Sunday, August 28, 2016

Cessna 172R, Christiansen Aviation Inc., N984RA: Fatal accident occurred August 27, 2016 near Lakefront Airport (KNEW), New Orleans, Louisiana

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: http://app.ntsb.gov/pdf 

CHRISTIANSEN AVIATION INC: http://registry.faa.gov/N984RA

Federal Aviation Administration Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Baton Rouge FSDO-03

NTSB Identification: CEN16LA338
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 27, 2016 in New Orleans, LA
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N984RA
Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Minor.

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 27, 2016, about 2015 central daylight time, a Cessna 172R, airplane, N984RA, impacted water, returning to the Lakefront Airport (KNEW), New Orleans, Louisiana. The commercial rated pilot and one passenger were fatally injured, a second passenger received minor injuries and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by Christiansen Aviation, Inc., Wilmington, Delaware, under the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 136 as a local tour flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and the airplane was not on a flight plan. 

According to preliminary information gathered by investigators, the pilot and passengers were returning to the airport; the surviving passenger reported everything appeared normal, other than she thought they were low. The airplane then impacted water about a mile from runway 09. 

After recovery of the wreckage, the airplane's was recovered to a secure facility for further examination.





The small plane that crashed into Lake Pontchartrain Saturday evening was pulled from the water Tuesday morning. New Orleans firefighters used a crane to pull out the wreckage.

Inside were the bodies of two men, the pilot and the passenger. 

A couple from Baton Rouge chartered a plane to take an aerial tour of the city. The young woman was pulled to safety and spent the night at Ochsner Hospital before being released Sunday. Tuesday family members of the pilot and young passenger got the worst news possible.

The father of Reginald Hilliard Junior was distraught and comforted by friends, still in disbelief that his 25-year-old son was gone.

"I didn't believe it. I refused to believe it. My son's a fighter. He refused to give up. He refused to quit," said Reginald Hilliard, Senior. 

He says 'Lil Reg was a fighter from the start. He was told he would not live to be two months after getting spinal meningitis. Today he owns a tattoo place in Baton Rouge, was a rap artist, and a father.

"He has a daughter who is five and she always called him her best friend, she always says her daddy is her best friend," said his cousin Yolanda White.

The family says Reggie was a great swimmer. That's why they believe he pushed his girlfriend Brianna Davis out of the plane. They said she couldn't swim. A party yacht saw the crash and got her out of the water. The family is calling Reggie a hero.

"He was afraid of planes and this was his first flight ever," said White. 

The pilot Jim Biondo, 58, of Thibodaux, had been flying for decades, and friends say he lived to fly.

"He would drive an hour each way just to come fly an hour tour," said Lindy Hammonds, an aircraft mechanic and friend. 

He had just finished taking the couple on an aerial tour of the city.

"Just a good guy. A good pilot. I know from things that were said the people that were on the tour with him enjoyed it. They had a good time. They had a great flight," said Hammonds.

Now Biondo's wife and Reggie's family wait to find out why.

"But we gonna get through because we have faith and we know God is in control," said White.

The plane was intact and when it came out of the water just 1,000 yards from the runway. The airport director, Ben Morris, said the plane hit a rainstorm around the time of the crash.

 Hilliard's family said they believe the pilot misjudged the runway.

 The pilot's friend said that wind microbursts, common during storms, cause planes to stop and fall.

 But there is no official cause at this time.


Story and video:   http://www.wwltv.com



Family members of James Biondo named the 58-year-old certified flight instructor as the pilot killed in a Lake Pontchartrain plane crash Saturday (Aug. 28) that also claimed the life of a 25-year-old Baton Rouge artist and father.

Biondo, a Raceland resident, and Reginald Hillard Jr. of Baton Rouge were found Tuesday inside the single-engine Cessna, which authorities pulled from the water near Lakefront Airport. Hillard's girlfriend, Briana Davis, escaped from the plane and was rescued by a good Samaritan after the crash.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

The plane ride was a surprise gift from Reginald Hilliard, Jr.'s girlfriend, and the first time he overcame his fear of flying, his family said.

Davis booked the flight as a surprise for Hillard, whom family members said had never been on an airplane and was afraid of flying. The flight, "Big Easy Lights at Night," is offered through New Orleans Aerial Tours, according to a receipt Davis posted on Instagram. The tour company is operated by Flight Academy of New Orleans, LLC.

Biondo is listed as a certified flight instructor in Flight Academy of New Orleans' website. The company's registered agent, Ankur Prem Hukmani, declined to comment when reached by phone Tuesday.

Biondo's wife and brother confirmed his death. Both declined to be interviewed.

Hillard's cousin, Yolanda White, said Davis told family members that the tour had ended and they were returning to Lakefront Airport when she realized they were in the water.

Davis told the family that Hillard began kicking a side door and window in the plane, and was able to open it just enough to push Davis out, White said. Hillard was a good swimmer, White said, but was unable to get out before the airplane took what Davis described to the family as a nosedive to the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain.

Rescue crews found the plane Sunday afternoon using side-scan sonar.


Source:   http://www.nola.com




NEW ORLEANS – The New Orleans Fire Department says two bodies have been found in the wreckage of a small plane that crashed into Lake Pontchartrain just north of the New Orleans Lakefront Airport.

Spokesman Gregory Davis said the Cessna was pulled from the water Tuesday morning by a crane and the aircraft was placed on a barge.  He said the bodies of the pilot and one passenger were in the plane's cabin.The passenger was identified as Reginald Hillard Jr., 25, by family members. The pilot was identified as Jim Biondo, 58, of Thibodaux. 

"They said that he was in the plane. I still didn't believe it," said Reginald Hillard Sr., of Baton Rouge, who was at the lakefront.

Hillard Sr. was told of the official identification minutes after the plane was pulled from the water three days after the crash.  

Relatives said Reginald was afraid of flying, but put aside his fears when his girlfriend, Briana Davis, surprised him with an aerial tour of the city.

A family member said Reginald was able to unbuckle Davis from her seat and push her out of the aircraft after it hit the water. 

Davis was able to get out of the sinking plane and was rescued by a nearby boater.

"The couple had hired the aircraft to take them on a night time flight around the city of New Orleans," said Lakefront Airport Director Ben Morris.

"They did that, they were coming back in, and again, it appears they hit a little rain shower, a very significant rain shower, a rainstorm. They were making their approach to the airport, and at that point, they disappeared off the radar."

"It's a very sad thing because she did tell us that she and her boyfriend were holding hands when she slipped out of the aircraft," Morris said.

Family members were at the site as the plane was pulled from the water and lifted onto the barge. 

Divers located the plane just 1,000 feet short of the Lakefront Airport runway Sunday.

A crane mounted on a barge was brought in Monday evening to lift the plane out of the water.

Story and video:   http://www.wwltv.com






After a small plane with three people aboard crashed Saturday evening into Lake Pontchartrain just short of the runway at Lakefront Airport, rescuers spent Sunday searching the lake for the wreckage of the aircraft as well as its missing pilot and one of the passengers.

At 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Capt. Edwin Holmes of the New Orleans Fire Department reported that searchers had located the site of the crash about 1,000 feet west of the airport runway. He said retrieval of the plane would begin early Monday.

"More information on the two missing passengers should become forthcoming with tomorrow’s recovery effort," Holmes said.

The Cessna plane — carrying a pilot and two passengers — was returning from an aerial tour of New Orleans about 8:15 p.m. Saturday and was approaching the airport's runway when it suddenly disappeared from radar, Lakefront Airport Director Ben Morris said Sunday morning.

Several other pilots at the airport said they saw it go down an estimated 100 to 150 yards from shore, Morris said.

One of the two passengers, a woman, was rescued from the water by boaters in a private yacht.

While the extent of her injuries was unknown, she was conscious and able to talk to investigators when she was brought to shore, though she appeared to be in shock and was taken to a hospital, Morris said.

New Orleans Police Department divers, New Orleans Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard rescue boats and a Coast Guard helicopter resumed the search for the plane's wreckage and the two missing men Sunday morning.

What officials Sunday morning initially thought was the plane's wreckage turned out to be unrelated debris in the lake, NOPD spokeswoman Dawne Massey said.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the cause of the crash, Morris said.

The pilot apparently hit a rain squall on his way back from the tour, Morris said, but it will be difficult to determine why the plane fell until the wreckage can be examined.

The pilot was a private pilot who had chartered the aircraft from a flight school at the airport, Morris said. “My understanding is that he had 10,000 hours, so he's a very experienced pilot,” he said.

The chance of finding survivors many hours after such a crash into the water is “grim,” Morris said. The plane was likely about 300 feet in the air when it fell, and it would have hit the surface of the lake at nearly 80 mph, he said.

Though officials had an idea of where the plane went down, Gulf tides that move through the lake likely carried the wreckage elsewhere, Morris said.

“This lake moves constantly,” he said. “The aircraft, once it got below the surface, may have started drifting. There's always some tidal movement that could do strange things with an aircraft.”

Source:   http://www.theadvocate.com

Lakefront Airport Director Ben Morris gestures toward the runway that a Cessna was trying to reach before it crashed Saturday night while a New Orleans Fire Department searches for the wreckage in Lake Pontchartrain Sunday morning.



After a small plane with three people aboard crashed Saturday evening into Lake Pontchartrain just short of the runway at Lakefront Airport, rescuers continued Sunday to search the lake for the wreckage of the aircraft as well as its missing pilot and one of the passengers.

The plane — carrying a pilot and two passengers — was returning from an aerial tour of New Orleans about 8:15 p.m. Saturday and was approaching the airport's runway when it suddenly disappeared from radar, Lakefront Airport Director Ben Morris said Sunday morning.

Several other pilots at the airport said they saw it go down an estimated 100 to 150 yards from shore, Morris said.

One of the two passengers, a woman, was rescued from the water by boaters in a private yacht, Morris said.

While the extent of her injuries was unknown, she was conscious and able to talk to investigators when she was brought back to shore, though she appeared to be in shock and was taken to a hospital, Morris said.

New Orleans Police Department divers, New Orleans Fire Department and U.S. Coast Guard rescue boats and a Coast Guard helicopter resumed the search for the plane's wreckage and the two missing people Sunday morning, Morris said.

What officials Sunday morning initially thought was the plane's wreckage turned out to be unrelated debris in the lake, NOPD spokeswoman Dawne Massey said.

Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the cause of the crash, Morris said.

The pilot apparently hit a rain squall on his way back from the tour, Morris said, but it was impossible to determine why the plane fell without a chance to inspect the wreckage.

“We have to find the aircraft and the two missing passengers at this point,” Morris said. “The main priority right now is finding the two people that were on the aircraft.”

The pilot was a private pilot who had chartered the aircraft from a flight school at the airport, Morris said. “My understanding is that he had 10,000 hours, so he's a very experienced pilot,” he said.

The chance of finding survivors many hours after such a crash into the water is “grim,” Morris said. The plane was likely about 300 feet in the air when it fell, and it would have hit the surface of the lake at nearly 80 mph, he said.

Though officials have an idea of where the plane went down, Gulf tides that move through the lake have likely carried the wreckage elsewhere, Morris said.

“This lake moves constantly,” he said. “The aircraft, once it got below the surface, may have started drifting. There's always some tidal movement that could do strange things with an aircraft.”

Boaters who wanted to volunteer to assist in the search effort were urged to call the Coast Guard at (504) 365-2533 to coordinate.

Source: http://www.theadvocate.com




NEW ORLEANS —Wreckage that was believed to be from a plane that went down Saturday evening in Lake Pontchartrain turned out to be unrelated debris, police said.

A spokesperson for the New Orleans Police Department said officials confirmed Sunday that the debris is not related to the plane. In an earlier update, officials believed the debris was wreckage from the aircraft.

The crash was reported just before 9 p.m. Saturday at the Lakefront Airport. New Orleans police said a Cessna aircraft went down in the lake with three people on board.

One of the passengers, a woman, was picked up by a private yacht and taken to a hospital. Police are still looking for the other passengers, two men.

None of the passengers have been identified.

New Orleans police, New Orleans firefighters and members of the U.S. Coast Guard are involved in the search.

Search crews will continue the search for the plane to locate the wreckage.
















11:15: The NOPD now says the wreckage it first thought was from the plane is unrelated debris. Its dive team continues the search for the plane using sonar technology.

10 a.m.: Divers were preparing to go back into the water to the wreckage site.

9:45 a.m. Sunday: NOPD said the woman recovered from Lake Pontchartrain last night was a passenger in the plane. The pilot and another passenger had not been found.

Original story

The U.S. Coast Guard was still searching for two men missing Sunday morning (Aug. 28) after a Cessna airplane crashed into Lake Pontchartrain near Lakefront Airport in New Orleans the night before.

A woman who was also in the plane was rescued by a private yacht after a good Samaritan called 911, the New Orleans Police Department said. She was transported to Oschner hospital, and no further information was given about her condition.

As midnight passed, four friends from Algiers who had just finished dinner at the Lighthouse Bar and Grill on the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal had parked their truck along the lake and were shining a spotlight over the pitch-black water, hoping to help rescue boats and a helicopter scan the surface to spot the missing men. The group had seen an emergency flare shoot up from the lake around 8:45 while they were dining, and watched Coast Guard boats rush toward the scene as ambulances arrived.

The friends usually take a boat to the dockside restaurant for dinner, but not Saturday night.

"Too bad we didn't bring a boat," said Nick Melson, one of the four. "Otherwise, we could've helped out more. Almost brought it out tonight, but ended up not."

Petty Officer 3rd Class Lexie Preston said the Coast Guard received a report of a plane crash at 8:20 p.m. She described it as a "Cessna training flight." She did not know who owned the plane or how it had crashed.

Responding to the good Samaritan's emergency call, the Coast Guard sent two rescue boats and a helicopter to the scene near the Seabrook bridge.

New Orleans Police and Fire departments are assisting in the search. Divers are attempting to find the missing passengers and the wreckage.

Anyone with information is requested to contact the Coast Guard's Sector New Orleans at 504-365-2200.

Source:   http://www.nola.com





NEW ORLEANS – The Coast Guard and New Orleans Police are searching Lake Pontchartrain after a small plane crashed into the water near the New Orleans Lakefront Airport Saturday night.

According to WWLTV in New Orleans, NOPD and Coast Guard crews rescued one person and were still searching for two more people.

A spokesperson for the U.S. Coast Guard said details are limited at this time, but a number of people were onboard when the Cessna training flight crashed Saturday night around 8:30 p.m.

The one person was rescued by a good samaritan and transferred to a New Orleans hospital in unknown condition.

Video from the scene shows boats deployed on the water as well as helicopters searching by air.

Involved in the search are:

-Coast Guard Station New Orleans 45-foot Response Boat- Medium crew

-Coast Guard Station New Orleans 29-foot Response Boat-Small crew

-Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter aircrew from Air Station New Orleans

Source:   http://www.wbrz.com



NEW ORLEANS - A woman was rescued and two men were still missing after a small plane crashed into Lake Pontchartrain Saturday night, officials said.

The crash happened north of Lakefront Airport and involved a small plane that went down into the lake.  It happened just after 8:30 p.m.

The Coast Guard and NOPD said a woman was rescued by a good Samaritan.  The NOPD said a private yacht rescue the woman, who was then transferred to a 45-foot Coast Guard vessel, and taken by EMS to the hospital in unknown condition for further medical care.

According to a statement, Coast Guard Sector New Orleans received a report from a good Samaritan at 8:20 p.m. of a Cessna training flight crashing into the water.

NOPD rescue divers and Coast Guard helicopters are on scene leading the rescue effort along with the NOFD.

Source:   http://www.wwltv.com

















A plane crashed in Lake Pontchartrain in the vicinity of the Seabrook Bridge near Lakefront Airport in New Orleans on Saturday night (Aug. 27), the U.S. Coast Guard said. A good Samaritan rescued one person from the plane crash; two people who were on board the plane are still missing, the agency said.

Petty Officer 3rd Class Lexie Preston said the Coast Guard received a report of the crash at 8:20 p.m. Preston said the good Samaritan, whose name she did not have, turned the rescued person over to the Coast Guard. 

The person's gender, name and condition were not available. An NOPD source said the person was transported by EMS to Ochsner Hospital.

Two Coast Guard boats and a Coast Guard helicopter were searching for the two missing people. The New Orleans Police and Fire departments are assisting, Preston said.

Source: http://www.nola.com

1 comment:

gretnabear said...

Federal, State and Local Gov't funded resources coupled with good Samaritans quickly responding, as we've seen before to the needs others.