NTSB Identification: ERA16FA035
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, November 09, 2015 in Climax, GA
Aircraft: CESSNA 441, registration: N164GP
Injuries: 2 Fatal.
This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.
On November 9, 2015, at 1016 eastern standard time, a Cessna 441, N164GP, was destroyed by collision with trees, terrain and a post-crash fire following a loss of control while maneuvering near Climax, Georgia. The commercial pilot/owner and the commercial pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which departed Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL), Lakeland, Florida, at 0906, and was destined for the Cairo-Grady County Airport (70J), in Cairo, Georgia. The flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.
The purpose of the flight was to pick up two passengers employed by the pilot/owner's firm, and return to LAL. Preliminary radar and voice information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed the flight contacted Tallahassee Approach Control at 0948:42 while descending from 5,200 feet msl to 4,000 feet msl. The flight was 62 miles from and flying "direct to" 70J. The pilot informed the controller he was trying to "get to" visual meteorological conditions (VFR) and if he couldn't, he would request the RNAV RWY 31 approach at 70J.
The controller advised the pilot that weather was not available for the destination airport, but that two airports in the vicinity were each reporting IFR conditions. The pilot acknowledged and requested the RNAV RWY 31 approach at 70J, and was then instructed to maintain 3,200 feet. The controller asked if the pilot was able to proceed direct to the Greenville VOR, which was the initial approach fix (IAF) for the RNAV RWY 31 approach, and the pilot responded that he was "loading it."
At 0953:43, while the airplane was at 3,300 feet and 36 miles from 70J, the pilot reported the destination airport in sight, and cancelled his IFR flight plan. The controller then issued a frequency change to the UNICOM frequency at 70J, but offered the pilot the option to stay on the approach frequency until the airplane got closer to its destination. Instead, the pilot reported he was "VFR" and switched to UNICOM.
During the 13 minutes that transpired after cancellation of the IFR clearance and the frequency change, the radar track for the accident airplane displayed an erratic sequence of left, right, and overlapping 360-degree turns that moved the airplane away from the destination airport in a westerly direction. The altitudes varied between about 4,000 feet and 900 feet.
At 1006:16, the pilot contacted ATC on the approach control frequency, reported that he had lost visual contact with the airport, and requested the RNAV RWY 13 approach at 70J. The controller then provided a sequence of heading and altitude assignments in order to vector the airplane to the OCAPE waypoint, which was the IAF for the requested approach. The airplane did not maintain its heading and altitude assignments and several corrections were provided to the accident pilot by the controller.
At 1012:31, the pilot was instructed to proceed directly to OCAPE and join the approach. Over the next three minutes, the pilot expressed his inability to identify OCAPE and asked the controller for the correct spelling so he could "load it." At 1015:37, the pilot acknowledged the approach clearance. There were no further transmissions from the pilot.
The radar target then climbed and descended in the vicinity of OCAPE, and at 1016:40, the airplane was in a descending right turn at 2,500 feet and 180 knots groundspeed when radar contact was lost.
The pilot/owner held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, rotorcraft helicopter, and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA Class 3 medical certificate was issued on May 30, 2013. The pilot reported 1,150 total hours of flight experience on that date.
The pilot-rated passenger held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, rotorcraft helicopter, and instrument airplane and helicopter. His most recent FAA Class 2 medical certificate was issued on December 4, 2014. The passenger reported 9,500 total hours of flight experience on that date.
According to FAA and maintenance records, the airplane was manufactured in 1980, and was equipped with two Garrett Research TPE331-10, 715-hp turboprop engines. The airplane's most recent Phase II and III inspections were completed April 25, 2014, at 18,422.8 total aircraft hours. While review of the logbooks revealed no subsequent phase inspections, an airframe log entry dated September 22, 2015 reflected the airplane had accrued 18,513.7 total aircraft hours.
The 1035 weather observation at Decatur County Industrial Airpark, 8 miles west of the accident site, included an overcast ceiling at 400 feet and 2 miles visibility in fog. The wind was from 050 degrees at 8 knots. The temperature was 15 degrees C, the dew point was 15 degrees C, and the altimeter setting was 30.04 inches of mercury.
A center weather advisory for IFR conditions was in effect for the area surrounding the destination airport at the time of the accident. Upper air balloon imagery displayed a solid cloud layer over the southeastern United States around the time of the accident.
The wreckage was examined at the accident site on November 10, 2015. There was a strong odor of fuel, and all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The wreckage path was oriented on a heading of 175 degrees magnetic and was approximately 150 feet in length, and 45 feet wide.
The initial impact point was in a tree approximately 60 feet high, and the airplane impacted several other trees before impacting the ground about 24 feet beyond the first tree strike. Several pieces of angularly-cut wood were found the length of the debris field.
The cockpit, cabin area, empennage, both engines and their respective propeller assemblies were destroyed by impact and post-crash fire and were entangled about 48 feet down the wreckage path. Control continuity was established from the cockpit area to the flight control surfaces.
The propeller blades of each assembly exhibited similar twisting, bending, leading and trailing edge gouging, and chord-wise scratching. The tips of each blade on one propeller system were melted away by fire. One propeller blade tip was fractured and found 215 feet southeast of the main wreckage. The compressor and power turbine sections of both engines were exposed, and the blade tips were all bent opposite the direction of rotation.
FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Atlanta FSDO-11
Any witnesses should email firstname.lastname@example.org, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email email@example.com.
R. Gene Odom
BRANDON -- Funeral services were held Wednesday for the Bay area pilot who died in a small plane crash in Georgia last week.
Family and friends gathered at Bell Shoals Baptist Church in Brandon to remember Lester Hathcox. Hathcox was a retired pilot for the Hillsborough Sheriff's Office. He also flew for Fox 13, News Channel 8 and the Odom Law Group.
Hathcox and attorney Gene Odom were killed when their small plane went down on November 9. Hathcox was the co-pilot.
During his memorial, friends described Hathcox as one of a kind.
"If you were with Lester for very long, very quickly you became a friend and then you transitioned into family," said Reserve HCSO deputy and pilot Robert Templeman.
Friends said Hathcox loved life and was known for his huge smile.
He was 58 years old.
The Federal Aviation Administration said an alert notice was issued Monday morning after air traffic controllers lost contact with the Cessna 441 aircraft being flown by Lester Hathcox, a longtime pilot for WFLA TV and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office. Also in the plane was Gene Odom, an attorney at Martinez-Odom Law Group in Tampa.
The plane had taken off Monday morning from Lakeland Linder Regional Airport in Florida and was on its way to Grady County Airport in Cairo, Georgia.
The wreckage of the plane was located around 4 p.m. in Climax, Georgia, Captain Jones from the Thomas County (Georgia) Sheriff’s Office told News Channel 8. Eric Weiss at the National Transportation Safety Board said Tuesday that investigators were still trying to identify what caused the crash.
Hathcox spent 31 years with the sheriff’s office and retired in 2014. He flew hundreds of missions for the sheriff’s office, directing deputies to the location of criminals.
“Lester was the perfect combination of deputy and pilot,’’ Sheriff David Gee said in a statement released by the sheriff’s office. “He had the instincts of a cop and the skills to fly. His old gentle Southern boy style and demeanor belied a toughness that served his fellow deputies and the citizens of Hillsborough County so well.’’
Pilot Frank Stott has been with the sheriff’s office since 2003. He and Hathcox flew together for about six years.
“I spent most of my training with him,” Stott said.
Stott said everyone at the sheriff’s office admired Hathcox, who would help his co-workers with car problems and other mechanical issues.
“He had a love for people,” Stott said. “He believed you should live life to the fullest and make the most of it.”
Paul Lamison, chief photojournalist and Eagle 8 reporter at WFLA TV, flew with Hathcox twice a week for 15 years.
“We would talk about everything,” he said. “He was the easiest guy to talk to.”
Everyone at the news station was shocked by the announcement of Hathcox’s death, Lamison said, because he was a flying trainer who epitomized safety.
“With Lester, when I’d fly with him, I knew everything would work out,” he said.
Gene Odom and his ex-wife, Jessica Odom, were married for 10 years and had two children together. She said Odom began flying as a teenager.
“He’s the father of my children,” she said. “He was a great pilot and a great lawyer.”
- Source: http://www.tbo.com
Lester Hathcox, who was killed Monday, was a longtime pilot for WFLA-TV and the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
CLIMAX, Ga. -- The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are investigating what caused a plane to crash in South Georgia on Monday, killing both people on board.
FAA officials arrived at the crash site in a wooded area in Climax, Georgia on Tuesday.
The twin-engine Cessna was scheduled to land at the Cairo-Grady County Airport around 10 a.m. According to the FAA, air traffic controllers lost contact with the flight when it was about 13 miles west of Cairo-Grady County Airport.
Search crews located the crashed plane around 4 p.m. Monday near Salem Church Road in Climax.
Two people on board the plane did not survive.
Our newsgathering partners WTVT in Tampa have identified the plane's pilot as Gene Odom and the co-pilot as Lester Hathcox.
Hathcox was a former helicopter pilot for WFLA in Tampa and for the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office.
A spokesperson for the NTSB says it could take up to a year to determine the cause of the crash.
Investigators were able to determine that the plane crashed at a nearly 90 degree bank.
Precision Aviation Group in Cairo operates the Cairo-Grady County Airport. Precision Aviation released the following statement Tuesday:
"The tragic events surrounding the crash of N164GP/Cessna 441 Conquest on its approach into 70J/Cairo Grady County Airport where our business, Precision Aviation is located brought out the best First Responders of South Georgia and North Florida have to offer. As soon as we realized that N164GP was overdue, we were in immediate contact the FAA, the local Grady County Sheriff's Department, and the Cairo Police Department. We began to collect and correlate the known facts to help coordinate the search effort to find the missing aircraft.
"Larry and Steven Bible at Precision Aviation would particularly like to recognize and thank the Sheriff Departments of Grady, Decatur and Leon Counties, the Cairo Police Department, FAA and all the collective First Responders, EMTs, and other Law Enforcement Officers who rapidly and diligently helped in locating the wreck site near Climax, GA. The Civil Air Patrol was instrumental in providing very helpful location information. We had plenty of resources, including local pilots and drone operators who volunteered to help in the search effort, but the weather conditions during the day precluded these types of search options.
"All those who played a part in the search effort proved once again, that this community is well served, and really pulls together when the going is roughest. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families of those lost in the tragic accident."
- Source: http://www.wctv.tv
Attorney Gene Odom and pilot Lester Hathcox died Monday when their Cessna 441 Conquest II plane crashed in Climax, Georgia.
Lester Hathcox, who was also a News Channel 8 helicopter pilot, was killed when the plane he was in crashed in Climax, Georgia. Tampa Bay area attorney Gene Odom was also on the plane and died in the crash.
The plane left Lakeland Linder Regional Airport on Monday and then disappeared from radar. The plane’s wreckage was found around 4 p.m. on Monday afternoon.
Hathcox was a sheriff’s pilot who worked for Hillsborough County for 31 years. The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office released the following statement on Tuesday:
“The Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and our extended family of retirees were saddened to learn of the tragic death of Lester Hathcox. Lester was a sheriff’s pilot who served his county for 31 years.
Lester was as comfortable and confident at the controls of a helicopter as he was on terra firma. Over the years, Lester flew hundreds of missions and directed countless deputies to the location of the bad guys as well as missing children and adults.
“Lester was the perfect combination of deputy and pilot,” Sheriff David Gee said. “He had the instincts of a cop and the skills to fly. His old gentle Southern boy style and demeanor belied a toughness that served his fellow deputies and the citizens of Hillsborough County so well. His family can forever be proud. We will miss him very much. Godspeed, Lester Hatchox.”
Details about funeral arrangements have not been announced.
The crash is under investigation. The Cessna was registered to Legal Airways, LLC, an entity of Odom’s firm, Martinez and Odom Law Group in Brandon.
Stay with WFLA.com for updates about this story.
This is the hangar the plane departed from.