Thursday, May 21, 2015

Grumman American AA-5A Cheetah, N26886, Weight-Hanger Aviation Inc: Accident occurred May 21, 2015 near Wendell H. Ford Airport (KCPF), Hazard, Perry County, Kentucky

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA220
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, May 21, 2015 in Rowdy, KY
Aircraft: GULFSTREAM AMERICAN CORP AA-5A, registration: N26886
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On May 21, 2015, about 1854 eastern daylight time, a Gulfstream American Corp AA-5A, N26886, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering near Rowdy, Kentucky. The private pilot was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed Aiken Municipal Airport (AIK), Aiken, South Carolina, at an unknown time, and was destined for Wendell H Ford Airport (CPF), Hazard, Kentucky. The personal flight was operated under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. 

The owner of the accident airplane stated that he had spoken with the accident pilot about the flight to CPF earlier in the day, and that they had discussed the weather conditions. According to Lockheed Martin Flight Service, there were no records of the pilot having obtained a weather briefing through a Flight Service Station or through the DUAT service. There were also no records of the pilot having contacted any Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control facilities during the flight. 

Preliminary radar information obtained from the FAA showed a target approaching CPF from the south at an altitude of about 8,300 feet, beginning about 1830, displaying the standard visual flight rules (VFR) transponder code of 1200. The target passed west of CPF about 1844, and continued north before beginning a descending right turn toward the southwest about 1846. About 1849, the target began a series of turns about 1 mile east of CPF, with altitudes varying between 7,400 to 6,700 feet. The last two radar returns were at 1853:38 and 1854:02, with altitudes of 6,800 feet and 0 feet, respectively. The last radar return was located about 550 feet southwest of the accident site. 

The accident site was located about 1 nautical mile east of CPF in heavily wooded, mountainous terrain. The initial impact point was identified as a tree, past which the wreckage path extended on a heading of about 084 degrees. Along the wreckage path, several angularly-cut tree branches were identified that exhibited paint transfer consistent with propeller contact. The main wreckage came to rest about 70 feet past the initial impact point, and was destroyed by impact. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The engine was separated from the airframe and heavily impact-damaged. Both propeller blades exhibited significant s-bending, leading edge gouging, and chordwise scratching. 

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration third class medical certificate was issued in July 2014. Review of the pilot's logbook indicated that he had accumulated about 220 total hours of flight experience. The pilot did not possess an instrument rating. 

The airplane was manufactured in 1979, and was equipped with a Lycoming O-320 series, 150 hp reciprocating engine. The airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on August 1, 2014, at a total aircraft time of 2,136.75 hours. 

The 1905 weather observation at CPF included wind from 330 degrees at 4 knots, 3 miles visibility, drizzle, broken clouds at 800 feet, broken clouds at 1,200 feet, overcast clouds at 2,000 feet, temperature 11 degrees C, dew point 11 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.08 inches of mercury. 


LOST CREEK, Ky (WYMT) - UPDATE: An official with Perry County Coroner's Office has identified the man killed in Thursday's plane crash as Robert Bookman, 59, of Grovetown, GA.

The National Transportation Safety Board plans to release a preliminary report on the crash within a week.

Investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are trying to figure out what caused a plane crash Thursday night in the Lost Creek Community of Perry County.

One man, the pilot, is dead. Investigators are not releasing his name but Wendell Ford Airport Manager Jeff Hylton believes he knows the man that died.

Friday's blue skies were ideal for flying but Thursday's rain was a different story.

"At about the time of the accident, we had had some rain showers move through the area. The visibility was probably two to four miles," said Hylton.

Hylton said those conditions might have led to the crash that left one man dead.

"I imagine that he was trying to get down to the surface of the runway and at some point, he just lost control of the airplane," said Hylton.

That is what investigators are now tasked with figuring out. Local, state and even federal agents descended on the scene Friday to look for clues along Lost Creek Road.

Senior Air Safety Investigator Brian Rayner tells WYMT the search has already yielded some results.

"We were able to recover the pilot's log book. So I will have an opportunity to review that here on scene and going forward, we hope to recover the maintenance records for the airplane," said Rayner.

Crews will also examine the engine and look at weather conditions at the time of the crash.

Martie Miller lives around the corner from where the plane went down.

"I just did not like what I saw. So I just turned around and went back home," said Miller.

He said things like this like just do not happen in their community.

"Just really nobody knew he was out there and he had been in here four or five times previously. I think he was just meeting somebody here and I did not realize until his friend showed up here to check on him and see where he was," said Hylton.

He believes the man came from Georgia or South Carolina.

The NTSB plans to release a preliminary report on the crash within a week.


LOST CREEK, Ky. (WYMT) - UPDATE: 11:30 p.m. - One person died in a plane crash near the Perry-Breathitt County line Thursday night.

The scene is not far from the Wendell Ford Airport.

The small plane went down in the Lower Lost Creek area around 6:30 p.m.

We do not know a whole lot at this point about the moments before the crash and what might have caused it. However, WYMT was on scene with investigators since right after the crash happened, as they combed through the wreckage, and tried to figure out what caused the plane to go down.

Police and firefighters from several agencies are gathering as much information as they can about this deadly crash and are also taking precautions to make sure fuel spilled from the plane does not catch fire.

Silas Miller lives nearby and rushed to the wreckage when he heard the plane go down.

Miller said, "It's just a mangled mess, it is spread out for about probably 30 yards, just sheets of metal".

Pieces of the aircraft were visible in trees and on the ground, but investigators are not sure if clipping a branch is what caused the plane to crash.

Perry County Deputy Coroner John Collett added, "Right now we are waiting for NTSB and FAA to show up at the scene. Kentucky State Police are going to secure the scene for the evening. We have one confirmed dead at this time. But we are reserving any more information and will release it as follows".

Three boys say they were playing outside when they saw the plane streak through the sky with smoke behind it.

Colin, Jackson, and Ace Miller witnessed the crash. They said, "It was a white plane with a black stripe down it. We were down there shooting ball and it came down through the air and zigzagged and spun in circles and hit the bank".

FAA investigators are expected to arrive here Friday morning.

Until FAA gets to the scene, we probably will not know who the victim was, how many victims there are, and what kind of plane it was.

Firefighters do not think the plane was carrying more than 40 gallons of fuel, so it was a small plane.

Police are on scene of a plane crash in Perry County in the Lower Lost Creek community near the Breathitt County line.

We have confirmed that the wreckage has been found and at least one person is dead. Two deputy coroners and emergency crews are responding to the scene.

The scene of the crash is near the Wendell Ford Airport, but officials at the airport would not comment at this time. The accident happened some time around 7:00 p.m. We do not have any information on the type of plane and how many people were aboard.

Perry County 911 dispatchers tell us that the 8000 block of Lost Creek Road and Gearl Valley Drive in Barger Bottom will be closed until further notice due to the crash.

Accident Investigation Bureau Releases Four Accident Reports

The Accident Investigation Bureau (AIB) on Thursday released the final reports of the investigations carried out on four air accidents that occurred within the Nigerian airspace. The report is coming six years after the last accident had occurred.

According to the final reports, which was downloaded from its website, include that of Beechcraft 1900D with registration 5N-JAH belonging to Wings Aviation Services Air, Cessna Citation 560XLS with registration 5N-BMM belonging to Bristow Helicopters, Boeing 737-500 with registration 5N-BLE belonging to Aero Contractors and AS 350 B2 with registration 5N-BHU belonging to OAS Limited.

AIB's Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Felix Abali, who signed the report however said its outcome is not to apportion blame to any individual or stakeholder involved in the crash but to make recommendation against future occurrence and for air safety purposes.

He said: “At the Accident Investigation Bureau we are committed to enhancing aviation safety by conducting thorough and unbiased investigations into aircraft accidents and serious incidents.

“We are currently working hard to release more accident reports in the shortest possible time.’

Analyzing the Wing Aviation air craft which crashed 6 years ago in Cross River state, the report revealed: “The Beech 1900D registered as 5N-JAH and operated by Wings Aviation Limited as flight TWD 8300, which was on a revenue positioning flight on 15th March 2008 crashed at about 0920 hours in mountainous terrain at Bushi Village, Obalinku Local Government Area of Cross River State. The investigation identified two causal and three contributory factors and made five safety recommendations. The Bureau had on 29 March, 2009 issued an interim report on the accident.

The report also  added that the Bristow Helicopters’ Cessna Citation 560XLS,  registered 5N-BMM departed Lagos at 1856 hours for Port Harcourt on an Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and estimated Port Harcourt at 1940 hours.

On final approach the crew had visual challenge but continued the approach, crash landed and exited the runway. The investigation identified one Causal and three contributory factors. Six safety recommendations were made.  

Aero Contractors Flight 210, a Boeing 737-500, registered 5N-BLE, which departed Lagos on 21st of August, 2010, skidded off the threshold of Runway 28 while landing on approach into Yakubu Gowon Airport, Jos, Plateau State. The investigation identified one causal and three contributory factors. Two safety recommendations were made.

Explaining how the OAS Limited aircraft 5N-BHU (Helicopter) occurred, it added that it departed Lagos at 0713 hours on 10th November, 2010 under Special Visual Flight Rules (Special VFR). The helicopter could not continue the flight to Port Harcourt due to bad weather and was returning to Osubi airstrip when it collided with high tension cables belonging to Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) located along the road to Delta Steel Company, Ovwian, Aladja, Delta State. The investigation identified one causal and two contributory factors while five safety recommendations were made.


Skydive operator indicted in Colorado marijuana bust • Westside Skydivers Houston, Sealy, Texas

Joe Johnson

Apparently things got a little too high for the owner of a local skydiving company.

Joe Johnson, 43, and Westside Skydivers Houston, located east of Sealy, were indicted in March in Colorado following the bust of an organization that produced marijuana crops there and transported it to Minnesota and Texas where Johnson owned skydiving companies.

Johnson was one of 32 people indicted by a Colorado grand jury on 52 felony counts that include cultivation and distribution of marijuana, racketeering, tax evasion, money laundering, conspiracy and attempt to influence a public servant.

The indictments allege that Johnson used skydiving planes from his businesses in Winsted, Minn., and Sealy to transport marijuana and cash for a Colorado-based drug trafficking organization (DTO). Most of the shipments went to Minnesota.

Ironically, Johnson was caught on the ground in Kansas last June while driving a rented car back to Colorado from Houston with $330,000 in cash and 66 pounds of marijuana that had been rejected by a Texas buyer. The illegal drugs were part of a 100-pound shipment that Johnson had flown down here.

According to the indictment, “Johnson witnessed the prospective Houston customers refuse more than 60 pounds of the total marijuana load, rejecting it on the basis of its poor quality. Johnson received instructions from the DTO to return the remaining marijuana to Colorado. In order to save on the cost of airplane fuel, Johnson rented a car and drove back to Colorado to deliver cash proceeds and the remaining sixty or so pounds of marijuana to the DTO’s leadership.”

After getting caught, Johnson reportedly began cooperating with authorities.

“In attempts to mitigate future punishment, Johnson began working with DEA agents and made a variety of surreptitious recordings of his co-conspirators’ discussions of drug trafficking and money laundering activities,” the indictment says.

The law enforcement investigation was called “Operation Golden Go-fer.” Johnson’s involvement began in 2013 when “a skydiver client … introduced him to Cuyler Gerbich. Gerbich then introduced Johnson to Tri Nugyen at a restaurant in Denver,” the indictment says.

The two men offered Johnson $250 for every pound of marijuana he transported. Johnson figured he would need to ship at least 100 pounds at a time to make it profitable.

“Ultimately realizing the potential of having access to airplanes to transport marijuana, Gerbich and Tri Nguyen conspired with Johnson to transport hundreds of pounds of marijuana virtually undetected from the Denver warehouse grows to Thomas “C.T.” Dispanet in Minnesota,” the indictment says.

Johnson made the first of nearly 10 trips using his skydiving planes sometime in late October or early November of 2013, flying into the Boulder, Colo., municipal airport. Authorities allege Johnson and his two skydiving businesses transported more than 1,500 pounds of marijuana and over $2 million in cash proceeds between Minnesota and Colorado from October 2013 through June 2014.

After getting caught and later making secret recordings of his co-conspirators for authorities, he was approached by officers for further interviews about the organization.

“When questioned about the location of the nearly $100,000 cash Johnson had received from the DTO, Johnson became evasive with interviewing agents,” the indictment says. “Moreover, Johnson attempted to deceive the three investigators and described burying the $100,000 in a particular location Mr. Johnson later confessed that he had never buried the money but instead spent it to pay bills and prop up his skydiving business.”

His local skydiving business was closed in March and a new one has opened in its place at the Gloster Aerodome. The new company, Bayou City Skydivers, is owned by Kristin Merritt and has nothing to do with Johnson.   

“We retained a few employees and we have some new staff,” Merritt said.

She said Westside Skydivers Houston operated most of the last year without Johnson around. She also said the airport is owned and operated independently from the skydiving businesses.

“Johnson is no longer welcome at the airport,” she said.

Merritt said she is still working on the marketing side of the business, but does have it open for clients. Her website will go active soon at It can also be found on Facebook.

A date for Johnson’s trial has not been set yet. According to Merritt, he was not jailed due to his cooperation with authorities.


John W. Faunce PA-11, N710JF: Accident occurred May 21, 2015 at Morrisville-Stowe State Airport (KMVL), Morrisville, Vermont

NTSB Identification: GAA15CA084 
Accident occurred Thursday, May 21, 2015 in Morrisville, VT
Aircraft: PIPER PA-11, registration: N710JF

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Date: 21-MAY-15 
Time: 18:15:00Z
Regis#: N710JF
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA11
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Unknown
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Vermont


MORRISTOWN, Vt. (AP) — Police say a small plane overturned as it was landing at the Morrisville-Stowe State Airport in Vermont.

The pilot told police that while landing in a crosswind on Thursday, the wind direction shifted — causing him to lose control of the aircraft once he had touched down. 

Authorities say the wind and emergency braking system caused the aircraft to pitch forward and roll on its roof at the edge of the runway.

Police say the experienced pilot, 68-year-old Leonard Wing, was uninjured and outside of the aircraft when police arrived.

Judge rules in favor of Mile-Hi Skydiving in Longmont noise trial: Court denies all claims made by plaintiffs and Citizens for Quiet Skies • Vance Brand Airport (KLMO), Colorado

A Boulder District Court judge today denied every claim brought by the plaintiffs in a high-profile noise lawsuit against Mile-Hi Skydiving, which operates out of Longmont's Vance Brand Municipal Airport.

Seven individual plaintiffs living in Longmont and in unincorporated Boulder County, as well as the group Citizens for Quiet Skies, claimed in the lawsuit that Mile-Hi owner Frank Casares was being negligent and a nuisance by flying what they said were unusually loud planes over their homes.

The plaintiffs especially took issue with the purple-and-white Twin Otter plane, claiming that it was much louder than the others, and that Mile-Hi flew frequently over residents' homes when the plaintiffs were trying to enjoy their backyards and porches during summer weekends.

Mile-Hi, meanwhile, argued throughout the year and over the course of the lawsuit that Judge Judith LaBuda could not issue a ruling superseding federal aviation law.

In a 13-page written ruling, LaBuda sided with the skydiving company, denying all claims and expressing hopes that both sides and the community move on.

“The Court recognizes that this case has produced tension among community members,” LaBuda wrote in her ruilng, noting that supporters of both sides filled the courtroom during the trial. “It is the Court's hope that following a week-long trial, in which both parties were given an opportunity to present their evidence, that the parties, as well as the community members, will accept the ruling of the Court and move forward in a manner that demonstrates courtesy, respect and consideration for one another.”