NTSB Identification: ERA15LA231
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, June 02, 2015 in Siler City, NC
Aircraft: BEECH A36, registration: N985K
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 June 2, 2015, about 0800 eastern daylight time, a Beech A36, N985K, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while attempting to land at Siler City Municipal Airport (SCR), Siler City, North Carolina. The private pilot was seriously injured, and the commercial pilot-rated passenger was fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated from Moore County Airport (SOP), Pinehurst, North Carolina. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
According to a friend of the pilots, the purpose of the accident flight was to reposition the airplane in order to have maintenance performed on the alternator. The accident airplane departed from SOP, and due to concerns related to the airplane's electrical system, the pilots kept the landing gear extended for the duration of the flight. The friend departed SOP a short time later in his own airplane, and arrived in the area of SCR prior to the accident airplane. The friend recalled that the airport's automated weather observation system was reporting a visibility of 7 statute miles, scattered clouds at 400 feet, and an overcast ceiling at 9,000 feet. He also reported that a "haze" layer was present near the north side of the airport that was not present toward the south. The friend subsequently maneuvered his airplane so that the accident airplane could enter the traffic pattern and land first.
The accident airplane initially entered the traffic pattern on a downwind leg for landing on runway 22, but upon noting the haze to the north, the pilots announced that they would transition over top of the airport to a left downwind for landing on runway 4. The friend intermittently observed the accident airplane as it maneuvered, and noted that while on the downwind-to-base turn to the runway, the airplane was in close proximity to the runway, in a left bank and nose-high attitude. When he next saw the airplane, it was in a nose-down attitude, heading toward a stand of trees that bordered the runway's east side, short of the runway threshold. The friend did not observe the impact, but when he did not receive a reply to his inquiries as to their position, assumed that the airplane had crashed. He subsequently orbited the area where he last observed the airplane and located the accident site. He then landed his own airplane, contacted emergency services, and proceeded to the accident site in order to render assistance.
The pilot seated in the left front seat held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. He held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate, which was issued in June 2014. On the application for that certificate, he reported 1,430 total hours of flight experience. The pilot-rated passenger seated in the right front seat held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane, as well as a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. According to the friend, she was not operating in the capacity of a flight instructor on the accident flight. She held an FAA second-class medical certificate, which was issued in September 2014, and on the application for that certificate, she reported 4,900 total hours of flight experience.
An FAA inspector examined the airplane at the accident site and identified the initial impact point as a tree located about 500 feet southeast of the runway 4 approach threshold, about 300 feet southeast of the extended runway centerline. The wreckage came to rest about 65 feet from the initial impact point, on a 65-degree magnetic bearing. First responders advised the inspectors of an odor of fuel at the accident site, but that there was no post-impact fire. The wreckage was recovered, and a detailed examination was scheduled for a later date.
A trailblazing female industrial shop teacher in Somers Point who overcame a fear of heights to develop a second career in aviation was killed in a North Carolina plane crash Tuesday, her brother said.
Barbara Harris-Para, 69, had also worked for the Federal Aviation Administration’s William J. Hughes Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township and was a former president of the Mullica Township Board of Education.
She died when a plane her husband was piloting, their single-engine Beechcraft A-36 Bonanza, crashed into woods during a landing attempt at Siler City Municipal Airport, North Carolina media outlets reported.
Frederick Para, 72, who suffered broken bones and other injuries in the crash, is hospitalized and was unaware Wednesday that his wife had died, Harris-Para’s brother Kenneth Harris said.
The couple, who were married for more than 30 years, lived in the Sweetwater section of Mullica Township before moving to North Carolina in 2006.
“She’s had a big, long career and I just wish I had half her energy,” said Harris, who lives in Arizona.
Harris-Para was a flight instructor and was once governor of the New Jersey/New York section of the Ninety-Nines, a women’s flying club founded by aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.
For her, aviation was not a childhood dream, but it turned into one later in life.
“She was always afraid of heights, believe it or not. She decided she would learn how to fly to overcome her fear of heights. Then she really got into it,” her brother said.
Over the next 30 years, she became a very experienced pilot and a flight instructor and, after retiring from teaching in 1998, she worked for the FAA as a Freedom of Information Act officer, he said.
Harris-Para was born in Massachusetts and lived in South Jersey most of her life.
Her Linked In profile says she graduated from Williamstown High School in 1963, a time when she was allowed to work in woodshop and metal shop only after school.
After college, she went on to teach those subjects and mechanical drawing to seventh- and eighth-graders in Somers Point for decades before retiring in 1998.
“When she was in high school back in the ’60s, they did not let females in shop classes. She joined a shop club, and I still have the bookcases she made in my home,” Kenneth Harris said. “She was always encouraging female students to learn how to use tools.”
Susan Dugan, now the principal of the Jordan Road School in Somers Point, taught across the hallway from Harris-Para’s class for about eight years.
“It was so good for the girls to see that it was not something that was gender-oriented,” she said. “The custodians used to go in there all the time and talk to her.”
“She was really a woman before her time, or maybe of the time,” Dugan said.
Harris-Para served on the Mullica Township Board of Education for nearly 18 years, including 10 as president.
She stepped down in 2006.
“We’re just deeply saddened that such a vibrant woman would be tragically lost, actually doing something she completely loved doing — flying,” said Barbara Rheault, Mullica Township Education Association president, who was nearby neighbors with Harris-Para in Sweetwater.
“She was a very well-respected and forward-thinking woman, extremely civic-minded, and she generally cared about the betterment of her community,” Rheault said.
A tribute to Harris-Para’s community involvement still exists in a popular photograph taken at the Mullica Township school in 2000.
Students, staff and teachers assembled in a back lot of the school to make a “2000” visible from the air.
A parent took the photo from an airplane.
And Harris-Para piloted that plane.
“That was a lasting tribute because we still have those pictures hanging in the school. And she flew the plane,” Rheault said.
Janet Kinsell, communications and training technician lead at the William J. Hughes Technical Center, described Harris-Para as “full of energy.”
“She truly had a wealth of knowledge and was willing to share her experiences and knowledge with everyone,” Kinsell said. “But it was her warmth and generous spirit that will be missed the most.”
On Wednesday, the National Transportation Safety Board was working with the FAA on the investigation.
An assistant manager at Siler City Municipal Airport told The News and Observer on Tuesday the Paras were trying to land following a flight for maintenance.
A low ceiling prevented the airplane from approaching the 5,000-foot runway from one side, so the pilot circled to land from the other way, Ben Marion told The News and Observer.
A North Carolina State Highway Patrol trooper told WRAL.com that the engine stalled and the plane had a loss of power at about 8 a.m. Tuesday.
The investigation into the crash is continuing.
Probable causes of fatal plane crashes can take a year or longer to determine.
SILER CITY, N.C. - A 69-year-old passenger died Tuesday in a small plane crash while it was trying to land at the Siler City Municipal Airport in Chatham County.
Frederick Calvin Para, 72, of 26 Winding Trail, Whispering Pines, was piloting the aircraft when it crashed Tuesday morning.
His wife, Barbara Harris Para, died as a result from her injuries sustained in the crash, the North Carolina State Highway Patrol said.
Airport Manager Karen McCraw said the plane came down in some woods near the runway around 8 a.m. Tuesday.
Assistant manager Ben Marion said the plane was coming from Southern Pines for maintenance. He said the pilot was making a second approach for the landing when the plane went down.
One person was flown to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill. The other person was taken there by ambulance.
There were no injuries on the ground.
The Siler City Municipal Airport assistant manager said the husband and wife were both experienced pilots.
The 5,000-foot runway was closed for around five hours.
McCraw said the plane was a Beech A36 Bonanza.
SILER CITY -- A woman was killed and her husband injured when their single-engine airplane crashed into trees while trying to land at the Siler City Airport on Tuesday morning, officials said.
Frederick Calvin Para and his wife, Barbara Harris Para, of Whispering Pines were aboard a Beech A36 Bonanza that crashed shortly before 8 a.m., according to state officials. Barbara Para, 69, later died at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, where her husband, 72, was listed in stable condition.
Ben Marion, assistant manager of the city-owned airport, said the Paras were attempting to land after a flight from Southern Pines for maintenance. A low ceiling kept the plane from making an approach to the single runway from one end, and the pilot circled around to land from the opposite direction, from the southwest, Marion said.
It was unclear what happened while the plane was going around, Marion said, but it went into trees east of the runway while making the second approach to the 5,000-foot paved airstrip.
Emergency officials were called at 7:54 a.m., Carolyn Miller from the county’s Emergency Operations Center said. The Paras had to be freed from the wreckage, Miller said.