Friday, July 22, 2016

Steen Skybolt 300, N511GS, Bearfeat Aerobatics: Fatal accident occurred July 21, 2016 near Enid Woodring Regional Airport (KWDG), Enid, Garfield County, Oklahoma


Bearfeat Aerobatics:

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA278
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, July 21, 2016 in Fairmont, OK
Aircraft: RUNYAN S / HARRIS R SKYBOLT 300, registration: N511GS
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 July 21, 2016, about 1840 central daylight time, a Runyan/Harris Skybolt 300 experimental amateur-built airplane, N511GS, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain northeast of Fairmont, Oklahoma. The commercial pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from Enid Woodrig Regional Airport (WDG), Enid, Oklahoma, about 1830.

According to the passenger's wife, the flight was a "last minute flight," and she was supposed to meet the airplane at Vance Airforce Base, (END), Enid, Oklahoma, about 15 minutes after their scheduled departure time.

A witness located ½ mile north of the accident location reported seeing the airplane flying earlier in the day. The witness observed the accident airplane flying for 20 to 30 seconds prior to the accident. He stated that the airplane flew over their house at a high altitude and performed a barrel roll. The airplane continued south and then pitched to climb straight up. The nose of the airplane came down through the horizon and the airplane started "tumbling" similar to what he had seen other aerobatic airplanes do. He stated that 1/3 of the way through the tumble the airplane rolled over on its back and entered an inverted flat spin. The airplane went behind the trees and he did not see the collision.

The witness stated that he heard the engine of the airplane running the entire time – all through the maneuvers - until the sound of the airplane hitting the ground.

The wreckage of the airplane came to rest inverted in a dormant wheat field. Both bi-wing assemblies, the fuselage, and empennage were bent, crushed, and twisted.

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

Air Force 1st Lt. Dale Bryan Shillington

Randy Harris 

ENID, Okla. — Two men killed flying a biplane crash Thursday evening have been identified by Oklahoma Highway Patrol.

Randell "Randy" Lee Harris, 55, was piloting a 1993 Runyan S/Harris R Skybolt 300 with Air Force 1st Lt. Dale Bryan Shillington, 25, riding along when he lost control of the aircraft, around 6:40 p.m., an OHP report states. 

Both died of massive injuries before emergency personnel reached the scene of the accident near Fairmont at 150th and Rupe, said Trooper Carter Mathews.

Harris was in Enid in advance of Vance Air Force Base's 75th anniversary open house and air show, in which he had been scheduled to perform, on Saturday.

Vance Air Force Base said in a statement Friday morning that Saturday’s open house and air show will proceed as scheduled. The USAF Thunderbirds will perform at 2:30 p.m.

A moment of silence will be observed during opening remarks during the open house to honor the deceased, according to the release.

Base officials said they will not issue any statement about the crash or the plane's occupants until 24 hours following the incident due to Department of Defense protocol and until next of kin has been notified. The deaths of both men were confirmed by OHP.

Mathews reported Harris was flying south when the he attempted an aerobatic maneuver.

“For unknown reason, pilot of aircraft one lost control of the aircraft and was unable to regain control,” Mathews' report states. “Aircraft one collided with the ground in an open, private field.”

Mathews said Harris and Shillington were using restraints and were pinned for one hour before being extricated by the Covington Volunteer Fire Department. Conditions were clear and dry, according to the report. The wind speed at the time of the crash was recorded at Breckinridge, site of the nearest Mesonet weather recording station, at 16.8 miles per hour, according to a Mesonet operator.

The cause of collision is under investigation. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner was on scene Thursday evening. The Federal Aviation Administration was notified and will launch an investigation.

Other responders included Fairmont Volunteer Fire Department, Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, Garfield County Emergency Manager Mike Hongisberg, Life EMS and Vance Air Force Base police, Mathews said.

'I was on that plane three hours ago'

Tulsa-based Bearfeat Aerobatics, a company Harris created, was providing civilian flights a mere three hours before the crash.

Scott Northcutt, of Enid, flew with Harris from about 4 to 4:30 p.m.

The two visited, talking about Harris’ travels and airshows he’d participated in during his 20-plus years of experience with the Skybolt 300.

Northcutt said he’s flown in many performance and aerobatic airplanes before.

“I thought he was very thorough,” Northcutt said. “He was very thorough as far as giving me a pre-brief training, different cover and safety items. We went up, and there was no concern at all. We had a great time and did all the maneuvers he knew.”

Northcutt said Harris asked him what else he wanted to do as they flew over Enid.

“I said, ‘whatever else there is,’” Northcutt said. “He said, ‘I think we did them all.’ He was super nice and very professional.”

Northcutt said the flight was great and filled with lots of “Gs” — acceleration forces known as G-force. The two completed barrel rolls, spins and other maneuvers.

“There wasn’t a time I felt uncomfortable, and it was a great flight,” Northcutt said. “My wife and I were watching things unfold last night online and we were trying to figure out which plane it was.”

He said he saw the crash photo published online by the Enid News & Eagle around 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

“We saw that photo, and it kind of takes the breath out of you,” Northcutt said. “Before I saw that picture, someone had posted (on another social media site) it (the plane that crashed) was a static display plane for Saturday. I thought if it was there for static display then it wasn’t Randy’s because he was in the show. That was before we saw the picture, and it kind of gave us a breath of fresh air.”

But as soon as they saw the photo and put the pieces together, it brought a crushing reality down on the couple.

“He gave us a pamphlet for his business, and I emailed them (before the crash),” Northcutt said. “Then after I found out it looked like it was Randy, I saw a 918 number calling me, and it was them to tell me.”

Northcutt said Harris was a general manager of an aviation service company in Tulsa located near Tulsa International Airport.

“It was them calling,” he said. “They saw my email, called me back and told me. It’s a tough thing, and he’d been doing it for 20 years. The 1st lieutenant, pilot or non-pilot, he’s one of our military. It’s a tough thing all around. It makes you look back and think, man, I was on that plane three hours ago. I don’t know what happened, but I know I flew with him and he was a great guy.”

The incident is a tough way to start a weekend air show, Northcutt said.

“It’s tough for him (Harris) and his family and the military gentleman’s family,” he said. “He’s got family here — military family — at the base. What do you say? Words can’t do it. It’s just a tough thing.”

Harris, of Owasso, had been performing since 1995 and had performed at more than 200 venues. He, and his wife were living in Tulsa with their two cats, according to the company website.

Ray Gill, of Enid, spoke with Harris and Shillington before they took off from Woodring Regional Airport Thursday evening.

Gill said Harris started flying in airshows the same time he did. The former American Airlines employee kept in touch with Gill and frequently talked planes.

“He built that airplane, and he was super heavily qualified to do what he does, and he’s very well respected in the industry, in airshows,” Gill said. “He had a ground-level waiver, which is the highest rating an airshow pilot can have.”

Before Harris and Shillington taxied, Gill said he spoke to Harris about a mutual friend or theirs who had recently died of cancer.

“We were just talking about that, life and death,” Gill said.


OKLAHOMA CITY —An air show will continue this weekend at Vance Air Force Base following the death of two people in a plane crash near Enid.

The pilot was identified as Randall Harris, 55, and his passenger was identified as Dale Shillington, 25, an Air Force first lieutenant.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, Harris was attempting an aerobatic maneuver when he lost control of the plane.

Harris and Shillington were both involved in preparations for the airshow at the base on Saturday.

Shillington was a standout airman, according to base commander Col. Paul M. Johnson, who said he was personally introduced to Shillington on Tuesday.

Johnson arrived at the base a month ago.

“He had consistently received accolades in every level he was at, Shillington said.

Harris, of Owasso, was an airshow performer with Bearfeat Aerobatics. He had a long history of flying.

“This is a huge loss for our base, a huge loss for the air force and our forces," Shillington said.

The airshow will continue as planned as a tribute to the lives lost.

“I know this airman had a passion for aviation. I feel strongly this individual (Harris) had a passion for aviation also,” Shillington said. “We felt it would be best to honor that passion by continuing with the airshow.”

The open house and airshow begins at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

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Anonymous said...

Randy and I worked together on the flight test and certification of the MD-11. He was a fine gentleman, avid aviation enthusiast, and a great aerobatics pilot. So sad to hear of his loss.

gretnabear said...