Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pilatus PC-12, N933DC, registered to and operated by Rico Aviation LLC: Fatal accident occurred April 29, 2017 near Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport (KAMA), Amarillo, Texas

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Lubbock
Rico Aviation; Amarillo, Texas
Hartzell Propellers; Piqua, Ohio

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report -  National Transportation Safety Board:

Rico Aviation LLC:

NTSB Identification: CEN17FA168
Nonscheduled 14 CFR Part 135: Air Taxi & Commuter
Accident occurred Friday, April 28, 2017 in Amarillo, TX
Aircraft: PILATUS AIRCRAFT LTD PC 12, registration: N933DC
Injuries: 3 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 April 28, 2017, about 2348 central daylight time, a Pilatus PC-12 airplane, N933DC, impacted terrain near Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport (AMA), Amarillo, Texas. The airline transport pilot and two flight crew were fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by Rico Aviation LLC, under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 135 as an air ambulance flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and the flight was operated on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was en route to Clovis Municipal Airport (CVN), Clovis, New Mexico. 

At 2248, the flight request was received from a medical center in Clovis to retrieve and transfer a patient to Lubbock, Texas. The flight was accepted by the Rico Aviation crew at 2334.

A review of preliminary Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control information revealed that about 2332 the pilot received an IFR clearance and about 2344 he taxied to runway 4 at intersection A. About 2345 the airport tower controller cleared the airplane for takeoff on course, which was a right turn. About 2346 the same controller instructed the pilot to reset his transponder and then transferred communications to the departure controller. About 2347 the pilot reported at 6,000 ft msl and the departure controller radar identified the airplane. About 2348 the controller advised the pilot that he was no longer receiving the transponder, but the pilot did not respond. The controller made 3 more transmissions to the pilot without response. The airport tower controller observed a fireball and reported a crash.

Surveillance video from a nearby business recorded the accident airplane in a steep descent at a high rate of speed followed by an explosion.

The airplane impacted a pasture (figure 1) adjacent to several stationary train cars about 1 nautical mile south of AMA and a post impact fire ensued. The wreckage debris path was generally oriented southwest. All major structural components of the airplane were located within the wreckage.

The pilot, age 57, held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane multi-engine land; a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land, airplane single engine sea airplane multi-engine sea, rotorcraft-gyroplane; a flight engineer certificate for turbojet powered aircraft; a flight instructor certificate for airplane single engine and multi-engine, instrument airplane, and rotorcraft-gyroplane; an advanced and instrument ground instructor certificate; a powerplant mechanic certificate; and a repairman experimental aircraft builder certificate.

On the medical certificate application, dated January 19, 2017, the pilot reported that his total flight experience included 5,800 hours and 80 hours in last six months. This pilot was issued a second-class medical certificate with the limitation "must have available glasses for near vision."

According to FAA and maintenance records, the airplane was manufactured in 1994. Its most recent annual and 100-hour inspections were completed March 2, 2017, at 4,407.5 hours total time.

At 2353, the AMA automated weather observation recorded wind from 360° at 21 knots gusting to 28 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, broken clouds at 700 ft above ground level (agl), overcast cloud layer at 1,200 ft agl, temperature 45° F, dew point 45°F, altimeter setting 29.78 inches of mercury. Remarks: peak wind from 360° at 32 knots at 2346, lightning distant west, rain began at 2314 and ended at 2325, variable ceiling from 500 to 900 ft agl.

A preliminary review of the weather data revealed wind shear beginning about 6000 ft msl along with a temperature inversion at the same altitude.

The wreckage has been retained by the NTSB for further examination.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) -    The Pilatus PC-12, which crashed earlier this week, was developed and certified as an all weather aircraft by the Federal Aviation Administration.

This is one of the reasons Rico Aviation switched to this type of plane in August of 2016. Since making the switch officials, Rico Air told NewsChannel10 they have never experienced an issue with the aircraft.

Despite being certified as an all weather aircraft, there are limitations to this plane.

"All aircraft have what is called a crosswind limitation," said Tom Aniello, the Vice President of Pilatus. "There is nothing unusual about the crosswind limitation on the PC-12, it is not lower than what you would find on a bigger business jet or an airliner."

During takeoff, the crosswind limitation provided by the manufacturers of the Pilatus PC-12 is 30 knots, or just over 34 miles per hour.

On the night of the accident, wind speeds did exceed 50 miles per hour near the airport. However the direction of the wind relative to the plane is what makes it dangerous.

The National Transportation Safety Board has not released a cause for the accident, and officials with Rico Air believe weather was not an issue.

Pilatus sent two investigators from Colorado Saturday morning to assist with the investigation. They will help identify the specifics of the plane and will stay as long as the National Transportation Safety Board needs them.

Original article can be found here:

Robin Shaw

Misty Nicholson

Scott  Riola

Three Rico Aviation employees killed in an air ambulance crash early Saturday morning — a pilot and two flight nurses — were remembered by the community as respected professionals in their field.

Social media is flooded with photos and memories of Robin Shaw, Scott Riola and Misty Nicholson.

The single-engine Pilatus PC-12 was on its way to Clovis, N.M. when it crashed into a field near Pullman Road and Southeast Third Avenue in Amarillo, just south of Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport.

Shaw, the pilot, had been inducted into the Federal Aviation Administration’s Airmen Certification Database in 2013, according to the Aviation Business Gazette. The certification is given to pilots who exceed FAA-established educational, licensing and medical standards.

He was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association Chapter 471 in Abilene, Texas, confirmed by the chapter’s president, Steve Krazer on Monday.

Jim Berry, EAA Chapter 471 secretary, said he would converse with Shaw about his passion for home-built aircraft and that he was genuinely likable.

“He was always upbeat, always talking about airplanes, always talking about wanting to finish his home-built airplane he was building here,” Berry said. “The airplane he was building, the name of the airplane is the ‘Flying Flea,’ of all things, it’s a real cute looking little airplane that was designed back in the 1920s and 1930s and he was trying to get that completed and get it to fly.”

The Flying Flea currently sits unfinished in the chapter’s hangars out at Abilene Regional Airport, Berry said. Shaw moved it there shortly after taking his new position with Rico in October.

Shaw is the second Chapter 471 member to be killed in the last year, Berry said.

“We’ve lost too many members in such a short period of time,” Berry said.

Shaw’s wife declined to comment to the Amarillo Globe-News on Monday, saying she needed more time to process Saturday’s tragedy.

Riola, a flight nurse, had graduated from Amarillo College’s Associate Degree Nursing Program in May 2013, according to a statement released Monday by Lyndi Shadbolt, director of the ADN program.

“At his Nursing Pinning ceremony, he was honored by the ADN Faculty with a Clinical Performance award for graduates who exemplify the qualities of professional nursing,” Shadbolt said in the statement. “Scott exemplified those qualities of clinical competency, professional activities, professional relationships with faculty, peers, and clinical agencies, professional growth, and his potential for future contributions to the nursing profession.”

“He was a very good student, so he was a great nurse I am sure,” Shadbolt told the Globe-News.

Riola’s Linkedin profile says he began work with Rico in December. His wife, Melissa Limmer-Riola, is also a registered nurse, according to Facebook. They were married June 2010.

Riola and fellow flight nurse Nicholson were both working for Northwest Texas Hospital in addition to their roles as flight nurses for Rico, according to their Linkedin profiles.

Nicholson, 38, attended Hereford High School and received a paramedic certificate from Amarillo College in 1995. She graduated from Excelsior College with an associate’s degree in nursing in 2006.

“I have the most amazingly beautiful little girl a mom could hope for,” Nicholson wrote on her Facebook profile about her 7-year-old daughter, London.

Before working for Northwest and Rico, Nicholson was a certified procurement transplant coordinator, or CPTC, with LifeShare Transplant Donor Services of Oklahoma between 2010 and 2013. According to her Facebook profile, at the time she thought she had found her dream job at LifeShare.

“Misty works tirelessly, sometimes more than 30 hours at a stretch, to serve recipients, donor families, and the wishes of the donors themselves,” said Adam Bell in an online recommendation. “She treats families with compassion and donors with dignity.”

Bell said he had worked closely with Nicholson as a CPTC.

“Misty remains calm in the face of daunting circumstances, she moves forward; taming chaos as she goes,” he continued. “She communicates with precision and clarity.”

Ginger Brewer, a longtime friend of Nicholson’s, said she truly embodied love and exercised that love to her very last moment on earth.

“When weather’s not good, one person can refuse and you can basically call the flight off if any of your staff feel that it’s unsafe,” Brewer said, recalling from her own experiences as a flight nurse.

“Being a nurse in that position, I would have never done that because that’s what you’re there to do, you’re there to go and get these babies and these kids and you’re to bring them to help. That’s why they’re calling you; they’re calling you to help them.”

“And she would have never said no. She knew somebody needed her and that’s just the person she was, she would never put herself above or in front of anybody else. She always put others in front of her. And that’s exactly why she died. She died putting someone else’s life ahead of her own.”

A GoFundMe scholarship fund in Nicholson’s name has been set up with the goal of raising $7,500 to benefit London’s education. As of 5:30 p.m. on Monday, $3,505 had been raised so far. Meals will also be provided to Nicholson’s family through an account set up on Food Tidings, where the account says London Nicholson “loves Chick-Fil-A.”

Original article can be found here:

AMARILLO,TX - UPDATE (7:18 PM): The Amarillo Police Department released the names of the victims killed in Friday's plane crash. Pilot Robin Shaw and flight nurses Misty Nicholson and Scott Riola were killed when their plane went down shortly after takeoff Friday night. 

The National Transportation Safety Board held a press conference at Rick Husband International Airport Sunday afternoon to provide an update on the small plane crash that killed three people in east Amarillo late Friday night.

Joshua Lindberg, the Investigator in Charge for NTSB, said his team made their way to Amarillo Saturday afternoon to start their investigation. He said the NTSB has been charged by Congress to investigate every civil aviation accident.

Emergency officials responded to a patch of land running along a railroad track near Highway 287 in the late hours of April 28th.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokesperson, Roland Herwig, said the Pilatus PC-12 crashed shortly after take-off killing all three people on board.

The aircraft is describers as an air ambulance carrying one pilot and two flight nurses.Linberg would not release the names of those involved. He said victim's names would come from local authorities.

Lindberg said the NTSB is working with local meteorological teams, the Federal Aviation Administration, Air Traffic Control, Pilatus, Rico Aviation and other local authorities.

Lindberg said his team will stay on scene for four days to gather facts and identify all parts of the aircraft. The pieces will then be taken to an undisclosed location for a more detailed examination.

The NTSB will look at the pilot's background, aircraft maintenance records, radar and more. Lindberg said they don't want to just figure out what happened, but why and prevent this from happening again in the future.

He said there will be no speculation of what caused the crash at this time and a determination of cause will not happen while they are on scene for the next four days. Lindberg said the NTSB will release a preliminary report in one week.

He said there is not a typical 'black box' on board the aircraft, like something we hear about in commercial aviation accidents, but there was some memory recording devices that might help their investigation.

Lindberg said the pilot was in communication with air traffic control, and they will review those records.

Lindberg said as part of their investigation they want to hear from witnesses that might have seen something Friday night. To get in touch with his agency witnesses can send an email to

Herwig says there was severe weather in the area at the time of the crash but Herwig was not ready to tie the two incidents together as of Saturday afternoon. He said the weather was a factor they would look into as part of their investigation.

Rico Aviation posted this statement to their Facebook page Saturday morning: "Rico Aviation regrets to confirm the loss of three crew members last night. We are devastated by this tragedy and are mourning the loss of our team members. The families have been notified and they are in our hearts and prayers. We appreciate prayers for our fallen teammates and their families.

Story and video:

Joshua D. Lindberg
Investigator In Charge 
National Transportation Safety Board

AMARILLO, Texas (AP) - Authorities say three people are dead after an air ambulance crashed overnight in Texas just south of the airport in Amarillo. 

Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Cindy Barkley says the small plane went down about 12:30 a.m. Saturday in an industrial section of the city between Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport and Interstate 40.

Scott Riola of Cameron was on board when the aircraft went down, a family member told Channel 6. The other victims have not been identified. 

Rico Aviation, an air ambulance service based in Amarillo, issued a statement saying three of its crew members died.

A company employee who answered the phone Saturday declined comment.

A message left with Amarillo police was not immediately returned.

Three members of local air-ambulance service Rico Aviation died when the plane they were in crashed into a grassy field in Amarillo shortly after takeoff, according to authorities.

Names of the employees killed were not released by authorities or the company Saturday.

It was not clear precisely when the plane crashed, but the Texas Department of Public Safety responded to the scene near Pullman Road and Southeast Third Avenue at about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, a spokeswoman said.

The crash was about two miles from Rick Husband Amarillo International Airport and near railroad tracks that run along Third Avenue.

The plane was a Pilatus PC-12, a single-engine aircraft manufactured by Switzerland’s Pilatus Aircraft, and was en route to Clovis, N.M., according to Federal Aviation Administration Mid-States Public Affairs Manager Lynn Lunsford.

An FAA investigator was inspecting the scene on the cold and damp Saturday morning. National Transportation Safety Board investigators were also expected to arrive Saturday.

Details about who was onboard the plane were not immediately released Saturday. Lunsford said the FAA and NTSB do not release victim information.

DPS Sgt. Cindy Barkley said early Saturday that the department would release the names of the victims once authorities notify next of kin, adding that one victim had yet to be identified by authorities.

Rico President Richard Coon said Saturday afternoon that the company would not be releasing the names. He referred to a Facebook post as Rico Aviation’s official statement.

“Rico Aviation regrets to confirm the loss of three crew members last night,” the Facebook post says. “We are devastated by this tragedy and are mourning the loss of our team members. The families have been notified and they are in our hearts and prayers. We appreciate prayers for our fallen teammates and their families.”

Though the cause of the crash is still being investigated, weather conditions had been getting worse in the area Friday night into early Saturday.

Light rain was falling through a 23 mph wind — with gusts up to 31 mph — at 12:53 a.m. Saturday at the airport, with visibility at about 10 miles, according to National Weather Service Amarillo meteorologist Trent Hoffeditz.

Conditions were similar an hour earlier, with winds at about 24 mph with gusts up to 32 and the same visibility, though no recordable precipitation was falling.

Rico Aviation celebrated its 20th anniversary on July 16, according to Globe-News archives. Not long before that, the company acquired the PC-12.

The plane can carry up to six people — a three-man crew of pilot, nurse and paramedic, the patient, and up to two family members.

At the time of its anniversary, Rico had two planes and one jet, a medical director, 27 critical care nurses and paramedics and six pilots who worked in the company’s hangar and offices near TAC Air bordering the Amarillo airport.

Rico crews air-flight critical patients around the country, but the majority of flights are to Dallas, Houston, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, Phoenix and Lubbock’s Level 1 trauma center, University Medical Center.

Some patients in the Texas Panhandle are flown from small communities to Amarillo’s Northwest Texas and Baptist St. Anthony’s hospitals.

Original article can be found here:

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