Friday, July 22, 2016

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

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA278
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, July 21, 2016 in Fairmont, OK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 05/31/2017
Aircraft: HARRIS-RUNYAN Skybolt 300, registration: N511GS
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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.

The commercial pilot and pilot-rated passenger departed on a local flight with the intention of performing aerobatic maneuvers. According to a witness near the accident site, the airplane was performing aerobatic maneuvers. He stated that the airplane flew over at a high altitude and performed a barrel roll. The airplane continued south and then pitched up to climb straight up. The nose of the airplane came down through the horizon and the airplane started "tumbling". He stated that 1/3 of the way through the tumble the airplane rolled over on its back and entered an inverted flat spin.

Damage to the airplane and witness marks on the ground were consistent with the airplane impacting the ground in an inverted, nose low attitude. No anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction were observed. The witness did not see the final seconds of the flight and it is unknown if or when the pilot may have initiated a recovery from the intentional maneuver. It is likely that the pilot waited too long to recover from the aerobatic maneuver.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's delay in recovering from an aerobatic maneuver resulting in collision with terrain.

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office;  Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
United States Air Force

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

http://registry.faa.gov/N511GS

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA278 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, July 21, 2016 in Fairmont, OK
Aircraft: HARRIS-RUNYAN Skybolt 300, registration: N511GS
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 21, 2016, about 1840 central daylight time, a Harris-Runyan Skybolt 300 experimental amateur-built airplane, N511GS, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain northeast of Fairmont, Oklahoma. The commercial-rated pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from Enid Woodring Regional Airport (WDG), Enid, Oklahoma, at 1834.

The pilot-rated passenger was a 1st Lieutenant T-38 instructor pilot in the US Air Force and was stationed at Vance Air Force Base (AFB). According to his wife, the flight was arranged on the day prior to the accident when a spot on the flight became available. The pilot-rated passenger expected the flight to depart between 1800 and 1815 and last no more than 15 minutes, characterizing the flight to his wife as a "quick loop." His wife stated that there was "no expectation that he would be flying."

The pilot was a demonstration pilot for Bearfeat Aerobatics. He was scheduled to perform his acrobatic airshow at the 2016 Vance AFB Open House. According to the US Air Force, the pilot had given acrobatic rides to several other airmen on the day of the accident.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, on the day of the accident the pilot of the accident airplane contacted WDG local control at 1832 and requested clearance to taxi to runway 17. The pilot stated that he was going "to the east to do some air work for 10 to 15 minutes." At 1834, the pilot received clearance to takeoff on runway 17 and at 1835, the pilot acknowledged a frequency change. No other communications were recorded between the pilot and WDG controllers.

According to the US Air Force, the pilot was provided flight following by Vance AFB Approach at 1837 and was in radar contact. Neither primary nor secondary radar information was provided for the accident airplane and the exact route of flight could not be established.

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

The witness stated that he heard the airplane's engine running until the sound of the airplane hitting the ground.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

Pilot

The pilot, age 55, held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single engine land and instrument airplane ratings. He also held a repairman – experimental aircraft builder certificate. His most recent FAA second class medical certificate was issued on September 21, 2015. The certificate contained the limitations "must wear corrective lenses." He reported 3,591 hours total time; 39 hours were logged in the previous 6 months.

The pilot held a Statement of Acrobatic Competency (SAC) card (FAA Form 8710-7), issued by the FAA on September 26, 2015, for the Skybolt S/D. The card was valid until December 31, 2016. The card contained the maneuver limitations "solo aerobatics, formation aerobatics", and the altitude limitation of Level 1, unrestricted. According to FAA Notice 8900.356, Level 1 designates the minimum altitude above ground level authorized to start and complete aerobatic maneuvers as unrestricted. While not required for the accident flight, the SAC was required for the airshow the pilot was performing in later in the week.

Pilot-rated Passenger

The pilot-rated passenger was a pilot and a 1st Lieutenant in the US Air Force, and had been flying since February of 2014. According to Air Force personnel, he had logged no less than 460 hours and was serving as a T-38 instructor pilot at Vance AFB. A review of FAA records showed that he held a civilian student pilot certificate.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

According to FAA records, the 1993 experimental amateur-built bi-plane, a Harris-Runyan Skybolt 300 (serial number HR30091001) was manufactured by the pilot/owner. It was registered with the FAA on a special airworthiness certificate in the experimental-amateur built category. A Lycoming IO 540-K1G5D engine rated at 300 horsepower at 2,700 rpm powered the airplane. The engine was equipped with a 2-blade, Hartzell propeller.

The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot, and was maintained in accordance with an annual condition inspection. A review of the maintenance records indicated that a condition inspection was completed, by the pilot, on April 3, 2016, at an airframe total time of 2,183.2 hours. The airplane had flown about 23.7 hours between the last inspection and the accident and had a total airframe time of 2,206.9 hours.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The closest official weather observation station was WDG, located 14 nautical miles (nm) west of the accident site. The elevation of the weather observation station was 1,167 ft msl. The routine aviation weather report (METAR) for WDG, issued at 1850, reported wind 170° at 10 knots gusting to 20 knots, visibility 10 miles, sky condition few clouds at 8,000 ft, temperature 38° Celsius (C), dew point temperature 18° C, and an altimeter setting of 29.98 inches of mercury.

Calculations of relevant meteorological data revealed that the density altitude was 4,217 ft.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located in a dormant wheat field. The accident site was at an elevation of 1,140 ft msl. The main wreckage came to rest inverted and included the left and right wing assemblies, the empennage, the fuselage, and the engine and propeller assembly. The wreckage came to rest oriented on a heading of 295°.

The upper right wing was crushed, torn, and broken and partially separated from the upper fuselage. The right aileron strut between the upper and lower right aileron was bent at mid span and remained attached to the upper and lower right aileron. The right aileron control tubing was continuous from the lower right aileron inboard to the cabin area. The lower right wing remained partially attached to the fuselage.

Both the upper and lower left wings were crushed, twisted, and broken and remained partially attached to the fuselage. The left aileron strut between the upper and lower left aileron was bent at mid span and remained attached to the upper and lower left aileron. Left aileron control tubing was continuous from the lower left aileron inboard to the cabin area.

The upper forward fuselage was crushed down and aft into the cabin area. The fuel tank was crushed down and was compromised. The floor of the fuselage was crushed and broken. The entire fuselage was bent, twisted, crushed, and broken. The occupiable space, for the front and aft seats, was reduced. The cockpit instruments were impact damaged and did not convey reliable readings.

The upper portion of the rudder and the vertical stabilizer was crushed down and to the left. The elevator control tubing was continuous from the forward cabin aft to the elevator control. The rudder cables were continuous from the forward cabin aft to the rudder control surface. The horizontal stabilizer and elevator were bent and twisted.

The engine and propeller assembly remained attached to the fuselage. For identification purposes, the two propeller blades were arbitrarily marked as "A" and "B." Propeller blade "A" was bent aft 90° and embedded in the ground beneath the airplane. The blade exhibited faint leading edge scoring and scratches on the face of the propeller blade. Propeller blade "B" did not exhibit any visible damage.

The top portion of the engine, including the upper portion of the cylinders and the pushrod guides, was impact damaged. The fuel manifold and fuel injector lines were impact damaged. The upper bank of spark plugs were removed and signatures were consistent with normal operation when compared to a Champion Spark Plug chart.

The scope of the examination was limited by fragmentation due to impact damage; however, no anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction were observed.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Board of Mediocolegal Investigations – Office of the Chief Medical Examiner – Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, on July 22, 2016. The autopsy concluded that the cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries and the report listed the specific injuries.

The FAA's Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI), Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological tests on specimens that were collected during the autopsy. Results were negative for carbon monoxide and ethanol. Cyanide tests were not performed. Azacyclonol and fexofenadine were detected in the urine; however, they were not detected in the cavity blood.

According to the CAMI Toxicology Drug Information, Azacyclonol is a metabolite of Fexofenadine. Fexofenadine, commercially referred to as Allegra, is a nonsedating antihistamine used for the treatment of hay fever and the common cold. The pilot reported using Allegra D and Flonase on his medical certificate application.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

According to FAA Advisory Circular 91-45C an aerobatic maneuver is "an intentional maneuver in which the aircraft is in sustained inverted flight or is rolled from upright to inverted or from inverted to upright position." Aerobatic maneuvers include rolls, snap rolls, loops, immelmanns, cuban eights, spins, and hammerhead turns.

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA278
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, July 21, 2016 in Fairmont, OK
Aircraft: RUNYAN S / HARRIS R SKYBOLT 300, registration: N511GS
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 21, 2016, about 1840 central daylight time, a Runyan/Harris Skybolt 300 experimental amateur-built airplane, N511GS, was substantially damaged when it impacted terrain northeast of Fairmont, Oklahoma. The commercial pilot and pilot-rated passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, which operated without a flight plan. The flight originated from Enid Woodrig Regional Airport (WDG), Enid, Oklahoma, about 1830.

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

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

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

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


Air Force 1st Lt. Dale Bryan Shillington

Randy Harris 




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

'I was on that plane three hours ago'


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source:  http://www.enidnews.com







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

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

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

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

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

Johnson arrived at the base a month ago.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Incidents occurred July 19, 2016 at Chinitna Bay, near Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska

Planes flown by two air tour operators nosed over on a beach on Chinitna Bay Tuesday afternoon. No injuries were reported among the seven people on board. 



Two small commercial planes tipped onto their noses Tuesday on a beach near a popular bear-viewing spot west of Cook Inlet, and federal authorities are looking into how it happened.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Shaun Williams said Wednesday the incident at Chinitna Bay, near Lake Clark National Park and Preserve on the west side of Cook Inlet, was first reported to the NTSB shortly after 4 p.m. Tuesday. Nobody in either of the two Cessna 206s involved was injured.

"Both were operated by commercial air taxi operators," Williams said. "One was repositioning when it hit soft sand, and the other one was taxiing to depart."

K Bay Air co-owner Dee Hughes said one of the company's planes, carrying a pilot along with five passengers, was the taxiing aircraft. The Cessna had landed near other planes below the beach's high-tide line, in an area frequently used as a runway while the tide is out.

According to Hughes, the beach's sand is stable enough to support an aircraft when it's wet. But on hot Southcentral days — like Tuesday — the sand dries out and softens.

"(The plane) hit a soft pocket of sand," Hughes said. "Those beaches are starting to get soft over there with the warm weather."

A Cook Inlet Aviation plane was repositioning on the beach shortly afterward, according to company co-owner Zack Tappan, when it too hit soft sand and nosed over. Only a pilot was on board.

"A lot of beaches are drying out," Tappan said. "A dry beach is a soft beach."

Hughes said K Bay Air staff offered help to the Cook Inlet Aviation pilot, with both planes' nose landing gear buckling when they hit the sand patches. The first aircraft's passengers were flown out of the area on a second K Bay Air plane.

Both Hughes and Tappan said their companies' pilots are trained to make flyovers and inspect a beach before landing on it. Hughes said K Bay Air pilots also walk a beach before to check for soft spots before taking off.

Richard Hojohn, owner of the Bear Central Safari Lodge about half a mile from where the planes nosed over Tuesday, said two planes made successful takeoffs from the beach immediately beforehand.

"The third one nosed down into the sand," Hojohn said. "I hopped on my six-wheeler to drive out there to see if anyone was injured — on my way out there, I saw another tail sticking up."

Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said in an email that "the FAA is looking into this."

More than a dozen bears are occasionally visible from a single spot at the Chinitna Bay site, according to the National Park Service — an opportunity that air tour companies have flocked to over the last five years, with as many as nine aircraft on the beach at once this summer, Hojohn said.

"The beach is the worst I've seen it in 18 years," Hojohn said. "All these operators have been chewing up the beach horrendously these last few weeks, bringing 20 to 40 people in at a time."

Hughes said Chinitna Bay's proximity to the Kenai Peninsula has made it more popular among air tour operators than other destinations in the park, with helicopters as well as fixed-wing aircraft visiting the area in recent years.

"Chinitna gets more traffic because it's closer to Soldotna and closer to Anchorage," Hughes said. "It is being used by Homer, Soldotna and at least one company out of Anchorage."

Lake Clark National Park and Preserve's acting superintendent, Megan Richotte, said park staff emailed a safety alert to commercial flight operators who visit the park.

Richotte said that landing on beaches in the park is "a very common thing," as it is elsewhere in Alaska.

"Right now there are very soft conditions on the beach below high tide," Richotte said. "Pilots need to be very aware of changing conditions, and I think that's what happened out here."

The park doesn't have jurisdiction over its beaches, Richotte said, because its boundaries technically extend to the high-tide line. Exposed beaches below that line, like the one where the planes nosed over on Tuesday, are state property.

Williams said Thursday that the NTSB won't be further investigating Tuesday's nose-overs because the damage to the K Bay Air plane involved isn't substantial, based on federal regulations defining which incidents the board investigates.

Hojohn said he's relieved the planes nosed over while they were already on the ground, rather than during a landing.

"Everybody was lucky — in this case that's the good news," Hojohn said. "It's a very dramatic thing, but it's a good lesson for all pilots on how dangerous these beaches can be."

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

Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche, N7409Y: Fatal accident occurred July 21, 2016 in Plainfield, Will County, Illinois

Analysis

The commercial pilot departed on a cross-country flight in the multi-engine airplane and attempted to use visual flight rules flight following from air traffic control during the flight. The availability of this service is based on controller workload, and, as the flight neared an area of Class B airspace, the controller discontinued flight following services and instructed the pilot to remain clear of the Class B airspace. The airplane then climbed from its cruise altitude of 8,500 ft mean sea level (msl) to 10,300 ft msl while losing airspeed until reaching about 48 kts, well below its lowest published stall speed. The airplane subsequently entered a series of descending turns, reaching an airspeed of about 211 kts that exceeded the airplane's design maneuvering speed. The airplane experienced an in-flight breakup.

Weather radar imagery identified reflectivity values consistent with convective activity immediately adjacent to the airplane's position just before the time of the accident. It is likely that the pilot initiated the climb in order to remain clear of the developing convective activity, and it is also likely that the airplane entered instrument meteorological conditions sometime between the initiation of the climb and the loss of control. The convective conditions present at the time of the accident were conducive to the development of updrafts, downdrafts, and turbulence; however, there were no recorded pilot reports for this area and the exact conditions encountered by the accident airplane could not be determined.

Although maintenance records indicated that the airplane had undergone recent maintenance to the left wing and rivet holes in the left wing spar exhibited signs of anomalous installation, this likely did not contribute to the accident, since a performance study determined that the airplane exceeded its design maneuvering speed, which put the airplane at risk of exceeding its design load limitations and the subsequent structural failure.

Toxicology findings indicated that the pilot was using two antidepressants, one of which, trazodone, is potentially impairing. While symptoms of depression often include cognitive deficits, it is impossible to know what, if any, medication side effects or cognitive symptoms the pilot may have been experiencing at the time of the accident. Therefore, whether his depression or its treatment contributed to the circumstances of the accident could not be determined from the available information.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain airplane control during an en route climb near convective activity, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall, an uncontrolled descent, and a subsequent in-flight breakup due to an exceedance of the airplane's design load limitations.

Findings

Aircraft

Wing structure - Failure (Cause)
Angle of attack - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)
Prescription medication - Pilot
Predisposing condition - Pilot

Environmental issues
Thunderstorm - Ability to respond/compensate (Cause)
Thunderstorm - Effect on operation (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Enroute-change of cruise level
Loss of control in flight (Defining event)

Uncontrolled descent
Aircraft structural failure

Garry Thomas Bernardo

Garry Thomas Bernardo, age 58, died on July 21, 2016, in Plainfield, Illinois, in a tragic airplane crash. He was born on Sept. 29, 1957, in Madison, the son of John and Claire (Hoffman) Bernardo.

Garry lived the first half of his life in Madison and in 1989, he moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, where he spent the second half. He lived a life rich with friends and family. Following the model of his parents, Garry was an independent and successful businessman. He was a consummate worker and able to fix just about anything. He particularly loved restoring cars and boats and home improvements. Garry especially loved flying and held a commercial pilot's license. Always productive, he shared his talents and gifts with others. Garry became a skilled jeweler creating inspired and unique designs. Recognizing his own good fortune he paved the way to provide opportunities for others to have a chance to succeed in life as well.

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident. 

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Des Plaines, Illinois
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama
Piper; Vero Beach, Florida
Hartzell Propeller; Piqua, Ohio

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

http://registry.faa.gov/N7409Y 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Location: Plainfield, IL
Accident Number: CEN16FA276
Date & Time: 07/21/2016, 1114 CDT
Registration: N7409Y
Aircraft: PIPER PA 30
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On July 21, 2016, about 1114 central daylight time, a Piper PA 30 airplane, N7409Y, was destroyed following an in-flight breakup near Plainfield, Illinois. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Day visual meteorological conditions were reported near the accident site about the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed for the flight. The personal flight originated from Upper Cumberland Regional Airport (SRB), near Sparta, Tennessee, about 0845, and was destined for Eagle River Union Airport (EGV), Eagle River, Wisconsin.

According to fueling records, the airplane was fueled with 73.61 gallons of 100 low lead aviation gasoline at SRB on July 21, 2016. The airplane taxied out for departure about 0841. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot established contact with a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic controller and requested visual flight rules flight following to EGV. Flight following service availability is based on controller workload. The flight was issued a discrete transponder code (1647) and proceeded toward the destination. At 1039, the pilot established contact with the Chicago, Illinois, Air Route Traffic Control Center. At 1104, as the airplane neared Class B airspace, the controller terminated flight following services tofor the airplane, instructed the pilot to change the transponder code to VFR (1200), and provided another frequency on which the pilot could attempt to reinstate flight following. The pilot contacted the next controller at 1105 and provided his previously-assigned discrete transponder code of 1647. The controller could not identify the airplane using that code and provided another ATC frequency to the pilot. The next controller was also unable to identify the airplane using the 1647 transponder code and instructed the pilot to remain clear of the Class B airspace.

A radar performance study indicated that, until about 1108, the airplane was travelling on a heading about 320° (true) at an altitude of 8,500 ft mean sea level (msl) and a groundspeed about 150 kts. About 1108:23, the airplane initiated a climb, during which its equivalent airspeed (groundspeed adjusted for wind conditions) began to decrease and its angle of attack increased to nearly 20° nose up. The airplane reached 10,300 ft about 1111:10. Shortly thereafter, it reached its lowest equivalent airspeed about 48 knots, then entered a series of descending turns. The final radar target was recorded about 1112:37, at an altitude of 2,200 ft and an equivalent airspeed of 211 kts.

Witnesses saw sections of the airplane descend. Sections of the airplane impacted multiple locations in the Plainfield area, one of which caught fire and ignited a nearby building. No ground injuries were reported. Witnesses reported weather in the area consistent with a rapidly-forming thunderstorm. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial; Private
Age: 58, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied:
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 05/31/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/15/2015
Flight Time: (Estimated) 981.1 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

The 58-year-old pilot held a FAA commercial pilot certificate with airplane multiengine land and instrument airplane ratings. He held private pilot privileges in single-engine land airplanes. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on May 31, 2016, with limitations that the pilot "must wear lenses for distant, have glasses for near vision. Must wear corrective lenses, possess glasses for near/intermediate vision." The pilot reported on the application for that medical certificate that he had accumulated 976 total hours of flight experience and 5 hours the 6 months before the exam. A review of the pilot's recovered logbook indicated that he had accumulated 981.1 total hours of flight experience and that his most recent flight review was completed on April 15, 2015.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N7409Y
Model/Series: PA 30
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1964
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 30-470
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 09/22/2015, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2381 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 2 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:  as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: IO-320-B1A
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 160 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

N7409Y was a 1964 model Piper PA 30, Twin Comanche airplane with serial number 30-470. The Twin Comanche was an all-metal, multiengine airplane that incorporated a semimonocoque fuselage and empennage design. The airplane was equipped with fully cantilevered wings, wing flaps, and retractable tricycle landing gear. The airplane was powered by two Lycoming IO-320-B1A engines, each rated at 160 horsepower. (Left engine serial number: RL-1085-55; right engine serial number L-1054-55) The IO-320-B1A engine is a four-cylinder, 320 cubic-inch displacement, fuel injected, reciprocating engine. The engines each drove a Hartzell, 2-blade, single-acting, hydraulically operated, constant speed type propeller with feathering capability.

The airplane was modified with a fuel tank mounted in both wing nacelles in accordance with supplemental type certificate (STC) SA00356WI.

The airplane was also equipped with tip tanks in accordance with STC SA727WE. The Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) supplement in reference to the tip tanks, in part, stated:

LIMITATIONS SECTION

Same as prescribed in appropriate F.A.A. approved

Airplane Flight Manual except:

A. Auxiliary wing tip tank fuel to be used in level flight only.

B. When using auxiliary fuel, use wing tip tank fuel first.

C. Maximum allowable gross weight 3725 lbs. Any weight in excess of 3600 lbs. must consist of symmetrically loaded fuel in the tip tanks.

D. Never exceed air speed limit of 230 MPH (red line).

A review of recovered maintenance records showed that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on September 22, 2015. An airplane logbook endorsement, dated November 1, 2015, indicated that the airplane had repairs completed to include the replacement of its left side center wing leading edge skin and lower center wing skin, and replacement of its left aileron skin. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KJOT, 581 ft msl
Observation Time: 1115 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 4 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 151°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Temperature/Dew Point: 32°C / 27°C
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 2100 ft agl
Visibility: 10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 7 knots, 230°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.1 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: SPARTA, TN (SRB)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: EAGLE RIVER, WI (EGV)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0845 CDT
Type of Airspace: 

According to records from Lockheed Martin Flight Service, the pilot requested a weather briefing for the flight to SRB, but did not obtain a weather briefing for the accident flight.

A National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Senior Meteorologist gathered weather data and produced a Weather Study in reference to this investigation. The study is appended to the docket material associated with this investigation. The study, in part, included local Aviation Routine Weather Reports (METAR) at the Joliet Regional Airport (JOT), near Joliet, Illinois.

At 0753, the Storm Prediction Center issued a Convective Outlook that identified "marginal" risk for the accident site, defined as, "isolated severe thunderstorms possible, limited in duration and/or coverage and/or intensity."

At 1115, the recorded weather at JOT included wind from 230° at 7 kts, visibility 10 statute miles, sky condition broken clouds at 2,100 ft, temperature 32° C, dew point 27° C, and an altimeter setting of 30.10 inches of mercury.

At 1135, the recorded weather at JOT included wind from 210° at 3 kts, visibility 10 statute miles, present weather thunderstorms in the vicinity, sky condition scattered clouds at 2,100 ft, broken clouds at 4,200 ft, broken clouds at 5,000 ft, temperature 31° C; dew point 27° C, and an altimeter setting of 30.10 inches of mercury.

The meteorologist discovered that local observation stations had a lightning detection system installed. The lightning detection sensor provides cloud-to-cloud, cloud-to-ground and cloud-to-air lighting detection. Publicly disseminated METARs from the local stations were made every 20 minutes, and lightning must be detected within the previous one minute of the report in order to trigger an appropriate thunderstorm and/or lightning indication in the publicly-disseminated METAR. No special reports are issued from these observation stations, though internal reports are generated every minute, which are available via radio and phone.

Weather imagery depicted relatively clear skies at the accident location about 20 minutes before the accident time. Cumulus-type clouds were recorded to the west through north of the accident location at 1052. Subsequent imagery identified cumulus type clouds over the accident location about the accident time. Weather radar imagery identified reflectivity features consistent with convection immediately adjacent to the airplane's position immediately before the accident time.

There were no Airmen's Meteorological Information advisories active for the accident location at the accident time below 25,000 ft and there were no convective or non-convective Significant Meteorological Information advisories active for the accident location at the accident time. There were no Center Weather Advisories (CWA) or Meteorological Impact Statements issued by the Center Weather Service Unit at the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center that were active for the area where the accident occurred at the accident time. However, at 1140, a CWA was issued for an isolated thunderstorm with a diameter of 20 miles about 9 miles east-southeast of JOT moving from 280° at 15 knots. There were no publicly-disseminated pilot reports made within 2 hours of the accident time and 50 miles of the accident location.

The 1000 North American Mesoscale (NAM) model sounding for the accident location was retrieved from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Air Resources Laboratory. The sounding indicated the most-unstable Convective Available Potential Energy (CAPE) parameter was 4,207 Joules/kilogram (from 995 hPa). The maximum vertical velocity (MVV) for this atmosphere was calculated as 92 meters/second (about 18,100 ft per minute). Additionally, the Downdraft CAPE (DCAPE) was measured at 1,194 Joules/kilogram. CAPE is a measure of the amount of energy available for convection and is directly related to the maximum potential vertical speed within an updraft; higher values indicate greater potential for severe weather. A value of 471 Joules/kilogram would be considered relatively weak. The DCAPE can be used to estimate the potential strength of rain-cooled downdrafts within thunderstorm convection, and is similar to CAPE. Larger DCAPE values are associated with stronger downdrafts. A value of 736 Joules/kilogram would be considered a moderate value.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 41.555000, -88.207500 (est) 

The main wreckage was located on a driveway about 328° and 2.65 nautical miles (nm) from the center of JOT on a heading about 315°. The impact angle of the fuselage with terrain was consistent with a nearly vertical descent. The fuselage, empennage, right engine, right wing, and inboard section of the left wing were discolored, deformed, charred, and melted, with sections consumed by fire. The empennage was found inverted. The right engine's propeller exhibited chordwise abrasion. The nose landing gear jackscrew position was consistent with the gear retracted position.

Sections of fiberglass and aluminum consistent with cowling material were found about 108° and 0.82 nm from the main wreckage. An outboard section of the left wing was found near an access road to a parking lot about 144° and 0.44 nm from the main wreckage site. The left fuel tank was found about 181° and 0.41 nm from the main wreckage site. The left propeller cylinder and a section of its propeller dome and cap were found about 185° and 0.36 nm from the main wreckage site. The left propeller, which had a separated section of its crankshaft attached to it, was found about 199° and 0.35 nm from the main wreckage site. The left engine was found about 204° and 0.24 nm from the main wreckage site.

Disassembly examinations of the two propellers were conducted by the propeller manufacturer's safety representative under supervision of the NTSB investigator in charge. The two right engine propeller blades exhibited chordwise abrasions on both blades; one blade had a fractured tip. A preload plate witness mark suggested a blade angle of 37° at the time of impact. Damage to the right propeller was consistent with high impact forces. The two blades from the left propeller did not exhibit chordwise or rotational witness marks; one of the blades exhibited a hole. A preload plate witness mark suggested a blade angle of 25° at the time of initial impact. Damage to the left propeller was consistent with inflight separation and high impact forces. No preimpact anomalies were detected that would have precluded operation of the propellers.

Disassembly examinations of the two engines were conducted by the engine manufacturer's safety representative under supervision of the NTSB investigator in charge. Examination of the left engine revealed that the crankcase nose was fractured across its front main bearing saddle. The front main bearing shells remained in place. The engine could not be rotated by means of a tool inserted in the vacuum pump drive pad and was further disassembled. No damage to the crankshaft was noted aft of the front main bearing journal and the crankshaft gear was secure. The front main bearing shells were distorted where the front portion of the crankshaft departed the engine. No damage was noted to the other main bearing shells. The connecting rods were free to rotate on the crankshaft rod journals. The connecting rods and their bearings, camshaft, cam followers, cylinders, piston, and piston rings did not exhibit any preimpact anomalies. Oil was observed in the engine. No metallic debris was observed in the oil suction screen or on the oil filter media. The fuel injector servo was separated from the left engine. The servo was partially disassembled and its rubber diaphragms did not exhibit any anomalies. The servo fuel inlet screen was absent of debris. The flow divider was impact separated from the engine. The divider was partially disassembled and no debris was found internally; there was no damage to the rubber diaphragm. The fuel injector nozzles remained attached to the engine. Nozzle No. 1 was fractured. Nozzle Nos. 2 and 3 were undamaged and unobstructed. Nozzle No. 4 was bent. The left engine-driven fuel pump remained attached to the engine and was impact damaged. Disassembly of the pump revealed no anomalies. Liquid with an odor consistent with aviation gasoline was observed in the engine-driven fuel pump, the fuel injector servo, and the hose from the servo to the flow divider.

The left engine's left magneto remained partially attached to the engine and was impact damaged. The magneto could be rotated by hand and produced spark from all ignition towers. The left engine's right magneto was separated from the engine and its case was fractured. It was difficult to rotate by hand and did not produce spark.

All sparkplugs remained attached to the left engine and all their electrodes were undamaged. The No. 4 top and bottom sparkplugs exhibited reddish colored debris in their electrode wells. All other left engine sparkplugs exhibited normal combustion coloration when compared to a Champion Aviation Check-A-Plug Card.

The left engine's vacuum pump was impact damaged and separated from the engine. The composite drive coupling was in place. The carbon colored rotor and one colored carbon vane were fractured. The remaining 5 vanes were intact.

Examination of the right engine revealed that the nose portion of both crankcase halves was impact fractured and separated. Both crankcase halves displayed multiple fractures and missing portions. The accessory case and oil sump were impact fractured and separated. The Nos. 1 and 2 cylinder heads were fragmented and separated. The induction and exhaust tubing were crushed and partially separated. Continuity of the crankshaft to the rear gears was confirmed by visual inspection. Continuity of the camshaft was confirmed by visual inspection. No damage was noted other than impact damage to the piston domes. Oil was observed in the right engine. The oil sump was fragmented, and the oil suction screen was not located. The oil filter was crushed and no metallic debris was observed between the folds of the filter media. The oil cooler and oil cooler lines were impact damaged.

The right engine's fuel injector servo was separated from the engine and the servo exhibited impact damage. The regulator section was partially disassembled. The fuel and air diaphragms were intact. The throttle stem was bent. The fuel inlet screen was unobstructed. No fuel was observed.

The flow divider was separated from the engine and it exhibited impact and fire damaged. The servo diaphragm was thermally damaged and tore from the center valve when manipulated by hand. The valve was seized in the body and was not removed. No fuel was observed in the servo. The fuel injector nozzles remained with their respective cylinder heads. The No. 1 nozzle was intact and unobstructed. The Nos. 2 and 3 nozzles were bent. The No. 4 nozzle was broken and unobstructed. The engine-driven fuel pump was separated from the engine and fragmented. Both of the right engine's magnetos were separated from the engine and were fragmented.

The electrodes of the recovered sparkplugs from the right engine exhibited worn normal condition. The No. 4 top and the Nos. 2, 3, and 4 bottom sparkplugs were impact damaged. The No. 1 bottom sparkplug was not located. The top No. 1 sparkplug had an oil-soaked appearance. The Nos. 2 and 3 top sparkplugs exhibited normal combustion coloration when compared to a Champion Aviation Check-A-Plug Card.

The right engine vacuum pump was damaged and separated from the engine. The pump was partially disassembled, and its composite drive coupling was intact. The carbon colored rotor was fragmented, and its carbon colored vanes were intact.

An instrument gyroscope housing was disassembled. The internal surface of the gyroscope housing and its rotor exhibited witness contact marks consistent with rotation of the rotor.

Communications

Recording of communications from the Chicago Terminal Radar Approach Control facility were reviewed along with their transcripts. The transcripts are appended to the docket material associated with this investigation. Communication from one sector in the facility, in part, stated:

PILOT: Private approach, twin Comanche 7409 Yankee. Would you maintain 8,500?

CONTROLLER: Whoever's calling, ident.

PILOT: Twin Comanche 7409 Yankee with you, maintaining 8,500.

CONTROLLER: Contact Chicago departure, 126.62. Maintain VFR outside the Bravo.

PILOT: 126.62?

CONTROLLER: Yes.

PILOT: Roger.

Communication from another sector in the facility, in part, stated:

PILOT: (Unintelligible) 7409 Yankee. We're just checking in at 8,500.

CONTROLLER: All right. Who, what, say your location the VFR (phonetic) craft checking in.

PILOT: I'm just outside of the class, the airspace here, by Lewiston University.
CONTROLLER: Okay. Have I already talked to you?

PILOT: Negative. They told me to call you up. I'm just passing by to the west.

CONTROLLER: Okay. Did they assign you a code?

PILOT: 1647.

CONTROLLER: Okay. Well, they haven't told me anything about you. Just maintain (unintelligible) class Bravo. I'll get back to you.

PILOT: Roger.

That was the last recorded communication with the accident airplane. 

Medical And Pathological Information

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Will County Coroner's Office, Crest Hill, Illinois, and toxicological samples were taken for testing. The autopsy listed the cause of death as multiple injuries. Toxicology testing performed by NMS Labs at the request of the coroner identified citalopram and its metabolite, desmethylcitalopram, in muscle tissue.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens of the pilot. The report, in part, indicated that the sample sustained putrefaction. However, 52 mg/dL ethanol and propanol were detected in the muscle, and no ethanol was found in the kidney citalopram and N-Desmethylcitalopram were detected in the lung; and trazodone was detected in the lung and muscle samples.

The NTSB Chief Medical Officer reviewed documents to include the pilot's FAA medical case review, autopsy report, toxicology findings, and the investigator's reports, and produced a Medical Factual Report, which is appended to the docket material associated with this investigation.

The medical report shows that Citalopram is a prescription antidepressant often marketed with the name Celexa. It carries this warning, "In studies in normal volunteers, citalopram in doses of 40 mg/day did not produce impairment of intellectual function or psychomotor performance. Because any psychoactive drug may impair judgment, thinking, or motor skills, however, patients should be cautioned about operating hazardous machinery, including automobiles, until they are reasonably certain that citalopram therapy does not affect their ability to engage in such activities."

Major depression itself is associated with significant cognitive degradation, particularly in executive functioning. Because of this, pilots with depression require specific evaluation before medical certification. The FAA's Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners states "The use of a psychotropic drug is disqualifying for aeromedical certification purposes – this includes all antidepressant drugs, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). However, the FAA has determined that airmen requesting first, second, or third class medical certificates while being treated with one of four specific SSRIs may be considered. The Authorization decision is made on a case by case basis. The Examiner may not issue." The four potentially allowable antidepressants include citalopram.

Trazodone is another prescription antidepressant that is significantly sedating; it is often used as a sleep aid. It carries this precaution, "Antidepressants may impair the mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks, such as operating an automobile or machinery; the patient should be cautioned accordingly. Trazodone hydrochloride may enhance the response to alcohol, barbiturates, and other central nervous system depressants."

The pilot had reported to the FAA a DUI conviction in 1991, but no chronic medical conditions and no use of medications. 

Fire

Wreckage that came to rest away from the main wreckage did not exhibit any thermal deformation or discoloration. The area around the main wreckage exhibited damage consistent with a ground fire. 

Tests And Research

Metallurgical Examination

Two pieces from the forward end of the left engine crankshaft along with the crankshaft's forward split main bearing shells were sent to the NTSB Materials Laboratory for detailed examination. An NTSB Senior Materials Engineer examined the components and produced a Materials Laboratory Factual Report, which is appended to the docket material associated with this investigation. The materials report, in part, stated that the first examined piece was the crankshaft piece from the propeller flange to a fracture through the oil tube hole in the first main bearing journal. The other piece was the crankshaft piece from the fracture to a cut through the second connecting rod journal.

The propeller flange on the crankshaft exhibited bending deformation, with one region bent forward and the opposite region, 180° around the shaft bent aft. A portion of the oil flinger flange was fractured leaving an approximate 120° region intact. The crankshaft was fractured in the circumferential direction at the oil tube hole in the first (forward) main bearing journal. The fracture surfaces had a comparatively rough appearance and were inclined about 45° to the bearing surface. The exhibited features were consistent with a bending overstress fracture. The split bearing shells were deformed; however, they exhibited no otherwise notable features.

Aircraft Performance Examination

An NTSB Air Traffic Control Specialist requested radar data from the FAA in reference to the accident flight. The radar data was provided to an NTSB Performance Specialist who produced a Performance Study, which is appended to the docket material associated with this investigation. The study, in part, stated that the radar data provided began about 1044. Until about 1108, the airplane was travelling along a path oriented at approximately 320° (true), at an altitude of 8,500 ft, and a groundspeed of about 150 kts. About 1108:23 the airplane began to gain altitude while losing speed until 1111:10 when it reached an altitude of 10,300 ft. The airplane held 10,300 ft until 1111:23 when it began to descend and gain speed. About 1111:28 the airplane reached its lowest calculated equivalent airspeed of 48 kts. The final radar point was at 1112:37.78 when the altitude was recorded at 2,200 ft and the calculated equivalent airspeed was 211 kts.

The recorded rate of climb for the accident airplane from 8,500 ft to 10,300 ft was about 600 ft/min. The POH reported the multi-engine full throttle rates of climb, given a calculated density altitude, were between 800 ft/min at 3,600 lbs and 1,200 ft/min at 2,800 lbs. This recorded rate of climb at this altitude was within the capability of the airplane.

The calculated pitch and angle of attack for the final climb was calculated using a simplified aerodynamic model. The model showed that while the airplane gained altitude, it lost airspeed, and its angle of attack increased to nearly 20°. A high angle of attack and low airspeed can put an airplane at risk of an aerodynamic stall.

The POH reported the gear and flaps up stall speed to be between 76 mph (66 kts) at 3,600 lbs gross weight and 67 mph (58 kts) at 2,600 lbs. Radar data showed that the airplane lost altitude and began a series of turns, the first to the left, after the equivalent airspeed dropped below 60 kts. The data indicated the airplane was at 10,300 ft.

The airplane then picked up speed after it began descending and rolled left, reaching a maximum calculated equivalent airspeed of over 200 kts before the radar data ended. The flight manual reported the never exceed speed to be 230 mph (200 kts). The maneuvering speed was reported as being between 135 mph (117 kts) at 2,450 lbs gross weight and 162 mph (140 kts) at 3,600 lbs. The airplane exceeded the POH airspeed restrictions while rolling left and right during its descent.

Structures Examination

A NTSB Aircraft Structures National Resource Specialist examined the recovered wreckage and identified sections to be further examined in detail. The identified sections were subsequently examined by the structural specialist and an airplane manufacturer's engineer. The specialist produced a Structures Group Chairman's Factual Report, which is appended to the docket material associated with this investigation.

About 83 inches of the separated left outboard wing exhibited leading edge skin separations. The outboard approximate 68 inches of the left aileron remained attached to the separated section of wing with the aileron balance weight still secured to the aileron. The inboard section of the left aileron was separated from the remainder of the structure and was recovered. No evidence of fire or fire damage was noted to the separated section of wing or aileron. The left tip tank was separated from the outboard section of the wing and found breeched from impact damage to the leading edge.

The remainder of the left wing remained attached to the fuselage; fire damage was noted to the inboard area of the left wing. The left flap was found separated from its mounts at the main wreckage site and exhibited impact and fire damage along the entire span of the flap. The left engine and nacelle structure were separated from the left wing. The left aileron bell crank assembly remained attached and the bell crank fitting was recovered at the main wreckage site. The aileron control cable attach points to the bell crank were found fragmented from the bell crank assembly. Left aileron control continuity was established except where impact separations were noted. The left aileron control cables were found twisted around themselves and the aft wing spar exhibited "saw" marks along the top edge of the spar.

The upper main spar and lower spar chord fractured and both exhibited evidence of upward and aft bending. An examination of the shear lips on the horizontal legs of the spar chord at each of the fracture locations confirmed the upward bending along with the fractured ends of the horizontal legs of the spar chords deforming in an upward direction. The left wing's spar chords also exhibited evidence of trailing edge up twisting deformation consistent with the outboard wing rotating counter clockwise about the main the spar when looking inboard. The left wing's main spar web was missing sections in the area of the aileron bell crank assembly. The rear spar was missing in the area of the rear spar aileron hinge fitting. Neither the inboard aileron nor inboard rear spar aileron hinge fitting were recovered. The bell cranks outboard support rib fractured vertically about six inches aft the main spar attachment and the inboard support was not recovered. The bell crank, the assembly, and the remaining outboard support rib were recovered at the main wreckage site. The inboard 20 inches of the aileron spar in the area of the aileron hinge fitting attachment was not recovered and the inboard twenty inches of the aileron skin panel was recovered separate from both the main wreckage and the outboard wing section. The aileron exhibited evidence of up bending. The aileron balance weight cutout exhibited evidence of impact damage. The aileron travel limit stops did not exhibit evidence of repeated contact. A section of the rear upper spar chord exhibited evidence of aileron cable contact. The upper wing skin along the rear spar had evidence of a cable tear from about the aileron hinge location extending about 2 ft inboard.

The outboard section of the wing is spliced to the inboard section of the wing. A section of the outboard horizontal leg of the upper spar in the splice area was not recovered. In this area, the spar chord is no longer an L section and only has a horizontal leg.

Fourteen rivet holes were identified for an examination to determine the quality of the rivet installation. Per manufacturing drawings, solid-shank rivets are the fasteners specified to be installed in the identified holes.

Correct installation of these rivets in the assembly is accomplished by slightly expanding the shank while being driven. During normal operation of the aircraft primer should not have been present in the rivet holes had the rivets been installed correctly, the primer, if present, would have worn off. Since primer is in these holes, it is indicative that these holes may not have had their rivets installed correctly.

The specified solid-shank rivets share the load during normal operation. During installation of these rivets and normal operation, the rotary marks created by the drill bit to produce the rivet hole should be disturbed. The identified rivet holes were stripped and etched. Rotary drill witness marks created by a drill bit rotating in the hole were observed in several holes. The rivet holes showing drill witness marks are consistent with the rivets not participating in the load sharing.

The right wing was found mostly consumed by post impact fire. The right aileron was partially consumed by fire but remained attached to its mounts. The right aileron balance weight was damaged due to impact forces and separated from the aileron. The right aileron bell crank remained attached to the wing; however, the bell crank cable attach horns were fragmented. The aileron drive and balance cables remained attached to the fragmented bell crank horn attach points. One aileron travel limit stop was fractured and was not located within the recovered wreckage. The other travel limit stop did not exhibit evidence of repeated contact. Right aileron control continuity was established except where impact separations were noted. The right flap was found mostly consumed by fire. The right tip tank was found separated from the wing and breeched.

The rudder cables remained attached to the rudder bell crank and to the fragmented rudder pedal assembly. Rudder control continuity was established except where rudder control cables were cut for recovery purposes.

The stabilator remained attached to its mounting points on the fuselage. A section of the right stabilator aft of the main spar was separated and found approximately 30 ft north of the main wreckage. The separated section of the right stabilator exhibited skin separations at the main stabilator spar and fire damage to the outboard section. The right stabilator trim tab remained attached to the separated section of the stabilator. The outboard section of the attached right stabilator was found consumed by fire. The left side of the stabilator remained attached to its mounts on the fuselage frame and the left stabilator trim tab remained attached to the stabilator. The stabilator trim barrel exhibited impact and fire damage. The stabilator balance weight was consumed by post impact fire. However, the stabilator control cables remained attached to the stabilator balance weight tube and to the fragmented "T" bar assembly. Stabilator control continuity was established except where control cables were cut to facilitate recovery.

A load analysis plot was produced to determine if the loads achieved during the descending spiral would have exceeded the loads that the aileron was tested to during the airplane's certification. The plot demonstrated that for the accident airplane, the aileron components per type design, at a minimum, should have been structurally capable up to full deflections (down to up) between 166 to 183 knots true, and the aileron installation per type design, should have been structurally capable for full deflection (down to up) between 190 to 206 knots true. 

Additional Information

The definition of design maneuvering speed is the speed below which you can move a single flight control, one time, to its full deflection, for one axis of airplane rotation only (pitch, roll or yaw), in smooth air, without risk of damage to the airplane.

NTSB Identification: CEN16FA276
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, July 21, 2016 in Plainfield, IL
Aircraft: PIPER PA 30, registration: N7409Y
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 21, 2016, about 1114 central daylight time, a Piper PA 30 airplane, N7409Y, impacted terrain during a descent near Plainfield, Illinois. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed during the impact and subsequent fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal fight. Day visual meteorological conditions were reported near the accident site about the time of the accident and the flight was not operated on a flight plan. The flight originated from the Upper Cumberland Regional Airport (SRB), near Sparta, Tennessee, and was destined for the Eagle River Union Airport, near Eagle River, Wisconsin.

According to preliminary information, the airplane was fueled with 73.61 gallons of 100 low lead aviation gasoline at SRB on July 21, 2016. The pilot requested flight following during the flight from air traffic controllers. Flight following service availability is based on controller workload. The flight was about to leave one controller's sector and the pilot was told his flight following was cancelled. The pilot contacted a controller for the next sector along the route of flight and the pilot was told to stand by. That was the last recorded communication with the accident airplane.

According to preliminary information, witnesses saw the airplane descend. Sections of the airplane impacted multiple locations in the Plainfield area. The wreckage that impacted near Bedford Drive and Hampton Court caught on fire and a nearby building also caught on fire. Witnesses reported weather in the area consistent with a thunderstorm that formed rapidly. Witnesses called 911 when the airplane sections impacted near them. No ground injuries were reported.

The 58-year-old pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) commercial pilot certificate with airplane multiengine land and instrument airplane ratings. He held private pilot privileges in single engine land airplanes. He also held a FAA third-class medical certificate issued on May 31, 2016, with limitations that the pilot "must wear lenses for distant, have glasses for near vision. Must wear corrective lenses, possess glasses for near/intermediate vision." A review of the recovered pilot's logbook indicated that he had accumulated 979.2 hours of total flight time. An endorsement, dated April 15, 2015, indicated that the pilot completed a flight review.

N7409Y was a 1964 model Piper PA 30, Twin Comanche airplane with serial number 30-470. The Twin Comanche was an all-metal, multiengine airplane that incorporated a semimonocoque fuselage and empennage design. The airplane was equipped with fully cantilevered wings, wing flaps, constant speed Hartzell propellers, and a retractable tricycle landing gear. The airplane was powered by two Lycoming IO-320 engines. The IO-320 engine is a four-cylinder, 320 cubic-inch displacement, fuel injected, reciprocating engine. A review of recovered maintenance records showed that the airplane had undergone an annual inspection completed on September 22, 2015.

At 1115, the recorded weather at the Joliet Regional Airport (JOT), near Joliet, Illinois, was: Wind 230 degrees at 7 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition broken clouds at 2,100 feet; Temperature 32 degrees C; dew point 27 degrees C; altimeter 30.10 inches of mercury.

At 1135, the recorded weather at JOT was: Wind 210 degrees at 3 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; present weather thunderstorms in the vicinity; sky condition scattered clouds at 2,100 feet, broken clouds at 4,200 feet, broken clouds at 5,000 feet; Temperature 31 degrees C; dew point 27 degrees C; altimeter 30.10 inches of mercury.

The main wreckage was found on a driveway on the south side of Bedford Drive just east of its intersection with Hampton Court. Using Google Earth, the main wreckage was about 328 degrees and 2.65 nautical miles (nm) from the center of JOT. The impact angle of the fuselage with terrain was consistent with a nearly vertical descent at this location. The main wreckage to include the fuselage, empennage, right engine, right wing, and inboard section of the left wing at this location were discolored, deformed, charred, and melted, with sections consumed by fire. The empennage was found resting on the ground inverted. The right engine's propeller exhibited chordwise abrasion. The nose landing gear jackscrew position was consistent with it being retracted. The heading of the airplane was about 315 degrees.

Sections of fiberglass and aluminum consistent with cowling material were found along Theodore Road and along Bronk Road near their intersection. The intersection of the streets was about 108 degrees and .82 nm from the main wreckage site. An outboard section of the left wing was found near an access road to the Walmart parking lot. The left outboard wing section was about 144 degrees and .44 nm from the main wreckage site. The left fuel tank was found in the 1400 block of Broadlawn Drive. The left fuel tank was about 181 degrees and .41 nm from the main wreckage site. The left propeller cylinder and a section of its propeller dome and cap were found in the 1500 block of Broadlawn Drive. The left propeller cylinder and sections of its dome and cap were about 185 degrees and .36 nm from the main wreckage site. The left propeller was found in the 1500 block of Brookfield Drive. The left propeller was about 199 degrees and .35 nm from the main wreckage site. The left engine was found in the 1600 block of Wildflower Drive. The engine was about 204 degrees and .24 nm from the main wreckage site.

The Will County Coroner's Office was asked to perform an autopsy on the pilot and take samples for toxicological testing.

The FAA was asked for a copy of radar data and communications in reference to the accident airplane's flight.

A study of recorded weather in reference to the accident airplane's flight was requested.

After the on-scene examination was completed, the airplane was transported to a recovery company for detailed examination.












JOLIET – The pilot of the plane that crashed Thursday into a Brighton Lakes subdivision in Joliet was from Lake Worth, Florida.

The pilot was identified Friday as Garry Thomas Bernardo by the Will County Coroner's Office. The coroner's office said it used fingerprint comparison to confirm the identity; officials said on Thursday that the remains were in a condition that could not be identified and it might take some time to positively identify the pilot.

Bernardo, 58, was pronounced dead at 2:58 p.m. Thursday at Bedford Drive and Hampton Court. Officials believe the pilot was the only person in the plane at the time of the crash.

An autopsy performed Friday found the preliminary cause of death to be multiple injuries due to airplane mishap, according to the coroner's office.

Authorities said parts of the plane were located as far as a mile away from where it crashed, suggesting it may have been coming apart before it hit the ground at 11:14 a.m., leaving the aircraft decimated.

Terry Williams, a spokesman with the National Transportation Safety Board, said Friday afternoon that the incident investigation is still in the fact-gathering stage. It is standard procedure to look at the pilot’s records and logbooks, the plane’s maintenance and modification records, the weather at the time and more.

Williams said it is too early to say if weather played a factor in the crash. It had just rained in the Joliet area prior to the incident.

The NTSB gathered witness accounts of the crash from Joliet police, Williams said.

The Joliet Police Department is asking residents who locate debris from the plane crash to bring it to the Police Command Post, which is located at Chestnut Hill and Bedford, according to a post on the department's Facebook page.

The Command post will be stationed there until the end of Friday. Anyone who finds debris after Friday should call 815-726-2491 and an officer will be dispatched to recover the debris.

The remnants of the plane where it crashed were in the process of being moved out of Brighton Lakes on Friday. Investigators will move the plane to a secure location soon to examine the engines and how the plane was maintained, according to the NTSB.

Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton said at 1 p.m. Friday officials are hoping to clear Bedford Drive by the end of the day.

An aircraft recovery team was gathering wreckage onto a flatbed trailer Friday. Benton said NTSB usually works with the team to piece the plane together. They then looking at flight tracking and any possible communication with traffic controllers.

Story and video:  http://www.theherald-news.com


Garry Thomas Bernardo





JOLIET – A plane crashed late Thursday morning on a residential street in Joliet, igniting a fire that destroyed much of a nearby two-story residence.

Parts of the plane were located as far as a mile away, suggesting it may have been coming apart before it hit the ground.

Ed Malinowski with the NTSB says the plane was a Piper PA-30, according to the Associated Press. It had taken off from Florida, landed in Tennessee before taking off again and was headed for Wisconsin.

Joliet City Manager Jim Hock said the pilot died in the crash, and the remains were in a condition that could not be identified. Hock said he expected a statement from the coroner on Friday.

He also said investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board were "out there and said there was only the pilot in the plane."

The crash occurred at 11:14 a.m. at 1812 Hampton Court, according to the Joliet Fire Department. The home is in Joliet but has a Plainfield address, and is under the jurisdiction of the Joliet fire and police departments.

"Parts of the plane hit the ground a mile away," Hock said. "Something happened a ways before it crashed."

Joliet Deputy Fire Chief Ray Randich said during a news conference early Thursday afternoon that crews arriving at the scene were met outside by the homeowner. He said officials believed she had just returned to the home and was outside when the plane crashed, but noted the investigation is still in its early stages.

Randich said officials believe the fuel tanks ruptured when the plane came down and the fuel spilled out onto the street and toward the house. The plane was on the south side of the street and the house that ignited was across to the north.

The ignition source is unknown at this point, he said. Authorities could not immediately confirm what type of plane it was.

"We are very fortunate to have a plane crash in a crowded residential neighborhood like this and not have any additional injuries," Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton said. "It’s amazing."

Benton noted the incident is still under investigation and local officials will work with the FAA.

The plane did not leave the Joliet Regional Airport, said Airport Manager Jennifer McFarland.

"From our staff accounts we know he was not here," McFarland said.

McFarland said she would not know if the plane was headed to the Joliet airfield because it is an uncontrolled airport and does not get advance notice of incoming planes.

The FAA has sent a team to the crash site to determine the type of aircraft and to begin an investigation, the federal agency said in an emailed statement.

"The FAA will gather information and pass it to the [National Transportation Safety Board], which is the agency that will lead the investigation and will determine the probably cause of the accident," the FAA said in the statement. "Any additional information needs to come from the NTSB."

The remains of the plane were seen smoldering in the street, and area residents were seen using garden hoses near the wreckage immediately following the crash.

Pat Crotty said she was in her yard at Bedford Drive and Brighton Lane, about a block away, doing yard work when she saw the plane spiraling out of control. It happened so fast she wasn't able to tell what kind of plane it was.

Crotty said the plane made an "unearthly" sound when it crashed into the ground and that debris from the plane exploded upon impact. She believes the debris collided with the house, and that is what caused it to catch fire.

Crotty said she ran down the street barefoot after the crash, knocking on people's doors to get them out of their houses. She said she also told people to clear the street so emergency crews could get there.

Ann Zigrossi lives in the Hampton Glen subdivision, across Theodore Street from the subdivision where the incident occurred. When she heard the crash, not long after it had been raining, she thought it was thunder.

"I just thought, rain – thunder," she said.

Multiple fire engines and ambulances responded to the crash site, and at one point people on the scene said they have been pushed back, with authorities saying they were unsure if there was a gas leak.

The Joliet Police Department asked motorists to avoid the area of the crash.

“At approximately 11:15, a small plane went down in the area of Theodore and Brighton. Please seek alternative routes near Rt. 59 and Theodore, and Theodore and River Rd while the crash is investigated,” the department stated in a posting on its Facebook page.

Joliet Police have been asked to secure the scene throughout tomorrow as the NTSB investigation continued, Benton said later Thursday afternoon. He noted the investigation can be a drawn-out process, and take up to a year to conclude what happened.


Story and video:  http://www.theherald-news.com

Aircraft propeller fell about three blocks from crash scene.

Part of aircraft engine, it fell a few blocks from crash site.




A small plane crashed on a residential block in Joliet Thursday morning, killing the pilot and setting a two-story house on fire, officials said.

First reports indicated the plane struck the house in the in the 1800 block of Hampton Court on the city's far west side, but a Joliet fire official said Thursday afternoon said authorities were not discounting that the plane may have struck the ground first and flames from it ignited the house.

Ed Malinowski of the National Transportation Safety Board said the plane was a Piper PA30.

The crash occurred at 11:14 a.m. Authorities don't believe anyone else was on the plane, based on a discussion with an employee of the pilot, Malinowski said. The pilot has not been identified.

The plane took off from Florida, landed in Tennessee and was en route to Wisconsin. Malinowski said he didn't know why the pilot was going to Wisconsin.

Witnesses said they saw the plane "in distress." The impact of the collision shook houses blocks away and created a fireball, they said.

The sole occupant of the home at the time told authorities she was on the first floor when she heard a loud crash followed by a loud bang and saw flames outside one of her windows at the front of the home, according to Joliet Fire Department Battalion #2 Chief John Stachelski. The woman escaped uninjured with a pet. Neighbors said she escaped with two dogs.

Pat Crotty, who lives about a block away from the site, said she saw a plane coming from the southwest in a nose dive toward the ground, spiraling out of control.

She said it crashed in the street, spark ing a three-to-four-story streak of flames. Debris from the plane hit the house, starting it on fire, Crotty said.

She said she ran in her bare feet down the street, toward the plane. When she realized the severity of the damage to the plane, she started knocking on doors to alert nearby residents, she said.

Stachelski said investigators believe only one person was killed in the wreck. The pilot has not been identified. Stachelski said he was unclear whether the victim was man or woman.

There are no reports of injuries on the ground, according to Tony Molinaro, spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The plane left a trail of debris for about a mile, Stachelski said, including a fuel tank found recovered behind a Wal-Mart store about a half mile southeast of the site.

The fire engulfed the top portion of the house but was brought under control by local firefighters.

The aircraft was destroyed, according to Lynn Lunsford of the FAA.

The crash happened in an area local residents call "Jofield" because it is near the border of Joliet and Plainfield.

Stachelski said the Joliet Fire Department received several called from witnesses who said they saw the plane going down and then heard the crash and saw flames.

"It first came in as a report of a plane down, but we didn't know the exact location," Stachelski said. "We had to follow the smoke from the house."

When they arrived, they found the home engulfed in flames, with debris from the plane scattered all around.

The FAA has sent a team to the crash site to determine the type of aircraft and to begin an investigation. The FAA will gather information and pass it to the National Transportation Safety Board, which is the agency that will lead the investigation and will determine the probable cause of the accident.

One local police officer said that the debris from the plane was spread out for a mile.

Violeta Stankus, who lives a few blocks from the crash scene and was walking in the neighborhood at the time of the incident, said the plane looked like it was "falling out of the sky."

"I said, God, and then it crashed, and I started screaming," Stankus said.

Some said it looked as if the plane was already on fire before the crash, and with debris scattered over several residential yards at the scene. There was essentially nothing left of the plane other than that debris.

John Goldsmith, who lives in the area, said he heard the plane going down but wasn't certain what it was at the time. He drove toward the smoke in order to find out what happened.

"It sounded like something was going down, and then I heard the crash," Goldsmith said.

Neighbors attempted to control the fire that was caused by spraying the house with garden houses until the fire department arrived.

Lisa Guardiola, who lives behind the house, said her "whole house shook" and she thought something hit the roof of her house. She said she felt very, very lucky and grateful because on a normal summer day her kids would have been outside playing at the time the plane crashed. But she kept them inside because of the heat. She went outside and saw her neighbor's house in flames.

"I could not tell from the wreckage that it was a plane," she said. Neighbors said this is normally a very quiet Suburban neighborhood.

Harriet Nagajew said she saw the engine fall off the plane, then saw it glide before spiraling downward. She said she heard the crash and instantly saw black smoke. She had been outside cleaning her pool and ran inside and had her son call 911.

"I was devastated," she said. "This is such a shock to the neighborhood."

Jordan Dralle, who also lives in the neighborhood, said small planes fly overhead all the time.

"Nothing really ever happens here," she said of the quiet area of single family homes. "Nothing like this has ever happened here. It's amazing"

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

Fredy Colon watched part of the aircraft engine fall from the sky onto his backyard. 





Deputy Chief Ray Randich and Joliet City Manager Jim Hock address the public and media Thursday, July 21, after a plane struck a home in Joliet. 


Police Chief Brian Benton addresses the public and media Thursday, July 21, after a plane struck a home in Joliet. 















































(CBS) — The pilot of a small plane was killed when the plane crashed in a subdivision in unincorporated Plainfield late Thursday morning, setting a nearby house on fire.


The FAA said a plane with one person on board crashed into a home in Plainfield and caught fire, but local officials at the scene said it appeared the plane landed short of the house, and sent flames shooting into the side of the home.

Joliet Deputy Fire Chief Ray Randich said it appears the plane’s fuel tank ruptured when it hit the ground near the intersection of Hampton Court and Bedford Drive, and set a nearby house on fire.

“The house that ignited was across to the north, up onto the parkway, so there was quite a bit of a distance between where the plane came onto the street, and where the flames made contact with the house,” he said.

Joliet officials said the pilot was killed, but no injuries were reported on the ground.

“We are fortunate to have a plane crash in a crowded neighborhood like this and not have any additional injuries,” Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton said.

Joliet city manager Jim Hock said no one was inside the home at the time of the crash. Joliet city officials responded to the plane crash because it occurred in unincorporated Plainfield.

Investigators from the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board were headed to the site to begin their probe of the crash.

Hock would not comment on witness accounts that the plane might have been struck by lightning.

The plane’s engine and propeller landed a few blocks away from the crash site — the engine in the back yard of a home, and the propeller on a street next to a parked car.

One woman said she was walking her dog when she noticed a small white plane that was flying low and appeared to be tipped on its side shortly before the crash.

“The engine didn’t sound any different on it. I just thought he was out for kind of a fly, and that he was making a very sharp turn, because he was literally sideways when he was making a turn, and then I never saw the plane after that,” she said.

Andrew Scardina said he saw the plane take a very sharp turn before nosediving into the ground.

“I saw the plume of smoke coming up when it hit the ground. It’s just a few blocks from where I was standing,” he said.

“There was a very loud boom,and the windows and mirror were shaking,” said Katie Arushanyan. “My son started screaming fire, fire, fire.”

Fredy Colon was standing in his backyard with his wife when objects began falling from the sky.

It turns out those objects were parts of the plane that crashed blocks away, including the engine.

“The initial reaction, the adrenaline takes over, and I’m just looking up at the sky making sure there are no other parts,” Colon said.

And not too far away, Gary Cue saw the propeller land on the street, damaging his car.

“I was in my porch actually and I saw propeller come off,” Cue said. “I thought it was something black and it hit the car.”
Story and video:  http://chicago.cbslocal.com