Monday, April 17, 2017

Cessna 170, N4244V: Fatal accident occurred April 15, 2017 at Williston Municipal Airport (X60), Levy County, Florida

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Tampa, Florida
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama 
Textron; Wichita, Kansas 

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Williston, FL
Accident Number: ERA17FA155
Date & Time: 04/15/2017, 1523 EDT
Registration: N4244V
Aircraft: CESSNA 170
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Aerodynamic stall/spin
Injuries: 4 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal


The commercial pilot and three passengers were making a personal cross-country flight in the airplane. After a refueling stop, the airplane taxied to the runway and departed. Security video and flight data showed that the airplane had just departed the airport and was about 280 ft above the ground when it stalled and spun to the left, impacting the ground in a nose-down attitude. Post-accident examination of the engine and airframe revealed no evidence of a mechanical anomaly or failure that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane. The recorded weather at the airport at the time of the accident included a right-quartering headwind at 8 knots gusting to 17 knots. The flight data revealed that the airplane slowed to a groundspeed of 48 knots just before the stall occurred, which was below the airplane's published power-on stall speed of 53 knots; however, the gusting wind conditions likely resulted in a further decease of the airplane's airspeed and increase of its critical angle-of-attack.

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 adequate airspeed during initial climb in gusty wind conditions, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle-of-attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall/spin. 


Airspeed - Not attained/maintained (Cause)
Angle of attack - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Gusts - Effect on operation

Factual Information 


On April 15, 2017, about 1523 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 170, N4244V, was destroyed when it impacted terrain shortly after departure from Williston Municipal Airport (X60), Williston, Florida. The commercial pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot in accordance with the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal cross-country flight that was destined for Inverness Airport (INF), Inverness, Florida.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector, earlier on the day of the accident, the airplane departed from its base at Eagles Landing Airport (5GA3), Williamson, Georgia. Fueling records showed that the airplane stopped at Thomaston-Upson County Airport (OPN), Thomaston, Georgia, and was fueled there at 1131. The airplane then flew from OPN to X60, and an airport security video showed the airplane being fueled at X60 about 1448. The video then showed the airplane as it taxied onto runway 5 at intersection C and took off.

Video from another security camera at X60 showed the airplane immediately after takeoff as it climbed to about 280 ft above ground level and leveled off. The video then showed the airplane make a slight right turn followed by a sharp left turn and a steep descent as it rolled to an inverted position.

Flight data was downloaded from a Stratus ADS-B receiver that was recovered from the airplane and forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Records Laboratory, Washington, DC. Review of the downloaded data revealed that the airplane's ground speed was about 48 knots just before it began to roll to the right.


According to FAA records, the pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multi-engine land, glider, and instrument airplane. He held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine, airplane multi-engine, and instrument airplane. He held an FAA second-class medical certificate, issued March 27, 2017. At the time of the medical examination for this medical certificate, the pilot reported 2,350 total hours of flight experience. The pilot's current logbooks could not be located.


The four-seat, high-wing, tailwheel-equipped airplane was manufactured in 1948. It was powered by a 145-horsepower Continental C-145-2H engine and equipped with a two-blade McCauley propeller. The last annual inspection was completed on June 3, 2016. At the time of the accident, the airframe and engine each had a total time of 3,657.4 hours and 46 hours since the annual inspection. The engine had 194.3 hours since major overhaul.

The airplane owner's manual stated that the power-on stall speed with no flaps was 53 knots.


At 1519, the recorded weather at X60 was wind from 080° at 8 knots gusting to 17 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, temperature 30°C, dew point temperature 14°C, and altimeter 30.23 inches of mercury.


The wreckage was examined at the accident site, which was located near the departure end of runway 5 about 543 ft left of the runway's centerline. The airplane was resting on its nose and displayed signatures consistent with a nose-down attitude at ground impact. The wing leading edges were crushed aft by impact forces, and the engine was buried about 2 ft in the dirt. The fuselage was crushed (accordioned) aft by impact forces. The airplane came to rest on a magnetic heading of about 050°.

The left-wing fabric was torn in several places. The fuel cap separated and was found next to the airplane. Aviation 100LL fuel was noted in the left tank, which appeared to be full of fuel. The left aileron and flap remained attached and intact.

The right wing exhibited more severe leading-edge damage than the left wing. The leading edge was crushed by impact forces, and the fabric was torn in several places. The two fuel tanks in the right wing contained aviation 100LL fuel. The right fuel cap had separated and was found next to the airplane. The right flap and the aileron remained attached and intact.

The tail of the airplane did not contact the ground; the rudder and elevator were intact and not damaged. Flight control continuity was confirmed to all primary flight controls. The elevator trim was in the neutral position. The cockpit was destroyed.

The propeller remained attached to the engine. The propeller blades were bent aft. The engine and propeller were pushed into the instrument panel and upwards at a 45° angle.

The engine remained attached to the airframe by the right rear engine mount only. The other three engine mounts were fractured by impact forces. The engine case was impact damaged, and several pieces of the case were fractured and missing in the front of the engine. All six cylinders remained attached to the engine case and displayed varying amounts of impact damage. Valve train continuity was established through the engine by visual confirmation during an engine teardown. There were no pre-impact anomalies noted during the teardown that would have prevented normal engine operation or production of rated horsepower.


The Office of the Medical Examiner, Gainesville, Florida, performed an autopsy of the pilot, and his cause of death was injuries sustained in the accident.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma performed forensic toxicology testing of specimens from the pilot; The tests were negative for carbon monoxide, drugs, and alcohol. 

History of Flight

Initial climb
Aerodynamic stall/spin (Defining event)

Uncontrolled descent
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT) 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 37, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Glider
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Multi-engine; Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/27/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 2350 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Registration: N4244V
Model/Series: 170 UNDESIGNATED
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1948
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18600
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/03/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2200 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 46 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3657.4 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: CONT MOTOR
ELT:  C91  installed, activated, aided in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: C145-2H
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 145 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: X60, 76 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site:
Observation Time: 1519 EDT
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 8 knots / 17 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 80°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.23 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 14°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Williston, FL (X60)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: INVERNESS, FL (INF)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1523 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Concrete
Airport Elevation: 75 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 5
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 6999 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing:  None

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 3 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 4 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  29.366111, -82.463611 (est)

Williston police have identified the four people killed in a plane crash Saturday at Williston Municipal Airport as members of a family from Williamson, Georgia.

Police Chief Dennis Strow said in an email late Tuesday that those aboard the plane included pilot Nathan J. Enders, 37, his wife Laura, 42, and two sons Jaden, 7, and Eli, 5.

The vintage plane wasn’t noticed by more than 20 pilots who flew out of the same airport later that day and was reported to emergency responders 21 hours later.

Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash. The 1948 Cessna 170 was registered to Nathan Enders, an air traffic controller at a radar control facility in Peachtree City.

The airport hosted a fly-in barbecue event from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The plane had refueled in Georgia before arriving at the Williston airport Saturday at 2:48 p.m., according to Williston police. The plane attempted to take off at 3:10 p.m. and crashed about 150 feet before the tree line at the north end of the taxiway.

The weather at the time was fair, with winds steady at 8 mph, gusting to 14 mph, from the east, according to a nearby weather station.

A jet pilot leaving the airport Sunday afternoon first alerted authorities to the crash. Williston police were notified at 1:12 p.m. Sunday.

A GoFundMe account was set up to help with memorial expenses and college costs for a surviving son who was not on the flight. It had raised nearly $28,000 of its $30,000 goal as of Wednesday afternoon.

Original article can be found here:

The Cessna 170 that crashed Saturday afternoon at the Williston Municipal Airport, killing all four people aboard, wasn’t noticed by more than 20 pilots who flew out of the same airport later that day and was only reported to emergency responders 21 hours later.

Investigators for the National Transportation Safety Board were at the scene early Monday. The identities of those who died have not yet been confirmed. The 1948 Cessna 170 was registered to Nathan Enders.

Enders was an air traffic controller in Georgia. “He worked at a radar control facility in Peachtree City,” according to a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration’s website.

The airport hosted a fly-in barbecue event from 12:30 to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

The plane had refueled in Georgia before arriving at the Williston airport Saturday at 2:48 p.m., according to Clay Connolly, Williston’s deputy chief of police. He said the plane attempted to take off at 3:10 p.m. and crashed about 150 feet before the tree line at the north end of the taxiway.

The weather at the time was fair, with winds steady at 8 mph, gusting to 14 mph, from the east, according to a nearby weather station.

Between 20 and 30 aircraft took off from the airport after the crash Saturday, but it was a jet pilot leaving the airport Sunday afternoon who first alerted authorities. Williston police were notified at 1:12 p.m. Sunday.

“For all that traffic, no one thought to call us,” Connolly said.

While it is possible that pilots looking toward the landing strip or climbing on takeoff might not have seen the bright, crumpled wreckage, the Cessna was equipped with an emergency locator transmitter that continued to send a radio signal that should have been noticed by pilots within 2 or 3 miles, even if its antenna was snapped off, Connolly said.

“Everything went wrong at once,” he said. “This is really a huge complacency issue.”

The airport has a full-time manager and two part-time employees, but it wasn’t clear if any of them were on duty Saturday. Airport manager Wayne Middleton was meeting with city officials Monday afternoon and wasn’t immediately available to comment.

Connolly said it would be at least a week before a preliminary report was available from the NTSB.

Enders is a former flight instructor, living in Williamson, Georgia, according to his Facebook page.

Original article can be found here:

WILLISTON, Fla. -- The National Transportation Safety Board has more information about the investigation into how a small plane crashed at the Williston Municipal Airport over the weekend. 

"The front end was badly crushed. I don't think it came in at an angle or skipped on the landing or anything, it pretty much angled straight in," said Deputy Chief Clay Connolly with the Williston Police Department. 

The crash left four people from Georgia dead. 

Dan Boggs with the National Transportation Safety Board said, "From what we know right now, it fueled at about 11:30 in Georgia and it's about a 2, 2 and a half hour flight down here." 

The pilot landed at the Williston Municipal Airport around 2:50 on Saturday. 

"We have video here that shows him coming in, refueling, and then heading back out maybe 20 minutes later. We think he crashed around 3:10," said Connolly.

According to WPD, the plane crashed on the Northeast end of the landing strip. 

One viewer reported he saw a similar looking plane doing aerobatics in Morriston at around noon, but the NTSB said it was not the 1948 Cessna 170 involved in this weekend's crash.

"This aircraft isn't designed for aerobatics," said Boggs. 

Police report there was heavy air-traffic Saturday with more than 30 pilots flying in and out of the Williston Airport. "It's a close community. It's aviators, and they'll come in and have a pig roast and fly out later in the afternoon," Connolly said. 

NTSB has not released identities of those on the plane but they said two kids were on-board. 

"The aircraft is going back to Jacksonville where it's going to be dissected and investigated and they're going to try to figure out what the cause of the crash was," said Connolly. 

Police do not know where the plane was headed yet. Next of kin is being notified.

Story and video:


At 1:12 PM Sunday April 16, 2017 the Williston Police Department received a report of a plane crash at the Williston Airport. Upon arrival of the police officers, Williston Fire Rescue and Levy County EMS they discovered the crash located on at the tree line on the north side of the taxiway at the eastern most part. The responders checked the wreckage and determined that all four passengers of the plane were deceased. The plane is a 1948 Cessna 170 “tail dragger” and registered in Texas. Representatives from the F.A.A. and N.T.S.B are responding and will be responsible for the investigation into the tragedy.


  1. The owner of this aircraft is an air traffic controller currently assigned to the Atlanta TRACON. He had a wife and three young children. There is still no word on who all were in the airplane at the time of this tragic accident.

  2. Sad....very sad. Prayers for them and the remaining family and friends. We live our lives...we take our chances every day.

  3. Sad to see the loss of this sweet family. I remember seeing this airplane often the last year or so when it was based at the Aero Country airport here in Mckinney, Texas.

  4. Authorities now report the accident happened after a BBQ fly-in on Saturday and the airplane wasn't noticed for 21 hours! Terrible.

  5. Very few actively listen to 121.5 MHz anymore. There is so much abuse of the frequency nowadays I scan it only occasionally or keep the audio down low. The pilot community can only blame itself.

    Some need understand that after take-off there are blind angles under the airplane toward the ground one cannot see. Fixating at the ground is not a priority either. If the crash site was to the right of departure the crash site is easily missed. I am sure the entire group of visiting pilots and the airport personnel are terribly upset.

    The crash orientation shows the airplane went in nose first, nearly vertical and not in a glide. No one survives that kind of impact.

    Lord please give me the nerve to glide all the way to the ground after an engine failure.

  6. We are all friends in aviation and we watch out for one another.

  7. Since 9-11 the FAA issued an FDC NOTAM (!FDC 4/4386) that aircrew shall monitor Guard frequency on 121.5 MHz. Of course this means an aircraft must have more than one radio available, as the jet surely had. A sad event, my thoughts go out to the family and friends of the victims.

  8. I was being checked out Saturday in a rental. We were south of the airport and were not eyewitnesses. However we were aware when it happened because of radio traffic warning us to stay clear in anticipation of a rescue effort. That traffic caused us to believe authorities had been notified. Someone knew.

    May the peace of Heaven rest with the family. Deeply sorry for your loss.

  9. Just wondering when they will have some idea of what happened. I knew this young man years ago and I'm still stunned.

  10. I'm a close family member. So far, we have a lot of things it wasn't, but still no indication of what happened.

  11. Thanks. Every couple of days I search for updates and nothing.

  12. Why have there been no findings posted about this accident yet? It's been over 4 months....

  13. good question...wondering that myself

  14. The final report could take between a year and two years.

  15. It has been a year. Anyone know anything?

    1. A final report has been published by the NTSB as of September 5th.