Sunday, April 17, 2016

Lake Wales Municipal Airport (X07) manager has vision for the future: At 27, Alex Vacha gets his chance to run operation

Alex Vacha is the new airport manager at the Lake Wales Municipal Airport.



LAKE WALES — The new director of the Lake Wales Municipal Airport plans to use his military experience and skills to improve the airport.

Alex Vacha, 27, was hired this month by the city to run operations at the airport.

“We're fortunate to have a very enthusiastic, hardworking young guy,” City Manager Kenneth Fields said. “As he put it, it's his dream job.”

Vacha said it is a job he has dreamed about since high school.

“Since I was in high school, I knew I was going to work in aviation,” he said. “I think they wanted somebody who was in a position to prove himself because, if I can succeed, I can prove my value and they get an improved airport.”

Fields said Vacha is energetic and the management experience he gained while running medivac operations for the Army in Kosov is "exactly what we need in Lake Wales."

Vacha is the city's first airport manager. Previously, Betty Hill oversaw the airport as the fixed base operator through her business, Florida Skydiving Center, which had a contract with the city to manage the facility.

Vacha said he looks forward to staying with the airport long-term to see how it grows.

“It's an exciting time,” he said. “That being young part of it is fun because I could stay and see the changes and watch the growth happen and be one of the guys that have been here since the ground level. I want to see this place grow and make a difference in the city and in the state.”

The right fit

Originally from Indian Rocks Beach, Vacha graduated from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in aeronautics.

Vacha, who is planning to commute from his home in Tampa where he lives with his wife, Marissa, went to work for Hillsborough County Public Schools, teaching underage GED students for three years. He is the oldest of five siblings and said watching over them made him feel like he could be a good teacher.

"I started doing it part-time but fell in love with it," Vacha said.

But his teaching career was interrupted in 2014. Vacha participated in JROTC in high school and joined the Army Reserves afterwards. During his second year of teaching, he was called to serve in Kosovo, in the former Yugoslavia. Vacha was promoted to first lieutenant and ran the medivac operations.

“I was basically running operations there and building flight schedules and shuffling crew rest cycles," Vacha said. "When I got back from my deployment last summer, I knew that I wanted to be an airport manager because that's pretty much what I was doing overseas.”

Vacha began routinely searching airport websites for open positions. When he saw the Lake Wales job was open, Vacha said he knew his experience with Hillsborough County schools and his military background made him the ideal person for the job.

“(Airport managers) need to be able to handle leases agreements and customer service and I have that, working with the School District, teachers, parents and kids,” he said. “But all that pilot knowledge that I have with talking on the radios and getting in and out of airports is a piece that maybe not a lot of airport managers have.”

CHANGING GEARS

Vacha said skydiving has been the main focus of the airport but he is hoping to change that.

“We love the skydiving operation, it's fantastic, but we also need to allow general aviation aircraft to come to Lake Wales,” he said.

To accommodate more air traffic, Vacha said he is looking to add a pilots' lounge, increase aircraft parking and provide fliers transportation to restaurants and other sites in Lake Wales.

Eric Farewell, a member of the Airport Advisory Board, said he is looking forward to the changes Vacha will make.

“He's very open to the idea of Lake Wales being more focused on other things in the aviation business,” Farewell said. “I have to say I'm extremely excited. It's exciting to see the city move forward with growth and development.”

Farewell said Hill's biggest interest is in her skydiving business and running that while managing the airport was "too much of a task."

Hill ran the airport for 20 years before Vacha was hired. She was originally given a 10-year lease with four five-year extensions, but was required to give 90 days' notice that she wanted the lease extended.

Hill said she missed last year's deadline because her mother was in the hospital and she lost track of time.

“I didn't know what day it was,” she said.

The City Commission voted in September to unanimously to extend Hill's lease at the airport by 90 days past the contract's expiration date. However, after receiving a strongly worded letter from the Federal Aviation Administration and Florida Department of Transportation recommending services be put out to bid since Hill was issued a notice of termination, the commission did so.

“I thought maybe it would have been courteous to send me a letter letting me know I needed to renew my contract,” Hill said.

Fields announced in January that it would be better for the city financially to hire an airport manager rather than find a new fixed base operator.

In the last five years, the city annually allocated between $1,900 and $1,700 from the general fund to the airport. Fields said, if the city took over fuel sales and leasing agreements, the airport could be self-sufficient and no longer reliant on money from the general fund.

Fields also said it would benefit Hill.

“Having a separate airport manager gives (Hill) the opportunity to grow her business,” Fields said.

But Hill said being in charge of the airport did not interfere with her skydiving business, which is at the airport.

“I can multitask,” Hill said. “I've been doing this for 45 years.”

EXPANDING OPERATIONS

The Lake Wales Municipal Airport has 485 acres, most of it unused.

Vacha said he'd like to fill up some of that space.

“We want to bring in aviation development and non-aviation, industrial development,” he said. “We have a lot of property for lease available, we can develop the infrastructure and the city manager is totally on board to get the roads and plumbing that we may need for development.”

But Vacha said his main goal is to attract planes to Lake Wales that might otherwise choose to land in Bartow, Winter Haven or Lakeland.

Fields and the commission have made development at the airport a priority. A $486,000 project to expand the east-west runway by 1,000 feet is near the end of the planning stages, Vacha said.

Fields said the airport's proximity to the CSX facility in Winter Haven could jump-start business.

“My vision and what we're looking to improve is to make it friendly, put Lake Wales on the map as a place to visit and market us and show what the city can do for everyone,” Vacha said. “I guess the biggest goal I have is to make it a place you want to go to.”

Original article can be found here: http://www.theledger.com

Restricted airspace, no tower can cause problems at Tampa's Peter O. Knight Airport (KTPF)

A plane departs Tampa’s Peter O. Knight Airport on Thursday. On March 18, a plane crashed after nearly hitting another, killing two.


TAMPA — Before Louis Caporicci and Kevin Carreno climbed into the cockpit of a Cessna 340 last month, before confusion at Peter O. Knight Airport led their plane and another to take off at the same time, before their plane veered into the ground and erupted in a fireball, killing the two friends, there was a warning.

"This airport needs a tower."

The message, from a veteran pilot with thousands of hours of flying time, came after he was involved in a near midair collision over Peter O. Knight in January 2014. The plane that nearly hit him never signaled it was trying to land, he wrote in a federal safety report.

The pilot also warned that tight restrictions on where planes can fly near Peter O. Knight make airspace around the Davis Islands airport "cramped," increasing the danger when communication breaks down. He called the situation "treacherous."

Like most general aviation airports, Peter O. Knight does not have a control tower. That means the pilots who fly there, most of them in small recreational planes, must talk to each other to operate safely.

But unlike other general aviation airports, Peter O. Knight is surrounded by some of the most regulated airspace in Florida.

Seven miles to the northwest is Tampa International Airport. MacDill Air Force Base sits 6 miles to the southwest. Both are surrounded by airspace that pilots can enter only if they're granted permission by those airports' control towers. A shipping channel adjacent to the airport further complicates operations.

Most days, planes navigate the towerless airspace without problems. There are an estimated 60,000 takeoffs and landings at Peter O. Knight each year, and the overwhelming majority are incident-free.

But in the moments before the deadly crash on March 18, there was a communications failure between the two planes taking off at Peter O. Knight, a National Transportation Safety Board investigation has found. MacDill's controlled airspace factored in, too, the NTSB report says.

At least a dozen times in the past 10 years, those two issues have caused major accidents, near-misses and embarrassing but dangerous mishaps at the small airport, records show.

"Airspace restrictions are a challenge at Peter O. Knight," said John Cox, a former US Airways pilot and former safety official at the Air Line Pilots Association who now lives in St. Petersburg. "It can and has been for years used safely, but it is challenging."

• • •

Even from the sky, some views are better than others.

The scenic entrance into Peter O. Knight — the Tampa skyline, giant cruise ships that line Port Tampa Bay, runways just feet from the blue waters of Hillsborough Bay — is why recreational pilots like Bill Moffatt enjoy landing planes there.

But its location between two major air hubs creates obstacles.

"You've got to watch it," said Moffatt, 51, of Bartow. "It is unique, there's no doubt about it. I think a lot of people probably shy away from that airport because of that."

Marty Lauth, a retired Federal Aviation Administration controller who worked at airports in Orlando and Miami, said he has never seen an urban general aviation airport in Florida where pilots must maneuver around such expansive airspace restrictions without a tower.

"Not to this extent. Not with a military base. Not with a downtown. Not next to a major airport like Tampa International," said Lauth, now a professor of air traffic management at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.

"I have seen some busy (general aviation) airports that are in and around a major metropolitan area, but there's usually a control tower."

An airport can apply to the Federal Contract Tower program and the FAA will conduct a cost-benefit analysis to see if a tower is needed. The federal government can help fund the cost. Or, airports can choose to construct a tower and pay for staffing themselves.

Peter O. Knight has not asked the FAA to evaluate whether the airport needs a tower, said John Tiliacos, who oversees the airport as vice president of operations and customer service at Tampa International.

The FAA said it is investigating the March crash for any safety concerns at the airport.

"Peter O. Knight is a very safe airport," Tiliacos said. "The vast majority of pilots that operate into and out of our airports do so safely, they follow published procedures, and when you look at our records, it reflects that."

Across the bay, St. Petersburg's Albert Whitted Airport has a tower. It's busier, with about 90,000 takeoffs and landings a year, though there are also fewer limitations on pilots flying around it.

And a tower can't prevent every tragedy. Since 2012, there have been two fatal crashes at Albert Whitted.

And a tower wouldn't have stopped a deadly crash at Peter O. Knight in 2006, when a plane experiencing engine trouble hit a house just beyond the runway.

But the unusual restrictions at Peter O. Knight have caused repeated problems there.

Because it doesn't have a tower, the federal government doesn't log dangerous incidents and near-misses at Peter O. Knight, only physical accidents. The airport does not track them, either.

Pilots can self-report unsafe actions to a national database maintained by NASA. The reports are filed anonymously and the FAA does not monitor or verify them. But they're highly technical and often filled out meticulously.

Since 2009, pilots on five occasions have reported narrowly avoiding catastrophes at Peter O. Knight, including three near midair collisions between planes during takeoffs or landings. In each case, there was a failure to properly communicate. In most cases, Peter O. Knight's unique surroundings factored in, as well.

During the same time period, pilots have not reported any such incidents at Albert Whitted, or at Clearwater Airpark or at Tampa Executive Airport, two other local airports without towers.

In February 2015, for example, a plane flew less than 100 feet over an unsuspecting tugboat on the channel adjacent to Peter O. Knight. The encounter "scared the (expletive) out of the pilot in the vessel's wheelhouse," according to a safety report filed with NASA.

The channel also was the site of a crash investigated by the NTSB in 2008. A pilot didn't see the mast of a sailboat while landing and hit it, injuring two.

Incidents occur because of the airport's proximity to MacDill. A 2014 safety handbook from the airbase on avoiding midair collisions said Peter O. Knight "presents the greatest potential for conflict" with MacDill planes and it urged civilian pilots to "exercise extreme vigilance and caution."

That danger was nearly realized in 2011, when a plane from Peter O. Knight flew into the path of a C-17, a large, four-engine military transport plane. Neither plane was harmed.

MacDill's runway lines up almost perfectly with one at Peter O. Knight, and the two airports "are often mistaken or confused" with each other, the handbook said. In 2012, a civilian pilot headed to Peter O. Knight from Miami accidentally landed without clearance at the airbase, causing security concerns.

And Air Force pilots aren't immune to the confusion. In 2012, a tired pilot landed a C-17, with a 170-foot wingspan, on one of Peter O. Knight's tiny runways instead of at MacDill.

"The young pilot did a good job landing, albeit on the wrong strip," Gen. James Mattis, then head of Central Command, said at the time.

He should know. He was aboard the plane when it landed.

• • •

On most days, MacDill is just another nuisance for pilots flying into and out of Peter O. Knight.

But on March 18, MacDill's restrictions may have launched a sequence of events that led to the death of the two pilots, Caporicci and Carreno.

Normally, MacDill's controlled airspace leaves some room — though not much — for pilots to take off from Peter O. Knight toward the southwest before they have to turn left away from the Air Force base.

On March 18, that would have been the preferred direction to take off, because wind was coming from the southwest. Pilots generally take off into the wind to maximize airflow over the wings.

But with the Tampa Bay AirFest at MacDill that weekend, a flight restriction extended to cover the southern end of both of Peter O. Knight's runways, the NTSB investigation said.

That was critical, said Al Diehl, a former NTSB crash investigator and a pilot familiar with Peter O. Knight. It likely forced runway traffic north — where the airport's two runways intersect.

"There's no way in hell you're going to take off (to the southwest) because then you would be in violation of the (flight restriction)," Diehl said.

About 11:30 a.m. March 18, two planes, a Cessna 172 and the Cessna 340 operated by Caporicci and Carreno, took off at almost the same time on different runways heading toward the intersection point.

Disaster still could have been avoided if the pilots had spoken to each other using the ground frequency. Or if there was a tower to direct them.

Pilots in the Cessna 172 told NTSB investigators that they announced their takeoff plans through a ground frequency, but they never heard Caporicci and Carreno. When the Cessna 172 took off, Caporicci and Carreno left the ground at almost the same time, then took a hard left turn, then the plane inverted and crashed nose-first into the ground.

The Cessna 172 was not damaged.

Reached at his office, the owner of the Cessna 172, Paul Gallizzi, said the NTSB and his attorneys advised him not to comment on the crash.

Moffatt, the Bartow pilot, said the accident disturbed him when he read about it. He has seen it before, pilots skipping a simple but critical step. But it should be a teaching point, he said, not a reason to change things at the airport.

"I don't think there's any more danger at Peter O. Knight than any other airport," Moffatt said, "if you follow the rules."

Original article can be found here:  http://www.tampabay.com

Louis Caporicci

Kevin Correna



Ninerxray Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N6239X

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Miami FSDO-19

NTSB Identification: ERA16FA133 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, March 18, 2016 in Tampa, FL
Aircraft: CESSNA 340A, registration: N6239X
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 March 18, 2016, at 1130 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 340A, N6239X, was destroyed when it impacted terrain during an initial climb following a takeoff at Peter O. Knight Airport (TPF), Tampa, Florida. The airline transport pilot and the private pilot were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. An instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed. The personal flight, to Pensacola International Airport (PNS) Pensacola, Florida, was operating under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

TPF had two runways, runway 4/22, which was 3,580 feet long and 100 feet wide, and runway 18/36, which was 2,687 feet long and 75 feet wide. The runways intersected near their northern ends. There was shipping channel just east of, and parallel to runway 18/36.

Wind, recorded at the airport at 1135, was from 210 degrees true at 9 knots. However, a temporary flight restriction (TFR) was in effect at the time of the accident due to an airshow at nearby MacDill Air Force Base. The TFR extended in a 5-nautical-mile radius from the center of the base, from the surface to 15,000 feet unless authorized by air traffic control. The TFR extended over the southern ends of both runways at TPF. Multiple sources indicated that while the twin-engine Cessna 340 was taking off from runway 4, a single-engine Cessna 172M, N61801, was taking off from runway 36.

The airport did not have an operating control tower, and the common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) was not recorded, nor was it required to be.

There were two pilots in the Cessna 172; the pilot in command (PIC) who had just passed his private pilot check ride at TPF, and a pilot-rated passenger, who had also been the PIC's flight instructor. The Cessna 172 was departing for its home airport following the check ride. In separate written statements, both pilots stated that the PIC made an advisory radio call indicating they would be taking off from runway 36. They also stated that they did not hear any other airplane on the frequency, with the PIC noting that they monitored frequency 122.725 [the CTAF frequency] from the taxi start point in front of the fixed base operator (FBO) to runway 36.

There was also a radio at the FBO, and a witness who was there at the time of the accident stated that he heard a radio call from the Cessna 340, and about 10-15 seconds later, heard what he thought could have been a call from the Cessna 172, but it wasn't as clear, partly because he was speaking to someone else at the time.

Airport and cross-channel security cameras captured the latter part of the accident flight. They partially showed the Cessna 340 taking off from runway 4 and the Cessna 172 taking off from runway 36.

The airport security camera was pointed such that the intersections of runways 4 and 36 were in the upper left quadrant of the video. The video initially showed the Cessna 172 on its takeoff roll. It lifted off the runway well before the runway intersection, continued a slow climb straight ahead, and gradually disappeared toward the upper left portion of the video.

When the video initially showed the Cessna 340, it was already about 20 feet above runway 4. It then made a hard left turn and appeared to pass behind the Cessna 172, still in a left turn, but climbing. It then appeared to briefly parallel the course of the Cessna 172, but the left-turn bank angle continued to increase, and the airplane's nose dropped. The airplane then descended, impacting the ground in an inverted, extremely nose-low attitude. During the impact sequence, the airplane burst into flames.

There was also a camera at a berth on the opposite (eastern) side of the shipping channel. The camera was pointing northward, up the shipping channel. However, the left side of the video also included part of the airport where runways 4 and 36 intersected.

In the recording, the Cessna 172 was first seen coming into view airborne off runway 36, and climbing straight out over the runway. As it neared the intersection, the Cessna 340 came into view, just lifting off from runway 4 and almost immediately beginning a hard left turn. The Cessna 340 continued the turn, passing behind the Cessna 172 while climbing and closing on the Cessna 172's right side. It almost reached Cessna 172's altitude, but continued the left turn onto its back, and descended into the ground. A fireball then erupted that initially extended well below and in front of the Cessna 172.

The Cessna 172 pilot-rated passenger, in the right seat, stated that as his airplane climbed through about 200 feet, he heard another airplane. He looked out the right window and saw the Cessna 340 almost directly below, "stall and crash." The PIC of the Cessna 172, in the left seat, stated that he heard but did not see what he thought was a twin engine airplane, then saw a fireball at the departure end of the runway he just departed.

The videos also recorded a boat heading north, mid-channel, in the waterway next to runway 36 when the accident occurred. A witness on the boat heard "screaming engine noise," which caused him to look toward the two airplanes. He saw that the "twin engine plane was behind and below the single engine plane." The twin engine airplane was in a left turn; it then caught a wing and slammed into the ground, with an "instantaneous" explosion.

The Cessna 340 impacted flat terrain about 40 feet to right of, and 250 feet from the departure end of runway 36, in the vicinity of 27 degrees, 55.16 minutes north latitude, 082 degrees, 26.87 degrees west longitude. The airplane was mostly destroyed in a post impact fire, and initial ground scars indicated an approximate heading of 010 degrees magnetic. Ground scars were consistent with the airplane having impacted at a high descent angle and inverted. However, the main wreckage came to rest right side up.

The fire consumed the majority of fuselage, from the nose of the airplane to the beginning of the empennage. Both wings were also substantially consumed by fire. The engines had separated from the wings, with the right engine found between the beginning of the wreckage path and the main wreckage, and the left engine found on top of the right wing.

Remnants of all flight control surfaces were found at the scene, but flight control continuity could only be confirmed between the wings and center cabin, and the tail and center cabin due to the extent of fire damage.

Both propellers were found broken off from their respective engines, and both sets of propellers exhibited blade leading edge burnishing, and bending and twisting. Engine crankshaft continuity was confirmed on both engines, as was compression. Significant thermal and impact damage was noted, but no preexisting anomalies were found that would have precluded normal operation.
































Cessna 172K Skyhawk, N7133G: Accident occurred April 17, 2016 near Catalina Island Airport in the Sky (KAVX), Avalon, Los Angeles County, California

NTSB Identification: WPR16LA093
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, April 17, 2016 in Avalon, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/18/2017
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N7133G
Injuries: 2 Serious.

NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The private pilot and non-pilot rated passenger departed for a personal flight to an island airport located on top of a plateau. While on final approach for landing, the airplane descended below the elevation of the runway threshold. The pilot attempted to conduct a go-around but was unable to prevent a collision with the rising terrain. Detailed examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal evidence of any pre-impact mechanical deficiencies or failures that would have precluded normal operation.

The airport's website contained information for pilots about its unique operational hazards. The website explicitly warned that there were no visual cues for altitude reference on approach, that there was usually a strong downdraft near the approach end of the runway due to the surrounding terrain and prevailing winds, and that the upslope of the runway could cause approach and flare difficulties for inexperienced pilots. The website further stated that most flying clubs required pilots flying into the airport for the first time to be accompanied by a flight instructor or another pilot familiar with the airport. 

The pilot reported that the accident flight was his first experience flying to that airport, and that neither his co-owners of the airplane, nor his insurance company, required any checkout flight to that airport. He reported that he was only vaguely aware of the visual illusions associated with the landing approach; and that he was unaware of, and never saw or used, the pulsating visual approach slope indicator (PVASI) with which the runway was equipped. Review of onboard GPS data revealed that the pilot flew a straight-in approach, instead of the normal and recommended right traffic pattern. The airplane joined the final approach course about 1.4 miles from the runway threshold and about 100 ft below the nominal approach path slope. The airplane descended farther below the nominal approach path and remained in the PVASI flashing red (well below course) indication zone for the entire approach. The pilot initiated the go-around about 8 seconds before impact, as the airplane descended below the elevation of the threshold.

The pilot's incomplete preparations for the flight, particularly with regard to the airport's peculiarities and associated hazards, resulted in the pilot conducting an inordinately low final approach. Had the pilot flown the recommended traffic pattern instead of a straight-in approach, he would have provided himself with another opportunity to detect the airport's unusual characteristics and conduct his final approach accordingly. Finally, ground and wind speed data suggest that the airplane was near or at the extreme low end of its normal approach speed range just before the go-around. In combination, these factors placed the airplane in a position and energy state from which recovery was difficult or impossible once the airplane encountered the known downdraft phenomenon just short of the runway threshold.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain a proper approach path on landing because he failed to familiarize himself with the airport's unique approach hazards and recommended procedures before the flight. Also causal was the pilot's failure to recognize the airplane's improper approach and to execute a go-around in a timely manner.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On April 17, 2016, about 1629 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 172K, N7133G, was destroyed when it impacted terrain during a landing attempt at Airport in the Sky (AVX), Santa Catalina Island/Avalon, California. The private pilot and his passenger received serious injuries. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

AVX is situated in rugged terrain, atop a mountain that was leveled off to construct the airport. Under the approach path to runway 22, the terrain rises steeply to the airport elevation and runway threshold. According to a pilot and his friend who were standing at the airport watching the airplane arrive, when on final approach to runway 22, it appeared low, and possibly slow as well. The pilot-witness waited for the engine sound to increase to indicate a climb attempt, but he did not hear that. As the airplane began descending below the local horizon, the witnesses observed it enter a very steep right-wing down bank, and disappear from view. They listened and watched for indication of either impact or a successful escape, but heard and saw nothing to indicate either. They then notified the airport operations staff that they believed the airplane had crashed.

The two witnesses departed soon thereafter in another Cessna 172 (N365ES), and conducted a brief and unsuccessful visual scan for the airplane. About 2 minutes later, they heard a radio call on the AVX common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF) to another airplane, indicating that the US Coast Guard had detected an ELT signal about 0.7 miles southeast of the airport. The pilot-witness announced that he was returning to the area to conduct a visual aerial search, and that he suspected that the accident site was north of the airport. Shortly thereafter, the pilot-witness and his passenger located the wreckage, and guided ground personnel to it. They were also successful in establishing radio communications with the accident pilot, who was using his handheld aviation transceiver.

According to the accident pilot, he was approaching runway 22 for a landing when he determined that the airplane was too low. He attempted to climb and turn to avoid terrain. The airplane banked sharply to the right, and struck terrain shortly thereafter. The airplane came to rest nearly inverted, and the pilot was able to exit the airplane. His passenger remained trapped in the wreckage, but there was no fire.

First responders extracted the passenger, and both she and the pilot were airlifted to a mainland hospital. The wreckage was recovered to a secure facility for investigative examination.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating. He was one of five co-owners of the airplane, and had purchased his share about 2 months before the accident, in late February 2016. The pilot reported that as of the date of the accident, he had about 174 hours total flight experience, including about 84 hours in the accident airplane make and model. His most recent flight review was completed in November 2015, and his most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued in April 2013.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

FAA information indicated that the airplane was manufactured in 1969, and was equipped with a Lycoming O-320 series engine. A review of airplane maintenance records revealed that the most recent annual inspection was completed in January 2016. At that time, the airplane had a total time in service of about 4,952 hours. The maintenance records did not reveal any unusual or repetitive entries, or any recent engine power-related entries.

In November 2014, a 406 MHz emergency locator transmitter (ELT) was installed in the airplane.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 1551 AVX automated weather observation included winds from 260º at 11 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 24º C, dew point 0º C, and an altimeter setting of 30.02 inches of mercury.

The 1651 AVX automated observation was very similar, but included winds from 250º at 14 knots.

COMMUNICATIONS

After departing LGB, the pilot utilized FAA air traffic control (ATC) flight-following services for his channel crossing to the island. He cancelled that service when he neared AVX, and then communicated his arrival on the designated common traffic advisory frequency (CTAF).

AIRPORT INFORMATION

General Information

Santa Catalina Island is located about 20 miles offshore from the southern California mainland. The island terrain is extremely rugged. AVX was situated on a small mesa, at an elevation of about 1,600 feet above mean sea level (msl). According to the Catalina Conservancy, which is the steward agency for AVX, the airport mesa was man-made by removing the tops of two adjacent mountains, and using that material to fill in the lower-elevation region between the two.

The airport and runway topography are somewhat unusual. It is very common practice for flight schools and fixed base operators in that region to require airport-specific checkouts prior to allowing any pilot to fly there on his/her own.

Runway Information

The single paved runway, designated 4/22, measured 3,000 by 75 feet. The threshold of runway 22 was situated at an elevation of 1,553 feet. Over the first 2,000 feet, the runway sloped evenly upward to an elevation of about 1,597 feet msl. This yielded a runway gradient of about 2.2 percent, or about 1.26º. Beyond that point, the runway rose more gradually, to a maximum elevation of about 1,605 feet at the runway 4 threshold. The gradient profile made the runway appear "humped," and rendered aircraft positioned at opposite thresholds invisible to one another.

Catalina Conservancy Web Site Information for Pilots

The Catalina Conservancy published the following information for pilots on its web site:

"The approach end of Catalina's runway 22 begins at the edge of a 1500' cliff. This gives the airport some characteristics similar to landing on an aircraft carrier that is 1,602' in the air.

Be Aware:
1) There are no familiar visual cues for altitude reference. You MUST [emphasis original] rely on your Altimeter. [capitalization original]
2) There is usually a strong downdraft at the approach end of the runway caused by the prevailing winds falling over the 1500' cliff. Be prepared for this downdraft and possible loss of altitude during your short final.
3) The uphill slope of Runway 22 can cause approach and flare problems for inexperienced pilots."

Approach Path Indication System

Runway 22 was equipped with a Pulsating Visual Approach Slope Indicator (PVASI), which was installed in 1993. The PVASI approach path was set to a 3 degree glide path relative to local horizontal. Thus, when on the 3 degree glide path, the actual approach path (and pilot's sight picture) was aligned about 4.3º relative to the runway plane. The PVASI was positioned about 450 feet down runway 22, about 80 feet to the left of the runway 22 centerline. The published PVASI threshold crossing height was 39 feet.

According to the PVASI manufacturer's data, the nominal approach path was 0.35º "thick," and indicated to the pilot by a steady white light. The next lower profile, "below course," indicated by a steady red light, was 0.175º thick. The lowest indicated profile, "well below course," indicated by a pulsating red light, was 2.5º thick. Above-nominal glide path was 2.5º thick, and indicated by a pulsating white light.

Based on these values, a pilot would observe a steady white light when on an approach path slope between 3.175º and 2.825º. A steady red "below course" indication would appear on approach path slopes between 2.825º and 2.65º, and a flashing red "well below course" indication would appear on approach path slopes between 2.65º and 0.15º

AVX Runway 22 Approach Accidents

Review of NTSB accident data revealed that between 1985 and 1993, there were five AVX runway 22 approach/landing accidents. Subsequent to 1993, and including this subject accident, there were ten additional AVX runway 22 approach/landing accidents. None of the 15 accidents were fatal. All were personal flights operating certificated, single-engine airplanes in day visual meteorological conditions.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The wreckage was located in a ravine, approximately 400 feet north-northwest of, and 150 feet below, the runway 22 threshold. The impact location and wreckage area were situated on steeply sloping terrain; ground scars and the final resting point indicated that the airplane slid and/or tumbled downhill from the impact point.

The wreckage came to rest inverted, against an outcrop of small trees. The right wing was fracture-separated from the fuselage, and the fuselage was significantly torn, crumpled, and otherwise deformed.

Detailed examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any pre-impact mechanical deficiencies or failures that would have precluded continued normal operation and flight. Damage signatures were consistent with the airplane striking terrain in a right wing down, nose-first attitude. The cabin structure retained most of its original occupiable volume, with the exception of the two cockpit footwells. The primary cabin impact damage and deformation was consistent with impact loads applied from the lower forward right side. Additional damage, particularly to the aft fuselage and empennage, was consistent with the airplane tumbling and/or sliding down the steeply-sloped terrain at the accident site.

The fuel selector was found set to the left tank, the flaps were set to about 20º, and the elevator trim was approximately neutral: all of these settings are consistent with those of a normal final approach. Propeller damage was consistent with the engine developing power at the time of impact. Refer to the public docket for this accident for detailed information.

An Appareo brand Stratus 2S GPS device was recovered from the wreckage. The pilot reported that he used the device during the accident flight, so it was sent to the NTSB Recorders Laboratory in Washington DC for data download.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Pilot's Flight Preparations and Recollections

In a telephone interview with the NTSB investigator, the pilot reported that he had never flown into AVX before. Neither the co-owners nor the insurer of the airplane required or suggested any AVX-specific checkout or dual flight prior to solo flights there.

In preparation for the flight, the pilot conducted some research about AVX by speaking with some fellow pilots, and reading on the internet. From that research he learned/recalled that the runway was "bowed," meaning it crested and, after touchdown, appeared shorter than it actually was. The pilot also stated that he learned that there were some "optical illusions" associated with the runway, but other than the "bowed" effect, he was unable to be more specific about what those illusions were.

When the pilot was asked whether, as part of his approach path alignment, he saw or used the PVASI, and what its indications were, he responded that he was unaware of its existence, and did not recall seeing or using any light-based approach slope indicators.

In his discussion shortly after the accident with a sheriff who was a first responder, the pilot reported that when on the final approach, he realized that he was too low and added power to climb. He stated that the right wing went down, and that he "added rudder" but that rudder application was ineffective.

The pilot was able to extract himself from the wreckage, and used his handheld aviation-frequency transceiver to attempt to call for help. Those communications attempts were unsuccessful until N365ES returned and visually located the wreckage.

Accident Notification and Location Activities

The two witnesses from N365ES who believed that N7133G had crashed could not be certain of the accident due their lack of any definitive aural or visual evidence. Their notification to the airport operations staff prompted that individual to conduct a brief visual search, but that search was unsuccessful.

At 1629, which was less than a minute after the accident, the first signal from the airplane's ELT was received by one of the satellites in the detection network. The signal provided the airplane identification, but was insufficient to enable a position solution. Due to the lack of any position information, personnel at the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center (AFRCC) in Florida had to wait for a second detection before they could notify the geographically appropriate search and rescue agency. According to AFRCC personnel, they then began attempting to contact the airplane owners listed on the ELT registration by telephone, but were unsuccessful.

Although the airplane was co-owned by five persons, the ELT registration/contact list only contained three names and phone numbers. One of those persons had sold his share to the accident pilot about 6 weeks prior, and the phone number listed for another co-owner was incorrect. At 1647, the third co-owner (initials "FQ") on the list was telephoned by the AFRCC, but FQ was unable to take the call because he was working.

The next satellite detection of the ELT occurred at 1649, and enabled the first position solution. That solution indicated that the accident site was situated about 4,300 feet southeast of AVX, which was about 5,300 feet from the actual accident location. Based on that position solution, AFRCC notified the United States Coast Guard (USCG) District 11 Rescue Coordination Center (RCC), whose personnel made contact with the AVX operations staff, who in turn used CTAF to contact an inbound airplane, and request search assistance. That radio call also prompted the pilot of N365ES to turn back towards AVX, and execute an aerial visual search.

At 1658, the USCG RCC made telephone contact with co-owner FQ, and notified him that the airplane's ELT signal had been detected. FQ placed telephone calls to the other four co-owners, but did not reach any of them. Shortly thereafter FQ determined that the accident pilot had departed LGB, with an intended destination of Catalina/AVX.

About 1710, the local Los Angeles County Sheriff office was notified of a possible aircraft accident, and that office began a coordinated search and rescue response.

A third satellite detection occurred at 1723, and the data from that and the previous detection enabled a second position solution. The revised position was just north of AVX, and was situated about 1,100 feet from the actual accident location. That revised position information was communicated to the USCG, and then to persons directly involved in the search.

At an unknown time, the pilot and passenger of N365ES visually located the wreckage, and guided first responders to the scene.

Airplane Weight and Balance Information

Review of available information indicated that the airplane was within its weight and balance limits for the departure, flight, and accident. The airplane gross weight was estimated to be about 1,890 lbs at the time of the accident, which was about 410 lbs below the maximum allowable value of 2,300 lbs.

Airplane Performance Information

The airplane manufacturer's Owners' Manual (OM) provided various guidance elements in several sections throughout the document. In the checklist-style "Normal Procedures section, the OM specified approach speeds of "70 to 80 MPH (flaps up), 65 to 75 MPH (flaps down)." The only landing performance data was for 40º flaps, and an approach speed of 69 "IAS [indicated air speed] MPH.," A "Performance Data" sheet provided by an airplane co-owner, and which was reportedly in the airplane, cited an approach speed of "70 to 80 MPH," but did not specify a flap setting. In his written communications with the NTSB, the pilot stated that he used "20 degrees - 65kts." The units on the outer/primary ring of the airspeed indicator were presented in mph, but were not explicitly labeled as such. The inner ring units were presented in knots, and explicitly labeled as such.


The "Balked Landing (Go Around)" subsection in the OM checklist section checklist cited a maximum flap setting of 20º, and specified retraction of the flaps (from 20º) "upon reaching an airspeed of approximately 65 MPH." The expanded balked landing subsection stated "If obstacles must be cleared during the go-around climb, leave the wing flaps in the 10º to 20º range until the obstacles are cleared." Obstruction clearance guidance in the OM specified a climb speed of 68 mph "with flaps retracted." The co-owner "Performance Data" sheet specified a best angle climb speed of 68 mph, but did not cite any flap setting. The pilot did not report what speed or flap setting he used for his go-around attempt, but as noted previously, the flaps were found at their apparent approach setting of about 20º.

For reference purposes, the OM stall speeds for flaps 10º and bank angles of 0º, 20º, 40º and 60º are 52, 54, 59 and 74 mph CAS respectively. The OM only presents stall speeds for the maximum gross weight of 2,300 lbs, and for flap settings of 0º, 10º and 40º. Due to the IAS-CAS differences, combined with the facts that the airplane weighed less than its maximum allowable weight, and that the flaps were set to 20º, the actual IAS stall speeds, as estimated by the NTSB, would have been about 1 to 2 mph below the above-cited OM values.

Appareo Stratus 2S Flight Data

The recovered GPS device contained the accident flight data, and the data was successfully downloaded. The GPS data file for the flight began when the airplane was parked in its spot at Long Beach Airport (LGB), Long Beach, CA, and ended at the accident location. The data is consistent with the pilot stopping to conduct an engine run-up, and then departing on LGB runway 25R. The airplane flew a right downwind leg until it was just east of LGB, and then turned approximately south towards AVX.

The pilot reported that while utilizing ATC flight following services, the controllers assigned him some headings and altitudes enroute for traffic avoidance purposes. When the airplane was about 10 miles from the mainland shore, it began an essentially straight and direct track towards AVX. When the airplane was approximately 2.5 miles from the AVX runway 22 threshold, the track turned more southbound, and then southwest to join the extended runway centerline, about 1.4 miles from the threshold. The airplane then tracked directly towards the runway until the pilot attempted to go-around, when he deviated to the right. Flight duration from takeoff to accident was approximately 24 minutes.

About 70 seconds prior to the accident, the airplane joined the AVX runway 22 final approach course, at a GPS altitude of about 2,000 feet. At that location, the PVASI nominal approach path altitude was approximately 2,100 feet, and the airplane was in the zone where the pilot would have seen the pulsating red light, indicating that he was well below the desired approach path. The airplane descended away from the nominal approach path, and most of the rest of the approach remained in the flashing red indication zone. For the final mile of the approach, the airplane was situated approximately 150 feet below the nominal PVASI approach path. When the airplane was about 1/2 mile from the threshold, it descended below the lower limit of the flashing red indication zone, which represented an approach slope of 0.15 degrees.

The GPS-derived groundspeed of the airplane was about 115 mph when it joined the final approach course. The groundspeed decreased steadily to about 40 mph, until about 8 seconds prior to the accident, when it began increasing steadily to about 63 mph, reached immediately before the accident. The speed increase was approximately coincident with the airplane descending below the runway 22 threshold elevation, and the deviation to the right of the approach course, which is consistent with the pilot's description of his attempted go-around.

When questioned as to why he conducted a straight-in approach instead of the normal right-hand traffic pattern, the pilot responded that he did not recall sufficient detail to answer that question.

REGISTRATION PENDING: http://registry.faa.gov/N7133G

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Long Beach FSDO-05


NTSB Identification: WPR16LA093
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, April 17, 2016 in Avalon, CA
Aircraft: CESSNA 172K, registration: N7133G
Injuries: 2 Serious.

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 April 17, 2016, about 1629 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 172K, N7133G, was destroyed when it impacted terrain during a landing attempt at Airport in the Sky (AVX), Santa Catalina Island/Avalon, California. The private pilot and his passenger received serious injuries. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed.

AVX is situated in rugged terrain, atop a mountain that was leveled off to construct the airport. Under the approach path to runway 22, the terrain rises steeply to the airport elevation and runway threshold. According to a pilot and his friend who were standing at the airport watching the airplane arrive, when on final approach to runway 22, it appeared low, and possibly slow as well. The pilot-witness waited for the engine sound to increase to indicate a climb attempt, but he did not hear that. As the airplane began descending below the local horizon, the witnesses observed it enter a very steep right-wing down bank, and disappear from view. They listened and watched for indication of either impact or a successful escape, but heard and saw nothing to indicate either. They then notified the airport manager that they believed the airplane had crashed.

The two witnesses departed soon thereafter in another C-172, and conducted a brief and unsuccessful visual scan for the airplane. About 2 minutes later, they heard a radio call to another airplane, reportedly indicating that the US Coast Guard had detected an ELT signal about 0.7 miles southeast of the airport. The pilot-witness announced that he was returning to the area to conduct a visual aerial search, and that he suspected that the accident site was north of the airport. Shortly thereafter, the pilot-witness and his passenger located the wreckage, and guided ground personnel to it.

According to the accident pilot, he was approaching runway 22 for a landing when he determined that the airplane was too low. He attempted to climb and turn to avoid terrain. The airplane banked sharply to the right, and struck terrain shortly thereafter. The airplane came to rest nearly inverted, and the pilot was able to exit the airplane. His passenger remained trapped in the wreckage, but there was no fire.

The wreckage was located in a ravine, approximately 400 feet north-northwest of, and 150 feet below, the runway 22 threshold. First responders extracted the passenger, and both she and the pilot were airlifted to a mainland hospital.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating. He was one of five co-owners of the airplane, and had purchased his share in late February 2016. At the time of his purchase, the pilot reported that he had about 160 hours total flight experience, including about 90 hours in the accident airplane make and model.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) information indicated that the airplane was manufactured in 1969, and was equipped with a Lycoming O-320 series engine. According to one of the co-owners, the most recent annual inspection was completed in January 2016.

The 1651 AVX automated weather observation included winds from 250 degrees at 14 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 22 degrees C, dew point minus 4 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.02 inches of mercury.



Two occupants of a small plane were hospitalized after the aircraft crashed late Sunday afternoon near an airport on Catalina Island.

The Cessna 172 had departed from Long Beach Airport and was just short of a Catalina Airport runway about 4:30 p.m. when it crashed under “unknown circumstances,” said Ian Gregor, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman.

One of the plane’s two occupants initially remained inside after the crash, while the other person was outside the aircraft, according to the Los Angeles County Fire Department.

Photos tweeted by the county Sheriff’s Department’s Special Enforcement Bureau showed a deputy being lowered from a helicopter to the scene, with extraction tools to free the victims from the wreckage.

Both patients were then airlifted to a hospital in unknown condition, The Times reported, citing a Fire Department spokesman.

The incident was being investigated by the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board.

Original article can be found here: http://ktla.com


Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Air Rescue 5 Tac Medics being lowered with extraction tools to free victims from aircraft wreckage.


Officials say a small plane with two people aboard has crashed near the airport on Santa Catalina Island in Southern California.

The Los Angeles County Fire Department says the two people survived the crash and were taken by helicopter to a Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, but there was no immediate word on the extent of their injuries.

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor says the Cessna 172 that had taken off from Long Beach Airport crashed under unknown circumstances at about 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

Original article can be found here:   http://abcnews.go.com




A small plane with two people on board crashed Sunday evening just short of the runway as it tried to land at the airport on Catalina Island, authorities said.

The single-engine Cessna 172 was arriving from Long Beach when it crashed about 4:30 p.m., said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

One person was ejected during the crash near Airport in the Sky, said supervising fire dispatcher Ed Pickett.

A second person trapped at one point under the plane was later rescued and both victims were taken to a hospital via helicopter, said Kyle Sanford of Los Angeles County Fire Department. Their condition, he said, was unknown.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.

Original article can be found here: http://www.latimes.com

Fire crews rushed to help two people after one was thrown from the wreck, and another was trapped, in a single-engine plane crash at Catalina Airport Sunday.

Two people were injured, the Los Angeles County Fire Department said.

Their conditions were not immediately available, the FAA said.

The FAA said the plane is a Cessna 172 that departed from Long Beach.

It wasn't immediately clear what led to the crash, but the plane went down just short of the runway around 4:40 p.m.

Fire crews hoisted the injured via helicopter to transport them to the hospital.

The FAA was handling the subsequent investigation.

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