Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Beech 65-A90-1 King Air, St. Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement, N7MC: Fatal accident occurred April 19, 2016 at Slidell Airport (KASD), St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana


FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Baton Rouge FSDO-03

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA158
14 CFR Public Use
Accident occurred Tuesday, April 19, 2016 in Slidell, LA
Aircraft: BEECH 65 A90 1, registration: N7MC
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 April 19, 2016, about 2115 central daylight time, a Beech 65-A90-1 airplane, N7MC, collided with towers suspending high power transmission lines, while attempting to land at the Slidell Municipal Airport (KASD), Slidell, Louisiana. Both pilots were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by the Saint Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement District as a public use flight. Night visual meteorological condition prevailed for the flight, which operated on a visual flight rules flight plan. The local flight originated about 2000.

After completing a planned mosquito abatement aerial application flight, the accident pilots radioed their intentions to land at KASD. A company airplane was also in the area and flew the GPS approach to runway 18 for practice, while the accident airplane flew a visual pattern. When the pilots of the other company airplane radioed that they had crossed the GPS approach's final approach fix, the accident pilots radioed that they were on a left base and were number one to land at the airport. Seconds later, the company pilots of the other airplane saw an arc of electricity followed shortly by a plume of fire from the ground. The accident pilots could not be reached on the radio, and emergency responders were contacted.

The airplane was located in a marsh about 0.6 nautical miles north-northwest of approach end of runway 18. The initial point of impact was damage to two towers suspending high power transmission lines. These two towers were between 70-80 feet tall and were located 200 yards north of the main wreckage. The airplane's left wing tip and a portion of the aerial applicant tank were found near the towers.

The airplane was retained for further examination.

At 2053, an automated weather reporting facility located at KASD reported a calm wind, visibility 10 miles, a clear sky, temperature 68° F, dew point 64° F, and a barometric pressure of 30.09 inches.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Wayne Fisher, 68, of Slidell; and Donald Pechon, 59, of Covington. 

SLIDELL-  Around 8:45 p.m. Tuesday, Folsom resident Bobby Newbury and his wife stepped outside to watch the parish mosquito plane fly by, like they always do.

But this time, something was different.

"I could hear it coming across the tree line and the engine kind of shutoff, for a second, which I thought was kind of strange because they're not that high up," he said.

But the plane continued out of the area, without issue, until it attempted to land at the Slidell airport around 9:20 p.m.  A smaller spray plane pilot flying at the time says he watched the parish's largest plane suddenly rollover and crash into a wooded area north of the runway.  In it was 68-year-old Wayne Fisher of Slidell and 59-year-old Don Pechon of Covington.

Chuck Palmisano, the director of the parish Mosquito Abatement Office, says both were longtime pilots with his agency, and other public entities.  Both were described as accomplished airmen.

"He always told me, I don't think he was afraid of anything, and he was willing to do the job because he had the experience and the background to the job that a lot of other people just wouldn't do," said Sid Galloway.

Fisher's longtime friend, Galloway, says his love for flying was equal to his love for helping people.

"When we had to drive to Birmingham to have heart surgeries, people would give cards, give us gifts, for my boy to take with him," he said, "Wayne, and his wife Kim, woud show up. They would drive from Slidell to Birmingham to just be there. That was just the kind of person that he was. Just an amazing indivdual."

In a December 2005 article, Pechon, a flight instructor, with his own aviation school based out of Slidell, came across as someone determined to take fear out of flying and did so with a smile.

As the investigation into what led to this tragedy begins, so does the process of grieving for two good men.

The NTSB, who is now officially on site, has not given a timeline on when it will release preliminary findings on the cause of the crash.

Story and video:

St. Tammany Mosquito Control Employees and emergency officials gather at their hangar and rush to the scene after a Mosquito Control plane crashed upon landing approach north of the Slidell airport runway, Tuesday, April 19, 2016.

The two pilots killed in Tuesday night’s plane crash near the Slidell airport have been identified.

Wayne Fisher, 68, and Donald Pechon, 59, were the two men aboard the Mosquito Abatement District plane when it crashed into the woods just north of the Slidell airport while trying to land, according to James Hartman, a spokesman for the St. Tammany Parish Coroner’s office.

The men were identified based on “reliable information” about who was on the plane, but DNA testing will likely be necessary to confirm the identities, Hartman said. Next of kin have been notified for both men.

Recovery of the bodies is ongoing, he added.

Original Story

An investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board will likely arrive Wednesday at the site of a small plane crash in Slidell that took two lives Tuesday night, a spokesman said.

The NTSB and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash, which happened shortly after 9 p.m. and took the lives of two pilots in the plane, officials have said.

Wednesday morning, crews were still working to clear a path back to the heavily wooded crash site just north. Emergency workers confirmed that both pilots dies in the crash. The names of those pilots have not been released.

The plane was a Mosquito Abatement District plane which had been flying in the area spraying for mosquitoes, Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith said Tuesday night. Another mosquito abatement pilot flying nearby saw the crash and notified 911.

According to Smith, that pilot told investigators that the plane had “some type of engine failure” while on approach. The plane flipped over crashing into the trees and bursting into flames.

Emergency workers were able to reach the site on ATVs and with off-road vehicles.

According to the NTSB’s Keith Holloway, it could be close to two weeks before a preliminary report on the crash is produced. That report won’t name a cause, but will give some basic information gleaned during the evidence gathering phase. Planes such as the one that went down don’t usually have flight data recorders or cockpit voice recorders, Holloway said.

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The mosquito abatement airplane that crashed while landing at Slidell Municipal Airport Tuesday night (April 19) rolled upside down upon approach before plowing into a wooded area near the north runway and bursting into flames, killing both pilots on board, police said. The pilot of a second mosquito-spraying plane was landing at the same time and witnessed the crash at around 9:20 p.m..

The pilot of the second plane landed successfully, immediately called 911 and attempted to get back to the crash site, which is in a difficult to reach section of woods on the northwest corner of the airport property, according to the Slidell Police Department. Helicopters operated by the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office and Acadian Ambulance surveyed the scene as police and firefighters  re retrieved off-road vehicles to reach the crash site.

After reaching the site, first responders were able to confirm that both pilots were killed in the crash, according to Slidell Police. The identities of the two pilots have not yet been release pending notification of next of kin. The St. Tammany Parish Coroner's Office is expected to release the names later Wednesday.

The plane was not carrying any chemicals when it crashed, authorities said. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration will conduct and investigation into the case of the crash. Early reports indicate that the plane may have experienced engine failure, but that won't be made known until the investigation is completed. 

Planes operated by the St. Tammany Parish Mosquito Abatement District routinely conduct aerial spraying throughout the parish. The spraying is performed by a twin engine Britten-Norman Islander aircraft and a twin engine Piper Aztec aircraft, according to the district's website.

Applications are initiated at dusk and conclude 3 to 4 hours after dusk. The aircraft operate at an altitude of 200 feet at a speed of 140-150 mph. All spray operations are approved by the Federal Aviation Administration, according to the website.

The crew consists of a FAA qualified pilot and co-pilot. For extra safety measures, the co-pilot is equipped with night vision goggles. Each aircraft is equipped with a GPS guidance system that the crew uses for following a predetermined flight path and spray grid.

The district's operations are supported by a property tax millage paid by St. Tammany residents and businesses.  

"This is a very unfortunate accident and our prayers are with the families of the two pilots who perished in the crash," Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith said. "I would like to complement the massive effort last night by all first responders who attempted rescue efforts. The conditions were extremely dangerous and not easy to navigate."

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SLIDELL, La.(WWL-TV) -- Two people have died after a small mosquito-spraying plane crashed Tuesday night at the Slidell airport, police and fire officials confirmed.

Around 9:20 p.m. Tuesday, Slidell Police, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office, and St. Tammany Fire District One all responded to a plane crash at the Slidell City Airport which is managed and maintained by the City of Slidell. 

According to Slidell Police, two St. Tammany Parish Mosquito planes were landing after spraying various areas. The pilot of one of the planes witnessed the crash. He stated that during the approach for landing, for unknown reasons, the other plane rolled upside down and crashed into the wood line.

The pilot who successfully landed immediately called 911 and attempted to get back to the crash site.

The crash happened around 9:30 p.m., just North of the runway, as the plane was landing.

The crash site, which is on the northwest corner of the airport property in the woods, was heavily engulfed in flames and extremely hard to access. Helicopters with the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff's Office and Acadian Ambulance both surveyed the scene while first responders with Slidell PD, STPSO, and STFD1 retrieved ATV's, and other off-road vehicles, in order to reach the crash site.

It was confirmed late Tuesday night there were two pilots inside of the plane, both of which did not survive the crash.

The FAA is investigating the cause of the crash.

No further information was given on the two people who died. 

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