Saturday, July 23, 2016

Van's RV-9A, N807LK: Fatal accident occurred July 22, 2016 near Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport (KSGH), Springfield, Harmony Township, Clark County, Ohio

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office;  Cincinnati, Ohio

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Levon G. King:

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA281
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 22, 2016 in Springfield, OH
Aircraft: VANS RV9, registration: N807LK
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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 22, 2016, about 1040 eastern daylight time, a Levon G King Vans RV9A airplane, N807LK, impacted terrain near Springfield, Ohio. The pilot and one passenger were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Marginal visual meteorological conditions prevailed near the accident site and the airplane was receiving visual flight rules flight following. The flight departed Tri-Cities Regional Airport (TRI), Bristol/Johnson/Kingsport, Tennessee, about 0850 and was en route to Grosse Ile Municipal Airport (ONZ), Detroit/Grosse Ile, Michigan. 

A review of the air traffic control (ATC) and radar data revealed that while en route to ONZ, the pilot was in contact with ATC and attempted to navigate around the oncoming weather and precipitation. From 0957 to 1038 the pilot communicated with the controllers about avoiding the precipitation and requested assistance in doing so. The pilot stated that he could avoid the clouds if ATC could keep him out of the precipitation. The controllers gave the pilot several heading suggestions to the northwest to avoid the precipitation that they observed on their radar scopes. The pilot continued flying east toward the severe weather (figure 1). 

In the final 3.5 minutes of the flight while flying east, the airplane made a left 360° turn while descending about 2,900 ft per minute (fpm), then resumed a climb while heading east. Less than one minute later, the airplane made a right 310° turn, descending about 1,200 fpm. The airplane then flew northeast and descended about 4,600 fpm to an elevation of 3,440 ft above ground level (agl). The descent rate increased to about 6,450 fpm until radar contact was lost (figure 2). 

A witness observed the accident airplane above her house as it flew east-northeast (figure 2). She stated that the airplane was in a steep descent and disappeared behind a tree line when she heard the sound of an impact. She heard the engine operating before the airplane disappeared behind the trees. 



The pilot built the airplane from a kit, which was configured for 2 occupants with side-by-side seating. The airplane received a special airworthiness certificate with an experimental designation on April 27, 2015. The pilot logged the airplane's first flight on July 30, 2015. 

The airplane was equipped with a TruTrak electronic flight instrument system, a Garmin GTX 327 transponder, and Free Flight automatic dependent surveillance-broadcast (ADS-B). A Garmin 795 handheld GPS was found onboard and was damaged to the extent that a download of non-volatile memory was not possible. An external Garmin GPS antenna was found by the FAA inside the pilot's hangar at ONZ. 

The investigation did not find any evidence of a satellite weather subscription and could not determine if the pilot was receiving weather information to the cockpit instruments. 


While en route, air traffic controller advised the pilot that two other airplanes had flown over Dayton, Ohio, but that route was located between two cells with heavy precipitation, and there was only 5 to 8 miles clearance on either side. The controller informed the pilot that she would request pilot reports (PIREPs) from the pilots. The air traffic controller informed the accident pilot that the pilots who had transitioned over Dayton indicated that they "didn't really have any problems" flying through that area.

A search of weather briefing sources revealed that the accident pilot contacted Lockheed Martin Flight Service at 0619 and 0804 and received weather briefings. During the first weather briefing, the briefer explained a Convective SIGMET (a weather advisory concerning convective weather significant to the safety of all aircraft) outlook which bordered the area along the western edge of the intended flight track and was valid through 1150. An Airmen's Meteorological Information (AIRMET) for moderate turbulence was current to the west of ONZ. It was anticipated that thunderstorms would continue to develop due to a frontal boundary in the area and turbulence was likely near ONZ. 

During the second weather briefing at 0804, the briefer explained that rain had developed through northern portions of Ohio and was slowly moving east-southeast. A Convective SIGMET had been issued for the route of flight and an AIRMET for higher level turbulence had been issued for the northern portion of the route of flight. Additional Convective SIGMETs could be issued for Ohio northward during the accident flight and deviations to the west would likely avoid the SIGMET. Thunderstorms were moving southeast toward Columbus, Ohio. The briefer further explained that due to the weather conditions, the pilot would likely go direct Ohio State University Airport (OSU), Columbus, Ohio, then direct to ONZ in order to avoid the thunderstorms. 

There is no record of the accident pilot receiving or retrieving any other weather information other than the information provided by ATC. 

FAA Advisory Circular AC 00-24C, "Thunderstorms," defines the echo intensity levels and weather radar echo intensity terminology associated with those levels. For decibel (dBZ) values less than 30 the weather radar echo intensity terminology should be "light," 30 to 40 dBZ should be "moderate," and 40 to 50 dBZ should be "heavy." Any values above 50 dBZ shall be described as "extreme." From the National Weather Service, precipitation conditions at the surface can be inferred from VIP Levels described as:

• VIP 1 (Level 1, 18-30 dBZ) - Light precipitation 

• VIP 2 (Level 2, 30-38 dBZ) - Light to moderate rain. 

• VIP 3 (Level 3, 38-44 dBZ) - Moderate to heavy rain. 

• VIP 4 (Level 4, 44-50 dBZ) - Heavy rain 

• VIP 5 (Level 5, 50-57 dBZ) - Very heavy rain; hail possible. 

• VIP 6 (Level 6, >57 dBZ) - Very heavy rain and hail; large hail possible. 

The GPS flight track indicated that the airplane flew through an area of 10 to 40 dBZ reflectivity values located along the route of flight before the accident time. Reflectivity values of 25 to 40 dBZ were located north of the flight path. The accident flight flew into an area of defined thunderstorms while an outflow boundary north of the accident site was moving south. As the outflow boundary moved south across the accident site there was a corresponding increase in the dBZ values in the base reflectivity data. There were lightning flashes and strikes surrounding the accident area with more than 900 lightning flashes associated with the thunderstorms between 1030 and 1040 EDT. The flight path was within 2 miles of the lightning flashes after 1037:02 EDT through the accident time (figure 1). 


ATC Transcripts – Partial Summary

10:34:15 – (pilot) good morning Columbus, experimental November eight zero seven lima kilo we 're level (unintelligible) at nine point four

10:34:22 – (ATC) experimental eight zero seven lima kilo Columbus approach altimeter is three zero seven seven 

10:34:28 – (pilot) three zero seven seven, seven lima kilo

10:34:35 – (pilot) and seven lima kilo we'd like all the help you can give us around this precip[itation]

10:34:40 – (ATC) experimental seven lima kilo say again

10:34:43 – (pilot) any help you can give us to avoid the precip[itation] we'd appreciate

10:34:47 – (ATC) seven lima kilo roger my radar scope you need to turn straight to the northwest about a three twenty to three thirty heading uh if you want to try and go through the least amount of precip[itation] on your present heading then your current heading looks good you might you might need to turn a little bit to the right but if you want to stay out of it completely then you need to turn to the northwest

10:35:09 – (pilot) seven lima kilo I think I'll maintain present heading

10:35:13 – (ATC) Roger 

10:36:07 – (pilot) Columbus approach seven lima kilo [what do you show] as my present heading?

10:36:13 – (ATC) experimental seven lima kilo your present heading takes you through the uh worst of the precipitation heavy to extreme precipitation I suggest you turn to the south southwest

10:36:23 – (pilot) seven lima kilo 

10:37:38 – (ATC) experimental seven lima kilo Columbus

10:37:40 – (pilot) seven lima kilo go ahead 

10:37:43 – (ATC) I was just, are you turning back to the northeast?

10:37:46 – (pilot) I intended to turn to the southeast 

10:37:50 – (ATC) okay your present heading is taking you straight eastbound again right into, at least on my scope, the worst of the precip[itation] so you need to turn the right, if you want to turn to the right to the southwest or southeast if you want to go through the least of it

10:38:04 – (pilot) okay we'll go to the right 

10:39:50 – (ATC) experimental seven lima kilo I can see you continuing to the northeast at least on my scope if you turn a little bit to the left go northbound that you be a through the precipitation here in about twenty miles 

10:40:10 – (ATC) experimental seven lima kilo Columbus

10:40:17 – (ATC) experimental seven lima kilo if you can hear me Springfield airport is off to your right or the Lisbon airport is just off to your left it's runway five two three one thousand eight hundred by seventy-five feet 

10:41:10 – (ATC) experimental seven lima kilo if you can hear radar contact is lost, if you can hear me uh just uh respond 

End of Transcript. 


The responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector reported that the airplane was found in a corn field (figure 3) about 7 statute miles east of Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport (SGH), Springfield, Ohio. 

The main wreckage debris path was generally oriented north and contained the engine, propeller, left and right wings, fuselage, and most of the empennage. The debris path was about 25 yards in length beginning with pieces of a wing and ended with the main wreckage. The instrument panel and forward cockpit area separated from the airplane and were found near the middle of the debris path. The throttle, mixture, and propeller knobs were found near the full forward position. The engine separated from its mounts and sustained impact damage. The propeller was separated from the engine and sustained leading edge damage, S-bending, and rearward bending. 

The vertical stabilizer, rudder, and several small pieces separated from the empennage and came to rest in separate locations 0.61 to 0.63 nautical miles southwest of the main wreckage. The vertical stabilizer and rudder (figure 5) and were found with overload signatures at all separation points. The vertical stabilizer separated near the bottom of the rear spar. The rudder was found separated in two large pieces with several small pieces also identified. The counterweight was laterally separated from the top of the rudder. The rudder hinge brackets remained attached to the control rod ends. Most of the hinge bracket rivets were pulled through the vertical stabilizer. 


Clark County Coroner's Office, Dayton, Ohio, completed an autopsy on the pilot and the cause of death was blunt force injuries. The Bioaeronautical Research Laboratory at the FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute conducted toxicology testing, which revealed 48 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL) of ethanol in the muscle and 23 mg/dL in the liver. No putrefaction was reported. 

Ethanol is primarily a social drug with a powerful central nervous system depressant. After absorption, ethanol is uniformly distributed throughout all tissues and body fluids. The distribution pattern parallels the water content and blood supply of each organ. Postmortem production of ethanol also takes place due to putrefaction processes, but vitreous humor and urine do not suffer from such production to any significant extent in relation to blood. Vitreous humor would normally have about 12% more ethanol than blood if the system is in the post absorptive state, and urine would normally have about 25% more ethanol than blood. The average rate of elimination of ethanol from blood is 18 mg/dL (15-20 mg/dL) per hour. 


FAA Pilot Handbook of Aeronautical Knowledge - Chapter 11, "Weather Theory" 

"…if an aircraft enters a thunderstorm, the aircraft could experience updraft and downdraft that exceed 3,000 ft per minute…a good rule of thumb is to circumnavigate thunderstorms by at least 5 nautical miles…if flying around a thunderstorm is not an option, stay on the ground until it passes."

FAA Safety Team FAA–P–8740–12 - AFS–8 (2008) "Thunderstorms – Don't Flirt…Skirt 'Em"

Pilots should observe the following rules for any flight routed even potentially near actual or possible thunder­storm activity:

• Avoid all thunderstorms.

• Never get closer than 5 miles to any visible storm cloud with overhanging areas, and strongly consider increas­ing that distance to 20 miles or more. You can encounter hail and violent turbulence anywhere within 20 miles of very strong thunderstorms.

• Do not attempt flight beneath thunderstorms, even when visibility is good, because of the destructive potential of shear turbulence in these areas.

• At the first sign of turbulence, reduce airspeed immediately to the manufacturer's recommended airspeed for turbulent air penetration for a specific gross weight (design maneuvering speed).

• If the aircraft inadvertently penetrates the thunderstorm, maintain a straight and level altitude on a heading that will take you through the storm area in the minimum time.

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA281
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 22, 2016 in Springfield, OH
Aircraft: VANS RV9, registration: N807LK
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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 22, 2016, about 1050 eastern daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Vans RV9A airplane, N807LK, impacted terrain near Springfield, Ohio. The private rated pilot and one passenger were fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Marginal visual meteorological conditions prevailed near the accident site and the airplane was receiving visual flight rules (VFR) flight following. The flight departed Tri-Cities Regional Airport (TRI), Bristol/Johnson/Kingsport, Tennessee, about 0850 and was en route to Grosse Ile Municipal Airport (ONZ), Detroit/Grosse Ile, Michigan. 

A witness observed the accident airplane 300 to 500 ft above her house as it flew east-northeast. The airplane was in a steep descent and disappeared behind a tree line when she heard the sound of an impact. She also heard the sound of the engine operating before the airplane disappeared behind the trees. 

The responding Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector reported that the airplane impacted a corn field about 7 miles east of Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport (SGH), Springfield, Ohio. 

At 1056, the automated weather observation at SGH recorded wind from 040 degrees at 4 knots, 7 miles visibility, moderate rain and thunderstorm, broken ceiling at 1,500 feet agl, broken clouds at 2,000 ft above ground level (agl), overcast clouds at 3,300 ft agl, temperature 25 degrees C, dew point temperature 22 degrees C, altimeter 30.07 inches of mercury. Remarks: lightning distant all quadrants, thunderstorm began at 0901, rain began at 0953.

At 1109, the automated weather observation at SGH recorded wind calm, 8 miles visibility, light rain and thunderstorm, scattered clouds 1,700 ft agl, broken ceiling at 4,000 ft agl, overcast clouds at 5,000 ft agl, temperature 24 degrees C, dew point temperature 23 degrees C, altimeter 30.08 inches of mercury. 

The airplane has been retained for further examination. 

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

Levon and Gloria King died Friday in a plane crash in Ohio. 

Those who knew former Allen Park Mayor Levon King fondly remember him for having two true loves in life — flying and his wife, Gloria.

To even conceive that the tragic ending to both of their lives would be in the airplane he spent years building is shocking to those who knew them.

“They both loved each other and perished together,” said longtime family friend Jim Perry, executive director of the Downriver Community Conference. “That’s hard to comprehend, but does emulate how they were always together.”

King, 81, was flying his RV-9A aircraft over Ohio on Friday morning when it nose-dived into a rain-soaked cornfield in Harmony Township, about 40 miles east of Dayton.

His 85-year-old wife was the only passenger with him on the plane.

The couple were flying home from a high school reunion in Georgia, said their son, Jonathan King.

Thunderstorms and lightning rolled through the area much of the morning, although it’s not clear what role, if any, weather played in the crash.

Rescuers described the scene as horrific. The heavy cornfield vegetation had rescuers struggling to find the site and the victims, Ohio State Patrol Lt. Brian Aller said.

“We looked for a good half-hour and we couldn’t find it with all the corn and vegetation,” Aller said.

The state patrol called in its helicopter to locate the wreckage from the air. ATVs were needed to get back to the scene.

Federal officials with the National Transportation Safety Board are now overseeing the investigation as they do with all aircraft crashes.

“We’re waiting on a lot of information from air traffic control and the meteorologist so we don’t have a lot to give right now,” said Joshua Lindberg, an NTSB air safety investigator. “We’ll obtain the maintenance records for the airplane and we’ll go through those to make sure that everything was inspected accordingly.”

Family members were shocked to hear about the crash because Levon King was careful to avoid flying in bad weather, his son said.

“He was very experienced and thorough,” Jonathan King said. “The plane had every modern convenience on it. The thing is, it was small and not very stable. I get the impression it was hard to fly.”

FAA records indicate Levon King was a private pilot, certified in December 2009, as well as a repairman and a builder of experimental aircraft, certified in August 2015. The plane was last inspected April 27, 2015, according to records.

King served as mayor of Allen Park from 1999 to 2003 and as Southgate’s city administrator from 2005 to 2009. He and his wife were longtime Allen Park residents and had moved to Dearborn just a few months ago.

Southgate City Attorney Edward Zelenak said he worked with King for decades — both politically and privately as both men were lawyers.

“I found him to be a man who listened to the needs of the residents and to the needs of the city,” Zelenak said. “He had a compassionate heart and a kind soul. One of the nicest guys I’ve known.”

Allen Park Mayor William Matakas said King urged him to run as mayor.

"He was one of the most honest and wonderful men I know," he said. "He really cared about Allen Park. ... He was a vital force."
Perry, an Allen Park native, served on the city’s Recreation Commission when King was mayor.

“He always looked out for what was best for the city,” Perry said. “He was really hoping to get (Allen Park’s) recreation facility built so people could go and work out and stay healthy. When it opened, I’d say that was one of the things he was the most proudest of. … When you talk about someone who was very dedicated to others, that was Levon.”

Southgate Mayor Joseph Kuspa said he spoke with King just a few weeks ago.

“He was still very much around the city and active in what we had going on,” Kuspa said. “And he loved talking about flying. … After he left the city here in ’09, I know that he was constructing the plane. He started it off in his garage and completed it over in Grosse Ile. He was an avid flier and very interested in aviation. … When his plane got too big for his garage, he finished the full assembly at the Grosse Ile airport.”

The RV-9A is a two-seat, single-engine aircraft that's sold in a kit to be assembled at home. The RV model is one of the most popular experimental aircraft on the market, with more than 8,000 varieties flying worldwide, said Dick Knapinski, a spokesman for the Experimental Aircraft Association.

Kuspa said Gloria King was a “very nice lady” who “didn’t take the limelight” but was “very supportive of everything Levon did.”

“For him and his wife to lose their life in this way is a true tragedy,” Kuspa said. “It’s a tremendous loss for the community.”

Music bonded the Kings even closer together. Both were experienced vocalists. She sang in many Downriver choral groups and symphonies; he performed in a barbershop quartet.

Both sang in the choir at Allen Park Presbyterian Church, where they attended services for decades.

Jim Faile, the church’s interim pastor, said the Kings had an infectious love for everything they became involved with.

“They’re both very warm, welcoming, quite friendly and very outgoing,” he said. “They would walk up to a stranger and introduce themselves and welcome them to the church. They certainly welcomed me with open arms three months ago when I arrived here. They make you feel very much at home.”

Faile said they were active in the church’s music program, organ restoration program and wintertime outreach activities for the homeless.

“They were very much involved in the everyday life of the church and remained committed to the mission and ministry of the church,” he said. “They were such a dynamic part of this congregation for such a long time. They will indeed be sorely missed.”

Visitation for the couple is set for 1 to 8 p.m. Thursday at Weise Funeral Home, 7210 Park, Allen Park. A memorial service is set for 10 a.m. Friday at Allen Park Presbyterian Church, 7101 Park. Their bodies will be cremated, with their ashes interred at the church. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the church.

Friday’s service will feature much of the couple’s favorite music, Faile said, adding that the church choir will be performing, as well as the Spirit of Detroit Chorus.

Levon King

Former Allen Park mayor and Southgate city administrator Levon King died along with his wife Gloria King in the crash of their small, experimental plane Friday in northern Ohio, said Southgate City Attorney Ed Zelenak.

Levon King was 81 and Gloria King was 85, according to the Associated Press.

Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Brian Aller says their single-engine plane was registered out of Detroit.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it lost radio and radar contact with the plane and alerted the state patrol late Friday morning. It took search crews about an hour to find the wreckage.

Clark County sheriff's dispatchers received 911 calls from people who said they heard a crash and possibly saw smoke.

No cause for the crash has been released.

Levon King stands outside his airplane with daughter, Marcie Judge, and grandsons Joshua and Cameron Judge. King flew the aircraft to Indianapolis on July 2 to have lunch with his family and to show them his plane that had recently underwent a new paint job.

HARMONY TWP., Clark County — The FAA is investigating the crash of a small experimental plane that went down in a rain-soaked cornfield in Harmony Twp., Clark County, Friday morning (July 22), killing a husband and wife from Dearborn, Michigan:

Dead are Levon King, 81, and Gloria King, 85;
The FAA lost contact with plane just before 11 a.m.;
Unclear if crash was weather-related, officials say;
Mr. King was a longtime political figure in Michigan;
Preliminary crash report could be ready next week;

The FAA has taken over the investigation because of the known circumstances around the crash, NTSB Air Safety Investigator Joshua Lindberg said Friday night.

The pilot, believed to be 81-year-old Levon King, of Dearborn, Mich., was communicating with air traffic controllers in Columbus but investigators still had no information on the departure location or where King was headed.

Thunderstorms and lightning were in the area for much of the morning, but investigators don’t yet know whether King indicated distress because of the weather, Lindberg said. “That will all be known once we get the tapes,” he said.

A preliminary crash report should be available from the FAA, via the NTSB, next week, Lindberg said.

According to the Ohio Highway Patrol Springfield post, the single-engine Vans/RV-9A crashed in a rain-soaked cornfield in the 3200 block of Newlove Road in Harmony Twp., Clark County.

FAA officials told the state patrol they lost contact with the plane by radio and on radar about 10:51 a.m. Clark County sheriff’s dispatchers said they received calls after witnesses said they heard a crash and possibly saw smoke.

The state patrol brought in its helicopter and ATVs were used to help locate the plane, which came to rest in heavy vegetation and crops. Troopers and personnel from Harmony Twp. Fire and EMS and Clark County sheriff’s deputies worked together to find the wreckage after searching for roughly 30 minutes.

Rescuers described the scene as horrific, patrol Lt. Brian Aller said.

Troopers and investigators with the NTSB and Civil Air Patrol were at the site late into Friday night. The remains of the plane were towed to Springfield.

The News Herald, in Southgate, Mich., reports that Levon King was a longtime downriver political figure, having served as mayor of Allen Park and as city administrator in Southgate. He retired from public life in 2009.

He owned the RV-9A, according to the News Herald.

Story and video:


gretnabear said...

the RV-9 has been around since 2002, over 1,000 built .. 'experimental plane' and 'home built' really doesn't apply, time for new descriptions of a this family of planes well designed and built.

Mark Ebben said...

gretnabear, you are right. Your statement would be well suited to use. And it would benefit the readers if the reporter took time to mention weather conditions at the time of the accident.