Saturday, May 6, 2017

Cirrus SR22 G3, N271TS, Eagle Flyers LLC: Fatal accident occurred May 05, 2017 at Clearwater Air Park (KCLW), Pinellas 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
Cirrus Aircraft; Duluth, Minnesota 
Continental Motors Inc; Mobile, Florida 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Eagle Flyers LLC:

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA174
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, May 05, 2017 in Clearwater, FL
Aircraft: CIRRUS DESIGN CORP SR22, registration: N271TS
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 May 5, 2017, about 1925 eastern daylight time, a Cirrus SR22, N271TS, impacted terrain while attempting to land at the Clearwater Airpark (CLW), Clearwater, Florida. The private pilot was fatally injured and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to a private company and operated as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the airport at the time of the accident. No flight plan was filed for the flight that departed Plantation Airpark (JYL), Sylvania, Georgia, about 1711, and was destined for CLW.

A preliminary review of air traffic control (ATC) communications revealed the flight originated about 1103 from the Groton-New London Airport (GON), Groton, Connecticut, and was destined for the Hagerstown Regional Airport - James A. Henson Field (HGR), Hagerstown, Maryland. While en route, the pilot diverted to JYL. After departing JYL, the pilot requested flight following services from ATC. When the airplane was about 8 miles north of CLW, about 1918, radar services were terminated and the pilot proceeded to CLW.

Another pilot was entering the traffic pattern at CLW when he heard the accident pilot announce over the airport's common traffic advisory frequency frequency that he was west of the airport and inbound for landing. The other pilot told the accident pilot that there was a noise restriction on the west side of the airport and that he would need to enter the traffic pattern from the east. The accident pilot acknowledged and told the other pilot that he would follow him in. The other pilot said he could see storms approaching the airport. When he crossed over the approach end of the runway to try and land, the winds became increasingly strong and gusty. The pilot said it took him a long time to get the airplane on the ground and he had to use full aileron deflection to maintain control. He said there was wind shear, but he could not estimate the speed or direction of the shear; however, he estimated the wind was between 240 and 270 degrees at a velocity of about 40 knots.

The pilot said that he saw the accident airplane on downwind, while he was on final approach, and was aware that he was close behind him in the pattern, so he cleared the runway quickly. He then radioed the accident pilot and told him the wind was "snotty" at the approach end of the runway and to be careful. The accident pilot acknowledged. The other pilot then taxied to his parking spot and did not see the accident airplane land. The pilot said that after he parked his airplane the wind was blowing so hard that it was struggle to get the canopy cover on his airplane. It had also started to rain. The pilot was unaware that the accident airplane had crashed until he heard sirens on the airport and responded to the location of the accident.

An airport employee observed the accident airplane on a final approach for runway 16. He said it was very windy and gusty, and storms were approaching the airport. The employee said the airplane appeared to make a normal approach to the airport before it disappeared from his view. The employee then heard the airplane's engine go to full power. He said the airplane entered a vertical climb before it rolled left onto its back. The airplane then descended while traveling toward the east inverted before it disappeared from view. The witness said he knew the airplane was going to crash and started yelling for someone to call 911. He then responded to the accident site and saw fuel draining from the airplane.

The airplane came to rest inverted on a magnetic heading of 073° in a dry retention pond just east of the runway. The initial impact point was a ground scar. Embedded in the scar were pieces of the left wing tip. The main wreckage, which include the empennage, fuselage, the right wing, portions of the left wing, and the engine and propeller, were located about 50 ft east of the initial impact point. The left wing was fractured just outboard of the flap, and the wing tip had separated. There was no post-impact fire and the onboard ballistic recovery system (parachute) was not deployed. The roof of the airplane had collided with an elevated storm drain that was made of concrete. A section of the airplane's roof and door were found at the base of the drain. Propeller marks were also observed on the aluminum guard-rail that was attached to the drain. Flight control continuity was established for all major flight control surfaces to the cockpit area. The flap actuator indicated the flaps were fully extended. The pitch trim motor was found near the neutral trim position and the roll trim motor was found in an approximate full left roll position. Both front seats were equipped with airbags and both bags were deployed. The pilot's four-point seat belt/shoulder harness assembly had been cut by rescue personnel.

The engine remained partially attached to the airplane and the three-bladed propeller remained attached to the engine. All three blades were bent aft and exhibited polishing at the tips. The spinner exhibited only minor damage. Examination of the engine revealed it had sustained some impact damage, but the accessories remained on the engine. The fuel pump was removed and some fuel was observed in the chamber. The fuel coupling was not broken. The engine was manually rotated and valve train continuity and compression were established on each cylinder. The top spark plugs were grey in color consistent with normal wear per the Champion Check-A-Plug chart. Spark was observed to each ignition lead when the engine was rotated. The fuel manifold valve was removed and disassembled. Some fuel was noted in the manifold chamber and the screen was absent of debris. Honey-colored oil was observed throughout the engine. The oil pump was pumping oil when the engine was rotated. The oil filter was removed and opened. The filament was absent of debris. No mechanical deficiencies were observed with the engine that would have precluded normal operation at the time of impact.

The airplane was equipped with an Avidyne electronic primary flight display (PFD) and a multi-function display (MFD). The PFD unit and the solid-state memory card from the MFD were recovered from the wreckage for examination and download.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. Review of his logbook revealed that as of April 26, 2017, he had a total of about 244 flights hours, of which, 23.6 hours were in the accident airplane. His last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical was issued on July 14, 2015, with no waivers or limitations.

Recorded weather at CLW, at 1935, included wind from 280° at 14 knots with gusts to 23 knots, visibility 10 miles, scattered clouds at 3,200 ft, a broken ceiling at 4,500 ft, an overcast ceiling at 6,000 ft, temperature 21° C, dew point 12° C, and an altimeter setting of 29.79 inHg.

Recorded weather at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport (PIE), St. Petersburg, Florida, located about 6 miles southeast of CLW, at 1953, included wind from 270° at 16 knots with gusts to 32 knots, 9 miles visibility, light rain, few clouds at 4,700 ft, a broken ceiling at 5,500 ft, an overcast ceiling at 8,000 ft, temperature 21° C, dew point 13 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.80 inHg. A peak wind was recorded from 260° at 32 knots at 1947 and rain began at 1950.

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

James R. Fink 
November 12, 1972 - May 5, 2017 
Born in Stuttgart, Germany 
Resided in Exeter, Rhode Island 

We are deeply saddened to announce the sudden passing of James R. Fink, 44, of Exeter, RI on May 5, 2017. He was the President of Kleinholz, Inc, a forensic engineering and consulting firm. He is survived by his wife Nicole Arcand, MD, and two fabulous girls, Adalyn and Sydney. He was beloved by his parents, Dr. Theodore and Mrs. Jan Fink, of Shelburne, VT, his brother Michael Fink and his wife Kelsey Barrett Fink, his sister Kathleen Fink Cheeseman and her husband Gareth Cheeseman, his parents-in-law, Dr. Alfred and Mrs. Louise Arcand, of Coventry, RI, Nicole's siblings, their spouses and many nieces and nephews.

Visiting hours are 4:00 - 7:00 P.M. on Friday, May 12, 2017 at the Potvin-Quinn Funeral Home, 45 Curson St., West Warwick, RI 02893.

On Saturday, May 13, 2017 there will be a Celebration of Jim's Life starting at 11:00 A.M., followed by lunch at the Quidnessett Country Club, 950 North Quidnessett Rd, North Kingston, RI 02852.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society ( or March of Dimes.

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA) — Clearwater officials have identified a pilot killed in a plane crash Friday night at the Clearwater Airpark.

James R. Fink, 44, of Rhode Island was coming to town for a business conference. Officials say he was flying a 2007 Cirrus fixed wing, single-engine plane when he crashed at the airport.

Landing gear pointed to the sky, the fuselage crumpled, the Cirrus SR22 G3 aircraft sat near a secondary taxiway.

It’s intended point of touchdown was about 50 feet away.

“Somebody here at the airport heard something, heard the crash and called 911. So, that’s when our paramedics and police both responded to the scene,” said Rob Shaw, with the Clearwater Police Department and Fire Rescue.

They pulled the pilot, the only person aboard, out of the cockpit, but there was nothing they could do. He died on the scene.

Eagle 8 HD shows where this accident happened. It’s on the north side of the field, just east of the main runway.

While the FAA and the NTSB will now take over the official investigation to determine what went wrong, weather appears to be a factor.

“I think one of the theories, the plane was landing on runway 16, and about the same time, there’s a lot of gusty winds out here, so about that same time, a gust of wind might have caused it to flip and overturn on its top,” said Shaw.

It appears the plane may have touched down and immediately got caught in the wind, hurling it to the east in a violent toss.

Video taken from the airport office did not catch the plane as it lost control.

“We’re actually gonna appeal to the public is, if you live around this area and you saw or heard anything unusual, please call the Clearwater Police Department.”

Story and video:

CLEARWATER (FOX 13) - The NTSB and FAA will lead an investigation into what caused a deadly plane crash at the Clearwater Airpark on Friday night.

Officials identified the pilot as James R. Fink, 44 ,of Exeter, Rhode Island. 

Fink was the only person on board a Cirrus SR22 G3 plane when it crashed around 7:30 p.m. Friday.

An employee at the Airpark called for help after spotting the wreckage in a grassy median beside an airstrip where planes typically take off.

Paramedics pulled Fink from the wreckage, but he died on scene. Clearwater Police said they have reason to believe the victim is not a resident of Tampa Bay.

"From all indications, the aircraft is registered from out of state, so we're not thinking that the person is local, but that's still way up in the air,” said Rob Shaw, spokesperson for Clearwater Police and Fire.

Police said an initial investigation shows the plane may have flipped in the air due to strong winds, causing it to crash upside down before making it to the landing strip.

“We’re waiting on the NTSB and the FAA to come here and take over the official investigation. I think one of the theories is that the plane was landing on runway 1-6, and about the same time, there are a lot of gusty winds out here, so about that same time, a gust of wind might have caused it to flip and overturn on its top,” said Shaw.

The Clearwater Airpark is a popular place for plane enthusiasts and owners of private planes.

Clearwater Police are hoping someone who witnessed the crash or recorded any video, will reach out to them to shed some light on what may have led up to the tragic accident. The NTSB and FAA are expected to arrive in Clearwater at 3 p.m. Saturday to take over the investigation. Clearwater Police said until then, the airstrip will remain closed.

Story and video:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I had a CFI, Jim Coffee, based at KCLW, winter of 1980 thru 1981, and 1981 thru 1982,
CFI, SE, ME. ATP. Some of the best years for me, flying my PA 28 140.