Thursday, March 26, 2015

Incident occurred March 26, 2015 in Wellford, Spartanburg County, South Carolina



WELLFORD, SC (FOX Carolina) -   Five passengers are safe after a single-engine plane landed on Highway 29 in the Wellford Area on Thursday evening. 

Spartanburg County dispatchers confirmed that the plane landed near Wild Oaks Drive.

Witnesses said it was a Cessna and that the people on board are accounted for and safe. 

Several people watched as it landed on the usually busy highway.

Wellford police confirmed all 5 passengers were safe and said the plane was completely in tact. 

The pilot told FOX Carolina they were headed to the Cooper River Bridge Run in Charleston when they had engine trouble and decided to land at Greenville-Spartanburg Airport, but they were not able to make it and landed on the highway. He said they are a skydiving team coming from Ohio. 

The pilot said he was able to land without touching any nearby trees. 

FOX Carolina has a crew at the scene. 

Watch an interview with the pilot on The Ten O'Clock News. 

Story and photo gallery: http://www.foxcarolina.com





Air Tractor AT-400, N136DB, Devil Dusters Inc: Accident occurred March 26, 2015 at Levelland Municipal Airport (KLLN), Texas

http://registry.faa.gov/N136DB


NTSB Identification: CEN15LA182 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, March 26, 2015 in Levelland, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/23/2015
Aircraft: AIR TRACTOR INC AT 400, registration: N136DB
Injuries: 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that, shortly after takeoff on a postmaintenance test flight, the flight controls felt “stiff.” The pilot flew a traffic pattern and intended to conduct a precautionary landing on the runway. However, after the pilot turned the airplane to the final leg in the traffic pattern, the airplane started to roll left. While attempting to level the wings, the pilot observed the left aileron traveling up and down. During the landing, the airplane bounced twice, rolled left, and then cartwheeled. 

The airplane had undergone extensive maintenance throughout the year before the accident, and, during this maintenance, maintenance personnel reinstalled the ailerons. The accident flight was the first flight following this maintenance. A postaccident examination of the airplane revealed that the hardware that attached the long aileron pushrod to the aileron bellcrank was not present, and the hardware was not found at the accident site; therefore, it could not be determined whether new or existing hardware was installed during the recent maintenance. However, given that the flight control malfunction occurred immediately following the extensive maintenance, it is likely that maintenance personnel either did not install the attachment hardware at all or did not install it properly, either of which would have resulted in the loss of airplane control and subsequent impact with terrain.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The in-flight separation of the left aileron's attachment hardware at the connection between the long aileron pushrod and the left aileron bellcrank. Contributing to the accident was maintenance personnel’s improper installation of, or failure to install, the left aileron attachment hardware.

On March 26, 2015, about 1455 central daylight time, an Air Tractor Inc., AT-400 airplane, N136DB, was substantially damaged during a precautionary landing on runway 35 at the Levelland Municipal Airport (KLLN), Levelland, Texas. The commercial pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which without a flight plan.. The airplane was registered to and operated by Devil Dusters Inc., under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a post maintenance test flight. The local flight was originating at the time of the accident.

According to the pilot, he was asked by HSI Turbine to "test fly" his airplane which they had just rebuilt. During a ground run of the engine an issue with the throttle linkage was found and corrected. The pilot conducted a preflight of the airplane and did not note any issues. After restarting the engine, the pilot went through his preflight checklist including verification that the flight controls were free and correct. The pilot did not discover any discrepancies during the preflight check and the takeoff roll was uneventful.

As the airplane leveled out on the crosswind leg of the traffic pattern, the flight controls felt "stiff." The pilot elected to land the airplane and have the flight controls examined. During the downwind and crosswind legs of the pattern the flight controls continued to feel stiff. After turning to the final leg in the traffic pattern, the airplane started to roll to the left. The pilot attempted to level the wings at which time the flight controls "became loose" and the pilot observed the left aileron "flopping" up and down. The right aileron continued to work correctly.

While trying to land on runway 35, the airplane bounced and rolled to the left. On the second bounce the pilot added power to try and regain control of the airplane. The airplane immediately rolled to the left and the left wing impacted the ground. The airplane cartwheeled and came to rest to the west of runway 35. The empennage, fuselage, and both wings were substantially damaged.

According to the pilot, he had purchased the airplane as a "wreck" in Minnesota. It did not have an engine or propeller and had damage to the right wing and landing gear. He brought the airplane to HSI Turbine during the summer of 2014 to have it repaired. According to the owner of HSI Turbine, the right wing was sent to Air Tractor to be repaired. Several mechanics and mechanic's assistants worked on the airplane and during interviews, they recalled that it was a long project that they worked on sporadically over the winter and spring. All of the mechanics and assistants reported using the maintenance manuals provided by Air Tractor to guide all of their work. All of the mechanics and assistants reported using the existing hardware on the airplane to reinstall the wings and flight controls.

One assistant recalled helping to remount the wings on the airplane and recalled that was in October or November of 2014. Another mechanic recalled installing the ailerons in January of 2015. The maintenance on the airplane was signed off on just prior to the accident flight. Work orders for the airplane, provided by HSI Turbines, indicated that "new hardware" had been used for the installation of the horizontal stabilizer, elevator, rudder, and wings. Specific work on the ailerons was not documented in the work orders provided.

An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration and an investigator with Air Tractor examined the wreckage of the airplane. Control continuity to the elevator and rudder was confirmed. Separation points were consistent with overload. Control continuity was established to the right aileron control. All of the hardware was installed correctly and separation points were consistent with impact forces and methods used to recover the wreckage from the accident site.

Control continuity was established from the left aileron control, inboard to the long aileron pushrod. The hardware to connect the long aileron pushrod to the aileron bellcrank was not present. The mounting surface on the aileron pushrod was not damaged or elongated, consistent with the hardware not being present prior to the impact sequence. An examination of the remaining wreckage and accident site did not locate the missing hardware.

According to the Air Tractor AT-400 Owner's Manual and Parts Manual, an AN24-19A clevis bolt and an AN364-428 nut should be used to connect the pushrod to the bellcrank. The hardware should be torqued between 30 and 40 inch pounds.

NTSB Identification: CEN15LA182
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, March 26, 2015 in Levelland, TX
Aircraft: AIR TRACTOR INC AT 400, registration: N136DB
Injuries: 1 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 March 26, 2015, about 1455 central daylight time, an Air Tractor Inc. AT-400 airplane, N136DB was substantially damaged during a precautionary landing near Levelland Municipal Airport (KLLN), Levelland, Texas. The commercial pilot was seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight. The post maintenance flight was being conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 without a flight plan. The local flight was originating at the time of the accident.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration inspector who responded to the accident, the airplane had not been operated or flown for 8 or 9 months due to major repair and maintenance. The preflight inspection and ground run-up did not detect any mechanical anomalies. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot felt a binding in the flight controls. The pilot elected to return to the airport and while maneuvering to land on runway 35, noted that the flight controls felt free and the left aileron was "flapping." During the landing the airplane bounced. The pilot added power and the airplane rolled to the right and impacted the ground. The empennage, fuselage, and both wings were substantially damaged.   





LEVELLAND — Becky Crockett said her husband was in Levelland getting work done on his small, single-engine plane before it crashed Thursday afternoon.

“He was just taking the plane out to check it out because it had gone in for some work,” said Becky Crockett during a telephone interview from New Mexico. “He said that an aileron (flap on the wing) was loose or had come off and he was trying to put it down as safely as he could but it didn’t go as softly as he would have liked.”

The pilot, who officials identified as 57-year-old Donald R. Crockett, of Artesia, New Mexico, was coherent when he was taken by ambulance to a hospital in Levelland, said Cpl. John Gonzalez with the Texas Department of Public Safety.

Crockett was the sole occupant of the plane, which crashed about 3 p.m., a mile south of Levelland on Highway 385.

The pilot was awaiting more test results from doctors Thursday evening, but Becky said her husband is doing well.

“They don’t know if they’re keeping him or moving him to another hospital for possible cracked vertebrate,” she said. “We’re just waiting to hear from him, what he wants us to do and what he needs us to do.”

Gonzalez confirmed Crockett had previously departed the airport when he noticed something was wrong and tried to land the aircraft at the airport in Hockley County.

“He turned around and tried to come back to land and apparently he was coming in for final approach,” Gonzalez said. “That’s when he came in and landed there and that’s where he crashed.”

An investigation report from DPS revealed the plane fell from the sky onto a field east of Highway 385. The plane skid west and struck a fence before skidding across U.S. Highway 385 to the west.

Pieces of the mangled plane could be seen on both sides of the highway Thursday afternoon.

FAA spokesperson Elizabeth Isham Cory said the plane had bounced off of a runway before sliding into the ditch.

The airplane is registered to Devil Dusters Inc. out of Artesia, New Mexico, according to the FAA. Crockett’s wife said he is president of Devil Dusters Inc.

William J. Fitzgerald, an aviation safety inspector with the FAA, was at the scene of the crash Thursday afternoon taking photos for the National Transportation Safety Board.

Fitzgerald said an NTSB official will be en route to Lubbock Friday to continue investigating the crash.

He said the aircraft Crockett was in is “notoriously rugged,” and pilots are required to wear helmets while flying.

“The pilot did remarkably well surviving that,” Fitzgerald said.

Becky Crockett said her son-in-law was with her husband at the hospital Thursday evening.

“(My husband) was concerned, of course, with what might be the problem but he sounded really good,” Becky said. “We’re appreciating everybody’s prayers.”

Story, video and photo gallery:   http://lubbockonline.com



LUBBOCK, TX -- Officials confirmed that a plane went down one mile south of Levelland along U.S. Highway 385 near the municipal airport. The pilot, Donald R. Crockett, 57, was taken to a local hospital for treatment. DPS said Thursday evening the current status of the pilot was not known. The tail number of the plane indicated it was owned by a company called Devil Dusters in Artesia, New Mexico. 

Levelland Police issued the following statement Thursday afternoon:

Today (March 26th, 2015) at 2:58 p.m. the Levelland Police Department received a 911 call in reference to a plane crash just south of the city of Levelland, Tx. near the Levelland Municipal Airport.

We're happy to report that the pilot was attempting to get himself out of the wreckage at the time the officers arrived. The pilot (who's name is being kept until DPS has released it) was taken to the E. R. for injuries but was reported at that time to be doing well.

The road will be closed on South Highway 385 just South East of the RV Park until Texas DPS has opened the roadway.

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

Dreamliner lands in Tucson, calls Air & Space Museum home



TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The massive blue and white 787 Dreamliner touched down in Tucson around 11:45 Thursday morning. More than two hours later, it was still be taxied to Pima Air and Space Museum from Davis Monthan Air Force Base just across the street.

This is the aircraft's final resting place. As you might imagine, folks at the Air and Space Museum are extremely happy about that.

From Palmdale, California to Tucson, Arizona, the aircraft's last flight lasted only about an hour Thursday.

The second of three prototypes, this 787 Dreamliner is being retired because it's served its purpose. Boeing's Dreamliner fleet is alive and well, providing commercial service across the globe.

What better place to put it to rest than one of the top aviation museums in the world today.

"The relationship with Boeing and Pima Air and Space Museum goes back decades,” says Mark Gaspers, spokesperson for The Boeing Company.

"It's a milestone aircraft in the way the first Boeing 707s from the early 1950s transformed commercial aviation,” says Scott Marchand, executive director of Pima Air and Space Museum. “This is really one of those once in a lifetime technological leaps forward.”

Made of composite materials, this plane is lighter and more fuel efficient than its commercial counterparts.

It seats nearly as many passengers as a 747. But with two engines -- compared to four -- it's the most cost-effective, long distance airliner money can buy.

"I like Tucson because you never know what you're going to see looking up,” says Troy Tomcheck, aviation enthusiast and long-time member of the Air and Space Museum.

On most days, it's C130s, A10s or maybe an F16. But on this day, there was a new aircraft on the Tucson horizon.

"The fact that it's a brand new airplane in a museum... that's kind of mind-boggling when you think of it,” says Larry Lively, a fellow Pima Air and Space Museum member.

For the next three weeks, the Dreamliner is being decommissioned and prepared for public presentation.

But on April 17, it's formally being introduced and dedicated to the Air and Space Museum.

That's when the public can see for themselves this latest piece of aviation history.

"Every time you come here, you see something new,” Lively says, smiling at the sprawling Boeing aircraft as it crosses Valencia Road onto Pima Air and Space Museum property. “It's always a learning experience.”

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

Leaded Aviation Fuel Exposes Neighborhoods Near Long Beach Airport (KLGB) To Risk, While Federal Aviation Administration Says Alternative Could Still Be Years Away

Leaded fuel in automobiles became a relic of the past once phased out of use in the early 90s. The health risks associated with the particulates put into the air by the combustion of the toxic metal led to that decision; however, aviation gas (avgas) used by smaller general aviation aircraft remains as the single largest source of lead emissions put into the air, creating a potential health problem for neighbors of the airports where those planes take off and land.

Avgas is the last remaining lead-containing transportation fuel and is used in small aircraft to prevent engine knocking and detonation which could result in sudden engine failure. This lead-containing fuel differs from the kerosene-based fuel used by larger airliners, like those operated by commercial airlines. Banning the lead-containing fuels would affectively shut down general aviation flights, as there is no current alternative.

In December 2014, the Center for Environmental Health (CEH) settled a lawsuit with 30 fixed-base operators that sell avgas at 23 California airports, including two at Long Beach Airport. The settlement calls for the companies—AirFlite and Signature Flight Support Corporation in Long Beach— to start the process of providing safe alternative fuels to avgas and requires the companies post signage at airport fuel stations, as well as warn neighbors of the airport of the risks of lead pollution. 

“People who live near these airports know that air pollution is a daily reality,” said Caroline Cox, Research Director of CEH. “We urge fuel companies to move quickly to lead-free fuels. Until they do, their neighbors have a right to know that their operations are a major source of their air quality problems.”

Notices have yet to be delivered to the public in Long Beach, however General Manager of AirFlite John Tary said they will be put out as a joint effort between the settling parties, and that they still had time to meet that requirement.

Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) identified Van Nuys Airport as having the highest lead emissions of any airport in the country, LGB was listed along with Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Oakland International and Orange County’s John Wayne Airport as airports with some of the highest emission totals nationally.

"Long Beach Airport was made aware of the settlement and we are fully supportive of it," said Stephanie Montuya-Morisky, an airport spokesperson. "LGB is committed to being a leader in aviation environmental sustainability. Aircraft fuel is an area where airports have little control as the fuels must be FAA-manufacturer approved and alternative fuels must be made available by the suppliers. However, in many instances, LGB has led the way in progressive airport environmental policies. The Airport, in general, employs a visionary approach to reducing emissions from planes and service vehicles, saving energy and water, and incorporating sustainability practices to reduce our carbon footprint."

Last month, there were over 20,000 general aviation flights at Long Beach. According to Montuya-Morisky the average is usually below 22,000 per month but that total can vary from month to month for a variety of reasons.

The CEH compiled maps for each airport identified in its lawsuit, detailing the extent of the lead pollution and highlighted the potentially-exposed neighborhoods. In Long Beach, the impacted area stretches from Bellflower Boulevard in the east to Orange Avenue in the west and from Carson Street in the north to Stearns Street in the south. The exposed area envelopes multiple elementary schools including Carver, Buffum and Nightingale elementary schools, as well as parts of Long Beach City College.

Lead exposure has been linked to serious health problems in both children and adults, ranging from impaired cognitive skills to lowered IQ and damage to the kidneys and immune systems. According to health statistics published by the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, based off the 2010 census survey, an estimated 15 percent of children in the city suffer from asthma compared to just nine percent nationally, though the study does not attribute those numbers to any one particular source of pollution.

Margaret Brady, a nursing professor at Cal State Long Beach for over 30 years said that there are a variety of ways people can come into contact with lead including from the soil, food and products in the home. However, any level of lead is a bad level of lead due to the issues brought on by long-term exposure to the heavy metal. Brady said the slow onset of physical issues makes lead exposure a “silent disease”.

“I’ve been a nurse for a long, long time and I’ve seen children in Chicago that had seizures when they were exposed to really high levels of lead,” Brady said. “We’re always concerned with children’s exposure to lead and that’s why we do a lot of screening and make sure that kids who have higher levels are re-screened, and we find out where they’re getting the contamination affect.”

Charles Margulis, a media director with CEH said recent research has shown that children living around airports that allow general aviation flights have higher blood concentrations of lead than children outside the affected areas, an important reason why the group believes the process of phasing out leaded gas needs to be expedited.

“When planes take off and land they’re spewing a lot of lead into the environment,” said Charles Margulis, a media director with CEH. “And lead is really a stunningly toxic metal. Scientists say there is no safe level of lead exposure, especially for kids and women of childbearing age.”

The problem of leaded gas in small aircraft is an issue that has ben under review from the EPA for over 20 years, but the absence of an alternative fuel source has left both activists and suppliers at a standstill. It's estimated that in 2008, 550 tons of lead were used in the manufacturing of avgas, which accounted for half that nation's air emissions of lead. A 2012 report from the Federal Aviation Administration and the EPA's Unleaded Avgas Transition Aviation Rulemaking Committee laid out an 11-year window in which it hopes to completely phase out the use of lead-containing fuels for aviation, the only vehicles in which they’re still used.

“If there aren’t pressures to look for supply it’s not going to happen,” Magulis said. “We’re hoping our settlement actually speeds up that timeline and gets companies to start offering lead-free fuel more quickly.”

The FAA has supported research to create an unleaded solution that will ensure there is no lapse in the aviation full supply. Its most current progress update on its website dated September 8, 2014 stated that the FAA has selected four fuels from three different producers to enter into a two-step testing process which is anticipated to take at least three years before specifications can be determined that will allow existing planes to operate on those fuels. 

Tary, a pilot himself, said it’s never been a question of when, but always of how. Tary stated that when the day comes that there is an alternative, he’d be more than happy to switch, adding that there are more than half a dozen providers of avgas at Long Beach Airport, with the majority of the avgas being consumed by flight schools.

“From a distributor standpoint like ourselves, there are airplanes, they need fuel and this is the only fuel that’s available,” Tary said. As soon as another fuel comes down, I’m sure we’ll all switch over.”

Tary said that despite the lack of an alternative, the gas currently being sold called “100 low lead” already has lower levels of the metal than previous versions of aviation fuel. Referring to the efforts currently being carried out by the FAA, Tary said that eventually there will be lead-free gas for general aviation crafts but until then it’s just a waiting game.

“The people that sell fuel, we want it to change just as much as anyone else,” Tary said. “It’s more a matter of getting the federal government on board to help provide us with an alternative. So we’re really stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

Margulis agreed that the government hasn't done enough to make the replacement of these kind of fuels a priority. He said people are exposed to chemicals in their daily lives from the time they wake up to the time they go to bed and the cumulative effect isn't something that's being focused on. He's hopeful that the settlement will expedite the process of getting the country up to standards already in place in other countries that have phased out leaded aviation gas, and as a result now have healthier air to breathe. 

"Unfortunately in the US, we’re behind other countries when it comes to regulating chemicals in general," Margulis said. "There are places in Europe for example where they’ve had leaded aviation fuel phased out for many years now and they haven’t seen problems. They were able to get planes retrofitted, they were able to get fuels that worked and they cleaned up their air so there’s no reason we can’t be doing that here."

Original article can be found here:  http://lbpost.com

Committee Hears About Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport (KITH) Problems

Airport Manager Michael Hall



The Ithaca Tompkins Regional Airport is not doing well. To anyone who paid attention through the last budget season, this is not news.

It's also not news to anyone who attended the March 24 meetings of the Tompkins County Legislature's Government Operations Committee.

After the committee approved two resolutions moving forward funding for the airport roof repair project, Airport Manager Michael Hall gave an update on the airport and its struggle with a decreasing number of customers. 

Hall began by noting that enplanements are down 25 percent since 2010. He added, “That trend is regional. It’s not unique to Ithaca at all; Binghamton and Elmira are down by comparable amounts.” Hall presented a graph showing that, after years of steady increases, enplanements started going down in 2010.

One of the problems that could be causing this downward trend is the lack of service reliability. Hall explained, “Part of that is because two of the three destinations are in the northeast corridor – Philly and Newark are two of the more difficult airports in the country.” The Philadelphia and Newark hubs, Hall said, are “filling up” and in ten years those hubs might not have room for flights from Ithaca. Because it is more profitable for airports to focus on larger flights, small planes from smaller airports could get squeezed out. Hubs outside of the northeast -- such as the U.S. Airways hub in Charlotte, N.C. -- might be a better option in the long-run.

Hall said that the airport has met with professional consultants and with airline executives to discuss, among other things, the possibility of utilizing less-trafficked hubs outside of the northeast corridor.

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

Augusta Regional Airport (KAGS) to close runway for safety, parking during Masters

One of two runways at Augusta Regional Airport will be closed during the Masters Tournament as a safety precaution and used as a parking area for private jets.

Roy Williams, the airport’s executive director, told the Augusta Aviation Commission on Thursday that he is submitting a request to the FAA to close the secondary runway. During the airport’s busiest week, it’s a safety hazard for pilots who are not familiar with the airfield’s perpendicular runways, he said.

“Anytime you have a runway crossing, where two runways intersect, you have a potential safety issue,” Williams said. “We will be very, very busy during Masters Week so by officially closing that secondary runway, the pilots will know in advance there’s just one runway to use.”

During the Masters Tournament, commercial airlines add flights into Augusta and use larger aircraft. Additionally, about 3,000 landings and takeoffs for private aircraft are projected.

Delta and US Airways are adding nine departing flights each to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, according to Diane Johnston, Augusta Regional’s marketing director. US Airways will have 10 departing flights to Philadelphia International Airport. Both airlines add additional flights to Charlotte and Atlanta, the airport’s only destinations besides a seasonal direct flight to Washington, D.C., which begins Sunday.

“Airlines are the ones who make those decisions. We don’t have anything to do with that,” Johnston said about the additional Masters Week flights. “The reality is they are putting them in here because people want them. They are busy and they make a lot of money on them.”

From April 8 to 13, the flight to D.C. will operate two to four times daily for Masters Week guests, according to Johnston.

In total, Augusta Regional will have 217 departing flights with 18,951 seats from the Saturday prior to the tournament to April 13 – the Monday after it concludes. April 13 is the airport’s busiest day of the year with 26 outgoing flights.

The following 10-day period when Augusta Regional returns to normal operations has 151 flights and 9,041 seats.

In addition to the closed runway for parking private jets, Augusta Regional plans to use two taxiways to park about 200 aircraft, depending on sizes and wingspans, at one time.

A shortage of parking areas for private jets has been a recurring issue for the airport during Masters Week. After a system requiring reservations failed to alleviate problems in recent years, the airport has eliminated reservation requirements and will park aircraft on a first-come, first-served basis.

Last year, Augusta Regional had 2,034 landings and takeoffs for private aircraft.

Augusta Regional has never closed a runway to accommodate Masters traffic until this year, said Lauren Smith, the airport’s communications manager.

Williams said the closed runway will be marked with large, lighted X-marks. In the event of an incident on the primary north-south runway that will remain open, the executive director said planes can easily be towed off either runway to keep operations running. The runway could also be repaired quickly if the pavement was damaged, he said.

“Even if we had plenty of parking, I’d still be closing this runway for Masters,” said Williams, who has worked at the airport about two months.

Original article can be found at:  http://chronicle.augusta.com

Bell 206B, N43CM: Accident occurred March 24, 2015 in Taylors Island, Maryland

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA179
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, March 24, 2015 in Taylors Island, MD
Aircraft: BELL 206B, registration: N43CM
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 March 24, 2015, about 1730 eastern daylight time, a Bell 206B, N43CM, was substantially damaged during an autorotation near Taylor Island, Maryland. The commercial pilot and one passenger were not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed. The helicopter was registered to and operated by DC Helicopters Incorporated as a personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the pilot, he was in cruise flight at 3,000 feet above ground level, when there was a sudden drop in altitude followed by a 90 degree rotation to the left and a loud "bang." The pilot lowered the collective and noted that the torque gauge went below 10 percent. He then rolled the throttle to idle, entered an autorotation and landed on a shore. 

According to the Federal Aviation Administration inspector that examined the helicopter, the tail boom was buckled near the tail rotor gear box. Further examination revealed that the tail rotor drive shaft was broken. The helicopter was recovered and is awaiting further examination.

DC HELICOPTERS INC:   http://registry.faa.gov/N43CM     


Helicopter Pilots
Ronald Lopes of Staten Island, N.Y. gives a thumbs up at Denny's in Cambridge with Vincent Giglio of Howell, N.J., who safely landed the helicopter they were flying in Tuesday after it lost power near the mouth of the Little Choptank River.
~



CAMBRIDGE — Among the diners here at Denny’s Tuesday evening were two gentlemen who may have had the most interesting day of anyone in the restaurant, the city of Cambridge or even the entire Delmarva Peninsula. 

Vincent T. Giglio, 45, of Howell, N.J. and Ronald F. Lopes, 61, of Staten Island, N.Y. seemed like the rest of Denny’s patrons, chowing down on big plates of diner food. The only difference between them and everyone else appeared to be the light luggage stashed in their booth.

Lopes and Giglio had to carry their luggage with them into Denny’s because the Bell Jet Ranger helicopter they had been traveling in Tuesday was stuck in the muddy bottom of the Little Choptank River, in about 3 feet of water just offshore of Taylors Island.

Giglio is the owner of Ocean Helicopters of Wall Township, N.J., providing charter helicopter flights for business or sightseeing. Lopes is also a commercial helicopter pilot, who said it was a spur of the moment decision to join his friend Tuesday on what was supposed to be a routine flight to Richmond, Va.

“We train for these things all the time,” Lopes said, including training in a swimming pool to escape from a cage designed to replicate the experience of being in an upside down helicopter in the water.

The basic skill for which they train for emergencies is auto rotation, Lopes said. When a helicopter loses power high in the air, it drops like a rock, Lopes explained.

Auto rotation is meant to slow down the drop and give the powerless blades of the helicopter enough lift to keep the aircraft from crashing. It involves setting the helicopter’s instruments for a specific speed and pulling up on the helicopter’s collective steering device at the last moments before it hits ground.

Tuesday Lopes and Giglio had been taking turns piloting the helicopter on the way to Richmond. Fate fell to Giglio to be piloting when the chopper lost power over Chesapeake Bay.

“Vinny did a great job,” Lopes said, keeping the helicopter stable and upright as it descended, steering towards the shallow waters along the shoreline of the Little Choptank River. Most important, the helicopter landed right side-up, on an even plane, making it easy to exit the stranded aircraft.

The helicopter went down about 25 feet offshore, Lopes estimated. He and Giglio were able to walk to shore and found help from Keith Graffius, whose home is closest to the spot where the helicopter went down.

After talking to local public safety officials, Lopes and Giglio were given a ride by emergency responders to Denny’s, where they were waiting Tuesday evening for a friend in Richmond to drive to Cambridge and then take them to their original destination.

Lopes said he already had a ticket for Amtrak to carry him back to New York Wednesday.

Although he has trained often for an emergency landing in the water, Lopes said it was still very surprising to have to actually put that training to use.

He and Giglio both still had positive attitudes about helicopter flight, extolling the virtues of travel by helicopter and appearing nonplussed by Tuesday’s ordeal.

Still, Lopes seemed to understand what happened in the helicopter Tuesday at the mouth of the Little Choptank had a happy ending because of more than training and skill.

“We were lucky,” he said.

Story and photo gallery:   http://www.myeasternshoremd.com





Piper PA-24-250 Comanche, N6514P: Accident occurred March 09, 2015 in Fort Myers,Florida
























































AIRCRAFT: 1959 Piper PA-24-250 Comanche N6514P, s/n 24-1636 

At the time of the loss, the aircraft total time was 8158.43. 

The last annual inspection was performed on 09/02/2014 at 8109.57 TT
                                                              
ENGINE:  Lycoming 0-540-A1B5, s/n 1006240, with a Total Time Since New of 2526.38

The last Annual Inspection was performed on 09/02/2014 at TT 2477.52, and TSMOH 1209.52

PROPELLER:  Hartzell HC-A2VK-1, s/n J973, with TT 8113.83 and TSMOH of 77

The last Annual Inspection was on 09/02/2014, at PTT 8064.97, PTSMO 44.6

EQUIPMENT:  
Audio Panel, KA134 TSO
DME, KN64
(2) NAV/COM & GS, KX 155 TSO
ADF 141 TSO
GPS, Garmin 430  50 IFR
Transponder TSO
           
DESCRIPTION OF ACCIDENT:  Pilot reported an "engine out" condition on approach to Page Field Airport, Fort Myers (KFMY) and landed N6514P in a parking lot impacting a storage POD and a pickup truck. 

DESCRIPTION OF DAMAGES:  Damage includes but may not be limited to the following:   

The engine and instrument panel forward are separated from the fuselage. 

There is damage to both wings and throughout the airframe.

The horizontal stabilizer and all control surfaces are damaged.

 LOCATION OF AIRCRAFT:  Charlotte County Airport, Punta Gorda, Florida - in a fully enclosed hangar.  The aircraft was originally retrieved to the Lee County Airport and subsequently further disassembled and relocated to Charlotte County Airport.

REMARKS: Aircraft disassembled for transport.

Read more here:  http://www.avclaims.com/N6514P.html

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA149
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, March 09, 2015 in Fort Myers, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/14/2015
Aircraft: PIPER PA-24-250, registration: N6514P
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that, about 10 miles from the destination airport, he switched the left and right fuel tanks from the auxiliary position to the main tank position. On final approach for landing and when the airplane was at an altitude of about 500 ft, the engine stopped producing power. The propeller continued to rotate, but the engine did not respond to throttle inputs. The pilot stated that he then switched the fuel selectors from the main tank position back to the auxiliary tank position and turned on the electric fuel boost pumps, but the engine did not regain power. He added that, each time he moved the fuel selectors, he visually confirmed their position. The pilot performed a forced landing to a parking lot, during which the airframe aft of the engine compartment was fractured and the fuselage was substantially damaged. There was no odor of fuel or evidence of fuel spillage at the accident scene; however, the fuel caps were removed, and large quantities of fuel were found in each wing tank. Examination of the cockpit revealed that both the left and right tank fuel selectors were in the “off” position and that the fuel selector position decal had been displaced upward and over each handle by impact forces, which indicates that the fuel selectors were in the “off” position at impact and not moved subsequently. Continuity of the fuel system was confirmed from all four fuel tanks, through the fuel selectors, to the fuel supply line forward of the firewall. The engine was test run, and it started immediately, accelerated smoothly, and ran without interruption at all power settings. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's inadvertent placement of both fuel selectors to the "off" position, which resulted in fuel starvation and a total loss of engine power.

On March 9, 2015, about 1410 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-24-250, N6514P, was substantially damaged during collision with a vehicle and storage container after a total loss of engine power on final approach to Page Field Airport (FMY), Fort Meyers, Florida. The private pilot was seriously injured and the passenger was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight departed St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) about 1335 and was destined for FMY.

In a telephone interview, the pilot stated the airplane's fuel tanks contained about 85 gallons of fuel prior to departure. He said that preflight inspection, engine start, engine run-up, taxi and takeoff were as expected and that "all systems were normal." The pilot took off and climbed the airplane to 3,500 feet. About 10 miles from FMY, the pilot contacted air traffic control (ATC), and he was instructed to report again at 4 miles from the airport. The pilot moved the fuel selectors from the auxiliary to main tank positions. At 4 miles from FMY, the pilot contacted ATC and configured the airplane for landing.

On final approach for landing, at an altitude about 500 feet, the engine stopped producing power. The propeller continued to rotate, but the engine did not respond to throttle inputs. The pilot switched the fuel selectors back to the auxiliary tank position and turned on the electric fuel boost pumps, but never regained engine power. The pilot said that each time he moved the fuel selectors, he visually confirmed their position. The pilot performed a forced landing to a parking lot which fractured the airframe aft of the engine compartment and substantially damaged the fuselage.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed no odor of fuel, or evidence of fuel spillage at the scene; however, removal of the fuel caps revealed large quantities of fuel in each wing. The engine controls were all "full forward" and both fuel selectors were in the "Off:" position. The fuel selector position decal was displaced upward, and over each handle by impact forces.

The wreckage was moved to Buckingham Field, Lehigh Acres, Florida, and was secured in a hanger for further examination.

The airplane was examined by FAA Inspectors on March 12, 2015. Flight control continuity was established, and the engine cowlings were opened. Approximately 1 ounce of fuel was drained from the carburetor which was clear and absent of water or debris. The engine appeared undamaged, and the examination was suspended. The engine was then removed from the airplane, and shipped to the manufacturer's facility for a detailed examination.

On April 23, 2015, the airplane was defueled, and continuity of the fuel system was confirmed from all four fuel tanks, through the fuel selectors, to the fuel supply line forward of the firewall.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He reported 410 total hours of flight experience, of which "more than" 10 hours were in the accident airplane make and model. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued on February 24, 2015.

The airplane was manufactured in 1959 and was equipped with a Lycoming O-540 series, 250 hp, reciprocating engine. It's most recent annual inspection was completed September 2, 2014, at 8,109 total aircraft hours.

The airplane was equipped with individual fuel selectors for the fuel tanks positioned in the left and right wings, respectively. The fuel selectors had three positions; Main, Tip, and Off. The left selector was rotated counterclockwise from the 12-o'clock (Main) position thru the 9-o'clock (Tip) position to the 6-o'clock (Off) position. The right fuel selector was rotated clockwise from the 12-o'clock, thru the 3-o'clock, to the 6-o'clock in order to match the same selector settings. The selector valves then fed a single fuel supply line forward of the firewall to the engine.

On May 12, 2015, the engine was examined at the manufacturer's facility in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The engine appeared undamaged, and was placed in a test cell where it started immediately, accelerated smoothly, and ran without interruption through a complete engine test run scenario at all power settings.

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA149 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, March 09, 2015 in Fort Myers, FL
Aircraft: PIPER PA-24-250, registration: N6514P
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 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 March 9, 2015, about 1410 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-24-250, N6514P, was substantially damaged during collision with a vehicle and storage container after a total loss of engine power on final approach to Page Field Airport (FMY), Fort Meyers, Florida. The private pilot was seriously injured and the passenger was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight departed St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) about 1335 and was destined for FMY.

In a telephone interview, the pilot stated the airplane's fuel tanks contained about 85 gallons of fuel prior to departure. He said that preflight inspection, engine start, engine run-up, taxi and takeoff were as expected and that "all systems were normal." The pilot took off and climbed the airplane to 3,500 feet. About 10 miles from FMY, the pilot contacted air traffic control (ATC), and he was instructed to report again at 4 miles from the airport. The pilot moved the fuel selectors from the auxiliary to main tank positions. At 4 miles from FMY, the pilot contacted ATC and configured the airplane for landing.

On final approach for landing, at an altitude about 500 feet, the engine stopped producing power. The propeller continued to rotate, but the engine did not respond to throttle inputs. The pilot switched the fuel selectors back to the auxiliary tank position and turned on the electric fuel boost pumps, but never regained engine power. The pilot said that each time he moved the fuel selectors, he visually confirmed their position. The pilot performed a forced landing to a parking lot which resulted in substantial damage to the engine compartment and fuselage.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed no odor of fuel, or evidence of fuel spillage at the scene; however, removal of the fuel caps revealed large quantities of fuel in each wing. The engine controls were all "full forward" and both fuel selectors were in the "Off:" position. The wreckage was moved from the accident site for a detailed examination at a later date.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He reported 450 total hours of flight experience, of which "more than" 10 hours were in the accident airplane make and model. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued on February 24, 2015.

The airplane was manufactured in 1959 and was equipped with a Lycoming O-540 series, 250 hp, reciprocating engine. The airplane's maintenance history could not be immediately determined.


RALPH A. LENNEN: http://registry.faa.gov/N6514P


An 85-year-old Estero woman and her 59-year-old son from St. Petersburg were aboard the Piper plane that crash-landed in a Fort Myers parking lot Monday.

Donna Piehl and Gregory Piehl were pulled from the crumpled plane he was piloting that crashed on its approach to Page Field general aviation airport. Both were listed in serious condition Tuesday, according to a Lee Memorial Health System spokeswoman.

Lauren Piehl, Gregory Piehl's daughter, declined to comment when reached by phone.

A public records search lists Gregory Piehl as president of Impact Precision Products in Clearwater, a manufacturer of motion control systems. Calls to the business Tuesday were not answered.

Meryl Rorer, a neighbor of Donna Piehl in a small Estero community off Sandy Lane, was shocked when told her friend and her friend's son had been hurt in the crash.

"I know he's a pilot. I hadn't heard about them being in the crash. I didn't see the news," she said. "Her son must be devastated. Greg comes down now and again to help her. She has medical problems. It just breaks my heart, I worry about her."

Rorer said Donna Piehl is a kind and friendly woman. "She's the sweetest woman and a loving person."

She said Donna Piehl can be normally be seen along the roadway walking her dog. "She loves her dog so much," she said. "She has a fenced-in backyard, but she makes herself walk the dog."

Rorer said she and her husband have known Donna Piehl since they moved to the community in 2007, the year Donna Piehl's husband, Donald, died.

And, despite Donna Piehl's health problems, Rorer said the Estero woman has a sharp mind and a great spirit. "She's always smiling and happy," she said.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating why the four-seat 1959 Comanche landed just before noon Monday atop two vehicles and a storage container behind the White Sands Treatment Center. The plane was about a mile short of the Page Field runway.

According to data from the Federal Aviation Administration, there have been 29 plane crashes at Page Field, including Monday's, since records began being kept in 1982, around the time Page Field became a general aviation airport. There were three fatalities among those crashes.

Two of the deaths occurred during a 2002 crash involving a Raytheon 58 and the other in 1984 when a Consolidated Aeronautics Lake LA-4 crashed at the field.

Layla Cecil of Cape Coral posted on The News-Press web site that she was at a gas station nearby when the plane crashed.

"I actually saw this ... I was pumping gas at the 7/11 on Colonial right before 41," she wrote. "I saw the plane out of the corner of my eye and turned to see a low-flying plane. It looked like it was moving slowly and kind of wobbly. I was worried that it would hit these tall (pine?) trees that were right in its path. It rose up and amazingly didn't hit them, but then it ducked down below them rapidly."

Cecil said she waited for a crash and didn't hear one. "... so I didn't think anything of it — I knew it was weird, but I was hoping they'd made it to Page."

Cecil said she then heard the sounds of a helicopter and saw police responding.

"I was working to exit off of 41 from Colonial and turned back and saw the wreckage. I was worried they'd hit the side building of the facility there. I'm glad that wasn't the case. Still was a horrible thing to be privy to, though," she wrote.

http://www.news-press.com















































































































































NTSB Identification: ERA15LA149
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, March 09, 2015 in Fort Myers, FL
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/14/2015
Aircraft: PIPER PA-24-250, registration: N6514P
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The pilot reported that, about 10 miles from the destination airport, he switched the left and right fuel tanks from the auxiliary position to the main tank position. On final approach for landing and when the airplane was at an altitude of about 500 ft, the engine stopped producing power. The propeller continued to rotate, but the engine did not respond to throttle inputs. The pilot stated that he then switched the fuel selectors from the main tank position back to the auxiliary tank position and turned on the electric fuel boost pumps, but the engine did not regain power. He added that, each time he moved the fuel selectors, he visually confirmed their position. The pilot performed a forced landing to a parking lot, during which the airframe aft of the engine compartment was fractured and the fuselage was substantially damaged. There was no odor of fuel or evidence of fuel spillage at the accident scene; however, the fuel caps were removed, and large quantities of fuel were found in each wing tank. Examination of the cockpit revealed that both the left and right tank fuel selectors were in the “off” position and that the fuel selector position decal had been displaced upward and over each handle by impact forces, which indicates that the fuel selectors were in the “off” position at impact and not moved subsequently. Continuity of the fuel system was confirmed from all four fuel tanks, through the fuel selectors, to the fuel supply line forward of the firewall. The engine was test run, and it started immediately, accelerated smoothly, and ran without interruption at all power settings. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's inadvertent placement of both fuel selectors to the "off" position, which resulted in fuel starvation and a total loss of engine power.

On March 9, 2015, about 1410 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-24-250, N6514P, was substantially damaged during collision with a vehicle and storage container after a total loss of engine power on final approach to Page Field Airport (FMY), Fort Meyers, Florida. The private pilot was seriously injured and the passenger was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight departed St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) about 1335 and was destined for FMY.

In a telephone interview, the pilot stated the airplane's fuel tanks contained about 85 gallons of fuel prior to departure. He said that preflight inspection, engine start, engine run-up, taxi and takeoff were as expected and that "all systems were normal." The pilot took off and climbed the airplane to 3,500 feet. About 10 miles from FMY, the pilot contacted air traffic control (ATC), and he was instructed to report again at 4 miles from the airport. The pilot moved the fuel selectors from the auxiliary to main tank positions. At 4 miles from FMY, the pilot contacted ATC and configured the airplane for landing.

On final approach for landing, at an altitude about 500 feet, the engine stopped producing power. The propeller continued to rotate, but the engine did not respond to throttle inputs. The pilot switched the fuel selectors back to the auxiliary tank position and turned on the electric fuel boost pumps, but never regained engine power. The pilot said that each time he moved the fuel selectors, he visually confirmed their position. The pilot performed a forced landing to a parking lot which fractured the airframe aft of the engine compartment and substantially damaged the fuselage.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector revealed no odor of fuel, or evidence of fuel spillage at the scene; however, removal of the fuel caps revealed large quantities of fuel in each wing. The engine controls were all "full forward" and both fuel selectors were in the "Off:" position. The fuel selector position decal was displaced upward, and over each handle by impact forces.

The wreckage was moved to Buckingham Field, Lehigh Acres, Florida, and was secured in a hanger for further examination.

The airplane was examined by FAA Inspectors on March 12, 2015. Flight control continuity was established, and the engine cowlings were opened. Approximately 1 ounce of fuel was drained from the carburetor which was clear and absent of water or debris. The engine appeared undamaged, and the examination was suspended. The engine was then removed from the airplane, and shipped to the manufacturer's facility for a detailed examination.

On April 23, 2015, the airplane was defueled, and continuity of the fuel system was confirmed from all four fuel tanks, through the fuel selectors, to the fuel supply line forward of the firewall.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He reported 410 total hours of flight experience, of which "more than" 10 hours were in the accident airplane make and model. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued on February 24, 2015.

The airplane was manufactured in 1959 and was equipped with a Lycoming O-540 series, 250 hp, reciprocating engine. It's most recent annual inspection was completed September 2, 2014, at 8,109 total aircraft hours.

The airplane was equipped with individual fuel selectors for the fuel tanks positioned in the left and right wings, respectively. The fuel selectors had three positions; Main, Tip, and Off. The left selector was rotated counterclockwise from the 12-o'clock (Main) position thru the 9-o'clock (Tip) position to the 6-o'clock (Off) position. The right fuel selector was rotated clockwise from the 12-o'clock, thru the 3-o'clock, to the 6-o'clock in order to match the same selector settings. The selector valves then fed a single fuel supply line forward of the firewall to the engine.

On May 12, 2015, the engine was examined at the manufacturer's facility in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The engine appeared undamaged, and was placed in a test cell where it started immediately, accelerated smoothly, and ran without interruption through a complete engine test run scenario at all power settings.

http://registry.faa.gov/N6514P 

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA149
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, March 09, 2015 in Fort Myers, FL
Aircraft: PIPER PA-24-250, registration: N6514P
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 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 March 9, 2015, about 1410 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-24-250, N6514P, was substantially damaged during collision with a vehicle and storage container after a total loss of engine power on final approach to Page Field Airport (FMY), Fort Meyers, Florida. The private pilot was seriously injured and the passenger was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight departed St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport (PIE) about 1335 and was destined for FMY.

In a telephone interview, the pilot stated the airplane's fuel tanks contained about 85 gallons of fuel prior to departure. He said that preflight inspection, engine start, engine run-up, taxi and takeoff were as expected and that "all systems were normal." The pilot took off and climbed the airplane to 3,500 feet. About 10 miles from FMY, the pilot contacted air traffic control (ATC), and he was instructed to report again at 4 miles from the airport. The pilot moved the fuel selectors from the auxiliary to main tank positions. At 4 miles from FMY, the pilot contacted ATC and configured the airplane for landing.

On final approach for landing, at an altitude about 500 feet, the engine stopped producing power. The propeller continued to rotate, but the engine did not respond to throttle inputs. The pilot switched the fuel selectors back to the auxiliary tank position and turned on the electric fuel boost pumps, but never regained engine power. The pilot said that each time he moved the fuel selectors, he visually confirmed their position. The pilot performed a forced landing to a parking lot which resulted in substantial damage to the engine compartment and fuselage.

Examination of the airplane by a Federal Aviation Administration inspector revealed no odor of fuel, or evidence of fuel spillage at the scene; however, removal of the fuel caps revealed large quantities of fuel in each wing. The engine controls were all "full forward" and both fuel selectors were in the "Off:" position. The wreckage was moved from the accident site for a detailed examination at a later date.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He reported 450 total hours of flight experience, of which "more than" 10 hours were in the accident airplane make and model. His most recent FAA third class medical certificate was issued on February 24, 2015.

The airplane was manufactured in 1959 and was equipped with a Lycoming O-540 series, 250 hp, reciprocating engine. The airplane's maintenance history could not be immediately determined.




The single engine on Gregory Piehl's Piper Comanche quit on final approach to Page Field Airport March 9, forcing the St. Petersburg man to ditch the craft after unsuccessful attempts to restart the engine, a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report says.

The NTSB report released Thursday said the plane lost power at 500 feet and about a mile short of Page Field and crash-landed, leading to the death of Piehl's mother, who was a passenger.

Donna Piehl, 85, of Estero, was injured in the crash and died Sunday at Lee Memorial Hospital. Gregory Piehl, the pilot of the plane, was also injured and released earlier. He has declined to comment on the crash.

The report said the Piper PA-24-250 Comanche, number N6514P, was substantially damaged when it crash-landed on a vehicle and storage container after the total loss of engine power.

The NTSB report said clear weather conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. Piehl left St. Pete-Clearwater International Airport about 1:35 p.m. bound for Fort Myers.

The NTSB, in a phone interview with Piehl, said he told them that the airplane's fuel tanks contained about 85 gallons of fuel prior to departure, that preflight inspection, engine start, engine run-up, taxi and takeoff were as expected and that "all systems were normal."

The NTSB report said Piehl took off and took the Piper to 3,500 feet. About 10 miles from Fort Myers he contacted air traffic control and was instructed to report again at 4 miles from the airport.

The NTSB said Piehl moved the fuel selectors from the auxiliary to main tank positions. At 4 miles from Fort Myers, Piehl contacted air traffic control and prepared the airplane for landing.

On final approach for landing, at an altitude of about 500 feet, the engine stopped producing power. Piehl told the NTSB that the propeller continued to rotate but there was no response from the engine to throttle inputs.

The NTSB said Piehl told them he switched the fuel selectors back to the auxiliary tank position and turned on the electric fuel boost pumps, but never regained engine power. Piehl told the investigators that each time he moved the fuel selectors, he visually confirmed their position.

A USA Today report last year on private plane crashes showed problems with the carburetor on a Piper Cherokee, which led to a fatal crash.

Piehl performed a forced landing in the parking lot which resulted in substantial damage to the engine compartment and fuselage.

Piehl and his mother were pulled from the wreckage of the single-engine plane after it came to rest in the rear parking lot behind the White Sands Counseling Center off Colonial Boulevard, about a mile short of Runway 13 at Page Field.

A witness described the plane as "moving slowly and kind of wobbly" before it went down.

According to data from the Federal Aviation Administration, this was the 29th plane crash reported at Page Field since record-keeping began in 1982, around the time Page Field became a general aviation airport. There were three fatalities among those crashes.

Two of the deaths occurred during a 2002 crash involving a Raytheon 58 and the other in 1984 when a Consolidated Aeronautics Lake LA-4 crashed at the field.

Story and photo gallery:  http://www.news-press.com