Friday, July 24, 2015

Residents protest new flight path during private Federal Aviation Administration meeting

SOQUEL >> More than 100 bothered residents living underneath a new flight path rallied Friday afternoon at Anna Jean Cummings Park in Soquel.

Lining Old San Jose Road, the protesters brandished picket signs, waved American flags, handed out ear plugs and chanted, “Too loud, too low, too many.” When passing drivers honked in support, they cheered. Many pledged to participate in a national No Fly Day on Oct. 24 in protest.

It was their latest salvo in their campaign, which began when planes began flying the new path in March, against the Federal Aviation Administration’s nationwide plan called NextGen to change flight routes, including at San Francisco International Airport.

The transition from a ground-based air traffic control system to a satellite system is aimed at reducing air traffic congestion with more direct and condensed routing into airports.

“I used to wake up to the birds, now I wake up to planes,” said Kathleen Nestler, a Summit resident. “Day and night, it’s just constant. There’s really no break.”

Meanwhile, at Loma Prieta Elementary School on Summit Road, representatives from the FAA met with leaders from the neighborhood group Save Our Skies Santa Cruz and local elected officials and their aides in a private meeting. Neither the public nor the press were allowed to attend the meeting. From the FAA, regional manager Glen Martin and his assistant Steve May, vice president of Mission Control Elizabeth Ray and FAA spokesman Ian Gregor attended the meeting.

“We found the FAA much more responsive than we thought they might be,” said Patrick Meyer, co-founder of Save Our Skies. “They listened to our concerns and talked about a timeline in terms of getting back to us on a number of things.”

Regarding the speed breaks, the FAA said that’s something it could start working on now. As for raising the altitude of descending planes, the FAA said it would get back to Save Our Skies in about six months.

The FAA also expressed interest in a future public meeting.

“The meeting was productive. It’s a good first step,” said Alec Arago, district director for Rep. Sam Farr, D-Carmel. “I think the congressman feels this is the dialogue that should have preceded the decision to move the route.”

Save Our Skies wants the FAA to rescind the new path and revert back to the old one until the FAA holds a public hearing and conduct an environmental impact report. This point has drawn criticism from other residents in the county who see their complaints as NIMBYism.

Members say, however, the old flight path differs significantly than the new one, which is more condensed with new decent procedures. Other communities across the nation, from Phoenix, New York and the San Francisco Peninsula, have decried NextGen.

“We listened to their concerns, received a number of suggestions and are committed to evaluating potential short- and long-term options that could help address their concerns,” the FAA’s Gregor said.

“We woke up on March 5, and our lives were changed,” said Denise Stansfield, who started Save Our skies. “With no notice public hearing, nothing.”

The FAA held public meetings in San Jose, San Mateo, Oakland and Sacramento in 2014. In the Santa Cruz area, there was no community outreach beyond notifying county, state and federal representatives.

Since the new flight path’s roll out, members of Save Our Skies have flooded the SFO noise abatement office and elected officials with complaints, requesting that the FAA come to Santa Cruz to hear their concerns and to talk about solutions.


Boutique Air To Offer Flights From Phoenix To Show Low

Boutique Air's website advertises the Show Low flight.

A small San Francisco-based airline will start offering round-trip service between Sky Harbor and Show Low next month. 

Boutique Air was awarded the Essential Air Service contract for the route — that’s a federal program that helps ensure air service to smaller communities. 

This is among a few such routes Boutique Air has. Shawn Simpson, the carrier’s CEO, talks about who he expects to see on the flights.

Serving smaller communities with flights is a national requirement, but according to aviation expert Robert Mittelstaedt, the costs in Arizona can really stand out.

Story and audio:

Colt Balloons 160A, N976TC, operated by Damn Yankee Balloons: Accident occurred July 19, 2014 -and- Incident occurred September 22, 2015 in Worcester County, Massachusetts

An Federal Aviation Administration inspector takes pictures of the ill-fated balloon after it caught fire July 19, 2014, and landed in the yard of the home at 103 Brooks St., Clinton, Massachusetts.

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Windsor Locks, Connecticut 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: Clinton, MA
Accident Number: ERA14LA347
Date & Time: 07/19/2014, 2000 EDT
Registration: N976TC
Aircraft: COLT BALLOONS 160A
Aircraft Damage: Minor
Defining Event: Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT)
Injuries: 3 Serious, 4 None
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Other Work Use - Sightseeing

On July 19, 2014, about 2000 eastern daylight time, a Colt Balloons 160A, N976TC, contacted powerlines in Clinton, Massachusetts. The balloon received minor damage. The pilot and three passengers were uninjured, and three passengers were seriously injured. The local sightseeing flight was operated by Damn Yankee Balloons under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed from a field in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts, about 1845.

The pilot stated that the accident flight was the second flight that day. After meeting the passengers and ground crew at the departure location, he provided the passengers with a safety briefing that included all aspects of the flight, including the risks involved and the flight procedures and timeline. While the pilot conducted the safety briefing, his ground crew assembled the balloon. The pilot then performed a preflight inspection before inflating the envelope. The passengers boarded, and the pilot conducted a second preflight inspection before launching.

According to the pilot, after launch, the balloon climbed to about 1,000 ft above ground level (agl) and traveled 170°-180° (southbound) at a groundspeed of about 5 knots. About 1 hour into the flight, the balloon passed over a reservoir, then the wind "shifted" and the balloon began approaching the town of Clinton. Witness photographs captured images of the balloon as it traveled over the reservoir between 50 and 100 ft agl. One witness reported that the balloon's basket was "skimming the water." The pilot reported that he approached the town at an altitude of 100 ft agl in preparation for landing should an adequate landing site appear. Shortly thereafter, he saw a large side yard next to a house at an intersection. He initiated a descent using the balloon's burners intermittently to maintain the proper descent path. Photographs showed the balloon approaching the landing site about 50 feet agl.

According to the pilot, as the balloon approached the landing site, the basket skid (attached to the bottom of the basket), contacted the top wire of a set of electrical wires perpendicular to the balloon's flight path. The balloon continued forward, causing the top wire to contact another wire; a large arc and flash ensued. The balloon then continued its descent to the landing site, where it touched down normally.

Video footage of the accident showed that the pilot engaged the burner several times as the balloon approached the landing site. Subsequent footage showed the balloon descending toward the landing site. As it descended, the envelope contacted the three uppermost powerlines, resulting in an electrical discharge, a shower of sparks, and portions of the powerlines falling onto the ground and a parked vehicle. The balloon then continued in a controlled descent to the landing area. After the balloon landed, the ground crew and others who had stopped to render assistance helped the passengers egress from the basket. Three of the passengers received serious electrical burns as a result of the balloon's contact with the powerlines.

The pilot stated that he decided to land in the town because the balloon had about 20 minutes of fuel remaining, and that sunset would occur in about 30 minutes. He also stated that he was unfamiliar with the area, and reported to law enforcement personnel that he was navigating with the use of a map application on his cell phone. In his written statement to the NTSB, he suggested that the accident may have been prevented with a steeper approach to the landing site.
Pilot Information

Certificate:  Commercial
Age: 66, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: None
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Balloon
Restraint Used: None
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 09/01/2012
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 08/15/2013
Flight Time: (Estimated) 4388.9 hours (Total, all aircraft), 2708 hours (Total, this make and model), 24 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 16.7 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3.5 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for lighter-than-air balloon, and private pilot privileges for airplane single-engine land. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued on September 14, 2012. He reported 4,388.9 total hours of flight experience, of which 2,708.2 hours were in lighter-than-air balloons. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: COLT BALLOONS
Registration: N976TC
Model/Series: 160A
Aircraft Category: Balloon
Year of Manufacture: 1989
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Balloon
Serial Number: 1482US
Landing Gear Type: Skid;
Seats: 9
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 05/28/2014, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.:  3197 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines:  None
Airframe Total Time: 711 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer:
ELT: Not installed
Engine Model/Series:
Registered Owner: YOUNG DERALD E
Rated Power:
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  None

The balloon envelope and basket were manufactured in 1989. The balloon was powered by 2 propane burners, and had a basket capacity of 9 occupants. The balloon's most recent annual inspection was completed on May 28, 2014. At the time of the accident, the balloon had accrued about 711.1 total hours of operation.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: FIT, 348 ft msl
Observation Time: 2352 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 360°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 17°C
Lowest Ceiling:  None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 120°
Visibility (RVR): 
Altimeter Setting: 30.24 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV): 
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Shrewsbury, MA (NONE)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Clinton, MA
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1845 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

The 2052 recorded weather at Fitchburg Municipal Airport (FIT) Fitchburg, Massachusetts, located about 9 miles northwest of the accident site included wind from 090° at 3 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, clear skies, temperature 22°C, dew point 17°C, and altimeter setting of 30.23 inches of mercury.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Minor
Passenger Injuries: 3 Serious, 3 None
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Serious, 4 None
Latitude, Longitude:  42.416667, -71.683333 (est)

Examination of the balloon envelope and basket by an FAA inspector revealed that the outside of the wicker basket had been scorched on one side and that both burner support covers on that side of the basket displayed thermal damage. 

Additional Information

Balloon's Flight Path

Contrary to the pilot's statement, the departure location of the flight, and the accident site location were consistent with the balloon traveling on a predominantly northerly course throughout the 1 hour 15 minute, 7-nautical-mile (nm) flight. Review of satellite imagery of the area showed several fields about 1 ¼ nm north of the accident site located along the balloon's established route of flight.

Balloon Manufacturer's Guidance

According to the balloon manufacturer's flight manual, section 2.9, LANDING PROCEDURE, when choosing a landing site, the pilot should allow for possible variations in the wind at ground level, and choose a site:

(a) Free of obstructions, especially power lines;
(b) Overshoot area should also be clear;
(c) Field free of crops and animals;
(d) If possible, look for upwind shelter to reduce speed;
(e) If possible, choose a field with good accessibility for retrieve crew, and minimum inconvenience for the owner.

The manual also states:

Do not fly into power lines at any cost. If contact is inevitable descend as fast as possible so that the contact of the wires is with the envelope and not with the basket assembly. Shut down the fuel system and vent lines before contact. If the balloon is caught in the wires DO NOT TOUCH ANY METAL PAR'I'S. If possible, remain in the basket until the power is shut off. Never attempt to remove the balloon until the power authority has arrived. Do not allow crew members to make contact between the ground and the basket until the power is shut off.

Balloon Flying Handbook

The FAA Balloon Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-11A), 7-7, "Maneuvering," states, "The balloon is officially a nonsteerable aircraft." Although a hot air balloon has no direct controls for steering, a balloon's flightpath can be indirectly influenced using the burner and parachute valve. The handbook also states:

Being knowledgeable of the wind at various altitudes, both before launch and during flight, is the key factor for maneuvering. Maneuvering, or steering, comes indirectly from varying one's time at different altitudes and different wind directions.

To initiate a climb, a balloon pilot activates one or more of the balloon's propane fuel burners. Rate of climb is adjusted by the duration and/or frequency of burner activations. Level flight is achieved by executing a series of burns that minimizes changes in vertical velocity. Descent is achieved either by allowing the air in the envelope to cool or by opening the parachute valve to allow hot air to escape. The rate of descent can be increased by leaving the parachute valve open longer or reopening the valve. Rate of descent can be slowed or stopped by activating the burner(s).

The FAA Balloon Flying Handbook further states that when contour flying, or during an approach to a landing site, the potential of collision with trees, power lines, and other obstacles is increased. For balloons, landing accidents consistently account for over 90 percent of the total number of accidents in any given year. The most common causal factors for landing accidents include collision with obstructions in the intended landing area.

In addition, these accidents account for the majority of injuries to pilots and damage to balloons. Accidents are more likely during landing because the tolerance for error is greatly diminished and opportunities for pilots to overcome errors in judgment and decision-making become increasingly limited, particularly in high wind conditions.

Additional Incidents

Over the course of the investigation, the NTSB became aware of other incidents with the operator. In October 2004, one passenger received minor injuries when, during landing, the balloon encountered a downdraft. The pilot applied the burners to ascend and overshot the intended landing site. In an attempt to slow the balloon, the pilot brushed the basket through a tree, during which a branch cut the passenger's hand.

In October 2011, a witness observed the balloon flying low in the middle of Northborough, Massachusetts. During the flight, the pilot flew below the tops of the surrounding trees and the balloon passed between and struck two houses, which sustained soffit and gutter damage.

On September 30, 2013, the pilot landed in the parking lot of a Kmart store in Auburn, Maine. The eight passengers onboard were not injured. The pilot reported to a local media outlet that the flight was going according to plan when an unexpected breeze kicked in around sunset. During the approach to landing, the balloon contacted and damaged a light pole in the parking lot.

On September 22, 2015, about 14 months after the accident in Clinton, Massachusetts, the pilot and his six passengers were uninjured when he landed the balloon in the parking lot of a Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority commuter rail station in Grafton, Massachusetts. The balloon had launched from Shrewsbury, Massachusetts earlier that morning. The pilot advised that, sometime during the flight, the wind conditions changed. He originally tried to land in an open field at Tufts University, but instead landed in the parking lot which was about 1,000 yards northwest of the field. During the balloon's descent, it contacted an overhead guide wire that stretched between two light poles, knocking one pole over and resulting in damage to 3 vehicles.

Articles published by local media in Portland, Maine, and Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada, stated that the pilot's invitations to two separate balloon festivals were rescinded as a result of the open investigation into the Clinton, Massachusetts, accident.

NTSB Recommendations

On April 7, 2014, the NTSB issued recommendations to the FAA (A-14-11 and A-14-12) to address operational deficiencies in commercial sightseeing (air tour) balloon operations that have resulted in occupant injuries and a fatality. They were derived from the NTSB's investigations of several air tour balloon accidents. The accidents highlighted operational deficiencies in commercial air tour balloon operations, such as operating in unfavorable wind conditions and failure to follow flight manual procedures, that the NTSB considered a result of the lack of oversight relative to similar airplane and helicopter air tour operations.

In its recommendations, the NTSB stated that, depending on gondola capacity, balloons can carry more than 20 passengers per flight. Given the various safety deficiencies noted in the NTSB's investigations of the subject balloon accidents, the potential for a high number of fatalities in a single air tour balloon accident is of particular concern if air tour balloon operators continue to conduct operations under less stringent regulations and oversight. Although such an accident had yet to occur in the United States at the time of the issuance of the recommendations, a high-fatality accident occurred in Egypt on February 26, 2013, when a commercial air tour balloon carrying 21 occupants experienced a fire on board, resulting in 19 deaths.

On July 30, 2016, about 0742 central daylight time, a Balóny Kubícek BB85Z hot air balloon, N2469L (NTSB Case No. DCA16MA204), crashed into a field after striking high voltage powerlines while landing near Lockhart, Texas. The 15 passengers and pilot onboard were fatally injured. The NTSB determined that the probable cause of this accident was the pilot's pattern of poor decision-making that led to the initial launch, continued flight in fog and above clouds, and descent near or through clouds that decreased the pilot's ability to see and avoid obstacles. Contributing to the accident were (1) the pilot's impairing medical conditions and medications and (2) the FAA's policy to not require a medical certificate for commercial balloon pilots.

The investigation further concluded that the FAA's primary method of oversight—sampling balloon operators at festivals and events—does not effectively target the operations that pose the most significant safety risks to members of the public who choose to participate in commercial balloon sightseeing activities. As a result of this investigation, the NTSB classified Safety Recommendations A-14-011 and -12 as "Closed—Unacceptable Action/Superseded," and made the following new safety recommendation to the FAA:

Analyze your current policies, procedures, and tools for conducting oversight of commercial balloon operations in accordance with your Integrated Oversight Philosophy, taking into account the findings of this accident; based on this analysis, develop and implement more effective ways to target oversight of the operators and operations that pose the most significant safety risks to the public.

NTSB Identification: ERA14LA347
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 19, 2014 in Clinton, MA
Aircraft: COLT BALLOONS 160A, registration: N976TC
Injuries: 3 Serious, 4 Uninjured.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 19 2014, about 2000 eastern daylight time, a Colt Balloons 160A, N976TC, impacted powerlines in Clinton, Massachusetts. The pilot and four passengers were uninjured, and three passengers were seriously injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local sightseeing flight that departed from a field, approximately 7 miles to the south of the accident location. The flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Video recordings show the accident balloon approaching the backyard of a house at approximately 50 feet agl. As the balloon approached powerlines, the pilot engaged the burner; however, the balloon did not gain altitude and subsequently struck the powerlines resulting in an electrical discharge. The balloon then continued in a controlled descent to the landing area.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for lighter-than-air balloon, and private pilot privileges for airplane single-engine land.

GRAFTON (CBS) – A hot air balloon pilot with a half dozen passengers on board crashed into a Grafton parking lot on September 22, 2015 – his second mishap in as many years.

“He said the weather fooled him,” witness Bob Abair, who spoke to the pilot moments after the incident, told WBZ-TV.

The hard landing landing came in the MBTA Commuter Rail parking lot. None of the seven people on board, or anyone on the ground, were injured, but three vehicles sustained minor damage.

Abair and his wife Mary were driving home when they spotted the low flying balloon and knew immediately it was in trouble.

“Oh, you absolutely knew it was going to crash,” said Mary Abair.

The couple scrambled over to help.

“It didn’t look windy,” Bob Abair said. “But the pilot said there were a lot of down drafts and he just couldn’t get up.”

Indeed, pilot Deral Young had just taken off from neighboring Shrewsbury with a group celebrating a woman’s birthday when things went awry.

He aimed for a field by the Tufts Veterinary School but the squirrely winds caused him to overshoot it.

Instead he wound up in the parking lot of the Grafton commuter rail station – where he snapped a light pole before hitting several cars.

MBTA Police are spearheading the probe because it landed on ‘T’ property.

“We were very worried he was going to crash onto the train tracks,” says Bob Abair.

“It was pretty scary for those passengers,” his wife added. “But they’re all okay. They’re fine.”

Investigators are likely to have an array of questions for Young, who flies for “Damn Yankee Balloons.”

Young was at the helm in July of 2014, when his balloon hit some power lines in Clinton – a mishap that seriously injured three of his passengers.

The former Navy officer has been flying hot air balloons for almost four decades – and is also a licensed small plane pilot.

“Obviously it is not a fool proof process,” says Bob Abair.

Fortunately today’s mishap ended with all passengers smiling in a group photo alongside their downed balloon.

“And the guys were taking it kind of casually,” Abair explained. “They were saying ‘what a bunch of great stories we’ve got!’”

CLINTON – It’s been a little more than a year since a flaming hot-air balloon landed in a backyard on Brook Street, and while an investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board is still ongoing, a preliminary report says the pilot held a proper license and the flight followed federal regulations.

The balloon, piloted by Derald Young, owner of Damn Yankee Balloons of Dixfield, Maine, hit power lines near Brook and Greeley streets around 8 p.m. July 19, 2014, caught fire and went down in a yard at 103 Brook St. Three of the six passengers on board, a family group from Rhode Island celebrating a birthday, suffered burns, but were released from a hospital the next day.

The passengers were identified as Kathleen A. and Leon Plouff and Alyssa Plouff, all of Cumberland, R.I.; Amy Plouff of Easthampton, Mass., Ann M. Guibeault and Nicholas Suffoletto, both of Woonsocket, R.I. The Plouffs and Mr. Suffoletto did not return telephone calls requesting information about the accident. Ms. Guibeault has an unlisted telephone number. It is unclear which of the six suffered burns. The pilot was not injured.

According to the NTSB preliminary report, the Colt Balloons 160A called “Raspberry Ripple” took off from a field about 7 miles south of the accident site. The report says video recordings show it approaching the Brook Street back yard – and the power lines - about 50 feet above ground level. As Mr. Young turned up the burner, the balloon did not gain altitude and hit the power lines, causing an electrical fire and an explosion. It continued to descend into the yard, where residents and neighbors tried to help the passengers, and called emergency crews from cellphones. Many had also taken cellphone videos of the balloon descending and landing.

According to an NTSB spokesman, Mr. Young holds a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for lighter-than-air balloons (hot-air balloons); and private pilot privileges for single-engine airplanes.

The spokesman said a final report is expected in a month or two.

According to Federal Aviation Administrative records, the balloon was made in 1989.

Police at the time said Mr. Young missed his intended landing site and flew over the Wachusett Reservoir; he was planning to land in a field off Route 110 near Clinton Middle School.

Mr. Young said Thursday he could not comment on the incident, because of a gag order imposed by his insurance company. He told a reporter the balloon did not “crash.” The NTSB report describes it as a “controlled descent.”

According to Mr. Young’s Damn Yankees Balloons website, he began his flying career in the 1960s while attending the University of Maine and got his first pilot’s license in 1970. He served in the U.S. Navy as a naval flight officer and founded his hot-air balloon company in the 1980s. In 1985, Mr. Young set a record as the first hot-air balloon pilot to cross the Northumberland Strait, between New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, Canada. He flew 13 miles over ocean and landed on Prince Edward Island's cliffs.


Aero Vodochody L-39C, N6175C: Accident occurred May 28, 2015 in Grand Junction, Colorado

NTSB Identification: GAA15CA096
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, May 28, 2015 in Grand Junction, CO
Aircraft: AERO VODOCHODY L39, registration: N6175C
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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

According to the pilot, while flying over a river at an altitude of about 100 feet above water and ground level, at 250 knots, the airplane impacted unmarked power line wires that spanned the river. The power line wires are clearly identified on the Visual Flight Rules Sectional Aeronautical Chart. The pilot immediately established a climb and returned to the airport without further incident. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the nose, left wing, and vertical stabilizer.

The pilot reported that there were no pre-impact mechanical failures or malfunctions that would have precluded normal operation.

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Salt Lake City FSDO-07


The pilot who buzzed De Beque Canyon two months ago was on a non-military flight on his way to Alabama, federal officials told Mesa County officials and representatives for U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo.

The pilot could lose his pilot certificate if an investigation warrants such a step, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

The pilot, who remained unidentified, was on a non-military ferry flight returning to the civil operator’s home base in Alabama at the time of the incident, according to officials with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane, an Aero L-39 Albatros, which was designed as a fighter trainer for Warsaw Pact nations, had recently been operated in support of the U.S. military, according to a report by the FAA.

Officials with the agency spoke on the telephone with Mesa County Commissioner Scott McInnis and a Tipton representative, and on Thursday provided them with notes from the meeting, as well as answers to some of the questions that were raised.

“The pilot held the appropriate civil authorizations to fly the aircraft and was acting in a civil aviation capacity as a commercial pilot. His employment status was not relevant to our investigation,” wrote Diane Fuller, senior adviser to the FAA’s Northwest Mountain Region.

While the pilot was identified by the FAA, the passenger in the co-pilot’s seat was not, Fuller wrote.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board both are investigating the incident, Fuller wrote, noting that the FAA investigation typically takes a year.

So far, however, the FAA has concluded that “pilot competency was not a factor” in the incident.

An air-safety investigator with the NTSB said Wednesday that his report is to be released “ASAP.”

Earlier this month, the Albatros was trucked away from Grand Junction Regional Airport and taken to Gadsden, Alabama.

It had been stored at the airport since it landed safely after it sheared seven power cables in the canyon near the Colorado Highway 65 intersection.

The pilot told the Colorado State Patrol that he was eastbound up the canyon when the jet struck cables, shearing off a portion of the right wing.

Two westbound vehicles on Interstate 70 were struck by cable whipping through the air, the patrol said. Others vehicles that were eastbound also may have been struck.

The pilot pulled up out of the canyon and circled the Grand Valley for about 45 minutes, burning off fuel, before landing without further incident.

Story and comments:

The identity of the jet pilot who barreled up De Beque Canyon at 300 mph or more and sheared off seven power cables more than six weeks ago will come out in a final report this month, a federal official investigating the case said.

The final report also will identify a second person in the Aero L-39C Albatros jet, said Michael Hicks, an air-safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, on Monday.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., meanwhile, is set to inquire with the Federal Aviation Administration “to try to get a more complete accounting from the FAA of what happened and who is liable for damages,” his office said.

The jet, which lost a portion of its right wing in the collision near the confluence of the Colorado River and Plateau Creek on May 28, was broken down into several pieces and shipped from Grand Junction Regional Airport last week to Gadsden, Alabama.

“Our investigation is not complete,” Hicks said. Some details remain to be collected and the final report written before details are made public, he said.

The final report is to be reviewed by John DeLisi, director of the Office of Aviation Safety, and another accident investigator, Larry Lewis, is to approve it, Hicks said.

Tipton’s office, along with Mesa County officials, will discuss the incident next week in a conference call with FAA officials, Tipton’s office said.

Among the details to be included are the identity of a second person aboard the jet, Hicks said.

While the pilot isn’t being identified because the investigation is continuing, “I can say he was qualified to fly the aircraft,” Hicks said.

The pilot, who was interviewed by the Colorado State Patrol soon after the incident, questioned a state trooper about why the power lines were unmarked.

The towers from which the cables were strung stand 65 feet tall. Aviation regulations require that aircraft fly no lower than 500 feet above the ground.

In an interview with the State Patrol, the pilot told a trooper that he was traveling east up De Beque Canyon, looking at the Grand Valley roller dam, when he struck the cables.

He pulled up after the collision and, with much of the right wing sheared off, circled the Grand Valley to burn off fuel, then landed at Grand Junction Regional Airport, which was where he took off originally.

His passenger left immediately, the patrol said.

No state charges are being pursued by the State Patrol, and officials didn’t get the pilot’s identity.

Steve Reynolds of Glenwood Springs, whose car was damaged by the high-tension cables as they snapped, said the FAA told him his insurance company would be reimbursed for its payment to repair his car.

“By the grace of God, I’m fine and my car’s repaired and that’s all I’ve heard,” Reynolds said.

Red Bluff, California, trucker Stan Kolbert, who loaded the plane onto his flatbed to take it to Alabama, said he simply answered a call for a pickup.

The disassembled jet was an item of interest all along the trip, Kolbert said, with many motorists taking photos along the way, especially from cars with Colorado plates.

“It was probably about the coolest thing I ever hauled,” Kolbert said.

Story, comments and photo gallery:

L-39 N6175C from Matt Cawby on Vimeo.
L-39 N6175C taxi test at Paine Field May 8, 2010.

A WestStar Aviation ground crew tows an Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatros aircraft across the tarmac to a hanger at Grand Junction Regional Airport on May 28.

A jet that sheared through at least one power cable in De Beque Canyon on Thursday should have been no lower than 500 feet above the Colorado River, federal rules suggest.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident, a spokesman said, noting that he couldn’t elaborate.

In addition to setting a minimum altitude for flying in “other than congested areas,” Federal Aviation Regulations also prohibit operating aircraft in a “careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another.”

According to another section of the regulations, when flying over uncongested areas, pilots are required to maintain “an altitude of 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, the aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle, or structure.”

The regulations also prohibit flying at an indicated airspeed of 250 knots, or 288 mph, at less than 10,000 feet in altitude.

The regulations list no penalties for violations of its provisions. The FAA, however, is the licensing agency for pilots.

State officials are not pursuing investigations of the incident, in which a jet that later landed safely at Grand Junction Regional Airport, cut through power cabling in De Beque Canyon near the Colorado Highway 65 exit.

One snapped cable damaged several passenger vehicles and a semi-trailer. No injuries were reported, though witnesses said the semi driver’s face was bloodied in the collision that shattered the front windshield of the truck.

The jet, an L–39C Vodochody, is owned by a Tennessee foundation and a person answering the telephone there said it had been leased to the federal government and that all questions were being referred to the U.S. Air Force.

The Air Force has offered no response to inquiries about the incident.

A truck belonging to Monument Transportation was hit by a power line and dragged nearly a quarter mile along Interstate 70 near the exit to Colorado Highway 65 in De Beque Canyon around 1 p.m. Thursday.

UPDATE 2 p.m. An Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatros allegedly made contact with an overhead power line near the intersection of I-70 and Colorado Highway 65, causing the line to snap, fall and break the windshields of several cars and a semitrailer traveling on I-70, according to Colorado State Patrol. The break in the line apparently caused the power to go out around 1 p.m. for about 30 people who live off Canal Road about 1 mile west of Cameo. Xcel energy is at the scene making repairs. Xcel energy estimates power will be restored shortly after 3 p.m.

UPDATE 1:49 p.m.: Pilot has landed plane safely at Grand Junction Regional Airport.

UPDATE 1:45 p.m.: According to scanner traffic, the plane is a Aero Vodochody L-39C Albatros plane with one soul on board. The plane is at 16,000 feet and burning off fuel, according to scanner reports, and has wing damage.

12:55 p.m.: The exit along I-70 in De Beque Canyon that connects Colorado Hwy 65 is closed, and at least one lane of the interstate is shut down, on a report of debris from a plane striking a number of vehicles in the roadway.

Radio traffic indicates that a low-flying plane may have clipped a power line in the area. Emergency crews are working to free a wire from the roadway, and numerous vehicles have stopped and reported damage, according to initial reports from the scene.

Earlier radio calls indicated that debris from a plane is what the caused the vehicles to stop. Witnesses at the scene report no plane down in the area, but an effort has been launched to sweep the area from the air.

Most of the activity is near mile marker 49 along I-70, according to dispatch reports.

What is being described as a 'military style' plane over emergency dispatch traffic, made an emergency landing at Grand Junction Regional Airport Thursday afternoon "without incident" according to Amy Jordan, with the airport.

The call first came in around 1 p.m. Witnesses reported the plane hit a power line and possibly some cars in the area of the Roller Dam along Interstate 70 in the Debeque Canyon.

Witnesses reported seeing debris along the roadway and river bank from the plane's wing.

The plane, circled the area for about 20 minutes to burn off before landing at the airport and being checked out. It appears the two people on board the plane were not injured.

There are traffic impacts along I-70 as of 2 PM this afternoon, the right lane of both East and West bound have been shut down by CDOT.

The plane, is now in a private hangar on private property. The airport says they do not have the authority to show us the condition of the plane.

Plane crash reports in Morrisburg appear false: Ontario Provincial Police

CORNWALL, Ontario - Reports of a plane crash near Morrisburg appear to be false, OPP said Friday night.

OPP Const. Tylor Copeland told Seaway News there was a report of a plane crash, perhaps a glider, near Highway 401 between 6 and 7 p.m.

But search crews, including search and rescue aircraft out of CFB Trenton, combed the area and could find nothing.

"It looks like it's nothing. No one is overdue," said Copeland. "Everything has been looked at, at this point."

Tweets and Facebook posts expressed concern about a potential aircraft crash, and there were videos of search planes and helicopters flying over the area.


Study does not affect wind farm plan progress

CORPUS CHRISTI - A hypothetical layout for a planned wind farm near Chapman Ranch was deemed hazardous by the Federal Aviation Administration this month.

Apex Clean Energy filed a plan of hypothetical wind turbine locations with the administration to collect information for the development of the project design, said company spokeswoman Dahvi Wilson.

The turbine locations in the filing are outdated and the project has since changed, she said, adding the plans were submitted to the federal agency before Apex's decision to withdraw all wind turbines from the Corpus Christi city limits last year.

"Since that time, our plans for the project layout have evolved, and a revised and much smaller layout, consisting of significantly fewer wind turbines, will be filed with the (administration)," she said.

The project has been in the works for more than five years.

Before City Council adopted a formal resolution opposing its construction, and annexed 16 square miles at the proposed site to gain regulatory authority, the company hoped construction would be complete by the end of this year.

The earliest proposed project — construction of about 175 turbines on about 20,000 acres with capacity to power 100,000 homes — would have kicked off in March.

Findings of the aeronautical study Apex filed the plans for indicate that 175 of the wind turbines on the layout exceed obstruction standards and are presumed to be a hazard to air navigation, according to the hazard notices posted on the Aviation Administration's website.

Details about the revised plan were not available Friday.

But Apex is moving forward with the project, Wilson said.


County unveils new airport business center dedicated to former Watertown aviator • Watertown International Airport (KART), New York

WATERTOWN — Moments after the ribbon-cutting at Watertown International Airport’s new business center Friday, a jet plane roared down a runway and took flight over the airport — a well-timed sound-off to the airport’s latest addition.

The new Fixed Base Operator will provide a new place for traveling businessmen and -women to hold meetings and conferences. The 19,000-square-foot facility contains new administrative offices, a conference center and a hangar.

The business center also is constructed to be sustainable and is equipped with a specialized roof to provide natural lighting and minimize heat.

Besides the ribbon-cutting, the ceremony had a second purpose: the center’s dedication to the late Mary C. Cox, a Watertown aviator who served as a pilot in World War II.

To James C. Cox, one of Mrs. Cox’s four children, naming Watertown International Airport’s new business center after his mother is recognition she has long deserved.

“It’s hard to put into words how wonderful this place is and how proud she would be, as humble as she was.” Mr. Cox said.

Mrs. Cox served in the Women Airforce Service Pilots, or WASPS, during the war. When she returned to Watertown, however, Mr. Cox said, the role she played, along with many other women of the WASPS, was mostly forgotten.

Following the war, Mrs. Cox was a flight instructor at the airfield near Dexter that would later become Watertown International Airport. Mrs. Cox died in 2009 at age 85.

Philip N. Reed, chairman of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators General Services Committee, said the new business center is just a piece of the airport’s effort to create a self-sustaining source of revenue to cut costs and to benefit the county economically.

“We have cut operating costs in half by building an enterprise fund,” Mr. Reed said. “Now that we have the state of the art FBO facility to add to our inventory, we will be able to attract more business and increase fuel sales and hangar fees, which should reduce costs to local taxpayers.”

From 2008 to 2014, Mr. Reed said, airport enplanements grew from 3,000 passengers to more than 18,000 per year. Enplanements account for only the number of outbound passengers who board an aircraft at a specific airport. Mr. Reed noted that total passenger traffic from 2008 to 2014 grew from 5,000 to 39,000 per year. The Federal Aviation Administration grants $1 million in funding to airports that exceed 10,000 outbound passengers per year. Mr. Reed said the money will help contribute to the airport’s growing enterprise fund.

The FBO is the latest of a few projects the airport has in store for the rest of the year and beyond. Airport Manager Grant W. Sussey said construction will begin soon on a new terminal expansion, which will create more room in the passenger screening area. A runway expansion will be completed sometime before 2016, allowing larger aircraft to use the airport in winter conditions.

Story and photo gallery:

Piper PA-46-350P Malibu Mirage, N92884: Accident occurred July 24, 2015 at Yampa Valley Airport (KHDN), Hayden, Colorado

Date: 24-JUL-15 
Time: 17:38:00Z
Regis#: N92884
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA46
Event Type: Accident
Highest Injury: None
Damage: Substantial
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
State: Colorado



No one was injured Friday after a private plane landed and went off the runway at Yampa Valley Regional Airport.

YVRA Airport Director Kevin Booth said the pilot was practicing approaches when, for an unknown reason, the aircraft went off the right side of the runway and across two taxiways.

“They were having directional control issues,” Booth said.

Booth said the pilot did not know of any issues with the plane when he landed.

The plane’s nose landing gear was partially retracted, causing the nose of the plane to dip down into the dirt where the plane stopped.

The Piper Malibu, single-engine aircraft, is registered to Icarus Management out of Great Falls, Montana. Booth said it was his understanding the plane had been purchased about six months ago and was now based at Steamboat Springs Airport.

Booth said the runway was closed for about 15 to 20 minutes so officials could make sure there was no damage or debris on runway or taxiways.

YVRA and West Routt firefighters responded to the incident. The plane was put in a hanger, and the incident was reported to the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

NTSB releases info on 2014 crash

The National Transportation Safety Board on Thursday released the probable cause for a Aug. 9, 2014, plane crash on Rabbit Ears Pass.

Instructor William Earl Allen, 62, and his student, Terry Stewart, 60, were killed in the crash. Stewart was concluding a mountain flying training course with a five-leg, cross-country flight. The final leg of the flight was from Steamboat to Boulder.

The NTSB determined probable cause for the accident was the “pilot’s inability to maintain a climb while attempting to cross over a mountain pass in high-density altitude conditions that degraded the airplane’s climb performance. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s decision to attempt the flight in mountainous terrain and to enter the pass in such a way that an escape maneuver was not possible.”

The NTSB did not determined who was flying the plane at the time of the crash and found no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.


A helicopter carries the fuselage of a plane that crashed August 9th on Rabbit Ears Pass.

NTSB Identification: CEN14FA414
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 09, 2014 in Steamboat Springs, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/23/2015
Aircraft: PIPER PA 28R-201, registration: N3509M
Injuries: 2 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.

The flight instructor and private pilot-rated student were flying a five-leg, cross-country flight to conclude a mountain flying training course. The final leg of the flight was intended to cross over the mountains near a popular mountain pass, which was frequented by local pilots because of the landmarks and highway below. When the flight was overdue, a search was conducted. The wreckage was located in a mountain pass about 2 miles south of the mountain pass that the pilots had intended to cross during the final leg. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The density altitude around the time of the accident was calculated to be about 11,200 ft, which would have degraded the airplane’s performance. According to the Pilot’s Operating Handbook, at a density altitude of 11,200 ft with the landing gear and flaps retracted, the airplane would have had an expected climb rate of between 175 and 200 ft per minute (fpm). Documents about mountain flying found onboard the airplane stated that flight in mountains should not be attempted unless a climb rate of at least 200 ft per nautical mile (300 fpm) is available. Therefore, it is likely that the airplane could not attain a sufficient climb rate to clear mountainous terrain and that the pilot did not enter the pass at an appropriate entrance angle, which reduced the possibility of a successful escape maneuver.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot’s inability to maintain a climb while attempting to cross over a mountain pass in high-density altitude conditions that degraded the airplane’s climb performance. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s decision to attempt the flight in mountainous terrain and to enter the pass in such a way that an escape maneuver was not possible.


On August 9, 2014, about 1200 mountain daylight time, a Piper PA 28R-201 airplane, N3509M, impacted mountainous terrain southeast of Steamboat Springs, Colorado. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to VSP Aviators LLC and operated by Journeys Aviation Flying Club under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and a visual flight rules (VFR) flight plan was filed. The cross country flight originated from the Steamboat Springs Airport (SBS), Steamboat Springs, Colorado, about 1145 and was en route to the Boulder Municipal Airport (BDU), Boulder, Colorado.

An Alert Notice (ALNOT) was issued at 1720 when the flight was overdue. A search for the airplane was initiated and the wreckage was located at 2146 in a mountain valley about 12 miles southeast of SBS.

Email correspondence between the private pilot and the flight instructor revealed that the intended route of flight for the day was from BDU, to Eagle, Colorado (EGE), to Glenwood Springs, Colorado (GWS), to EGE, to SBS, and terminating at BDU. The flight instructor was providing instruction to the private pilot to complete a mountain flying training course. The final leg of the flight was intended to start at SBS, continue over Milner Pass and finish at BDU; the exact route of flight was not discussed.

According to local pilots, when flying over the mountains from SBS, a popular place to fly over is Rabbit Ears Pass because of the landmarks and the highway below. There was a second mountain pass south of Rabbit Ears Pass which did not follow a highway. The main wreckage was found near the second mountain pass about 5 miles southwest of Rabbit Ears Pass and about 2 miles south of the highway.


The flight instructor, age 62, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for single engine, multi-engine land and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate for single engine, multi-engine and instrument airplane. On November 30, 2012, the instructor was issued a limited second class medical certificate with the limitation to wear corrective lenses for near and distant vision. At the time of the medical certificate application he reported his flight experience as 3,310 total hours and 800 hours in six months preceding the examination. The pilot's total flight time was estimated to be 4,000 hours.

The pilot under instruction, age 60, held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land. On October 31, 2013, the pilot was issued a third class medical certificate without waivers or limitations. At the time of the medical certificate application he reported his flight experience as 73 total hours and 0 hours in the six months preceding the examination. According to the pilot's logbook, he had accumulated about 134 total hours and about 32 in the accident airplane make and model. He had logged 19 total hours in the last 30 days, 16 of which were in the accident airplane make and model.


The Piper PA 28R-201 was a low wing, four place, retractable landing gear airplane manufactured in 1978. The airplane was powered by a 200-horsepower, normally aspirated, fuel injected Lycoming IO-360-C1C6 engine, which drove a two bladed constant speed McCauley propeller.

On May 21, 2014, at a tachometer time of 4,315.1 hours and an aircraft total time of 4,315.1 hours, a 100 hour/annual inspection was completed for the airframe and the airplane was returned to service.

On August 7, 2014, at a tachometer time of 4,413.99 hours and 1,585.29 hours since last major overhaul, a 100 hour/annual inspection was completed for the engine and the airplane was returned to service.

The investigation did not reveal any evidence of the airplane being refueled at SBS.


At 1154, the automated weather report at SBS, 12 miles northwest of the accident site, reported wind from 210 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 10 miles, sky clear, temperature 68°F, dew point 46°F, and altimeter setting 30.32 inches of mercury.

The private pilot received standard weather briefings from ForeFlight for each leg of the trip. The final leg was planned for a cruise altitude of 12,500 feet and a cruise speed of 135 knots.

Calculations of the above meteorological data for the accident flight revealed that the density altitude was about 11,200 feet near the accident location.


Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane impacted trees and mountainous terrain about 12 miles southeast of SBS at an elevation of 9,100 feet above mean sea level (msl). The initial point of impact was identified by a pair of damaged tree tops on the edge of an open grassy field on the mountainside. A 120 yard path with several damaged trees was identified on a heading of 240 degrees. A large impact crater was noted 105 yards from the initial tree strike. The fuselage came to rest 15 yards southwest of the impact crater on its right side and was oriented on a heading of 350 degrees.

The left and right wings separated from the fuselage and came to rest in the debris path. The outboard section of the left wing was separated near the initial tree strike. The leading edge contained two distinct leading edge circular impact impressions. The left aileron had separated near mid span. The inboard section of the left wing was found 75 yards through the debris path and exhibited signs of thermal damage; the respective landing gear remained attached to the wing and was fully extended.

The outboard section of the right wing was also found near the initial tree strike and contained a large leading edge circular impact impression. The inboard section was found separated from the fuselage and near the initial tree impact area. The landing gear remained attached to the wing and was extended about 45 degrees.

The top of the fuselage was fractured near the cockpit; the first responders further opened the top of the fuselage to allow access during rescue operations. The empennage remained partially attached to the rear fuselage. The stabilator was twisted and bent upward 90 degrees. The vertical stabilizer and rudder were deformed and fractured near the rear fuselage.

The engine and propeller remained partially attached to and situated under the fuselage. The propeller nose cone was oriented on a heading of 180 degrees.

A postaccident examination of the wreckage was completed by the NTSB investigator-in-charge and a representative from Lycoming Engines, at Beegles Aircraft Service, Greeley, Colorado on October 15, 2014. The examination revealed the following:

The engine was separated from the firewall and hung from an engine hoist for the examination. The propeller was removed and the blades were labeled Blade A and Blade B for identification purposes only. Blade A was bent slightly aft with minor leading edge damage. Blade B was bent 90 degrees aft with leading edge damage, the blade tip was twisted and a portion was missing from the trailing edge. The fuel pump, vacuum pump, magnetos, valve covers and top spark plugs were removed. The spark plugs appeared normal as compared to the Champion Aviation Check-a-Plug Chart AV-27. The crankshaft was rotated by hand and suction and compression was established on all cylinders. Engine drive train continuity was established throughout. The cylinders were examined with a lighted borescope and no anomalies were noted. Engine control continuity was confirmed throughout. The left magneto was rotated by hand and produced a spark at each lead. The right magneto was rotated by hand and no spark was observed from any lead. The magneto was disassembled and no visual damage was observed. The right magneto was sent to Continental Motors' analytical department for examination and a bench test. The magneto was reassembled and the contact points were cleaned. With a slave harness attached the magneto produced a spark at each lead. The magneto wobbled slightly during the test; the discrepancy was attributed to impact damage. The oil pick up screen was found free of contamination. The fuel servo exhibited no signs of visual damage. The fuel servo brass plug was found tight and secured. The fuel inlet screen was found clear of contaminants. The fuel flow divider was found clear of contaminants and the diaphragm was intact and in good condition. The fuel injectors were found clear unobstructed. The engine driven fuel pump discharged fuel when operated by hand. The examination revealed no evidence of any pre-impact engine anomalies.

The rudder and stabilator control cables were cut near the cockpit area during the on scene recovery. The rudder cable was found pulled from the rear ball end and was continuous to the cockpit area. The rudder cable was continuous from the rudder pedal attach points to the cockpit area. The stabilator control cable was continuous from the flight controls to the cockpit area and also continuous from the cockpit to the stabilator attach points. The stabilator trim cable was separated and exhibited signs of tension overload. The stabilator pitch trim setting was found near neutral. The left aileron control cable was found wrapped around a tree about 50 feet high and exhibited signs of tension overload. The left aileron bellcrank was pulled through the wing skin and remained attached to the control cable. The right aileron control cable was separated outboard of the fuselage and exhibited signs of tension overload. The right aileron bellcrank remained attached to the right aileron control cable inside the wing. The flap chain and associated control cables were found loose in the wreckage and the cables exhibited signs of tension overload.

The cockpit instrument panel remained attached in the cockpit and the primary flight instruments appeared in good condition. The airspeed indicator read 0 knots. The altimeter's Kollsman window indicated a setting of 30.32. The clock stopped at 1159.

The throttle lever was found near mid-range. The mixture and propeller levers were found full aft. The left control yoke remained intact and was rotated about 90 degrees to the right. The right control yoke was bent downward at the firewall and the handle was rotated about 90 degrees to the right. The landing gear lever was found in the down position and locked by the detent. This airplane was not equipped with the automatic landing gear extension feature. The following switches were found in the ON position: master switch, fuel pump, landing light and beacon. The pitot heat was OFF. The circuit breakers were all in and secured; the auto pilot circuit breaker was labeled INOP.


An autopsy was performed on the instructor pilot by the forensic pathology consultant of Routt County, Colorado, on August 10, 2014. The cause of death was blunt force injuries. The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute completed a Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report which revealed no significant findings. The instructor pilot sustained distinct injuries to both hands.

An autopsy was performed on the pilot receiving instruction by the forensic pathology consultant of Routt County, Colorado, on August 10, 2014. The cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries and the manner of death was an accident. The FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute completed a Final Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report which revealed no significant findings. The private pilot sustained distinct injuries to one hand.


Electronic Devices Onboard

The following electronic devices were found in the wreckage and sent to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory, Washington, DC for examination and download.

A Garmin GNS 530, s/n: 78412859, which sustained major impact damage. External power was applied and the device did not respond. No data was recovered from the device.

An Apple iPad Mini (1), s/n: DLXLV31PFLMP, which sustained major impact damage. The internal circuit board was removed and cleaned. The circuit board was placed in a surrogate iPad mini. Several attempts to power the surrogate unit with the accident circuit board were unsuccessful. No data was recovered from the device.

An Apple iPad Mini (2), s/n: F4KLV34SFLMN, which sustained major impact damage with noticeable bending throughout the device. An interior examination revealed the circuit board containing the device's memory had sustained deformation from flexure damage. Due to the impact damage, no recovery could be attempted and no data was recovered from the device.

A Go Pro Hero 3, s/n: unknown, which received minimal impact damage. The internal micro SD card containing the device's image data was located and removed. Two picture files were located and dated after the accident date and time; the pictures were determined to be from responders to the accident scene. No data pertinent to the investigation was found.

Density Altitude

According to an FAA safety document, FAA-P-8740-2 – AFS-8 (2008), density altitude is pressure altitude corrected for nonstandard temperature variations. A high density altitude means that air density is reduced, which has an adverse impact on aircraft performance. Altitude, temperature and humidity are factors that contribute to a high density altitude. An increase in density altitude can result in increased takeoff distance and a reduced rate of climb.

Mountain Flying

A Colorado Mountain Flying document was recovered from the wreckage and revealed the following information.

The Do's of Mountain Flying: Consult POH for takeoff, climb and ceiling capabilities of the aircraft before flown. When calculated climb rates are less than 200 feet/NM, do not depart. A high density altitude may prevent you from reaching the altitude listed in the POH as the service ceiling.


Plan to cross all passes and terrain with a minimum 1,000 foot clearance. Know these elevations and use the altimeter – DO NOT GUESS. Monitor the rate of climb when climbing across terrain; shuttle climb if necessary. Cross all passes at a 45 degree angle so a turn toward lower terrain can be accomplished with 90 to 120 degrees of turning (Escape Maneuver). Reach pass crossing altitude (1,000 feet above pass terrain) 3 miles before reaching the pass.

Climb Performance

According to the airplane's pilot operating handbook (POH), at a density altitude of 11,200 feet with the landing gear and flaps retracted, the pilot could have expected a climb rate of 175-200 feet per minute. Based on the mountain flying information above and the airplane groundspeed speed of 90 knots, the required rate of climb would have been 300 feet per minute.