Sunday, July 2, 2017

Slip Stream Gennis, N3449: Fatal accident occurred July 02, 2017 near Merrys Pymatuning Airport (PA01), Linesville, Crawford County, Pennsylvania

The NTSB traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA223
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, July 02, 2017 in Linesville, PA
Aircraft: SLIP STREAM GENNIS, registration: N3449
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 2, 2017, at 1923 eastern daylight time, a Slip Stream Gennis, N3449, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain shortly after takeoff from Merrys Pymatuning Airport (PA01), Linesville, Pennsylvania. The private pilot, who was also the owner of the airplane was fatally injured. The airplane was operated under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight.

Several witnesses at PA01 reported that the airplane took off from runway 4 with a 5-knot tailwind. The airplane climbed on runway heading to about 500 ft, then started a shallow left turn to the north. It then turned to the right, the right wing "dipped" quickly, and the airplane spun towards the ground. The airplane appeared to make one complete revolution as it spiraled down before striking a soybean field and bursting into flames. Several of the witnesses stated that the engine sounded strong throughout the entire flight until impact with the field.

One witness stated that prior to the flight he overheard the pilot state that he "didn't trust his aircraft" and that the airplane had an inoperable airspeed indicator.

The airplane was a two-seat side by side, strut-braced, high wing, pusher configuration with a Rotax 582, 65 horsepower engine and a three blade carbon fiber propeller. It was issued a Federal Aviation Administration experimental light-sport aircraft special airworthiness certificate on July 4, 2007. According to maintenance records, as of a condition engine inspection dated October 21, 2015, the tachometer showed 127.0 hours. The total airframe and engine time at the time of the accident could not be determined.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. The last entry in the pilot's logbook showed that he had 424.5 total hours of flight experience as of September 16, 2016. In addition, the pilot held a repairman certificate with a light-sport aircraft rating.

Initial examination of the wreckage revealed that the airplane struck the ground in a right wing low, steep nose down attitude, about 2,000 ft from the departure end of runway 04. The fuselage, cockpit and instrumentation were consumed by a postimpact fire. Three-quarters of the outboard portion of the left and right wings remained intact and the tail, although damaged by fire, remained attached to the frame. Flight control continuity was established between all control surfaces. The engine exhibited fire and impact damage, but exhibited no mechanical anomalies during a teardown examination. Two of the propeller blades were splintered and remained partially attached to the propeller hub; they exhibited significant heat damage. One of the propeller blades was found 30 ft from the wreckage.

The airplane was recovered to a secured facility and retained 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

CONNEAUT TOWNSHIP — Chuck Heilmann used very few words to describe Sunday night's fatal single-engine plane crash near Linesville that took the life of Harry A. Ross.

"Tragic, just tragic," Heilmann said Monday at Merry-Pymatuning Airport where Heilmann is one of the owners. Heilmann said Ross, 70, of 5321 Lakeview Drive, Edinboro, was a tenant at the airport, a grass strip airport with two large hangars located in Conneaut Township.

"He was here all day working on his plane," Heilmann said soberly of Ross. "It was a beautiful evening to fly and he took off."

Ross left from Merry-Pymatuning Airport alone in the aircraft when it went down just after 7:30 p.m., Scott Schell, county coroner, said Monday. According to witnesses, the plane hit nose first into a soybean field off Airport Road in Conneaut Township and burst into flames, Schell said.

“Witnesses said the plane banked to the left, spiraled down and went into the ground,” Schell told the Tribune.

Schell ruled Ross’ death accidental due to multiple blunt force trauma and burns. Ross was wearing a seat belt and a helmet, Schell said. No autopsy is scheduled, but toxicology testing will be done, Schell said.

Toxicology testing is the sampling of tissue, blood and other body fluids to identify potential toxins in the body, including prescription medication and other drugs and substances.

Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board arrived at the crash scene Monday morning to start an investigation into the cause. A final report on the fatal accident may take up to a year to complete.

Carol Bailey, who lives along Airport Road with her husband, Don, across from the crash site, said she heard the crash from inside her home.

"I had just finished (writing checks for the couple's) bills and we heard it fly overhead," she said. "Then we heard a big boom. Don raised the blinds in the living room to look outside, and I went outside. Then we both saw smoke and flame in the field." 

Heilmann said he saw the plane take off just fine, but trouble happened after it banked to the left, then began to spiral downward before it crashed into the ground.

"It looked like a stall, spin and crash," Heilmann said. "He may have been too slow in the turn."

In airplane terminology, a stall isn't necessarily an engine stall but a loss of lift under the aircraft. Lift is the force that directly opposes the weight of an airplane and holds the airplane in the air. A stall happens when a plane's wing loses lift because it's not moving at a good angle to the air.

Linesville Volunteer Fire Department was called to the scene to put out the fire. Firemen were staying on site in shifts to keep the crash site secure until federal investigators completed their onsite investigation, said Chief Bill Mickle of Linesville Volunteer Fire Department.

According to the FAA Registry, Ross held a valid private pilot license from the FAA since March 8, 2010. The plane, a 1996 SlipStream Genesis, was a fixed-wing single-engine aircraft with Ross as the registered owner. The plane was classified as experimental and listed as airworthy July 4, 2007, according to the FAA Registry.

The plane's last FAA registry was validated Dec. 15, 2014, and valid through Dec. 31 of this year.

SlipStream International of Beloit, Wis., manufactures the Genesis, an enclosed cabin airplane, and sells it as a kit, according to the company's website. The Genesis is designed as a pusher-type airplane with the engine mounted behind the cockpit, according to the website.

Building a Genesis typically takes about 400 hours to complete, according to the website. The Genesis basic airframe costs $15,540 with all of the flight surfaces, fuselage, fiberglass enclosure, landing gear, wheels and tires, control system and doors included. A complete Genesis aircraft, ready to fly, typically runs from $35,000 to $59,000, depending on engine and choice of options, according to the website.

Sunday night's crash was less than a mile south of plane crash the night of Dec. 7, 2015, that claimed the lives of pilot Timothy Williams, 59, of Burghill, Ohio, and passenger Nathan Koontz, 33, of Linesville.

The final FAA report on the probable cause of that crash was Williams’ decision to fly on "a dark, moonless night in instrument meteorological conditions" when Williams was not rated to fly on instruments. The plane crashed into a wooded area while maneuvering near Merry-Pymatuning Airport, which is an unlit airstrip.

Federal investigators are trying to determine the cause of a small plane crash, which claimed the life of an Edinboro pilot.

On Monday, investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the Federal Aviation Administration made their way to the crash site off of Airport Road in Linesville, to sift through the wreckage.

On Sunday evening, investigators say 70-year-old Harry Ross had just taken off from the Merry Pymatuning Airport, when something went terribly wrong.

"It progressed up to about 400 to 500 feet, made a sharp right turn here towards us, and the witnesses said that the aircraft nose-dived into the ground.” said NTSB Investigator Aaron McCarter.

After crashing into a field, the ultralight plane--which had just been refueld--burst into flames.

"Before we got here, bystanders had taken the person who was operating this plane, and got him away from the plane.” said Linesville Fire Chief Bill Mickle.

Ross died at the scene.  The Crawford County Coroner has ruled his death accidental due to multiple blunt force trauma.

The crash site is near the same spot where a small aircraft crashed in December of 2015, killing two people.

No autopsy is scheduled, but the Crawford County Coroner will conduct a toxicology test on Ross.

LINESVILLE — Federal Aviation Administration investigators are expected to travel to western Crawford County Monday to begin their investigation into an aircraft crash north of the borough that killed an Edinboro man on Sunday night.

Crawford County Coroner Scott Schell identified the victim as 70-year-old Harry A. Ross. Schell said Ross died multiple blunt-force trauma and thermal injuries in the crash, which happened in a farm field off Airport Road in Conneaut Township, Crawford County, at about 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

An autopsy will not be performed, but toxicology testing will be done on Ross, Schell said.

The crash happened about a half mile from Merrys Pymatuning Airport. It remained unclear Monday morning if Ross was flying into the airport or had taken off from it.

Linesville firefighters were sent to the area on a report of an aircraft crash and arrived to find heavy smoke and fire coming from the wrecked aircraft, Linesville Fire Chief Bill Mickle said. Pennsylvania State Police investigators were also called to the scene.

Mickle said firefighters would remain at the scene Sunday night and Monday morning to secure it until federal investigators arrived.

A 70-year-old Edinboro man is dead after his ultralight aircraft crashed nose first into a soybean field in Conneaut Township, Crawford County, and caught on fire.  The crash happened just after 7:30 p.m. Sunday.  

Crawford County Coroner Scott Schell told Erie News Now the man died of multiple blunt force trauma and burns.  He is identified as Harry Albert Ross. His wife has been notified.

Eye witnesses called 911 to report that the plane had just taken off from nearby Merry Field airport, where Ross kept his plane, when it banked left, went into a spiral, crashed and erupted in flames.  The wreckage was found about 300 feet west of Airport Road, about a mile-and-a-half north of Route 6.  

Linesville Firefighters used an all terrain vehicle with water on board to get to the aircraft and put out the fire.  The pilot was the only person on board.

There are no reports yet on what went wrong.  The FAA is expected to investigate.  

The ultralight crashed not far from the site where a small Cub Kit aircraft crashed in December 2015, killing two people.

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