Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Aircraft narrowly lead fatalities list in wildland fire study




Retardant bombers and helitack teams might be safer if they talked more with the wildland firefighters they’re defending on the ground, according to a new study by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Aircraft accidents are the leading cause of death in forest fires by a slight margin, the study found. The category accounted for 26 percent of fatalities between 2000 and 2013.

Tied for second place were vehicle incidents (including rollovers and being hit by a vehicle) at 23 percent, and medical events such as heart attacks at 23 percent. The fourth leading cause was burn-overs or entrapment by the forest fire itself, at 15 percent.

“One thing we would encourage is more communication with people on the ground,” said Mary O’Connell, one of the lead authors of the study. “Tragically in aviation, the aviation component of a firefighting group communicates mainly amongst itself. We encourage expanding the definition of crew to not just the cockpit or tower, so we’re drawing in help from all areas that the pilots might not be aware of otherwise.”

O’Connell said ground firefighters on the scene might provide better advice on how winds shift around a water-dipping pond or obstructions at a landing zone.

“Firefighting always involves a diverse group of agencies, and sometimes that group isn’t totally united,” O’Connell said. “You haven’t trained together, so you’re not a well-oiled machine. That requires more attention paid to activities and operations.”

Dan Snyder of Missoula-based Neptune Aviation has seen a preliminary version of the study. He said it reinforces an effort the wildfire aviation industry has been working on for several years.

“More communication never hurts – that’s always true,” Snyder said. “The biggest thing in aerial firefighting now is the Safety Management System, or SMS, that’s come along in the last five years.”

SMS is a method of reviewing an entire organization, government or private, for how each activity affects safety.

“It takes in everything from executive management to pilot decisions in the cockpit,” Snyder said. “It puts everything through a risk analysis centered around the idea of safety.”

To get their statistics for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health report, O’Connell and co-researcher Corey Butler gleaned several different state and federal data sets of workplace injuries and fatalities.

They also expanded some categories to better classify deaths that show up in one set but not another.

In the case of aviation-related fatalities, they combined aircraft crash incidents with deaths of smokejumpers or helitack firefighters, whose planes may not have had any reportable problems.

The study looked at 298 wildland firefighter fatalities over the 13-year period. They found 41 aviation-related events that killed 78 people. About a quarter of those involved some kind of mechanical failure in the aircraft, while another quarter was attributed to the pilot’s loss of control.

Private contractors employed 42 of the 78 aviation victims, followed by the federal government (15), state agencies (10), ground contractors (7) and the military (4).

California was the site of a quarter of the deaths, with eight occurring in Nevada and seven in Idaho.

The study was limited by several factors. The authors said they weren’t able to reliably gather information on aviation deaths that might have occurred on training missions, maintenance or transit to or from a fire.

They also had difficulty determining the total population of wildland firefighters, because of the variety of local fire departments, prison inmate crews and interrelated state agencies that all provide help at a forest fire.

And perhaps most critically, they found it hard to devise a good measuring stick to see what trends might flow from their statistics.

For example, they found the number of aviation-related fatalities was higher between 2000 and 2006 (28) than 2007 and 2013 (13), but that straddles a period when the federal government briefly grounded most of its large air tankers after a series of fatal crashes in 2004.

Just over half the incidents involved airplanes, with helicopters making up 45 percent. Causes ranged from engine failure to midair collision to failure of rappelling gear in a helitack mission.

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

Likely dead, pilot Wallace Thrasher won't be prosecuted on '80s drug charge, feds say




Thirty years after accusing a Bland County pilot of flying illegal drugs into Southwest Virginia, prosecutors have dropped all charges against Wallace S. Thrasher.

U.S. Attorney Anthony Giorno, citing unspecified evidence that Thrasher is dead, notified the court of its intention to end the case last week.

U.S. District Judge Glen Conrad signed the dismissal order Monday. That will likely be the last entry in the case, which was opened on Feb. 28, 1985, to call Thrasher to account for an alleged drug conspiracy.

Authorities have said Thrasher flew marijuana from Belize to the United States during the 1980s. Court papers filed in Florida years ago said he died in a plane crash in Belize on Nov. 4, 1985, but some federal authorities in Roanoke suspected he survived. While calling him a fugitive, they stayed ready to prosecute should he surface.

In the meantime, Thrasher’s disappearance helped lead to one of the nation’s most successful drug investigations, culminating in the 1986 conviction of Gerardo Caballero, the son-in-law of Roberto Suarez, Bolivia’s one-time “King of Cocaine.”

Shortly before the crash in Belize, a plane owned by Thrasher crashed in Carroll County, leaving one man dead and scattering 570 pounds of marijuana over Fancy Gap Mountain, according to news reports in The Roanoke Times.

In Roanoke, authorities upgraded their criminal complaint naming Thrasher in Roanoke federal court to an indictment in 1987. But the case never went to court because authorities did not have Thrasher.

The decision to now end the case did not spring from any new information or recent event, but a routine open-case review, said Brian McGinn, spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.

“Despite exhaustive efforts by the United States Marshal and other state and federal law enforcement agencies, Thrasher has not been located or arrested and he remains a fugitive. The available evidence suggests that Thrasher is deceased,” Giorno wrote.

Even if Thrasher is alive, he would be difficult to convict because witnesses would not be available and too much time has gone by, Giorno said.

Source:  http://www.roanoke.com

ROANOKE, Va. -  A known drug smuggler from southwest Virginia had a federal indictment from the late 80s dropped Monday. The reason why? The feds now officially say they think he's dead.

In 1984, a plane owned by Wallace Thrasher crashed in Carroll County. On board were a dead pilot and hundreds of pounds of marijuana. A drug ring was broken up by the U.S. Attorney's Office in Roanoke and even a drug lord from South America was convicted. But Thrasher was never found. He was charged in 1985 after investigators tied the plane to Thrasher. He was indicted in 1987 when it was thought he still might be alive.

On July 27, U.S. Attorney Anthony Giorno filed a motion to dismiss a smuggling charge, saying he now believes Thrasher is dead. Monday, a district judge signed the order without definitive proof of what ever happened to him.

"Even if Thrasher is not deceased, the passage of time and unavailability of witnesses would make it difficult to prosecute the case effectively," Giorno wrote in his filing.

"Upon review of my filed motion, there really is nothing I can add by way of public comment," Giorno responded to an email seeking additional information. "Much as I would like to discuss this matter, I don't have anything to say publicly beyond the language in the motion."

In 2000, former WDBJ7 Anchor Keith Humphry filed a report on the Thrasher saga that centered around his wife, Olga, his lawyers (some who went to prison themselves,) and even a farm in Bath County that was the drop-off site of many plane loads of pot and cocaine.

Source:  http://www.wdbj7.com

NTSB Identification: ATL85FA011
The docket is stored on NTSB microfiche number 26913.
Accident occurred Wednesday, October 17, 1984 in FANCY GAP, VA
Aircraft: Beech QU-22A 1074, registration: N83475
Injuries: 1 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.

AT ABOUT THE 2,800 FT LEVEL THE ACFT FLEW INTO THE MOUNTAINOUS TERRAIN WHICH WAS OBSCURED BY CLOUDS. WITNESSES OBSERVED 2 PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS TO FLY OVER THE RISING TERRAIN UNDER THE CLOUD LAYER. DEPARTURE AND DEST ARPT, PLT IDENTITY, AND ACFT OWNER ARE ALL UNKNOWN. LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ESTIMATE THAT APRX 1,000 LBS OF MARIJUANA WERE ABOARD THE ACFT. MOST OF THE WRECKAGE WAS DESTROYED BY POST CRASH FIRE. THE ACFT WAS ORIGINALLY MANUFACTURED AS A DRONE FOR THE U.S. ARMY. IT WAS SIMILAR TO A BEECH DEBONAIR, A TOTAL OF 12 WERE BUILT.

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

FLIGHT INTO KNOWN ADVERSE WEATHER..ATTEMPTED..PILOT IN COMMAND 
SELF-INDUCED PRESSURE..PILOT IN COMMAND 
WEATHER CONDITION..CLOUDS 

Contributing Factors:
TERRAIN CONDITION..MOUNTAINOUS/HILLY 

Pilot who flew ‘cheaters’ banner was asked to leave Mansfield Municipal Airport (1B9), Massachusetts

The pilot who towed an aerial banner over Gillette Stadium last week that taunted Patriots players and fans about the “Deflategate” controversy says he was kicked off a local airport’s property following the aerial stunt.

But airport staff said that the request to leave the airfield was merely made in jest.

Ashley Chalmers, owner of Jersey Shore Aerial Advertising, said he was paid by a group of New York Jets fans to tow the banner over the Foxborough stadium on the first day of training camp. The banner read, “Cheaters Look Up!” It was signed by @jetsfanmedia.

After circling the stadium, Chalmers landed his plane at the Mansfield Municipal Airport, which is 10 miles from Gillette. While he was packing up the banner and getting ready to fly back to his company’s headquarters in New Jersey, a worker at the airport drove up to Chalmers and told him he should leave the grounds immediately.

“He said to me, ‘Leave now, and don’t come back,’” Chalmers said. “I thought it was comical. I thought he was joking at first.”

But then, Chalmers said, he realized there was a serious tone in the man’s voice.

“The guy was mad,” Chalmers said. “But I don’t know how much weight that holds.”

Kelley Dinneen, president of King Aviation Mansfield, which manages the airport for the town, confirmed that Chalmers was asked to leave once he touched down.

But she said the statement was made “tongue in cheek.”

“I do know that he was told to pack up and get rolling,” said Dinneen, adding that the airport was expecting additional planes to land, and they needed to make room on the runway. “But it wasn’t in a mean way.”

Dinneen said she was upset about the content of the message that Chalmers had attached to his plane.

She said “Cheaters Look Up!” was a form of bullying, and Chalmers’s company allegedly lied to airport workers before he flew from New Jersey into Mansfield, where he hooked the banner to his plane before taking off for his mission.

“We asked him what he was towing. When it was asked, the person on the phone said it wouldn’t be anything against the Patriots,” she said. “It is a little annoying that we were lied to. If we knew what the banner was ahead of time, we would have said find another airport.”

She called the banner — and the Jets fans who paid for it — childish.

“They should be focused on the positive aspects of the game, not negativity,” she said.

Dinneen said her attitude toward the banner’s content isn’t limited to anti-Patriots messages.

“That’s for anybody” who wants to display something negative, she said. “It’s just not appropriate. It’s supposed to be a fun thing.”

Chalmers insisted he did not lie to airport workers, but he also said the airport “can’t regulate me for the content of a banner ... and they can’t censor me.”

Chalmers said he wants Patriots fans to remember one thing: Don’t shoot the messenger, he was only doing his job.

“I’m just an advertising company. I’m not a sports guy, so I don’t really get it when people get so passionate and pissed off. I couldn’t be any more neutral,” Chalmers said.

Story and photo:  https://www.bostonglobe.com


Monday, August 3, 2015

Incident occured August 02, 2015 near Cross Keys Airport (17N), Gloucester County, New Jersey



An aircraft traveling over South Jersey Sunday afternoon was forced to make a sharp turn to avoid a drone in the air, the Federal Aviation Administration said.


According to Federal Aviation Administration officials, the pilot of a Piper PA28 aircraft spotted an Unmanned Aircraft System, or drone, in the air in Washington Township, northwest of the Sewell.

The pilot reported to the  Federal Aviation Administration that he was forced to make an evasive turn to avoid hitting the drone.

The aircraft was flying approximately 1000 feet in the air.

There were no reports of any injuries.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the incident.

Story, video and comments: http://www.nbcphiladelphia.com

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Cessna R182 Skylane RG, N1685R: Accident occurred August 01, 2015 near Watertown Municipal Airport (KRYN), Wisconsin

DONALD S. PRUSINSKI: http://registry.faa.gov/N1685R 

NTSB Identification: CEN15LA333 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 01, 2015 in Watertown, WI
Aircraft: CESSNA 182, registration: N1685R
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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

On August 1, 2015, about 1745 central daylight time, a Cessna 182 airplane, N1685R lost engine power shortly after departing the Watertown Municipal Airport (KRYN), Watertown, Wisconsin. The airplane impacted trees and was substantially damaged. The private rated pilot was seriously injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time.

The responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspectors reported that the pilot was doing touch-and-goes. The engine lost power and the airplane impacted trees and terrain about a mile southeast of the airport. The inspectors reported that the airplane sustained damage with the empennage separated from the fuselage, heavy damage to the right wing and fuselage. After an initial documentation of the wreckage, the airplane was transported to an airport hangar for further examination.


Date: 01-AUG-15
Time: 21:48:00Z
Regis#: N1685R
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 182
Event Type: Incident
Highest Injury: Minor
Damage: Minor
City: WATERTOWN
State: Wisconsin
Country: United States
Activity: Personal
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
Operation: 91
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Milwaukee FSDO-13

AIRCRAFT CRASHED UNDER UNKNOWN CIRCUMSTANCES, WATERTOWN, WI.

WATERTOWN — Officials with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department and the Watertown Fire Department tell FOX6 News a single-engine plane crashed on Saturday evening, August 1st, and one man was injured.

The crash occurred in a wooded area south of Watertown (near Beryl Drive) shortly before 6:00 p.m.

The man who was injured was taken to Watertown Regional Hospital.

An initial investigation has revealed a 1978 single-engine Cessna was approaching the Watertown Airport for landing. The plane lost engine power and crashed through some trees — coming to rest on private property.

The plane’s pilot received only minor injuries.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by the FAA and NTSB.

Jim Davis: Pilot offers flights of hope for cancer patients

Jim Davis
~


Jim Davis comes from a small town in Arkansas and flies a small plane he built from a kit. But the man with a big heart is on a mission to offer hope and encouragement for cancer patients all across the country while taking them on a free ride in his aircraft.

On Saturday, Davis touched down at the St. George Regional Airport in his experimental plane to offer a free ride to a local cancer survivor — Dixie State University art professor Glen Blakley. The Utah stop was the 37th state Davis has visited and he says he’s not finished yet, even though the 74-year-old pilot was diagnosed in December with probable stage 4 cancer.

“I went in for my semiannual CT scan. They found a spot on my liver, one on my lymph node and a new one on my lung,” the four-time cancer survivor said.

The doctor told Davis the cancer had probably already spread and that he shouldn’t expect to live much longer – maybe nine months.

“So, I did a lot of praying. … I began to think about all the things I hadn’t done and how I was going to cram them all in in nine months time. One thing I’d always wanted to do was fly my little plane all around the United States,” Davis said.

After visiting the Eastern states and returning home for a new CT scan, he learned the spots on his liver, lymph node and lung were gone.

“So I praised the Lord and continued my journey,” he said.

That journey has included coordination with other members of the Experimental Aircraft Association across the country to connect Davis with patients whom he hopes to show that “there’s life after cancer.”

“I think this is why (the Lord) has kept me around — so I can encourage people,” Davis said. “So many times, the doctor says, ‘OK, … you’ve got cancer.’ People become depressed. Sometimes they sit down, shut down, and just sit there and wait to die. Wrong! I got motivated when I thought I was going to die.”

He also said he tries to alert people to the need to have regular doctor’s exams so that they don’t discover cancers too late to effectively treat them.

Davis is under no illusions about cheating death forever, and at age 74 he figures his time will probably come sooner than later. And the former smoker accepts personal responsibility for the lip and lung cancers that have troubled him in the past. But maintaining a positive attitude has helped strengthen his immune system, he says.

“In the meantime, I try to live every day to its fullest,” he said.

In Louisiana, Davis flew with a man who has incurable pancreatic cancer. He was happy to learn in an email last month that the man is “still alive.” In Mississippi, his passenger was a 14-year-old “beautiful young lady” who was weak after completing a round of chemotherapy the day before.

“By the time we landed she had a smile on her face from ear to ear and she gave me a big hug,” he said.

The rides don’t include any adventurous acrobatics, and Davis is careful not to take risks in inclement weather. The Southwest’s monsoon weather has set him back three days on his itinerary, he said.

Davis' flight plans with Blakley were cut short when wind at the airport picked up -- "the wind sock was standing straight out," he said. But he had a nice tour of the town with Blakley, and an offer to resume the ride Sunday morning is still on the table if it doesn't conflict with Blakley's church schedule, he said.

“(My plane) is not a speed demon,” Davis said. “I just wanted something I could land in a football field and walk away from.”

After offering a ride to a cancer patient in Kingman, Arizona, Davis crossed the Grand Canyon on Saturday and met his contact in St. George — Jennifer Carroll, who is president of the local EAA chapter with her husband Pat, a SkyWest pilot.

Carroll said they learned about Davis when he sent them a couple of newspaper articles and a letter explaining his efforts to help cancer patients. Carroll coordinated the details between Davis and Blakley, a two-time survivor, and ensured Davis would have a place to stay the night.

Next, Davis is headed to Pahrump, Nevada and then to California as the next stops on his Western states swing. He was disappointed, he said, that he didn’t have a way to get his plane to Hawaii. And he didn’t know if his plane would be legal over Canadian airspace if he tried to fly to Alaska, but he has upcoming stops arranged in Idaho, Montana, the Dakotas and elsewhere.

Along the way, he’s received some donations – in Kingman, his hotel comped his room, he said, and the airport provided him with lunch. A few club chapters have provided financial help, but other than that he’s left to rely on his savings.

Does he have enough saved to complete the rest of his journey?

“Either that, or I know my banker’s phone number,” he said.

For information

Visit Davis' blog: flyinggeminpurplepassion.blogspot.com

Source:  http://www.thespectrum.com


Four-time cancer survivor Jim Davis, an Arkansas pilot, poses with his home-built plane Saturday at the St. George Regional Airport. Davis is making it his mission to visit every state in the continental U.S. and offer free flights to cancer patients to help encourage them as they fight their illnesses.


Pilot Jim Davis, left, and Jennifer Carroll discuss preparations for Davis to fly with cancer survivor Glen Blakley on Saturday at the St. George Regional Airport.

Cessna T337G Super Skymaster, N4CU: Fatal accident occurred August 01, 2015 in Santa Paula, California

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms


The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:  
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office;  Van Nuys, California 
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas

Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama 

NTSB Identification: WPR15FA227 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 01, 2015 in Santa Paula, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/29/2016
Aircraft: CESSNA P337G, registration: N4CU
Injuries: 1 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 noninstrument-rated commercial pilot departed for the cross-country flight over mountainous terrain in instrument meteorological conditions. A witness observed the airplane take off from runway 22, disappear into an overcast layer at 300 ft above ground level (about 550 ft mean sea level [msl]), and then reappear heading in the opposite direction. The witness reported that the airplane departed the traffic pattern heading northeast. The wreckage was located in mountainous terrain at an elevation of 1,223 ft msl, 2.8 mi east of the departure airport. Meteorological data indicated that, at the time of the accident, a cloud layer extended over the accident site from about 550 ft msl to about 2,100 ft msl, and, at the elevation of the accident site, the terrain would have been obscured by clouds. Examination of the wreckage did not reveal evidence of any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airframe or engine. The orientation of the wreckage indicated that, at impact, the airplane was heading south and traveling at a ground speed consistent with normal traffic pattern speeds. The damage to the airplane was consistent with controlled flight into the terrain, and the airplane's impact heading was consistent with the pilot attempting to return to the airport when the airplane collided with the rising terrain.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The noninstrument-rated pilot's decision to conduct a visual flight in instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in controlled flight into mountainous terrain.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On August 1, 2015, about 0905 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna P337G, N4CU, impacted mountainous terrain about 2.8 miles east of Santa Paula Airport, Santa Paula, California. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to the pilot and operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight and no flight plan had been filed. The flight originated at Santa Paula Airport and was destined for California City, California.

Airplane wreckage was located by California Resources Corporation employee who was working at the South Mountain Booster Plant. He located the wreckage about 1400 PDT on August 1. A witness reported seeing the airplane takeoff at 0902 from runway 22 at Santa Paula Airport. The airplane disappeared into a 300 foot above ground level (agl) overcast then reemerged after turning 180 degrees on a close downwind to the runway. It then departed on the downwind to the east.

The wreckage was located on the north side of South Mountain on a 40 degree slope populated with scrub trees at an elevation of 1,223 feet mean sea level (msl), 2.8 miles east of the departure airport. The initial point of impact was the left wingtip identified by wingtip fairing fragments and topped-off small trees/brush next to the main impact ground scar. Contained within the ground scar was the landing gear door. Clipped brush and ground scar evidence is consistent with a level attitude at time of impact. The airplane traveled upslope 20-30 feet beyond the initial impact point, along a 205° magnetic bearing direction.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 82, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and sea, and multiengine land issued June 11, 1995. He held a third-class medical certificate issued February 1, 2008, with the limitation that he must have glasses available for near vision. Additionally the pilot held a mechanic airframe and powerplant certificate, issued on August 7, 2008. The pilot's logbook was not located for examination. On the pilot's February 1, 2008, application for his medical certificate he reported total flight time of 3,290 hours.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The six-seat, high-wing, twin engine, retractable landing gear airplane, serial number P3370065, was manufactured in 1973. It was powered by a Rolls Royce TSIO-360D in the front, and a Continental Motors TSIO-360C(5B) in the rear, both capable of producing 225 horsepower. Both engines were equipped with McCaulley constant speed, two bladed, propellers. A review of the airplane's maintenance logbooks showed that an annual inspection was performed on July 31, 2014. At the time of the inspection the documented total time on the airframe was 2,246.7 hours. The front engine logbook documented that a 100 hour inspection had been completed on July 31, 2015, time since overhaul (TSOH) of 921.7 hours. The rear engine logbook showed that a 100 hour inspection had been completed on July 31, 2015, at 1,403.0 hours TSOH. Both engine inspections were signed by the pilot, who held a mechanic airframe and powerplant certificate. Family members of the pilot stated that the intention of the flight was to travel to California City, California, where a mechanic was going to finish the annual inspection.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The nearest weather reporting station was Camarillo Airport, located about 10 miles southwest of the accident site. At 0855 the automatic surface observation system (ASOS) recorded calm wind, 5 statute mile visibility in haze, a 700 foot agl overcast, temperature was 21 degrees Celsius, the dew point was 18 degrees Celsius, and the atmospheric pressure was 29.99 inches of mercury. The GOES-15 satellite visible image at 0900 depicts an area of low stratiform clouds and/or fog over the accident site and the departure airport, and generally hugging the California coastal sections. The San Diego upper air sounding plot supports cloud or stratus layer with tops to only 2,000 feet agl with a defined temperature inversion from 2,000 to 4,000 feet, stable atmosphere and light winds. The radiative cloud top temperature over the accident site was 292° Kelvin or 18.8° Celsius (C), which corresponded to cloud tops at 2,152 ft msl.

WRECKAGE & IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located on a 40° slope upright with the wings and tail sections intact, on a 137° magnetic bearing, and 20-30 foot ground scar oriented along 205°. The wings had separated at the wing roots but remained next to their approximate location along the fuselage. The forward firewall was displaced aft into the cockpit instrument panel and the cockpit floor was displaced upward into the cabin. The left tail boom remained attached to the left wing and extended aft. The stabilizer and elevator remained attached to the tail booms. Both vertical fins and rudders remained attached to the tailbooms. The forward engine was displaced down and to the left, the propeller had separated from the crank shaft behind the propeller flange. The aft engine remained attached to the aft engine mount and was displaced to the right. The propeller remained attached to the engine.

All flight control surfaces were present, and the flight control cables were traced and found continuous. Fuel was confirmed present in the left wing fuel tank and in each of the engine distribution valves. Both engine crankshafts were rotated manually and thumb compression achieved on all cylinders. Both propellers exhibited leading edge damage and blade tip damage consistent with power application.

MEDICAL & PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Ventura County Medical Examiner-Coroner, Ventura, California, on August 3, 2015. The cause of death was listed as "blunt force trauma."

The Federal Aviation Administration's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI), Forensic Toxicology Research Team performed toxicology on specimens from the pilot with negative results for ethanol and listed drugs. Tests for carbon monoxide and cyanide was not performed.



NTSB Identification: WPR15FA227
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 01, 2015 in Santa Paula, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA P337 -G, registration: N4CU
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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

On August 1, 2015, about 0905 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna P337G, N4CU, impacted mountainous terrain about 3 miles east of Santa Paula Airport, Santa Paula, California. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to the pilot and operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight and no flight plan had been filed. The flight originated at Santa Paula Airport and was destined for California City, California.

Airplane wreckage was located by California Resources Corporation employee who was working at the South Mountain Booster Plant. He located the wreckage about 1400 PDT on Saturday, August 1. A witness reported seeing the airplane takeoff at 0902 from runway 22 at Santa Paula Airport. The airplane disappeared into a 300 foot above ground level (agl) overcast then reemerged, after turning 180 degrees, on a close downwind to the runway. It then departed on the downwind to the east. 

The wreckage was located on the north side of South Mountain on a 40 degree slope populated with scrub trees at an elevation of 1,223 feet mean sea level (msl). The initial point of impact was the left wingtip identified by wingtip fairing fragments and topped-off small trees/brush next to the main impact ground scar. Contained within the ground scar was the landing gear door. Clipped brush and ground scar evidence is consistent with a level attitude at time of impact. The airplane traveled upslope 20-30 feet beyond the initial impact point, along a 205° magnetic bearing direction.

The nearest weather reporting station was Camarillo Airport, located about 10 miles southwest of the accident site. At 0855 the automatic surface observation system (ASOS) recorded calm wind, 5 statute mile visibility in haze, a 700 foot agl overcast, temperature was 21 degrees Celsius, the dew point was 18 degrees Celsius, and the atmospheric pressure was 29.99 inches of mercury. The GOES-15 satellite visible image at 0900 PDT (1600Z) depicts an area of low stratiform clouds and/or fog over the accident site and the departure airport, and generally hugging the California coastal sections. The San Diego upper air sounding plot supports cloud or stratus layer with tops to only 2,000 feet agl with a defined temperature inversion from 2,000 to 4,000 feet, stable atmosphere and light winds. The radiative cloud top temperature over the accident site was 292° Kelvin or 18.8° Celsius (C), which corresponded to cloud tops at 2,152 ft msl.






SANTA PAULA (CBSLA.com) — Officials said the wreckage of a small twin-engine plane that is believed to have crashed days ago has been found in a remote part of Santa Paula. 

The wreckage was found reportedly by a passerby around 3 p.m. Saturday near Loftus Canyon Road and Morgan Canyon Road.

Authorities said the pilot was found dead. There were no passengers on board.

The wreckage of the Cessna 337 was found in a mountainous area about four miles from the Santa Paula Airport.

CBS2’s Laurie Perez said the victim has been identified as a senior who lived in Ojai with his wife.

The man’s wife said he went out for a quick flight this morning but never returned home.

Locals said the man took the plane out hundreds of times without incident.

No witnesses saw the crash.

The plane came down in a remote area that is difficult to access, Perez reported. A maintenance man spotted the wreckage.

“He thought perhaps it was a car that went over the side and upon further investigation he realized it was an aircraft and called 911,” said Capt. John Harber with the Santa Paula Police Department.

“We went over the side to investigate and found one adult male who was deceased,” said Harber.

The fire captain believes early-morning fog might have hidden the crash from public view.

Michael Jewett saw the pilot just yesterday. He identified the man as Jim Breeding.

“I saw his airplane taxi out and get prepared for flight in the afternoon,” said Jewett.

Jan Breeding says her husband owned the plane for years and had been flying since he was 16-years-old.

She said aviation was his lifelong hobby and passion. She said her husband left around 8:30 this morning to meet friends in the sky.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the cause of the crash.

Breeding was 82 years old.

The FAA’s mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots is 65; however, that limit does not apply to private pilots.

SANTA PAULA, Calif. - An 82-year-old man has been identified as the person who died Saturday in a plane that crashed in the oil fields near Santa Paula. 

Ventura County Supervising Deputy Medical Examiner James Baroni said the person who died was James “Jim” Breeding of Ojai. An autopsy is planned for Monday, Baroni said.

Breeding was the sole occupant of the downed aircraft, which was reported at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday by a passer-by who spotted the wreckage of the twin-engine Cessna 337 on the side of a hill, roughly four miles southeast of the Santa Paula Airport, near Loftus Canyon Road and Morgan Canyon Road.

Sheriff’s Capt. Romano Bassi said the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the incident.

NTSB investigators were still working at the site Sunday morning, according to the sheriff’s department. A spokesperson for the NTSB could not immediately be reached for comment.

Breeding was trying to sell the plane, advertising it last month for sale online with an asking price of $89,500. He marketed it as a “Hangared California Plane last 25 years” with “near new tires, brakes and battery. Very good windows and interior.”

Information from the FAA shows the plane has been registered to Breeding since 2008, however the registration expired on July 31. The six-seat plane was manufactured in 1972 and declared airworthy in February 1973. Breeding’s FAA registration listed his address as a P.O. Box in Talkeetna, Alaska.

One person was reported dead after a downed airplane was found in the mountains near Santa Paula, the Ventura County Fire Department said. 


The downed aircraft was reported about 2:30 p.m. near Loftus Canyon Road and Morgan Canyon Road. A helicopter with the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office reported an aircraft on the side of the hill. Officials said the sole occupant of the plane was dead. 

Crews on the scene reported that aircraft may have been down for a couple of days. 

According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the tail number of the plane indicated it was a Cessna T337G plane that was registered out of Talkeetna, Alaska. 

A person by the owner’s name and business name listed for the aircraft, however, had listed a Cessna P337G plane for sale for $89,500 in the past month, giving the same tail number for the plane as the one that crashed and indicating that he was in Santa Paula. He’d listed the plane as a “Hangared California Plane last 25 years” with “Near new Tires, Brakes & battery. Very good windows & interior.”

Information from the Federal Aviation Administration showed the plane was manufactured in 1972 and declared airworthy in February 1973. It had six seats, according to records.

The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office was requested to investigate the crash and the National Transportation Safety Board was notified of the incident, officials said. 

A coroner with the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office was called to the scene. The Ventura County and Santa Paula fire departments were also on the scene.

False alarm: Recycled device has Civil Air Patrol scrambling

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) — Volunteers at the Michigan Civil Air Patrol are standing down after a distress signal that bounced off a satellite turned out to be a false alarm.

Maj. Robert Bowden says an emergency beacon was detected in the Ypsilanti area, meaning a possible boater in distress. Instead, four Civil Air Patrol members followed the signal to a house Saturday.

Bowden says a man who lives there had found the beacon at a recycling center and took it home. He didn't know it was sending a signal. It's about the size of a water bottle.

Bowden says the Civil Air Patrol volunteers arrived by van or SUV, but a flight crew was standing by if needed. He suggests people disconnect the batteries if they're getting rid of old emergency locator devices.

Our View: Smyrna Airport (KMQY) continues to aid county economy

Recently Fort Campbell faced the possibility of further troop cuts, and a sigh of relief resulted when the proposed cuts were far fewer than expected — only 353 rather than the feared worst-case number of 16,000.

That anxiety was a reminder of fears that came with the closing of Sewart Air Force Base in Smyrna in 1971, but 45 years later, the former military facility is not only continuing to contribute to the economic well-being of the county but is working to increase that important role.

Rutherford County and Smyrna have worked together since 1971 to make the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport a center for economic development as well as a center for aviation.

Smyrna now is the site of the busiest and third-largest general-aviation airport in the state, and economic-development officials extol its role in serving existing industries and providing an incentive for new businesses to locate in the county.

A ceremony last week recognized those efforts as work continues on two new hangars and an adjacent office building. Also on the site are hundreds of acres of land ready with utilities for location of new businesses.

Rutherford County, Smyrna, the county Industrial Development Board and the Federal Aviation Administration have made a substantial investment in this effort to increase the role of the former Air Force base site in the county’s economy.

We congratulate those who have pushed to expand the facilities at the old Sewart Air Base and wish them the best of luck in achieving their economic-development goals.

Smyrna, of course, already is the site of the county’s largest private employer, Nissan, and its planned supplier park promises to provide an additional 1,000 jobs in the county.

Nissan also is a partner in efforts to provide a new training center for advanced manufacturing that will operate through the Tennessee Center for Applied Technology in Murfreesboro and serve companies that move to Rutherford County or expand their operations here.

With interstate, aviation and rail access; available land and utilities; and opportunities for continuing workforce development through the new training center, Motlow State’s campus and MTSU; the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Authority has available a winning package of inducements to recruit businesses and industries.

We wish it the best with its efforts because all Rutherford County residents can benefit from successful adaptive reuse of a U.S. Air Force base.

The opinions in this space represent a consensus of discussion by The Daily News Journal Editorial Board.

Original article can be found here: http://www.dnj.com/story/opinion

Accident occurred July 31, 2015 in Emmett, Jackson County, Kansas



A crop dusting agricultural aircraft crashed Friday morning in southwestern Jackson County, and the pilot was able to extricate himself and walk away from the crash, Jackson County Sheriff Tim Morse said.

The Pottawatomie County Sheriff’s Office received a report of the crash just east of Emmett at 11:52 a.m., Morse said.

The crash happened a half-mile north of 142nd Road, about 100 yards west of A4 Road, and about a half-mile east of the Pottawatomie County line.

Morse said witnesses saw the plane go down and heard the crash, adding the plane hit a hay meadow, crashed into a cluster of trees and flipped onto its top.

Fire officials from Emmett and Hoyt, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Highway Patrol responded to the scene.

Highway patrol Trooper Ray Ramirez identified the pilot as Curt Strathman, 27, of Axtell. Strathman was treated at St. Marys Community Hospital and later released, Ramirez said.

Morse said it appeared the aircraft had been traveling west and was applying chemicals to a cornfield to the east. Ramirez said the plane was spraying an insecticide and a fungicide before it crashed.

The pilot told a highway patrol trooper he didn’t know why the plane crashed, Ramirez said.

The yellow bi-wing crop duster plane was doing work on behalf of Nemaha County co-op, Morse said, and was privately owned.

Morse said the pilot was the lone passenger in the plane. After getting out of the plane, Morse said, the pilot made his way to a vehicle that was passing by and picked him up.

The vehicle was met by Pottawatomie County ambulances as it was driving from the scene, and the pilot’s condition was assessed, Morse said.

Ramirez said the crash investigation had been turned over to the FAA.

Source:  http://cjonline.com

St. Paul man prepared to invade Japan. Instead, he watched WWII end

On Robert Wieman's wall in St. Paul on Wednesday, July 29, 2015 is a painting of a Fairchild PT-19 Primary Trainer in 1943 at the "top of the loop" he said. It's the first plane he flew by himself without an instructor. "If I were to have a plane right now this is what I would have," he said. "It's open cockpit. It's like driving a convertible." Wieman is a WWII vet who was going to take part in the invasion of Japan, but instead was part of the occupation of the country after the atomic bombs drops ended the war.




Seventy years ago, a young Army pilot from Minnesota named Robert Wieman was preparing for the invasion of Japan, a battle that was intended to finally bring World War II to an end.

Wieman's plane, the heavily armed A-26 attack plane, was built for the kind of low-level strafing and bombing that would be needed to support American troops hitting the shores of the Japanese home islands. The plane's name, the Invader, reflected the task ahead.

But the invasion, scheduled for fall 1945, never took place. Seventy years ago this month, Japan capitulated after the United States dropped atomic bombs on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Wieman still flew his A-26 over Japan. He took part in the post-war occupation of the nation.

In flights over Nagasaki and Hiroshima, he saw for himself the devastation caused by the atomic bombs. He toured the massive network of caves where the Japanese military would have staged its last stand.

Wieman, now 93 and living in St. Paul's Highland Park, retired after a long career with 3M and then as a real estate agent. He only recently gave up riding a motorcycle. But he's taken up writing, authoring accounts about his experiences as a wartime pilot and getting published in magazines such as Air & Space and Flying.

He writes today that President Harry Truman's decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan was the right one, arguing that it saved millions of lives on both sides that would have been lost if a full-scale invasion had been fought.

Wieman's mission during the occupation was to fly reconnaissance flights, looking for signs of Japanese military activity despite the surrender. He never saw any. The defeated former enemy seemed more relieved than hostile.

"We were happy the war was over. They were happier the war was over," Wieman said. "They had been bombed by B-29s, and that got kind of old."

FLYING TO JAPAN

Wieman grew up on a farm in Arlington, Minn., but he got hooked on flying early in life.

In August 1933, he was an 11-year-old with a 4-H Guernsey calf. While he was at the Sibley County Fair, a family friend paid for a $5 ticket for Wieman for a 15-minute flight on a Curtiss Jenny biplane giving joyrides at the fair.

"I said I sure would like to be a pilot some day," Wieman said.

He got his chance after World War II started. On his 20th birthday, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps Pilot Training Program. Training took him to bases around the country, to Missouri, West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas, Florida and Hawaii.

The Army taught him to fly everything from open-cockpit training planes to twin-engine medium bombers. Before the war was over, he ended up in the pilot seat of about a dozen types of planes, including a P-38 fighter.

"I'm a farm boy. To go from milking cows to flying something like that is a big step," Wieman said.

At first, it looked like he would fly a bomber in Europe, but then he was assigned to get ready for the invasion of Japan.

That meant rehearsing low-altitude attacks, practicing "skip-bombing" a bomb into cave entrances or strafing ground targets. His plane, the twin-engine A-26, had speed and a lot of firepower for the job: 14 forward-facing, .50-caliber machine guns.

"We trained a year for the invasion of Japan. That's the only thing we trained for," Wieman said.

He and his plane's crew -- a gunner and a navigator -- were in Kauai, Hawaii, in August 1945 when they heard the news of the atomic bombings and the subsequent unconditional surrender of Japan.

"We were sort of let down. This big thing we were training for wasn't going to happen," Wieman said of his initial reaction.

But he soon realized they were lucky that the killing had ended.

Wieman didn't see combat, but he still saw plenty of death and close calls. Fellow fliers were routinely killed in training accidents or in bad weather. Wieman survived a crash when one of the engines of a P-38 he was flying failed during a landing. He once flew through a harrowing tropical storm over the Pacific, an experience he wrote about in Air & Space Magazine.

"It's amazing when you see the statistics how many planes and pilots and crews were lost in training," he said. "I was 21 when I started this. I was 24 when I came home. When you're that age, you don't think of the danger."

By the end of August 1945, Wieman started the long trip to Japan to take part in the occupation, stopping at several of the islands that American forces had just finished wresting from the Japanese: Tarawa, Eniwetok, Leyte.

On Sept. 2, 1945, he was flying to the Philippines and tuned in to the live radio broadcast of the official Japanese surrender ceremony on the deck of the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay.

A few weeks later, Wieman would be in Japan himself, stationed at an air base near Yokohama.

"We didn't know what to expect," he said. "We thought there would be a lot of hostility there."

But the Americans were treated with respect. They never felt threatened or needed to carry weapons with them. When he wasn't flying, he was free to go anywhere, taking a jeep to tour Tokyo or the countryside.

"We had no restrictions," Wieman said. "None, that is, except the Imperial Palace Grounds. We could walk around it and look at it through the fences, but we could not go in. Not even the Japanese people could go in. Not even General MacArthur could go in, and he was 'God.' At least, he thought so. And he convinced most of the Japanese people he was."

Wieman stayed in Japan until June 1946. He was discharged from the Army and became a civilian again on July 4, 1946.

PAST CONNECTION

Wieman was the youngest member of his attack plane crew, and he's the only one still alive today. But last year, the daughter of Wieman's gunner came across one of Wieman's articles on the Internet that mentioned her father.

"I saw the picture, and I said, 'Oh, my God, that's my father,' " Lynn Rose said.

She contacted Wieman and made the trip from California to visit Wieman in St. Paul this spring.

Rose said her father, Hugh Dunwoodie, rarely spoke of his war experience.

From Wieman, she learned about a flight Wieman took with Dunwoodie and their navigator, Rex Whitney, in Japan on April 8, 1946.

Wieman said he got permission from the base commander to fly his plane outside of the area they usually patrolled.

"I took my crew and we went down and flew over Nagasaki and Hiroshima," Wieman said.

In an A-26, the gunner was normally positioned in the rear of the airplane. But on this flight, the three men who had been together for a year as a crew sat next to each other in the front of the cockpit.

"I didn't want Dunwoodie to take this ride in the back of the airplane by himself," Wieman said.

They flew down to 1,000 feet to examine the only cities in history destroyed with atomic bombs. Wieman said the fliers had seen other Japanese cities that had been nearly leveled by conventional bombing during the war.

He said Hiroshima "didn't look very much different than other Japanese cities. The difference is one bomb did it rather than thousands."

On the way back to the base, they circled Mount Fuji at 10,000 feet and climbed to 13,000 feet to peer down at the crater at the summit of the national symbol of Japan. Then they landed at their base and got dinner, Wieman said.

"That was the last flight the three of us had together."

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



Robert Wieman shows his flight log in St. Paul on Wednesday, July 29, 2015. The top date is from September 2, 1945, the day when surrender papers were signed on the Battleship Missouri. Wieman flew five hours and 35 minutes from Guam to the Philippines on his route to Japan on that day. Wieman is a WWII vet who was going to take part in the invasion of Japan, but instead was part of the occupation of the country after the atomic bombs drops ended the war.