Saturday, December 10, 2016

Arion Lightning, N59JL: Accident occurred December 10, 2016 near Franklin Municipal-John Beverly Rose Airport (KFKN), Franklin, Virginia

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

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: ERA17LA067
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, December 10, 2016 in Franklin, VA
Aircraft: MATHIAS LINDA B LIGHTNING, registration: N59JL
Injuries: 1 Serious, 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 December 10, 2016, about 1215 eastern standard time, a privately owned and operated experimental amateur-built Lightning, N59JL, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain while maneuvering in the traffic pattern at Franklin Municipal-John Beverly Rose Airport, Franklin, Virginia. The commercial pilot sustained minor injuries and the passenger sustained a serious injury. The airplane was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal, local flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and no flight plan was filed for the flight which was originating at the time of the accident.

The pilot stated that she performed an engine run-up before takeoff with no discrepancies noted. During the initial climb when the airplane was at 100 feet above ground level (agl), she felt a vibration which soon stopped. She continued the takeoff and noted that all exhaust gas temperature (EGT) readings were higher than normal, the No. 2 cylinder EGT was over the maximum red line limit, and the airplane had experienced a partial loss of engine power. She kept full throttle applied and informed her passenger that something was not right. She turned crosswind and then downwind, where while maintaining 80 mph, she made a radio call announcing her intention to return. The flight continued in the traffic pattern, and received a terrain warning indicating that the airplane was less than 500 feet agl. She turned onto base leg, and while flying about 200 feet agl, she reduced the throttle to slow the airplane from 80 to 75 mph in preparation to turn onto the final approach leg of the traffic pattern. At that moment, the left wing dropped immediately. She indicated that she did not feel any airframe buffet, and reported the airplane impacted trees while in the left-wing low attitude, and remained suspended in the trees. Both occupants exited the airplane, and were taken to a hospital for treatment of their injuries. Examination of the airplane was pending recovery from the accident site.

FRANKLIN, Va. (WAVY) — Crews responded to an airplane crash that happened Saturday afternoon off the runway in a field near Franklin Municipal-John Beverly Rose Airport.

State police dispatchers were alerted to the crash around 12:30 p.m.

Captain Timothy Whitt with Franklin Police tells 10 On Your Side a small private plane took off from the airport, experienced engine troubles and immediately tried to turn around but did not make it back to the airport. 

Whitt says two people were on board the plane when it crashed.

Virginia State Police say the aircraft was roughly 100 yards in the woods, leaking fuel.

One person was taken to Southampton Memorial Hospital to be treated for minor injuries.

Virginia State Police are investigating the incident.


CARRSVILLE -- The pilot and passenger of a plane that crashed shortly after taking off on Saturday were able to walk away from the scene, according to Virginia State Trooper 1st Sgt. Greg Jackson. 

Linda Mathias of Norfolk, the pilot, and Paul Ruehrmund of Williamsburg were found standing at the back of a residential lot by first responders from the Carrsville Volunteer Fire Department; the call had come in at 12:28 p.m. 

There were apparent only minor injuries, but the two were taken to Southampton Memorial Hospital for further examination. 

A representative there said details of their condition could not be released.

Jackson said that apparently the plane had taken off from the Franklin Municipal Airport. 

The sudden cause of the engine failure is unknown as yet, and the aircraft fell about 100 yards from Walters Highway. 

Trees broke the fall of the plane, which landed tilted to the left. Mathias and Ruehrmund got out and made their way to the road.

There was a small, dripping fuel leak, according to Jackson, and the area was restricted until representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration could inspect the scene.


A small private airplane crashed at an Isle of Wight airport on Saturday afternoon, injuring one person, Virginia State Police said.

A pilot and a passenger were in the two-seat plane and one had minor injuries, VSP 1st Sgt. Greg Jackson said. 

Police received a distress call around 12:38 p.m. about 10 minutes after the plane took off at Franklin Municipal-John Beverly Rose Airport.

Jackson said the plane landed in trees near the runway after it attempted to land. 

 Virginia State Police 1st Sgt. Greg Jackson said the two passengers were able to walk out of the crash, although the plane was damaged enough that he considered it a total loss. 

The Federal Aviation Administration and Virginia State Police are investigating the accident, he said. 


Linda Mathias, a Windsor native, started her flying career in the late 1960s. In addition to serving as an FAA Designated Pilot Examiner, she also has participated in cross-country races and aerobatic stunt competitions.

Flying over the Smithfield Foods plant in her 1978 two-seater Decathlon single-engine plane, Linda Mathias speaks through her headset.

"When the wind blows the right way, you can smell the ham," she says.

Mathias has been blazing a trail in the sky since 1968, when she was a 27-year-old government civilian learning to fly in the Navy's flying club program.

It wasn't unheard of for women to pursue a pilot's license at the time, Mathias says, but female pilots in the commercial sector, especially, were still a rarity.

"A sailor started telling me about his flying lessons through the club, and I thought 'you can do that?' And that's where it began," she says.

Mathias is selling one of her airplanes — the 1978 Decathlon — in a Memorial Day auction at Phoebus Auction Gallery in Hampton. It's the first airplane the auction house has sold, says manager Bill Welch.

"The great thing about this (auction) business is that you find things that tell the story of how society has changed over the years," he says. "You just can't find these planes made in America anymore."

Welch says he would like to see a bid of $35,000 on the plane, which is known as an aerobatic, or stunt, aircraft.

"This one is a tail dragger. See the wheel at the back of the plane," Mathias says. "It takes more skill to fly those."

Mathias, who recently moved from Windsor to Norfolk, is downsizing her plane collection, which also includes a piper cub from the World War II-era.

When her husband was alive, he died in 2011, the couple would fly and restore classic airplanes together. At one time, they owned anywhere between seven and nine planes, she says. Without her husband around, who was skilled in airplane mechanics, maintenance and repairs are costly.

Mathias, who has seen more than four decades as a female pilot, is a Designated Pilot Examiner for the FAA and the governor — which is like a regional president — for the Mid-Atlantic chapter of The Ninety-Nines, a nonprofit organization for female pilots that promotes aviation education. Amelia Earhart is listed as the organization's first president.

Over the years, Mathias has participated in cross-country races and aerobatic competitions, performing stunts such as loops, rolls, hammerhead dives, inverted flying and other tricks. That part of her flying career was just for fun, she says.

"She has always been an ambitious person in the organizations she's involved in," says Charles Griminger, of Hampton. Griminger is retired from the military and now flies World War II airplanes for the Old Dominion squadron of the Commemorative Air Force, an organization that promotes education about historical military aircraft. The pilots often perform in air shows.

"She's an excellent person," he says.

Mathias, who exudes a combination of no-nonsense efficiency and gentleness, doesn't speak much about the hardships of being an early female pilot. She does admit that she took some serious, and sometimes crude, ribbing from male pilots and instructors in the late '60s and early 1970s.

"I do remember during one lesson the instructor said that he would leave a string for me to follow so I could find my way back," she says.

She smiles about those stories, but her determination to pass on her passion to a younger generation of women is evident.

"I had considered commercial airlines, but you just didn't see very many women then," she says. "They were just starting to break in. You see a lot more women (pilots) in the terminals now."

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