended destination of Phoenix, Arizona.

In a written statement to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigator-in-charge (IIC), the pilot reported that prior to takeoff; she conducted an engine run up and pre takeoff checks, which included leaning for density altitude, and conducted a static power check, which was in the normal range. The pilot further reported that during takeoff from runway 29, the airplane accelerated and climbed out normally, with the tachometer indicating 2,250 rpm. As the airplane was about 50 feet above ground level, it began to descend. The pilot stated that in order to avoid powerlines, she performed a left turn to maintain clearance, and verified the throttle, mixture, propeller, fuel, and carburetor heat settings. Subsequently, the airplane struck the ground, rolled about 20 feet, the right main landing gear impacted vegetation, and the airplane cartwheeled. The pilot reported that just prior to landing; she observed the tachometer indicating 2,000 rpm. The pilot added that earlier in the day, they had flown three flights, totaling about 5 hours of flight time. The flights included uneventful takeoffs from two airports with a higher density altitude.

Postaccident examination of the airplane by the pilot revealed that all four wings, tail, and fuselage were structurally damaged. The airplane was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Examination of the recovered wreckage revealed that the upper and lower wings were removed by the wreckage recovery company to facilitate wreckage transport. The empennage and right gear leg were also separated from the fuselage. The engine, a Lycoming R-680-E3B, rated at 300 horsepower, remained attached to the fuselage via its mounts. The fuselage was hoisted by a forklift, and the right gear leg was subsequently removed. Throttle, mixture, and propeller control continuity was established from the rear cockpit controls to the engine.

The front spark plugs were removed and examined. All nine spark plugs were intact and undamaged. The number one and two spark plugs exhibited black deposits within the electrode area, and the remaining spark plugs exhibited gray deposits within the electrode area. All engine accessories remained attached to the engine, and exhibited no damage. The carburetor was intact, and all linkages were secure. The carburetor fuel screen was removed, and a gray / tan liquid was drained from the carburetor. The fuel screen was free of debris. The liquid smelled similar to 100 Low Lead fuel, and tested negative for water using water finding paste. The air filter was removed, and a red dirt substance was observed within the housing, however, the air filter element appeared to be mostly free of debris. The gascolator screen and bowl was free of debris.

The propeller remained attached to the crankshaft, and exhibited an approximate 20 degree bend aft from about mid span on either blade.

The spark plugs and carburetor fuel screen were reinstalled. About 8 gallons of fuel was added to the center wing fuel tank. The engine was primed using the airframe fuel pump, and subsequently started. The engine was run for about 10 minutes at various power settings. During the engine run, a maximum power setting of 2,200 rpm and 28 inches of manifold pressure was obtained. A magneto test was performed at 1,500 rpm with a drop of about 75 to 100 rpm noted. The engine was manually shut off using the mixture.

Using the reported airport elevation of 4,941 feet, recorded weather conditions from about 14 minutes prior to the accident, the NTSB IIC calculated the density altitude to be about 7,223 feet and a pressure altitude of 4,757 feet. 

History of Flight

Initial climb
Loss of engine power (partial) (Defining event)
Off-field or emergency landing
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT) 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 54, Female
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Rear
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 4-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 05/05/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 06/02/2015
Flight Time:  1750 hours (Total, all aircraft), 450 hours (Total, this make and model), 1400 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 26 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 23 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 6 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: BOEING
Registration: N56200
Model/Series: B75N1 N1
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1943
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 757813
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  03/21/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection: 23.4 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 454 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: R-680-E3B
Rated Power: 300
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KINW, 4883 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 2356 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 55°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 7 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 350°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: 
Altimeter Setting: 30.12 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 26°C / 1°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Winslow, AZ (INW)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Phoenix, AZ
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1710 MST
Type of Airspace: 

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 4941 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 29
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 7100 ft / 150 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced Landing

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 35.021667, -110.731944 (est)

NTSB Identification: WPR16LA106
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, May 11, 2016 in Winslow, AZ
Aircraft: BOEING B75N1, registration: N56200
Injuries: 2 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 May 11, 2016, about 1710 mountain standard time, a Boeing B75N1, N56200, was substantially damaged during a forced landing at the Winslow-Lindbergh Regional Airport (INW), Winslow, Arizona. The airplane was registered to 3G Classic Aviation LLC., and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The private pilot and her passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The cross-country flight was originating at the time of the accident with an intended destination of Phoenix, Arizona.

The pilot reported that during takeoff from runway 29, as the airplane ascended to about 30 to 50 feet above the ground, the engine began to lose RPM. The pilot initiated a left turn to avoid power lines and subsequently landed off airport. During the landing roll, the right main landing gear sunk into the ground and the airplane cartwheeled. The pilot reported that all four wings, tail, and fuselage were structurally damaged.

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

After Arizona desert crash, critics of British pilot say they want the truth behind famous flights

Eleven-thousand kilometres in 32 legs over six weeks, alone in an open cockpit plane.

Alone. The word is the backdrop of a presentation delivered by British biplane pilot Tracey Curtis-Taylor at speaking engagements around the world. It is the key word in articles written about her in dozens of newspapers and magazines. It is the basis for the image the 54-year-old has constructed of herself: a lone pioneer, following the winds of great female pilots like Amelia Earhart, Amy Johnson, and Mary Heath, who took tremendous risks flying solo over long distances.

But last week, when Curtis-Taylor’s plane crashed in the Arizona desert, the name of her camera-shy co-pilot, Ewald Gritsch, surfaced online and reignited a debate that has been going on in the general aviation community for years. Can the self-described “Bird in a Biplane,” famous for her solo flights across continents, continue to enjoy lucrative sponsorship and media attention when the journeys are flown with an experienced pilot in the front seat?

This is the question being asked by Curtis-Taylor’s former logistics manager Sam Rutherford, who was with her for her entire journey from Capetown to the U.K. in 2013. He and a film crew flew in a chase plane next to Curtis-Taylor.

After Curtis-Taylor recently crashed in the Arizona desert, she released a statement on Facebook saying that she and Ewald Gritsch, who was with her in the plane, were not injured. The U.S. flight was the final portion of a trip around the world in a vintage biplane, an aircraft similar to the small crop duster in the Alfred Hitchcock film North by Northwest. Previous trips took her from Cape Town to Great Britain, and then on to Australia.

According to Rutherford, when the flight across Africa was being planned, Curtis-Taylor told him that it would be a solo trip.

“The film crew, sponsors, the press — everyone — thought she would be doing it solo,” he said in an interview. “At no stage did anyone say there would be anyone else in the aircraft.”

Rutherford, who runs a company that helps photographers and film crews plan trips around the world was pleased with the outcome of the intercontinental trip, but became concerned after he saw Curtis-Taylor telling crowds of people that she flies solo. He was also concerned about how a BBC documentary, The Aviatrix, depicted the journey.

“Ten thousand miles, with no modern technology — just a joystick and pedals,” the narrator claims in the film.

This too is a problem to Rutherford, who says that the plane was equipped with the latest navigation computers and GPS.

During a recent speech at the Seattle Museum of Flight, Curtis-Taylor stood in front of a backdrop which claims she was alone in the plane during the Africa trip. Rutherford says it is just the latest in a series of presentations given by the pilot that allegedly exaggerate the truth, and the results have been lucrative.

“It suits the film crew and sponsors very neatly to have this done as a lone, solo female pilot,” he said. “That sells. That has value. If someone climbs Mount Everest alone, it’s a bigger deal than if they do it with a team.”

In aviation, the designation of a solo flight is not insignificant. Completing a long-distance flight solo is a much bigger feat than having a co-pilot. In most countries, pilots-in-training have to complete a minimum number of solo flight hours to earn a license. Flights completed alone also conform more to the image of the early pioneers of aviation, who in many cases became known for their solo flights.

The value of Curtis-Taylor’s image has drawn the attention of major sponsors like Boeing, whose logo appears on the side of the Stearman biplane. The plane is called the Spirit of Artemis, named after multi-billion dollar firm Artemis Investment Management.

Boeing and Artemis Investments are mentioned in nearly all of Curtis-Taylor’s statements on Facebook. Even after the recent crash, the pilot stressed the importance of Boeing in providing support, turning the close call into a powerful public relations statement. It is not clear in the Facebook post exactly what kind of support the sponsors provided after the crash, except that someone offered a replacement plane to continue the journey.

Long, intercontinental biplane trips can cost over $500,000, including fuel, logistics, and the cost to rent the aircraft.

Curtis-Taylor declined the offer of a new plane, noting how important it is for 3G Classic Aviation, another sponsor, to repair the biplane. That same company is owned by Ewald Gritsch, the mysterious co-pilot who provided the plane for the transcontinental trip.

According to Rutherford, the director of Artemis flew to Kenya a third of the way through the Africa trip, and instructed Curtis-Taylor to stop describing her trip as solo. Instead, Curtis-Taylor and the film crew were allegedly told to stress that the flight was following the journey of Lady Mary Heath, who flew across Africa in the 1920s.

“It shifted from ‘I’m doing this solo’ to ‘I’m following Lady Heath’s solo flight,'” he said. “But that still suggests it was a solo flight. It gave them deniability later, and the same language was used in the Australia trip.”

Curtis-Taylor’s website claims that the U.S. trip is the final leg of the pilot’s circumnavigation of the world. Rutherford questions this too, saying that oceanic trips will not be included.

“The aircraft and she will go around the world,” he said. “For large parts of it though, the plane will be in a container on a ship, and she’ll be on British Airways.”

But not everyone in the aviation community has been receptive to Rutherford’s criticism. In a popular online aviation forum, dozens of anonymous users have come to Curtis-Taylor’s defense, arguing that her critics are trying to attack a woman in aviation, an industry dominated by men.

“I was wondering how long it would take for some cynical, tall-poppy knocking, armchair expert to denigrate the effort,” one user wrote. “So instead of bitching, why don’t you get up and have a go yourself?”

Others noted that intercontinental flights in biplanes are commonplace, and that Curtis-Taylor is being given disproportionate attention.

Mike Flynn, a pilot and former journalist who is active in the general aviation community, says that critics are not trying to hack down a tall poppy.

“It’s all about money and connections,” he said in an interview. “Tracey is well-connected with British royalty. It’s why she’s taken photos with Prince Michael, and why she’s up for the Order of the British Empire.”

Flynn has also questioned awards presented to Curtis-Taylor by the Honourable Company of Air Pilots and the Light Aircraft Association.

“Her connection with Boeing comes through her past relationship with Robert Marshall who runs Marshall Aerospace in the U.K. He is involved in the Air League who gave her a recent award,” he said.

Flynn’s main concern is that the awards, and sponsorship granted to Curtis-Taylor have cut into the opportunity that could otherwise go to female pilots who are eager to make similar trips, but who do not have the same opportunities and financial relationships to get off the ground.

“Amanda Harrison was planning to do this,” Flynn explained. “And I think she gave up because of the publicity Tracey got. She was going to do it in a Tiger Moth.”

Harrison, who planned to fly from the U.K. to Australia in 2015, says that she initially thought that the flight could be done without wealthy connections.

“I read about all these amazing pioneers in aviation and they where all rich, until I read about Amy Johnson and she was a normal person who needed a job to pay for her flying,” she said. “So as soon as I read about her I knew I could do it if she had done it without having a fortune.”

But a few months before Harrison’s flight, Tracey Curtis-Taylor announced that she would be doing the U.K. to Australia trip, and arrived in Sydney a few weeks after Harrison was scheduled to leave. Harrison lost funding from her own sponsors, and cancelled the trip.

When asked about why some trips are successful and others are not, Harrison replied: “Lets say that some people develop a particularly close network of high net worth men who seem happy to help fund her adventures.”

Tracey Curtis-Taylor and Ewald Gritsch did not initially reply to requests for interviews. They have since declined to go on the record to address criticisms.

Story, comments and photo gallery:

Self-styled 'Bird in a Biplane' Tracey Curtis-Taylor has been stripped of a prestigious flying award following claims she wasn’t flying solo.

The decision by The Light Aircraft Association came amid allegations she had a co-pilot on her epic flights.

The respected Light Aircraft Association has rescinded its coveted Bill Woodhams Trophy which it awarded to her in 2015 for flying from Cape Town to Britain for navigational and flying skill.

It is thought to be the first time such an award has been rescinded.

Members of the LAA voted 123 to 65 to rescind the trophy at an Annual General Meeting at Sywell Aerodrome in Northamptonshire on Saturday.

Curtis-Taylor, 54, who attended the AGM in a bid to head off the motion, has been mired in controversy after flight instructor Ewald Gritsch revealed he occupied the forward cockpit of her vintage bi-plane for most of the legs of her famous journeys.

Her former logistics manager Sam Rutherford also said Curtis-Taylor had been guilty of embellishing the truth and had only flown four of the 36 legs from Cape Town to Goodwood solo.

Veteran member of the Light Aircraft Association Barry Tempest, who proposed her award be withdrawn in the light of the revelations, said: “I am delighted the award has been rescinded and her name will removed from the annals of the Light Aircraft Association.

“I have the greatest of respect for women pilots but I think Tracey Curtis-Taylor has not done a lot the further their case.

“I think she is a boastful lady who needs bringing down a peg or two.

“She made these claims about flying solo, or at least that is what we were lead to believe, and now it has come out that they were not that at all.

“Far from it. I believe the integrity of the LAA has been restored.”

On the surface the former waitress’s trips in her 1942 Boeing Stearman mirrored some of history’s greatest exploits by solo female flyers.

The trip from Cape Town to Goodwood, West Sussex was first completed solo by Lady Mary Heath in 1928.

Curtis-Taylor completed the 36-leg, 10,000-mile-flight in 2013 and in 2015 received the award from the Light Aircraft Association for the feat.

Mr. Gritsch was also on board for parts of her trip from Farnborough to Sydney, where she arrived in January after a flight covering 23 countries in 50 legs, recreating the 1930 journey of the intrepid Amy Johnson.

When she crashed in Arizona earlier this year on the third leg of her round-the-world flights Austrian co-pilot Gritsch was seen scrambling from the wreckage and his presence triggered a storm of outrage on respected flight forums Flyer and Pprune.

More details emerged about Curtis-Taylor’s vintage plane being equipped with GPS navigational equipment and the presence a support plane.

She faced more awkward questions about why Gritsch appears to have been edited out of a BBC documentary about her first big flight from Cape Town to Goodwood.

The Light Aircraft Association said it would respect the vote of its members.

In recent months Curtis-Taylor has sought to defuse the growing controversy by stating that she never claimed to be flying solo.

Tracey Curtis-Taylor was unavailable for comment.

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