Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Pipistrel Virus SW, N155CL: Fatal accident occurred April 04, 2017 in Micanopy, Florida

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida

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

Riley R. Stevens: http://registry.faa.gov/N155CL

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA145
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, April 04, 2017 in Micanopy, FL
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 April 4, 2017, about 0910 eastern daylight time, a Pipestrel Virus SW, N155CL, was destroyed when it impacted a pasture in Micanopy, Florida. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The flight departed Sebring Regional Airport (SEF), Sebring, Florida, at 0800, destined for Oconee County Regional Airport (CEU), Clemson, South Carolina. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

Preliminary radar data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the airplane was on a northerly track from SEF toward Micanopy about 8,000 feet mean sea level. The track ended at an east-west oriented line of severe thunderstorms and rain showers that extended about 100 nautical miles to either side of the track, according to preliminary National Weather Service (NWS) weather radar data. The pilot was in contact with air traffic control throughout the flight, he did not transmit any distress calls.

A witness located at his residence about 200 yards from the accident site reported that he had had been outside in the pasture when it started to rain. He went inside his house and 3 to 5 minutes later he heard an airplane engine. He indicated that the engine sound was smooth and continuous and sounded as though it flew over his house. The engine noise abruptly stopped, followed by "a loud pop sound, similar to a lightening crack." He looked outside and saw the airplane in the pasture and asked his wife to call 911.

The airplane impacted about 90° nose down in a grass pasture. All major components were accounted for at the scene, except the left wing and flaperon. The main wreckage was fragmented and confined to an area about 75 feet in diameter, a majority of which was within a wingspan to either side of the engine. The empennage was separated from the aft fuselage. The rudder and horizontal stabilizer were separated from the T-tail style vertical stabilizer. Flight control continuity was established from the rudder pedals to the rudder control horn, which was separated from the rudder. Flaperon and elevator control continuity could not be confirmed due to impact damage.

The engine was buried in the initial impact crater, 3 feet below the surface. All three carbon fiber propeller blades were fractured at or near their root. One of the blades was not located. The gearbox and propeller hub were separated from the engine crankcase. The crankshaft could not be rotated due to impingement with damaged engine mounts and external components.

A large section of the left wing was located on a farm about 4.5 miles south of the main wreckage. The left flaperon was not found.

According FAA records, the pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, multiengine land, single engine sea and glider. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued October 28, 2013, at which time he reported 12,100 total hours of flight experience. A review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had accrued 92 total hours of flight experience in the accident airplane as of April 2, 2017.

At 0853, the reported weather at Gainesville Regional Airport (GNV), Gainesville, Florida, about 15 nautical miles north of the accident site included thunderstorms, moderate rain, mist and wind from 100° at 10 knots gusting to 18 knots. The ceiling was broken at 4,300 feet and overcast at 7,500 feet. Visibility was 5 statute miles, the temperature was 19° C, and the dew point was 18° C.

A NWS Aviation Weather Center convective SIGMET for the area surrounding the accident site issued at 0755 warned of severe thunderstorms with tops above flight level 450, and wind gusts up to 50 knots.

An electronic flight instrument system was recovered from the accident site and forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorder laboratory for examination.

Riley Stevens
1952 - 2017 Obituary

Anderson, SC

Riley Randolph Stevens died April 4th in a plane crash in Micanopy, Florida. He will be greatly missed by his family and many friends. Riley's father was in the Air Force which meant growing up the family lived all over the US. Riley was born at McDill Air Force Base, Tampa, FL, on July 9, 1952. For college, Riley chose the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and went into the service after graduation. While Riley was stationed in Munich, Germany, his sister announced that she was coming to visit and bringing along the person, his sister insisted, whom he would marry. Sure enough, after a month of touring Europe, Riley was over the moon and back. After a courtship of letter writing between Indiana and Germany and a few visits, Riley and Cindy were married in 1980. The couple attended a house-building school in Maine for their honeymoon and then proceeded to build their own home in Monument, Colorado, with great and able assistance from friends and family. Riley worked for Texas Instruments in quality assurance/quality control in Colorado Springs. In 1987, their daughter, Eve, was born and shortly thereafter (1988) Riley joined American Airlines as an engineer on the 727. He became first officer, and captain while flying a variety of aircraft including the MD-80, 737, 757, 767, and 777.

A job opportunity for Cindy took the young family across the country to South Carolina in 1990. In 1993 their daughter Lee was born. Riley enjoyed his career because it allowed him to see the world and then play stay-at-home dad the other half of the week. Riley watched his daughters' swim practice during the week and volunteered as a meet official or lane timer during meets in order to be closer to the action. He also volunteered in a variety of ways at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clemson, at his daughters' schools as an Odyssey of the Mind coach, and president of the Clemson Aquatics Team.

In 2003 Riley decided to take advantage of his American Airlines benefits to take his family on a trip around the world. He planned for months then led them on the adventure of a lifetime to every continent but Antarctica. Riley was captivated by the wonders of the world from V-8 engines to the structure of molecules to US History and he let his wife and children know about each in detail. 

Riley was the kind of dad who made "flap jacks" on weekends, sang show tunes in the grocery store, and listened with rapt attention to the everyday details of his daughters' lives. He was the husband who told his wife every day how proud he was of her career, and how lucky he felt to share his life with a woman who "gets more beautiful every year." Riley provided his family with a life full of love, comfort, and adventure. He was kind, funny, and wise. He put the good of the whole ahead of himself and lived in a way that ensured all felt loved in his presence. 

Riley was predeceased by his parents, William Fay Stevens and Adna Madeline Bridges Stevens; his brother, William Bridges Stevens; and his mother-in-law, Maybelle Morgan Lee. 

Riley is survived by his wife, Cindy Margaret Lee; daughter, Eve Morgan Stevens, and son-in-law, Stephen K. Allinger, Jr; daughter, Lee Bridges Stevens; sister, Tandy Leone Stevens Gotchall; father-in-law, Donald Moore Lee; and brother-in-law, Marshall Morgan Lee. A memorial service will be held May 7th at 2pm at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clemson. 

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Clemson, 230 Pendleton Road, Clemson, SC 29631 or the South Carolina Governor's School for the Arts Foundation, P. O. Box 8458, Greenville, SC 29604 or online at gsafoundation.net.

Condolences may be expressed online at www.robinsonfuneralhomes.com.

Duckett-Robinson Funeral home, Central, is assisting the family.

- See more at: http://www.legacy.com


Jim B said...

Another pilot out flying in or near [extremely] bad weather.

Sympathies to his family. This was all avoidable.

gretnabear said...

Flight plan filed ...

Anonymous said...

Another mindless careless clown, in a LSA yet, u can only expect to see the accident rate increase in ga aircraft

Anonymous said...

FAA registry says Mr. Stevens was an ATP with all kinds of type-ratings and privileges - obviously a very experienced aviator. I wouldn't call him a "mindless careless clown" like the comment above - but I seriously have to wonder what was he thinking flying an experimental aircraft like this into this type of weather...

Anonymous said...

Its called get home itis.. he was away at a Rotax course for a week and needed/wanted to get home.

Anonymous said...

Riley was an Air Force pilot in Vietnam, a commercial pilot for American Airlines for 30 years, and an extremely cautious aviator. We don't know the story.

John Stackhouse said...

"A Mindless Clown" an anonymous poster posted. This man probably delivered a Million Passengers safely during his 30 year career as a professional pilot. Additionally he was a Veteran that served our country. I really wish we would do away with the anonymous post option. God's Speed Mr Stevens. I may have once been one of your safely delivered passengers.

Anonymous said...

Ok, mindless clown is to strong, he certainly exercised extremely poor judgement, thank god he didn't kill anyone flying for the airlines, the only reason he probably didn't is because of the rules and dispatchers, obviously he made an extremely poor call on this flight. As for a veteran, good for him, thank you for your service, however he used very poor judgement which could have risked lives on ground at the very least, if he made this poor call how many did he make that he got away with

Anonymous said...

And another thing mr stackhouse, I grew up at the airport and a great guy that flew for American Airlines would visit several times a month, he leased a Cessna and had financial interest in the fbo. I thought he was a god, flew D.C.-3 to the 747, a real pro, until I saw him drink a few beers and then jump in his cesssna 180 and fly back to nj. How f###ing dangerous, so don't give me this airline god crap, double standards I guess.

Anonymous said...

Gainsville, 17 mi north:
KGNV 041253Z 10010G18KT 5SM TSRA BR BKN043 OVC075 19/18 A2993 RMK AO2 PK
WND 03030/1203 WSHFT 1217 LTG DSNT ALQDS SLP133 P0194 T01890183

Ocala, 15 mi south:
KOCF 041250Z 19012G17KT 7SM SCT038 BKN050 23/19 A2992

Randy J Clifford said...

I love how so many people are experts reference what happened to Riley. I flew with Riley countless times with him as my co-pilot to Madrid and Paris out of MIA. He was an EXCELLENT pilot and had flown small civilian planes for MANY hours. A USAF Academy grad with a degree in aeronautical engineering, military pilot and thousands of hours flying. He was anything but "mindless" but cowards like "anonymous" can say as they please because of men and women like Riley who served in the military for a variety of reasons so "idiots" like anonymous can say as they please.

I feel for his wife and daughters and hope they don't have to read cowardly posts by people such as "anonymous". Leave your name if you are such an expert as to what happened or apply for the NTSB. Riley was great person who was a religious, caring and smart man. Who knows what happened? Let the NTSB do their job and we shall see.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like he lost a wing in flight. That's why I installed a BRS in my LSA. I wonder if he had one and did not or could not pop the chute?

Anonymous said...

Thank god the FAA at least has a tight grip on the airlines, just imagine if these guys weren't under tight rules, look at the judgement calls on this site by airline pilots, the spruce creek clan mid air, I'd drive anytime over flying on the airlines. How can these guys have double standards, u think they get off their Boeing flight and flip a wreckless switch on for the little kiddie cart they r flying on their own time, scary. I'm appalled at the airline and ex airline professionals who use way less then professional judgement. I'm glad they can flip flop standards when they go to work........or can they? Randy, ur probably impressed by anyone in the left seat, the weather was clearly severe or about to become severe, in a lsa?, really?

Randy J Clifford said...

It would be interesting to know what this coward (Anonymous) does for a living. Yes I am impressed by anyone sitting in either seat of an airline. They (male or female) have worked hard to be there. Are all of them perfect? No they aren't. Many like myself went into the military after graduating from college and served their country (have you). Then they went through the rigorous hiring process and spent (depending on the airline) upwards of 15 years in the right seat before moving to the left seat (10 years in my case). Cowards like anonymous always rush to judgement and project themselves as experts on any airplane crash. The worst part is being the coward and not listing their name as it is oh so easy to be an expert when one doesn't list their name. Yes there was VERY bad weather in the area when Riley's plane seemingly lost a wing while flying. I can't even imagine the terror and thoughts that may have gone through his mind but knowing Riley as I do he probably quickly said a prayer to his God and then thought of his wife, two daughters and grandchild. One of his daughters is a Pastor and he probably thought of her as his plane spiraled down. Your posts reek of airline pilot envy and I feel sad for you. Quit being a coward and step forward and leave your name as it may someday make you realize life is short and precious. Riley's was way too short and he is missed by many. He was a good man and never a coward!

Bill Brown said...

I have known Riley Stevens since he moved to the Anderson area over 20 years ago. I am a commercial rated GA pilot and have flown many flights with Riley since he retired from airline. I can easily say that he was an extremely qualified pilot that always flew by the numbers, He did not drink and fly and almost never even had an occasional beer. My last flight with him was observer for him practicing approaches which he did almost every week to keep current to his standards. I have talked to many pilots that know him and we have never seen him cut up while flying and we all are blown away that this happened to Riley. If they find his clipboard, it will have logged his last check point just as required by airlines and always monitored on guard radio channel. This airplane was light sport but well equipped with autopilot and he used IPad for current weather and almost always filed IFR or flight following. He was extremely meticulous with his aircraft and studied all components as he was attending engine seminar event before this happened. He probably could have been the moderator.
He was a good family man, very involved with local church and always helping the local humane society. He was an inspiration to all and will be greatly missed. W.P. Brown

Losloper said...

Does this raise questions regarding the design integrity of the plane? Are other's at risk of losing wings?