Saturday, June 13, 2015

25 years after mysterious plane crash killed six men, friends celebrate their lives: Cessna 210N, Professional Pilot Services, N6481N

A photo of the group on a fishing trip in Nags Head, N.C. taken May 9, 1990, the day before the plane crash. Six of the close friends never made it home. 
~


On her wedding day, Sue Ann Richards played the music they had planned for the processional, as she sat, sobbing, on her groom’s grave.

It was the day after his funeral. His best man was dead, too.

Six friends — fun-loving, athletic, adventurous guys in their 30s — had crashed in a small plane. Ten of them had gone on an annual fishing trip to the Outer Banks, but only four made it home to Northern Virginia.

The search took a week and transfixed the Washington area, as family members camped out at a small airport in Manassas and hundreds of volunteers hiked through fields, woods and mountains of an enormous swath of rural Virginia, trying to find the six friends.

Twenty-five years later, some of those who loved them gathered this weekend to play golf, play cards and celebrate their lives.

A lot has changed since the May 1990 crash: Parents have died, couples have come together, children were born, grew up, went off to college. It is difficult to remember a time when a plane could be lost for so many days, when people would donate copy machines to help make paper maps for search parties, and a company would install a bank of pay phones at the airport so people could get news.

But some things did not change: The bonds between them are as tight as ever.

“We are all so interconnected,” said Lourine Cooney, who was 29 years old and three months pregnant when her then-new husband, Ronnie Wiencek, died.

When they get together, they tell stories about the six friends, how funny their lives were, how they were such crazy thrill-seekers. Wiencek used to often tell her that when he died, it was going to be big.

Richards had a bad feeling about the trip before her fiance, Alan David Weggeland, left.

She figured it was just ­pre-wedding jitters, but it bothered her enough, this idea in her head of a plane crashing in the dark in a storm, that she pleaded with him not to fly at night. She stayed up late to write a letter about how much she loved him.

She felt so sick when his plane took off that she canceled the last fitting of her ivory satin-and-lace wedding dress.

The friends did everything together — playing softball, basketball, sailing. If one of the guys got onto the boat with a stuffed parrot on a shoulder, an eye patch, a plastic knife gripped in his teeth, no one was surprised.

Wiencek, a contractor, was the glue; he led their softball team, he organized the annual fishing trip, he flew one of the two small planes they took. They snapped a photo the day before they left for home, 10 guys grinning in the sunshine on a dock, after a day of fishing and basketball played in flip-flops.

One of the friends drove home with all their golf clubs and the hundreds of pounds of tuna they’d caught. Two planes took off. They knew a storm was coming in, so they decided to fly at night to try to beat the bad weather. The plane flown by Steve Sisk touched down in Richmond to refuel and lost contact with the other Cessna.

The next morning, when Sisk and Wiencek’s wife realized only one plane had landed back in Virginia, their first thought was the guys might be pulling a pre-wedding prank, maybe spiriting Weggeland off to Atlantic City or something crazy.

But when Richards went to the airport to check whether the plane had taken off from Manteo, the look on the faces of the people who worked there told her everything: An alert was out. The flight was missing.

She tried to call Wiencek’s sister, Deb Rowan, and collapsed in a phone booth, hysterical.

The families of Wiencek, Weggeland, Jim Wolfe, R. David Day, William Lloyd Jr. and Doug DeBoer stayed at the airfield during the day, tying yellow ribbons around their wrists, some wearing the green shirts from the softball team.

So began a week of prayers, of deals Richards tried to make with God to get them home safely, of stories traded between families, of regular briefings in a giant tent at the airport, of possible pings from the transponder that kept turning out to be false leads.

There were organized efforts to find the plane, and volunteer efforts, covering nearly one-third of the state, near Lake Anna and the northern part of Shenandoah National Park. The Civil Air Patrol flew more than 10,000 miles. Student groups fanned out through fields. A group of motorcyclists combed through back roads. Rowan pleaded to people watching on television, “If you’re hearing this, and you’re north of Richmond, please search your land. Please search your farm.”


On Mother’s Day, with rain pouring down, they wished for the sons to be found. One evening, a group of the family members went to get something to eat and passed a small chapel. The door was open, and they went inside and prayed together.

Every night when Richards got home, she would find in the mail a couple more RSVPs for the wedding.

Then, the Virginia National Guard was deployed. But it was DeBoer’s brother Todd who found a piece of maroon-and-white metal deep in dense woods in Spotsylvania County southwest of Fredericksburg. Other volunteers went in.

In Manassas later that afternoon, an official said, “Your boys aren’t going to come home.” The tent filled with screams.

Some still thought, in the backs of their minds, the six friends, so young and strong, were off on some ad­ven­ture, maybe playing another practical joke. Rowan was so certain her brother was alive that she talked a friend into driving straight to the crash site and got lost for hours until they stumbled upon flashing lights from the emergency crews blazing in the night. A police officer turned her back, but the next day, two people from each family were allowed to go in.

“I’ll never forget the smell,” Richards said. “The smell of death was everywhere.”

Wiencek’s wife kept coming back, searching for his wedding ring. They never found it, but they found odd remnants: eyeglasses, a toothbrush, a plastic comb. A rescue worker told Richards that they found her letter to Weggeland.

More than a thousand people came to a memorial for the six men, listening to the song that was meant to be Richards’s first dance with her new husband: “What a Wonderful World.”

Then the funerals began.

Twenty-five years later, the six stones they laid at the airport that week, makeshift markers, are gone. Other memorials, such as charitable donations, remain, and continue. Some people thought of the friends as they gathered for drinks or dinner or golf this weekend; others remember them in their own way. Rowan thinks of her brother every day as she passes his favorite restaurant or his grave site by their mother’s house. Lourine Cooney, long since remarried and with two children, thinks of the baby girl she lost in pregnancy months after the crash. She named the girl Ronnie.


“Everyone thinks their loved one who died is special, their group of friends is special,” Richards said. “But we’ve lived 25 years and we’ve never come across a group of people like those guys were. The happy story is we’re all still friends. We all still love each other.”

She and Rowan are going to ask airport officials next week if they can add a memorial. They’d like to rename the Manassas airfield “Six Friends Airport.”

Source:  http://www.washingtonpost.com

NTSB Identification: BFO90FA045
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 42810.
Accident occurred Thursday, May 10, 1990 in SHADY GROVE COR, VA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 09/05/1991
Aircraft: CESSNA 210N, registration: N6481N
Injuries: 6 Fatal.

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.

NON-INSTRUMENT RATED PLT WAS ON VFR FLT AT NGT FM MANTEO, NC TO WINCHESTER, VA. HE STARTED THE FLT EARLIER THAN ORIGIN- ALLY PLANNED AFTER LEARNING WX WAS FORECAST TO DETERIORATE. WHEN ACFT DID NOT ARR, SEARCH WAS INITIATED. IT WAS FND ON 5/17/91 IN REMOTE AREA NR SHADY GROVE CORNER, VA. INV REVEALED RGT WING SEPD IN FLT; WING WAS FND ABT 700' EAST OF WHEREACFT IMPACTED GND. MAIN WRECKAGE WAS FND WEST OF IMPACT POINT. METALLURGICAL EXAM SHOWED WING SEPD FM OVERLOAD. RCRDD RADIO INFO REVEALED PLT HAD ENCTRD RAIN. RADAR DATA REVEALED THAT BFR ACDNT, ACFT WAS HDG NE AT 2100' MSL. IT CLIMBED TO2400', TURNED NORTH, DSCNDD TO 2000' & TURNED WEST, THEN DSCNDD TO 1500' BFR RADAR CTC WAS LOST. RADAR CTC ENDED LESS THAN 1 MI FM CRASH SITE. ABT 29 MI ENE AT QUANTICO, 0255 EDT WX WAS IN PART: 1300' BKN, VIS 3 MI IN RAIN & FOG, WND FM 230 DEG AT 12 KTS. EXAM INDCD NO ROTATIONAL DMG OF DRCTNL GYRO OR TURN COORDINATOR GYRO, ONLY SLGT RUBBING OF ATTITUDE GYRO & NO SCORING OF VACUUM PUMP VANES, THOUGH ALL RCVD HVY IMPACT DMG & DIRT WAS PACKED IN VACUUM PUMP PORTS/CAVITY.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
VFR FLIGHT BY THE NON-INSTUMENT RATED PILOT INTO INSTRUMENT METEOROLOGICAL CONDITIONS (IMC), HIS LOSS OF AIRCRAFT CONTROL, DUE TO SPATIAL DISORIENTATION, AND HIS EXCEEDING THE DESIGN STRESS LIMITS OF THE AIRCRAFT, WHILE RECOVERING FROM AN UNCONTROLLED DESCENT. FACTORS RELATED TO THE ACCIDENT WERE: DARK NIGHT, ADVERSE WEATHER CONDITIONS, LOSS OF THE VACUUM SYSTEM, AND THE PILOT'S LACK OF INSTRUMENT EXPERIENCE.

Legal Spending at Martha's Vineyard Airport (KMVY) Sees Steep Climb



For the second year in a row, legal spending is sharply up at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, due largely to the recently-concluded lawsuit with the county over control and authority at the Island’s only airport.

Meeting Thurdsay morning, the airport commission approved a $4.4 million supplemental budget for the current fiscal year, as well as a $4.6 million budget for the coming fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The supplemental budget represents an increase of $529,559 over the original 2015 budget. Much of the increase — $175,000 — can be tracked to legal costs incurred in the court case with the Dukes County Commission. The case ended this week with a decision by a superior court judge strongly favoring the airport.

Unbudgeted increases also included repairs to the airport terminal and maintenance at the air field.

A majority of commissioners attending the meeting did not vote on the budget. Commissioners Christine Todd and Norm Perry voted to approve it. Commissioners Clarence (Trip) Barnes 3rd, Rich Michelson, vice-chairman Robert Rosenbaum and Beth Toomey abstained. The chairman, Myron Garfinkle, did not vote.

Last year the airport spent nearly 11 times the amount budgeted for legal fees, also due to court disputes with the county and a workplace dispute that remains unresolved. In 2014 the airport incurred approximately $271,191 in legal expenses; $25,000 was budgeted. A supplemental budget was also needed.

Also on Thursday, commissioners approved the budget for the coming fiscal year, though several members said they were uncomfortable with the short amount of time they have had to review it.

The 2016 budget will require a transfer of $717,168 from airport reserve funds.

“The transfers are almost three quarters of a million dollars,” said Mr. Rosenbaum. “That’s a lot of money. That basically means we are running at a three quarter million dollar deficit. The good news is the cash balance is slightly over $3 million, but that’s not the way to run a viable organization. That’s not sustainable,” he said.

Mr. Garfinkle urged commissioners to approve the budget with a caveat.

“We do have a responsibility to keep the airport running,” Mr. Garfinkle said. “I ask the commission to approve with the proviso that within 90 days, we come up with a supplemental budget which would reflect that we’ve had the opportunity to scrutinize the budget.”

Mr. Rosenbaum, Ms. Todd, Mr. Perry, Mr. Michelson, and Mr. Barnes voted to approve the budget. Ms. Toomey voted to abstain. Mr. Garfinkle did not vote.

Also at Thursday’s meeting, Mr. Garfinkle said he would like to schedule a meeting as soon as possible with county commission chairman Leon Brathwaite to discuss the recent court ruling involving the two commissions.

The ruling found that the state law that governs the airport trumps the law that created the county, especially in light of grant assurances signed by the county that allow state and federal funds to flow to the airport. The county appoints the airport commission. Much of the dispute in the past year has been over the appointments process and also questions raised by the county treasurer about legal spending at the airport.

- See more at: http://vineyardgazette.com

Friday, June 12, 2015

Longtime pilot, 80, has logged 25,000 hours of flying time

Dick and Betty Drilling, left, former operators of Genesee Airways and a partner in Great Lakes Aviation at Genesee County Airport, visits with instructor Pete Lockner at the airport Monday. Drilling, who taught Lockner to fly, lives in Oregon with his wife, and visited the airport to have Lockner give him his biannual flight review.



BATAVIA — Dick Drilling’s name is well-known in the history of Genesee County Airport.

On Monday, Drilling and his wife Betty, who now live in Oregon, visited the airport to rehash old memories with Peter Lockner, the flight instructor whom Drilling taught to fly.

Drilling, who recently turned 80, also took advantage of the visit to have his former student give him his biannual flight review.

 “This is a great way to celebrate my birthday,” said Drilling, who has logged more than 25,000 hours of flying time.

Drilling remembers when the airport was owned by Gil and Eloise Chappel in the mid 1940s and the runway was a grass strip.

After learning to fly and becoming an instructor, Drilling started a flight school, Genesee Airways, and became a partner in Great Lakes Aviation.

He was also a Federal Aviation Administration instructor.

His wife, the former Betty Smith of County House Road, Albion, also learned to fly at the age of 19. She soloed in an Aeronca tail dragger, she said.

In 1986, in Drilling’s words, “I got sick of pounding the ice off my Cessna 172,” and he sold his flight school to Lockner and Don Pophal, and moved to Florida.

He took three of his planes to Lantana, Fla., where he started a new flight school, and left two for Lockner until he could get his operation going in Batavia.

Although he doesn’t own any planes now, Drilling still keeps his ratings current.

As Lockner will agree, “Once you’re bitten by the flying bug, you never get over it.”

Source:  http://www.thedailynewsonline.com

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Long Island Teen, Date Make Grand Entrance For Prom In Helicopter




MANORVILLE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Most teenagers take a limo to their prom, but a Long Island student upped the ante this week when he and his date arrived by helicopter.

As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported, a helicopter landing is not unusual in a field. But for this purpose, it certainly is.

“I love flying. I fly helicopters and planes,” said Nick D’Amato, 17. “So why not make a big entrance?”

Joining D’Amato for his big entrance in Manorville on Tuesday was his prom date, Danielle Mignogna, who needed a little bit of persuasion, TV 10/55 Long Island Bureau Chief Richard Rose reported.

“I go on airplanes for vacation, but I really don’t like flying,” said Mignogna, 18.

The spectacle has lit up social media with fellow promgoers, who loaded pictures of the couple stepping out in style on the sports field at Eastport-South Manor High School.

At first, school officials were reluctant, but D’Amato’s father is the local fire chief, and he persuaded school officials that fellow firefighters would ensure it all went smoothly.

“I had quite a few men there,” said Manorville Fire Chief Sal D’Amato. “I had an engine, a ladder truck, and an ambulance there.”

Nick D’Amato has a pilot’s license, and has flown helicopters. But this time, he went as a passenger.

“Danielle was nervous, and she wanted me to sit in the back with her,” he said.

The young couple said they are longtime friends who met through their families. Nick D’Amato’s mother said she was never worried, because her son could grab the controls in an emergency.

“I’ve been up in a helicopter with him,” said Yvonne D’Amato. “He knows how to fly. He’s aware of his surroundings, and he has such a passion for it.”

Before landing, the couple toured the South Shore of Long Island. The experience has now eased Mignogna’s fear of flying.

“It was actually really smooth,” she said. “It was such a beautiful view. I would actually probably go back up again.”

And she may get that chance, since Nick D’Amato plans to fly helicopters for a living.

Nick D’Amato’s boss at a window washing business did the flying on Tuesday using his own private helicopter. He did it as a prom gift.

Source:  http://newyork.cbslocal.com

North Myrtle Beach votes against helicopter tour business near Windy Hill community, residents applaud

About a hundred residents attended the Thursday night meeting at city hall, with several speaking against the business’ request. 



NORTH MYRTLE BEACH 

Some residents expressed relief and others applauded when a request to offer helicopter tours near the Windy Hill community was denied Thursday night.

The city’s Board of Zoning Appeals unanimously voted against giving a helicopter tour business a special exception to current zoning rules. About a hundred residents attended the Thursday night meeting at city hall, with several speaking against the business’ request.

The special exemption request was for land on Windy Hill Road Extension just south of the Horry County State Bank on the corner of U.S. 17 South.

The special exemption request was for land on Windy Hill Road Extension just south of the Horry County State Bank on the corner of U.S. 17 South.

“I appreciate the business venture, but the noise and traffic distraction is just going to be too much,” said Linda Morrison, board member of the Windy Hill Woods property owners association.

The land – situated just south of Horry County State Bank on U.S. 17 and Windy Hill Road Extension – is owned by Carroll Rogers, who submitted paperwork to open a helicopter tour business on the property. Rogers was not at the meeting so Steve Powell, who represents Venture Engineering, presented the business’ request to the board.

“We weren’t received very warmly, but I can see why,” Powell said after the veto. He didn’t know if Rogers would resubmit a new location for the business to the board.

“Looking at this location, it’s the best site outside of the airport,” Powell said. “So now we would have to find somewhere else.”

The Grand Strand Airport already hosts Executive Helicopters, Inc., which gives tours over Little River, according to their website.

Rogers’ helicopter business would give several different pre-mapped tours, all lasting about an hour, Powell said. The company would require three to four helicopters and a building large enough to store all of them, in the case of a major storm.

The helicopters cause about 10 decibels of noise when 300 feet in the air, Powell said, so noise pollution would be minimal. He said the noise level from the helicopters would be equal to noise from traffic on North Kings Highway.

Randy Briley, Windy Hill Woods resident, disagreed.

“We live in a very quiet neighborhood – you can hear the birds most mornings,” Briley said. “Traffic is not a problem, but the noise from helicopters taking off and landing would be.”

Other residents cited safety concerns, including the distraction it would cause to drivers on U.S. 17. Morrison, Windy Hill woods board member, said the sudden burst of wind caused by helicopters landing and taking off would lead to more traffic accidents.

“The sudden, loud and fast-moving wind is going to distract drivers,” she said.

Rogers cited an exception that allows “rides,” subject to certain conditions; contribution to economic vitality, harmony with the surrounding area and compliance to development standards and requirements are some of the conditions listed under the exception.

The S.C. Aeronautics Commission, in a letter to Sean Hoelscher, senior planner for the city, found the proposed land use incompatible with Grand Strand Airport and poses “an unreasonable or unacceptable risk to aviation safety or to persons and property on the ground.”

The commission cites interference with an airport runway, lack of FAA paperwork, and incompatible line of sight with Grand Strand Airport’s air traffic control tower as reasons to deny the exception, according to the letter.

Board member Cynthia Lover made the motion to disallow a zoning exemption, arguing that the business would negatively affect the nearby bank and neighborhoods.

“The problem I’m having is that the business will not be in harmony with nearby areas,” she said.

Source: http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com

Davie, Broward County, Florida grounds pilot who ruffled residents with flyovers

The calls flooded in on March 1: A small yellow plane had gone down in the Laurel Oak neighborhood. Emergency crews and state aviation officials rushed to the scene.

John "Buddy" Toole, who had just landed his vintage plane, wondered what all the commotion was about.


"There were fire trucks and FDOT at my property asking me what happened," he recalled. "I told them I was just taking my plane out, like I'd been doing since November. Nobody ever told me that I couldn't do that."


Toole had been flying his plane several times a week, using an equestrian racetrack on his 15-acre property at 11250 SW 45th St. for takeoffs and landings. He said he's careful to abide by federal aviation guidelines, staying below 12,000 feet and above 500 feet, and soared mostly over park space before heading west to cruise the Everglades.


But the March "crash" touched off a string of events that culminated Wednesday night with the Davie Town Council unanimously passing an law prohibiting private airports.


Toole, 60, who describes himself as a horseman who dabbles in real estate and lawn maintenance, said Thursday he's now considering moving to a sparsely populated community north of Lake Okeechobee.


"I like to have fun," he said, "and they have rules against any fun here."


Residents say Toole has buzzed their rooftops on many occasions, flying so low they could see him in the cockpit. His plane is a curiousity: A Piper J-5, it was built in 1940 and weighs about 700 pounds, less than the weight of a small car. It cruises at 80 miles an hour, and can land on a runway 360 feet long; his horse track is over 1,100 feet.


"He was using our streets as an approach, it was dangerously close to our rooftops and one little mistake, that's a recipe for disaster," said Claudette Bonville, vice president of Laurel Oaks East Homeowners Association.


Stephanie Scheinman, who lives near Toole, spoke out at Wednesday's meeting.


"I'm not here to put down the aviation community, I'm here to protect what Davie stands for," she said. "The general noise level is disruptive to horses, what if one got spooked and bucked a rider?''


Thomas Hill, a pilot, supported Toole at the meeting, to a chorus of boos.


"I never remember a plane hitting anyone since I've lived here," he said. "It's the safest way of transportation, that's a fact. This seems like a manufactured crisis."


After the March incident, the Town Council temporarily prohibited any future private flights while it prepared a permanent law.


Toole said he had been considering selling his property for $7 million to a wealthy man he described as a "Harrison Ford" type who also owns a plane and wanted to build an air park on the land for "fly ins" by other pilots. Toole told the council that if the law banning airports passed, he would lose out on a multimillion-dollar sale.


About a hundred residents showed up at Wednesday's meeting, many clutching prepared speeches. But Mayor Judy Paul, who received at least 75 emails from anti-airport residents, assured the crowd the town would not allow private runways.


"We're here to protect our residents," she said. 


Source: http://www.sun-sentinel.com

Mooney M20C Ranger, N5954Q: Incident occurred June 11, 2015 at Blue Grass Airport (KLEX), Lexington, Kentucky

LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather

A small plane's rough landing, without working landing gear, delayed flights in and out of Blue Grass Airport for hours on Thursday. The pilot walked away unhurt, however some passenger's travel plans were derailed.

"I saw the commotion on the airfield. There was the downed plane, and some fire trucks and police around it," said Erik Degiorgio, who was waiting to pickup a friend from the airport.

It was not a smooth landing, nor a comforting sight, for people flying or picking up loved ones Thursday afternoon. Thankfully, no one was hurt, after a small single engine plane was forced to land at around 3 p.m.

"There was an airplane that was landing that had some challenges with its landing gear. And so, the plane landed on it's belly," said Amy Caudill, with the Blue Grass Airport.

Caudill said the plane came from Danville and only the pilot was on board. Based on the tail number, it's a Mooney registered to Brandon Beavers in Marion County. LEX18 News contacted Beavers, who said "I was not flying or even in Lexington at the time this happened. I do not wish to disclose the pilot or any other info." Beavers gave no explanation as to why he wouldn't say who was flying the plane, however travelers couldn't fathom how the pilot felt.

"I couldn't imagine going down and thinking that oh my gosh this is not working," said Amanda Hart, after her flight was delayed.

"I would have to imagine it was insanely terrifying for him," added Degiorgio.

It took  two hours for the plane to be towed, and the main runway reopened. However, after the runway was cleared, the affects of the emergency landing could be seen for hours in a dozen delayed flights.

"Some planes that were coming in either were diverted to another airport, or those that were going out might have had a little bit of delay," said Caudill. 

Therefore, people waited, watched, and some even went home. 

"I will sleep in my own bed tonight, and get a first flight out tomorrow morning," said Hart.

Airport officials said they appreciated everyone's patience. It was a small price people were willing to pay, for safe travels. 

"I am just glad that everybody was okay with the emergency landing. And just know that everything happens for a reason, and we will just go with plan B," said Hart.

BRANDON BEAVERS: http://registry.faa.gov/N5954Q







Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Father of boy killed in plane crash named as defendant in mother's suit: American Aviation AA-1A Trainer, N9454L, accident occurred June 09, 2014 in El Mirage, California

EL MIRAGE — The father of a Hesperia boy who was killed in a plane crash last summer is named as a defendant in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the boy's mother this week that claims negligence by the Los Angeles Fire Department pilot who flew the plane, the plane's co-owner and the American Aviation company.

Jashandeep "Josh" Grewal is the father of Sebastian Grewal, 8, who was killed in a plane crash on June 9, 2014. He has been named as a "nominal defendent" in Sebastian's mother's wrongful death lawsuit that alleges negligent operation and piloting of the plane. The classification as a nominal defendant does not necessarily allege responsibility or fault on Grewal's part, experts say.

Grewel said he was not at the lakebed when the crash occurred and that Sebastian was with his mother, Frida Cagabhion, and her LAFD firefighter boyfriend. He said that he and Cagabhion had joint custody of Sebastian.

The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Cagabhion in Los Angeles Superior Court on Monday, alleges that there were "manufacturing" and "design defects" with the plane and that the plane's pilot and co-owner, Brian Michael Lee, who was a helicopter pilot with the LAFD, and co-owner Jeffrey Moir are "liable for the negligent piloting and/or operation of the airplane." It further states that Lee "negligently piloted" the airplane on June 9, 2014 when the plane crashed and killed Sebastian, 8, and Lee.

"...the airplane was not in a condition for safe operation when Lee operated it on June 9, 2014, and it suffered from a mechanical malfunction and/or power loss resulting in the crash of the airplane and the death of Lee and (Sebastian)," the lawsuit reads.

It continues to say that the co-owner of the plane, Moir, had a "duty to use ordinary and reasonable care in installing, maintaining and inspecting the airplane," and had a duty to install the airplane's engine and propellers in a condition equal to that of their original condition. The lawsuit alleges that Lee and Moir "breached" their duties and caused the death of Lee and Sebastian.

American Aviation, the company the lawsuit claims built the plane, is called out in the suit for allegedly selling a defective plane.

"American Aviation ... knew or should have known, that (the) airplane, and/or its component parts, was unsafe for their ... uses," the lawsuit alleges. "...injuries and/or death to users was/were foreseeable to occur when the ... airplane was (flown)."

Multiple calls to Grewal's and Cagabhion's lawyers were not returned on Tuesday.  

Grewal filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Lee, the LAFD, Moir and the city of Los Angeles in May. His lawsuit made similar allegations. Grewal's lawsuit alleged that Lee was negligent in flying the plane when it crashed into the El Mirage dry lakebed. The suit also claimed that there was video footage of the crash, but LAFD officials ordered it to be destroyed. 

The crash is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board, and no probable cause report for the crash has been released. NTSB officials previously told the Daily Press that final reports usually take 12 to 18 months to be filed.

Original article can be found here: http://www.vvdailypress.com 

NTSB Identification: WPR14FA239
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, June 09, 2014 in El Mirage, CA
Aircraft: AMERICAN AVIATION AA-1A, registration: N9454L
Injuries: 2 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 June 9, 2014, about 1115 Pacific daylight time, an American Aviation AA-1A, N9454L, collided with the dry surface of El Mirage Lake, in El Mirage, California. The airplane was co-owned, and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The commercial pilot and passenger sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was destroyed during the accident sequence. The local personal flight departed from the El Mirage Lakebed, about 1100. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan had been filed.

Members of the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) had organized an off-duty recreation day at the lakebed. The group was comprised of about 12 people, and included family and friends. A combination of activities was planned, including camping, along with flying both the accident airplane and powered paragliders. The accident pilot was a fire helicopter pilot, assigned to the air operations division of the LAFD.

About 0930, the pilot departed with one of his daughters in the accident airplane to perform a sightseeing flight in the local area. The flight departed from the lakebed in a southerly direction in light and variable winds, and lasted about 15 minutes. A short time later he flew his second daughter on a similar flight, for a similar amount of time.

For the third, and accident flight, the group requested that the pilot perform a "low-pass" over the north shore of the lakebed, where everyone had assembled.

According to witnesses, the flight departed again to the south, but this time the wind had picked up such that a left crosswind existed during takeoff. The flight progressed as before, and after about 15 minutes the airplane approached the group from the northwest, at a low altitude for what was presumed to be the low-pass. The airplane flew over the group about 100 feet agl, and after passing initiated a climbing right crosswind turn to the south. Witnesses reported that as the airplane turned from crosswind to downwind, the bank angle became "excessive," with some witnesses assuming the pilot was either positioning the airplane to land, or returning for a second low-pass. The airplane did not level after the bank. The nose then pitched down, and the airplane descended into the ground at a 45-degree nose-down angle.

The accident site was located on the western side of the lakebed, at an elevation of 2,841 feet msl. 

The lakebed was comprised of smooth, hard-packed soil, with the first identified point of impact including a series of 2-inch-deep ground disruptions. Ground scars continued 10-feet further, on a bearing of 320 degrees magnetic, and included debris consisting of green wingtip navigation lens fragments and the nose landing gear strut. The engine starter ring and alternator belt were located adjacent to the scars. The propeller, nose landing gear, shards of red wing tip navigation lens, along with the pitot tube (mounted at the left wingtip, underside) were a further 30-feet down range.

The main wreckage came to rest about 160 feet beyond the first impact point. The cabin area rested upright on a bearing of 170 degrees and sustained crush damage from the firewall through to the passenger seat bulkhead. The flight controls were fragmented, and all flight instruments were detached from the panel. The tail section was intact, upright, and undamaged. The engine mount had detached from the airframe, with the engine remaining partially attached to the firewall via control cables and hoses.

Both wings had separated from the center spar, and remained loosely oriented perpendicular to the main cabin. The right wing was inverted, with the outboard section of the leading edge crushed at a 45-degree angle towards the trailing edge of the wing tip. The left wing came to rest leading edge up, and sustained leading edge crush damage along its entire length. Both wing spar fuel tanks were breached, and the odor of automotive gasoline was present at the site. The magneto switch was observed in the both position; additionally, the fuel selector valve was in the right wing tank position. The carburetor heat, throttle, and fuel mixture controls were in the full forward position. The flap actuator was set to the fully retracted flap position.

All major components of airplane were accounted for at the accident site, and the airframe was free of any indications of bird strike.


FAA Riverside FSDO-21

 http://registry.faa.gov/N9454L 



Veteran LAFD helicopter pilot Brian Lee, shown in a photo provided by the department, died in an off-duty plane crash on June 9, 2014.



Sebastian Joshua Grewal








Cirrus SR22, N122ES, Graeves Auto & Appliance Inc. (and) Robinson R44 Raven II, N7518Q, Advanced Helicopter Concepts, Inc: Fatal accident occurred October 23, 2014 near Frederick Municipal Airport (KFDK), Maryland

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA025A 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 23, 2014 in Frederick, MD
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N122ES
Injuries: 3 Fatal, 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA025B

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 23, 2014 in Frederick, MD
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY R44 II, registration: N7518Q
Injuries: 3 Fatal, 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

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.

The private airplane pilot was conducting a personal cross-country flight, and the commercial helicopter pilot and flight instructor were conducting a local instructional flight. A review of radar and voice communications revealed that the accident airplane pilot first contacted the nonradar-equipped tower when the airplane was 10 miles from the airport and that the local controller (LC) then acknowledged the pilot’s transmission and instructed him to contact the tower when he was 3 miles from the airport. At this time, the LC was also handling two helicopters in the traffic pattern, one airplane conducting practice instrument approaches to a runway that intersected the runway assigned to the accident airplane, another airplane inbound from the southeast, and a business jet with its instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance on request. About 1 minute after the accident airplane pilot first contacted the LC, the LC began handling the accident helicopter and cleared it for takeoff. One minute later, the controller issued the business jet pilot an IFR clearance. When the accident airplane was 3 miles from the airport, the pilot reported the airplane’s position to the controller, but the controller missed the call because she was preoccupied with the clearance read-back from the business jet pilot. About 1 minute later, the controller instructed the accident airplane pilot to enter the left downwind leg of the traffic pattern on a 45-degree angle and issued a landing clearance. She advised that there were three helicopters “below” the airplane in the traffic pattern, and the pilot replied that he had two of the helicopters in sight. Data downloaded from the airplane and witnesses on the ground and in the air indicated that, as the airplane entered the downwind leg of the traffic pattern, it flew through the accident helicopter’s rotor system at the approximate point where the helicopter would have turned left from the crosswind to the downwind leg. Because of a specific advisory transmitted on the tower radio frequency advising of traffic on the downwind, the pilot of each accident aircraft was or should have been aware of the other. A witness in the helicopter directly behind the accident helicopter had a similar field of view as the accident helicopter, and he reported that he acquired both accident aircraft in his scan before the collision. Given this statement and that the accident helicopter had two commercial pilots in the cockpit, the pilots should have had the situational awareness to understand the conflict potential based on the airplane’s position reports. Although the airplane was equipped with a traffic advisory system, its capabilities could have been limited by antenna/airframe obstruction or an inhibition of the audio alert by the airplane’s flap position.

The airplane’s data indicated that the collision occurred at an altitude of about 1,100 ft mean sea level (msl). The published traffic pattern altitude (TPA) for light airplanes was 1,300 ft msl. Although several different helicopter TPAs were depicted in locally produced pamphlets and posters and reportedly discussed at various airport meetings, there was no published TPA for helicopters in the airport/facility directory or in the tower’s standard operating procedures. According to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Aeronautical Information Manual, in the absence of a published TPA, the TPA for helicopters was 500 ft above ground level; therefore, the appropriate TPA for helicopters at the accident airport was about 800 ft msl. The lack of an official helicopter TPA, which was published after the accident, significantly reduced the potential for positive traffic conflict resolution. Review of the airport procedures, tower capabilities, and the controller’s actions revealed no specific departure from proper procedures. Because the tower was not equipped with radar equipment, all of the sequencing and obtaining of traffic information had to be done visually. This would have been especially difficult at the accident airport due to the local terrain and tree lines that extend above the pattern altitudes from the tower controllers’ view, which can cause aircraft to easily blend in with the background. Further, the controller spent a lengthy amount of time on the task of issuing the IFR clearance to the business jet while handling multiple aircraft in the traffic pattern. It is likely that the lack of radar equipment in the tower and the controller’s inadequate task management also significantly reduced the potential for positive traffic conflict resolution.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The failure of the helicopter pilots and the airplane pilot to maintain an adequate visual lookout for known traffic in the traffic pattern, which resulted in a midair collision. Contributing to the accident were the airplane pilot's descent below the published airplane traffic pattern altitude (TPA) and the helicopter pilot’s climb above the proper helicopter TPA as prescribed in the Federal Aviation Administration's Aeronautical Information Manual for airports without published helicopter TPAs. Also contributing to the accident were the lack of a published helicopter TPA, the absence of radar equipment in the tower, and the controller’s inadequate task prioritization.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On October 23, 2014, about 1537 eastern daylight time, a Cirrus SR22 airplane, N122ES, operated by a private individual, and a Robinson
R44 II helicopter, N7518Q, operated by Advanced Helicopter Concepts, collided in midair approximately 1 mile southwest of the Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK), Frederick, Maryland. The airplane departed controlled flight after the collision, the ballistic parachute system was deployed, and the airplane landed nose-down in a thicket of low trees and brush. The helicopter also departed controlled flight, descended vertically, and was destroyed by impact forces at ground contact. The private pilot on board the airplane was not injured, and his passenger sustained a minor injury. The flight instructor, commercial pilot, and a passenger in the helicopter were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the airplane, which departed Cleveland, Tennessee, on a personal flight about 1247. No flight plan was filed for the helicopter, which departed FDK on an instructional flight about 1535. The flights were conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91.

Witnesses on the ground watched the aircraft approach each other at the same altitude and saw the collision. One witness said the helicopter appeared to be in a stationary hover as the airplane closed on it and the two collided. She said neither aircraft changed altitude as they approached each other.

A flight instructor for the helicopter operator in a company Robinson R22 helicopter followed the accident helicopter in the traffic pattern for landing abeam runway 30 in the infield sod at FDK. He said his helicopter had just completed the turn onto the crosswind leg of the traffic pattern when the accident helicopter came into his view to his front at about the point where it would turn to the downwind leg of the pattern. At the same time, the airplane appeared in his field of view as it "flew through the rotor system" of the helicopter.

Radar and voice communication information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as well as interviews conducted with air traffic controllers, revealed the following:

At 1534:10, the accident airplane first contacted the FDK tower and was about 10 miles west of the field at 3,000 feet. The local controller (LC) acknowledged the pilot's transmission and instructed him to report 3 miles west for a left downwind to runway 30. At 1534:31, the pilot of the accident airplane acknowledged and read back the controller's instructions.

At the time the accident airplane contacted the LC, other traffic being handled by the tower included two helicopters ( two company helicopters N2342U and N444PH) in the VFR traffic pattern, one airplane conducting practice instrument approaches to runway 23, another airplane inbound from the southeast, and a business jet (N612JD) with its IFR clearance on request.

At 1535:02, the LC then cleared the accident helicopter for take-off from alpha taxiway as requested and issued the current winds, and the call was acknowledged.

At 1536:02, the LC contacted the pilot of N612JD and advised she was ready to issue the airplane's instrument clearance. From 1536:06 to 1536:49 (43 seconds), the controller issued the clearance.

At 1536:49, the pilot of N612JD read back his clearance as required. Also at 1536:49, during the read back from N612JD, the pilot of the accident airplane reported on local frequency that he was 3 miles out on a 45-degree entry for runway 30, which the LC did not hear because she was listening to the read back from N612JD on ground control frequency.

At 1537:09, the LC transmitted to helicopter N444PH, "…four papa hotel option to the grass at your own risk use caution and on uh next go around stay at a thousand feet. I have traffic in the downwind."

At 1537:22, the LC instructed the accident airplane to report midfield left downwind for runway 30 and said "I have three helicopters below ya in the uh traffic pattern". At 1537:30, the pilot of the accident airplane acknowledged the request to report midfield downwind and stated he had two of the helicopters in sight. Immediately after that transmission, at 1537:34, the LC said "Alright uh two echo sierra, I have ya in sight runway three zero, maintain your altitude to…until turning base, cleared to land."

At 1537:41, cries were heard over the local frequency, and, at 1537:49, the pilot of a helicopter in the traffic pattern reported that an airplane and helicopter were both "down."

The pilot of the accident airplane was interviewed and provided written statements. His recollection of the flight was consistent with voice, radar, and aircraft data. The pilot stated that as he descended and slowed for the traffic pattern entry, he set the flaps to 50 percent.

The pilot stated that, about the time the airplane entered the downwind leg of the traffic pattern, the tower controller issued a landing clearance, and, "out of nowhere…I saw a helicopter below me and to the left…" The pilot initiated an evasive maneuver, but he "heard a thump," and the airplane rolled right and nosed down. The pilot deployed the ballistic recovery system, and the airplane's descent was controlled by the parachute to ground contact.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The airplane pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued April 31, 2014. He reported 959 total hours of flight experience, of which 804 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.

The flight instructor on board the helicopter held commercial pilot and flight instructor certificates with ratings for rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument helicopter. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued April 31, 2014. Examination of his logbook revealed 832 total hours of flight experience, of which 116 hours were in the accident helicopter make and model.

The helicopter pilot held commercial pilot and flight instructor certificates with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument helicopter. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued April 29, 2013, and he reported 2,850 total hours of flight experience on that date. Excerpts of a pilot logbook for his helicopter time revealed 1,538 total hours of helicopter experience. A review of records revealed that he stopped flying as a helicopter tour pilot in 1994. During the years following, he logged five or fewer helicopter flights per year. Between 2004 and 2011, he logged one flight per year, none in 2011, and one in 2012. In 2014, he logged two flights in September, and two in October prior to the accident flight.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 2006. Its most recent annual inspection was completed June 13, 2014, at 1,289.8 total aircraft hours.

The helicopter was manufactured in 2004. Its most recent 100-hour inspection was completed October 2, 2014, at 1,758 total aircraft hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 1553 weather observation at FDK included scattered clouds at 4,800 feet, 10 miles visibility, and wind from 330 degrees at 16 knots gusting to 21 knots.

The was 26 degrees above the horizon, and the sun angle was from 225 degrees.
AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL

The air traffic control (ATC) group was formed on October 23, 2014. The group consisted of the group chairman from operational factors and a representative from the FAA compliance services group.

The group reviewed radar data provided by the FAA from Potomac TRACON (PCT), ATC voice recordings, controller training and qualification records, facility logs, standard operating procedures (SOP), letters of agreement (LOA), controller work schedules, and other related documentation. Additionally, the group conducted interviews with the LC who provided services at the time of the accident and the off-duty controller who witnessed the accident and assisted with initial notifications and the after-action response. Tenant operators on the airport were interviewed, including the operator of the accident helicopter. The group also held discussions with the air traffic manager (ATM) at FDK.

When asked what the traffic pattern altitudes (TPAs) were at FDK, both controllers, as well as the ATM, stated that the altitudes were 900 feet mean sea level (msl) for helicopters, 1,300 feet msl for small fixed-wing airplanes, and 1,800 feet msl for large fixed-wing airplanes and twins. When asked the origin of these TPAs and where they were published, the LC stated that they were published in the SOP and airport/facility directory (AFD). The witnessing controller thought the helicopter TPA was published in the local noise abatement procedures, but not in the AFD, but that the fixed-wing TPAs were in both. The ATM stated that only the fixed-wing TPAs were published in the AFD and that the helicopter TPA had been inadvertently left out without them realizing. The ATM stated that helicopter TPA was agreed upon during meetings with tower personnel, airport management, and airport tenants prior to the tower's commissioning. The facility was unable to produce any documentation that these meetings were ever held, and they were also unable to produce any documentation of the 900-foot msl helicopter TPA they had mentioned. The only documentation that was found was from old, locally produced noise abatement procedures.

According to FAA Order 7210.3Y, minutes of the meeting were to be taken and distributed to "the appropriate Service Area" office and to each attendee. These minutes were neither recorded nor distributed.

In an interview, the helicopter operator was asked for a copy of his flight school's SOP. He stated there was none. The policies and procedures were made by him, and distributed by word of mouth in periodic meetings. During an initial discussion, the operator stated that the helicopter TPA was between 900 and 1,000 feet msl, and 1,200 feet msl for autorotations. When asked how he decided upon the TPA of 900 feet msl for his pilots and students. He said, "It just kind of morphed into that. The airplanes are at 1,300 feet msl, and we thought we should be below that. They never published that in the AFD, and I wish they would."

According to the chief pilot for the helicopter operator, a 14 CFR Part 141 application would soon be submitted and an SOP would be published concurrent with the application.

AERODROME INFORMATION

FDK was at an elevation of 306 feet and was tower controlled. The tower was an FAA contract tower and was not radar-equipped.

Runway 5/23 was 5,219 feet long and 100 feet wide, and was located along the east side of the field. Runway 12/30 was 3,600 feet long, 75 feet wide, and located on the north side of the field. The two runways intersected at the approach end of runways 23 and 30.

The published TPA in the AFD for single-engine and light-twin airplanes was 1,300 feet msl, and 1,800 feet msl for heavy multiengine and jet airplanes. The traffic pattern was a standard left-hand pattern.

There was no published traffic pattern or TPA for helicopters in the AFD at the time of the accident. According to the FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM), in the absence of a published TPA for helicopters, the helicopter TPA was 500 feet agl, or about 800 feet msl at FDK.

A pamphlet produced by the City of Frederick, Maryland, depicted the airport traffic patterns and identified the helicopter TPA as 1,100 feet msl.

A poster of the pamphlet's depiction was posted around the airport, and it also identified the helicopter TPA as 1,100 feet msl.

The SOP for the contract operator of the tower had no TPAs published. However, when interviewed, the LC on duty at the time of the accident stated the TPA for helicopters was 900 feet per the SOP.

As a result of the investigation, the AFD was updated on January 8, 2015, with a recommended TPA for helicopters of 1,106 ft msl/800 feet agl.

Radar Data

Radar data for the flights was obtained by the FAA from several radar sites in the area surrounding FDK. Radar data recorded the flight track of the accident airplane until seconds before the accident; however, no data were recorded for the accident helicopter.

At the time of the accident, the floor of the Potomac TRACON radar coverage in the area surrounding FDK appeared to be about 1,200 feet msl. The helicopter never climbed into radar coverage, and the collision between the helicopter and the airplane occurred below the area of radar coverage.

WRECKAGE INFORMATION

The helicopter wreckage and its associated debris came to rest in a self-storage complex between two buildings, with parts and debris scattered in and around the complex. All major components were accounted for at the scene. The main wreckage came to rest largely upright, and the cockpit, cabin area, fuselage, tailboom, engine, transmission, with main and tail rotors attached. All components were significantly damaged and deformed by impact forces. The "blue" main rotor blade was fractured near its root, and the outboard 11 feet of main rotor spar was located 50 feet from the main wreckage with no honeycomb or blade skin afterbody material attached.

Control continuity could not be established due to numerous fractures in the system, but all fractures exhibited features consistent with overload.

The airplane came to rest nose down, in a dense thicket of brush and low trees, wedged between tree trunks, and held in that position. All major components were accounted for at the scene, except for the right wing flap, aileron, and right landing gear wheel and tire assembly which were located between the helicopter and airplane sites. Examination of the airplane revealed that the trailing edge of the right wing was impact-damaged, and that the flap and aileron hinges were significantly damaged and twisted, and the surrounding sheet metal displayed "saw-tooth" fractures, consistent with overload. The structural cable between the wing strut and the empennage was still attached at each end, but missing a 5-foot section in the middle. The two severed ends displayed features consistent with overload. The empennage displayed a vertical opening and parallel slash marks.

Examination of the cockpit revealed the flap switch handle was in the "50 percent" position; however, the flaps and the flap actuator were positioned consistent with a flaps-up position. Because power was applied to all systems throughout the flight and after ground contact, the flap position could not be determined prior to the collision.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Office the Chief Medical Examiner for the State of Maryland performed autopsies on the helicopter flight instructor and helicopter pilot. The autopsy reports listed the cause of death for each as "blunt impact injuries."

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing of the helicopter flight instructor and helicopter pilot. The tests for each were negative for the presence of carbon monoxide, cyanide, and ethanol.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Avidyne Primary Flight Display (PFD) Description

The PFD unit from the accident airplane included a solid state Air Data and Attitude Heading Reference System (ADAHRS) and displayed aircraft parameter data including altitude, airspeed, attitude, vertical speed, and heading. The PFD unit had external pitot/static inputs for altitude, airspeed, and vertical speed information. Each PFD contained two flash memory devices mounted on a riser card. The flash memory stored information the PFD unit used to generate the various PFD displays. Additionally, the PFD had a data logging function, which was used by the manufacturer for maintenance and diagnostics. Maintenance and diagnostic information recording consisted of system information, event data and flight data.

The PFD sampled and stored several data streams in a sequential fashion; when the recording limit of the PFD was reached, the oldest record was dropped and a new record was added. Data from the Attitude/Heading Reference System (AHRS) was recorded at a rate of 5 Hz. Air data information such as pressure altitude, indicated airspeed, and vertical speed was recorded at 1 Hz. GPS and navigation display and setting data were recorded at a rate of 0.25 Hz, and information about pilot settings of heading, altitude, and vertical speed references were recorded when changes were made.

According to the data, at 15:34:30, about 9 miles from the airport, the airplane initiated a descent out of 3,000 feet msl. The descent rate varied between 500-1000 fpm. The descent stopped at 1,600 feet pressure altitude (1,582 feet indicated) for about 10 seconds, at 15:36:40. The airplane then continued its descent at an approximate rate of 700 fpm.

As the descent continued, the airplane entered a right bank of about 15 degrees about 1.5 miles from the airport. While descending and turning right, pitch, vertical, longitudinal, and lateral acceleration experienced a loading event simultaneously at 15:37:36.

When this occurred, the aircraft was 0.75 miles from the field at 1,045 feet pressure altitude (1,027 feet indicated) and 100 kts indicated airspeed. Following the loading, the aircraft rolled a full 360 degrees to the right, pitch recorded extremes of 21 degrees nose- up to 80 degrees nose-down, and heading spun nearly 720 degrees to the right.

Following the loading, altitude was maintained for about 3 seconds before dropping at a maximum recorded rate of 5,470 fpm. The aircraft came to rest at 15:37:52 at 330 feet pressure altitude in a 75-degrees nose-down attitude with the wings rolled 46 degrees to the left. The recording ended with the aircraft static in these conditions.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Traffic Advisory System

The accident airplane was fitted with an L-3 Avionics SKYWATCH Traffic Advisory System (TAS). As installed, the system included an L-3 Avionics SKY 497 transmitter/receiver unit and an L-3 Communications antenna. The traffic information developed by the SKY 497 system was displayed in the cockpit and provided an audio alert.

According to the manufacturer, the SKYWATCH TAS monitored the airspace around the aircraft for other transponder-installed aircraft by querying Mode C or Mode S transponder information. These data would then be displayed visually to the pilot in the cockpit. The system also provided aural announcements on the flight deck audio system. The audio alert would be inhibited at 50 percent and 100 percent flap settings.

If an intruder aircraft's transponder did not respond to interrogations, the TAS would not establish a track on that aircraft. The system was not equipped with recording capability.

The SKYWATCH system operated on line-of-sight principles. If an intruder aircraft's antenna was shielded from the SKYWATCH system antenna, the ability of the SKY 497 to track the target would be affected. If a SKY 497-equipped aircraft was located directly above an intruder, the airframe of one or both of the aircraft could cause the SKY 497's interrogations to be shielded, depending on antenna location (top-mounted on the accident airplane). The SKY 497 also had the capability to coast (predict) an intruder's track to compensate for a momentary shielding.
In an interview with state police immediately after the accident, the pilot explained the operation of the system to the trooper conducting the interview, and stated he did not receive a traffic alert prior to the collision.

FAA Advisory Circular 90-48c

"Pilots should also be familiar with, and exercise caution, in those operational environments where they may expect to find a high volume of traffic or special types of aircraft operation. These areas include Terminal Radar Service Areas (TRSAs), airport traffic patterns, particularly at airports without a control tower; airport traffic areas (below 3,000 feet above the surface within five statute miles of an airport with an operating control tower…"



The WFMD News Team won six news awards for 2014 from the Associated Press, including  Outstanding News Operation for 2014.

The awards  were presented during the 2015 Chesapeake Associated Press Broadcasters Association Convention in Ocean City, Md.,  June 5-7.

One award included Outstanding Spot News Reporting for the Mid-Air Collision near the Frederick Municipal Airport in October, 2014.  "WFMD used all resources available to them to bring a full picture to their audience," the judges in the contest said.  "Taking calls from witnesses helped give context and using the air traffic control audio was key to the whole story."

WFMD also won the Outstanding Specialty Reporting for its Ebola coverage.  "WFMD told a very complete story with their Ebola coverage without inciting fear or panic," said the judges.  "They did a fantastic job of calmly explaining all angles of the story and the preparedness of their community. Overall, this was very professional and very well done."

Outstanding Newscast was another honor earned by the WFMD News Team for a newscast delivered on May 16th, 2014.  "Good newscast hitting key local news and weather on what apparently is going to be a very rainy day," the judges said.

In addition, the WFMD News Team secured the award for Outstanding Website.  "WFMD clearly works hard to get important news to its audience," said the judges.

Finally, WFMD received the award  for  Outstanding Year Round Sports Coverage.   "WFMD presents a wide variety of sports across the entire year, and what's particularly impressive is the station strives to give coverage to all of the high school and college teams in the area," the judges said.  Sportscasters Pete McCloud and Ed Lulie were honored for their work.

The WFMD News Team consists of news director Dianah Gibson, and reporters Kevin McManus and Loretta Gaines.

Original article can be found here:  http://www.wfmd.com

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA025A
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 23, 2014 in Frederick, MD
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N122ES
Injuries: 3 Fatal, 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA025B
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, October 23, 2014 in Frederick, MD
Aircraft: ROBINSON HELICOPTER COMPANY R44 II, registration: N7518Q
Injuries: 3 Fatal, 1 Minor, 1 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 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 October 23, 2014, about 1537 eastern daylight time, a Cirrus SR22 airplane, N122ES, and a Robinson R44 II helicopter, N7518Q, operated by Advanced Helicopter Concepts, collided in midair approximately 1 mile southwest of the Frederick Municipal Airport (FDK), Frederick, Maryland. The helicopter departed controlled flight after the collision, descended vertically, and was destroyed by impact forces at ground contact. The airplane also departed controlled flight, the ballistic parachute system was deployed, and the airplane landed nose-down in a thicket of low trees and brush. The flight instructor, commercial pilot receiving instruction, and a passenger in the helicopter were fatally injured. The private pilot on board the airplane was not injured, and his passenger sustained a minor injury. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the airplane, which departed Cleveland, Tennessee on a personal flight about 1247. No flight plan was filed for the helicopter, which departed FDK on a pre-rental check-out flight about 1535. Both flights were conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Preliminary radar and voice communication information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the accident airplane first contacted the FDK local controller at 1534:10 approximately 10 miles west of the field at an altitude of 3,000 feet. The local controller acknowledged the pilot's transmission and instructed him to report three miles west of the airport for a left downwind to runway 30. The pilot acknowledged and read back the controller's instructions.

At the time the accident airplane contacted the local controller, traffic handled by the tower included two helicopters in the traffic pattern, one airplane conducting practice instrument approaches to runway 23, another airplane inbound from the southeast, and also a business jet with its IFR clearance on request.

At 1535:02, the controller cleared the accident helicopter for take-off from taxiway alpha, issued the current winds, and the call was acknowledged.

At 1536:49, the pilot of the accident airplane reported that he was three miles from the airport on a 45-degree entry for the downwind for landing on runway 30.

At 1537:22, the local controller instructed the airplane to report midfield left downwind for runway 30 and said, "I have three helicopters below ya in the uh traffic pattern". At 1537:30, the pilot of the airplane acknowledged the request to report midfield downwind and stated he had two of the helicopters in sight. Immediately after that transmission, at 1537:34, the local controller said, "Alright uh two echo sierra, I have ya in sight runway three zero, maintain your altitude to…until turning base, cleared to land."

At 1537:49, the pilot of another helicopter in the traffic pattern reported that an airplane and helicopter were both "down."

Witnesses on the ground observed the aircraft converge at the same altitude. One witness who observed both aircraft converge indicated that neither aircraft changed altitude as they approached each other and the two subsequently collided.

A flight instructor for the operator in another company helicopter followed the accident helicopter in the traffic pattern for landing abeam runway 30. He said his helicopter had just completed the turn onto the crosswind leg of the traffic pattern, when the accident helicopter came into his view. At the same time, the airplane appeared in his field of view as it collided with the helicopter rotor system.

The pilot of the accident airplane was not immediately available for interview.

The airplane pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued April 31, 2014. He reported 1,080 total hours of flight experience, of which 1,000 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.

The flight instructor held commercial pilot and flight instructor certificates with ratings for rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument helicopter. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued April 31, 2014. Examination of his logbook revealed 832 total hours of flight experience, of which 116 hours were in the accident helicopter make and model.

The pilot receiving instruction held commercial pilot and flight instructor certificates with ratings for airplane single engine land, multiengine land, rotorcraft-helicopter and instrument helicopter. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued April 29, 2013, and he reported 2,850 total hours of flight experience on that date. Excerpts of a pilot logbook revealed 1,538 total hours of helicopter experience.

The 1553 weather observation at FDK included scattered clouds at 4,800 feet, 10 miles visibility, and winds from 330 degrees at 16 knots gusting to 21 knots.

FDK was located at an elevation of 306 feet and the air traffic control tower was operating at the time of the accident. The published traffic pattern altitude for single-engine and light-twin airplanes was 1,300 feet mean sea level (msl), and 1,800 feet msl for heavy multiengine and jet airplanes. The traffic pattern was a standard left-hand pattern, and there was no published traffic pattern or altitude for helicopters.

The helicopter wreckage and its associated debris came to rest in a self-storage complex between two buildings, with parts and debris scattered in and around the complex. All major components were accounted for at the scene. The main wreckage came to rest largely upright, and included the cockpit, cabin area, fuselage, tailboom, engine, transmission, and main and tail rotors. All components were significantly damaged and deformed by impact forces. The "blue" main rotor blade was fractured near its root, and the outboard 11 feet of main rotor spar was located 50 feet from the main wreckage with no honeycomb or blade skin afterbody material attached.

Control continuity could not be established due to numerous fractures in the system, but all fractures exhibited features consistent with overload.

The airplane came to rest nose down, in a dense thicket of brush and low trees, wedged between tree trunks, and held in that position. All major components were accounted for at the scene, except for the right wing flap, aileron, and right landing gear wheel and tire assembly, which were located between the helicopter and airplane sites. Examination of the airplane revealed that the trailing edge of the right wing was impact-damaged. The flap and aileron hinges were significantly damaged and twisted, and the surrounding sheet metal displayed saw-tooth fractures, consistent with overload.

Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office: FAA Baltimore FSDO-07

http://registry.faa.gov/N122ES

http://registry.faa.gov/N7518Q



 
Christopher David "Chris" Parsons
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William Jenkins
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Breandan James MacFawn
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Chris Parsons
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Officials say Scott Graeves, 55, of Brookeville, was piloting the Cirrus SR22  that crashed.
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Brian Rayner, senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, answered questions during a press conference near the sight of the downed plane with is in the trees behind him.


Brian Rayner, senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.


 Brian Rayner, Senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board


Mayor Randy McClement, left, arrives at the scene of a mid-air collision between an airplane and a helicopter near the Frederick Municipal Airport Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, in Frederick, Md.




A Frederick, Md., police officer walks in a field where a mid-air collision between an airplane and a helicopter occurred near the Frederick Municipal Airport, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, in Frederick, Md. 













Uniformed personnel walk through a field between the two crash sites near Frederick Municipal Airport in Frederick.


 

 
  



























































 





The Cirrus SR22 rests in a tree in a wood line off Monocacy Boulevard following a midair collision with a helicopter.













































An investigator photographs debris from the downed Robinson R-44 inside the Frederick Self Storage facility off Monroe Avenue Friday morning. Most of the wreckage landed between two buildings on the site.

The helicopter involved in midair collision crashed between two rows of storage units at Frederick Self Storage off Monroe Avenue in Frederick.










 
 Two members of the Civil Air Patrol stand watched over the scene of the helicopter crash site at the Frederick Self Storage facility on Monroe Avenue.