Monday, July 24, 2017

Czech Sport PiperSport, N35EP: Fatal accident occurred June 21, 2015 near Topsail Airpark (01NC), Holly Ridge, North Carolina

Dillard Martin Powell of Cary was killed June 21, 2015 while flying his plane near Topsail Island. Powell, a World War II veteran and lawyer, was 89. 

Dillard Martin Powell served in World War II, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and serving in the division that crippled German forces by uniting with the Red Army on the Elbe River. Powell manned anti-tank guns and earned numerous accolades, including two Bronze Stars. 
COURTESY OF POWELL FAMILY



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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Greensboro, North Carolina
Air Accidents Investigation Institute
Czech Sport Aircraft

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


Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms


Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


http://registry.faa.gov/N35EP




NTSB Identification: ERA15FA245

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 21, 2015 in Holly Ridge, NC
Probable Cause Approval Date: 07/12/2017
Aircraft: CZECH SPORT AIRCRAFT AS PIPER SPORT, registration: N35EP
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

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.


Earlier on the day of the accident, a condition inspection of the light-sport airplane had been completed, and the purpose of the flight was to relocate the airplane to its home base airport. About 1500, the pilot’s wife dropped the pilot off at the airport. The temperature was in the “upper 90s,” and, since the airplane was equipped with a clear cockpit canopy, it would have been hot inside of the airplane. According to the pilot’s wife, it was the pilot’s habit to leave the canopy up when it was hot until he was ready to depart.


About 1530, the pilot called his wife from the airplane before he took off and advised her that it would take him 15 minutes to fly to the home base airport and that he would wait for her to pick him up in the air-conditioned office of the fixed-base operator (FBO) at the field. However, when she arrived at the FBO, he was not there. A search was initiated, and the airplane wreckage was found in a wooded area about 1.1 miles west of the departure airport. Recorded data downloaded from a portable GPS unit that was onboard the airplane revealed that the airplane was airborne about 1 minute before reaching a peak GPS altitude of 309 ft and a derived groundspeed of 104 knots. This was the final recorded position.


Examination of the accident site and wreckage revealed that the airplane struck trees in a steep, nose-low attitude and that the pilot was ejected from the cockpit. Examination of the damage to the canopy, the cockpit sill, and the canopy locking mechanism indicated that the canopy was not closed and locked when the airplane impacted the trees. This most likely occurred due to the pilot delaying closing of the canopy due to the high temperature (as was his habit) and then forgetting to lock it. Although the airplane’s Pilot’s Operating Handbook advised that the canopy could not be closed in flight and that there would be no change of flight characteristics with the canopy open, it is likely that the pilot was attempting to close the canopy in flight and lost control of the airplane, which resulted in an uncontrolled descent into the trees.

The pilot’s four-point harness was intact and attached to its attachment fittings; however, the center buckle assembly was found unlatched. This may have been the result of the pilot forgetting to buckle the harness, or he may have unlatched it so he could reach the canopy sill and/or the latching mechanism in an attempt to close the canopy in flight. Other indicators that the pilot may have been in a hurry to get airborne due to the high temperature included his failure to arm the emergency locator transmitter, which was found in the “off” position, and to remove the ballistic recovery system activation handle safety pin with its “REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT” flag, which was found in place.


The pilot’s autopsy revealed that his heart was mildly enlarged, and his coronary arteries were significantly narrowed by atherosclerotic plaques. Microscopic evaluation of heart tissue also demonstrated mild interstitial fibrosis. Toxicological testing revealed medications that were consistent with the pilot’s heart disease. Although the pilot’s heart disease put him at risk for physical symptoms, such as chest pain, shortness of breath, or a heart rhythm that could not produce enough blood pressure to stay awake, neither the heart disease nor his medications would have impaired his judgment or increased his risk of becoming distracted by the canopy issue. Thus, the pilot’s medical conditions and medications most likely did not contribute to the cause of this accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:

The pilot’s failure to maintain airplane control after the cockpit canopy opened during initial climb. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to securely lock the canopy before takeoff.




HISTORY OF FLIGHT


On June 21, 2015, about 1532 eastern daylight time, a Czech Sport Aircraft Piper Sport, N35EP, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain after a loss of control during climb after departing from Topsail Airpark (01NC), Holly Ridge, North Carolina. The private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight, which was destined for the Albert J. Ellis Airport (OAJ), Jacksonville, North Carolina.


According to his wife, on the day of the accident, the pilot went to the airport to check on the airplane after they had lunch together. When he arrived at the airport, he met with the mechanic who was completing the condition inspection on the airplane, paid him for his services, and received a receipt. The pilot then went home but planned to return later and fly the airplane back to OAJ where it was based.


About 1500, the pilot's wife dropped him off at the airport. The temperature was in the "upper 90s;" the humidity was high, and there was little or no breeze. According to the pilot's wife, due to the airplane's "clear roof" (canopy), it would get hot inside of the airplane, and it was her husband's habit to leave the canopy up when it was hot until he was ready to depart.


The pilot's wife reported that he called her from the airplane before he took off at 1524 and advised her that it would take 45 minutes for her to reach OAJ, and he would be there in 15 minutes. He also advised her that he would meet her in the air-conditioned office of the fixed base operator (FBO) at OAJ. However, when she arrived at the FBO, he was not there.


At 1711, one of the two mechanics who had performed the condition inspection on the airplane received a call from the owner of 01NC who said that he had received a telephone call from the pilot's wife and that the pilot had not arrived at OAJ. The mechanic determined that the airplane was not at 01NC. After not finding the airplane around the area adjacent to the airport, the mechanic called 911. A search for the airplane by federal, state, and local authorities was initiated. About 2130, the wreckage of the airplane was discovered in a wooded area about 1.1 miles west of 01NC.


PERSONNEL INFORMATION


According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. His most recent FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on July 24, 2013. He reported on that date that he had accrued 1,850 total hours of flight experience.





AIRCRAFT INFORMATION


The light-sport airplane was a single-engine, low-wing monoplane of conventional metal construction. It was equipped with a fixed-tricycle undercarriage with a castering nose wheel, and was powered by a 100-horsepower, Rotax 912 ULS engine, driving a three-bladed Woodcomp ground-adjustable propeller.


The fuselage consisted of a semi-monocoque structure. The cockpit frame and canopy frame were constructed of carbon fiber. The canopy was made of Plexiglass. It was hinged at the front and was equipped with a sliding window on each side.


The fuselage also contained a ballistic recovery system (BRS) with a parachute to be deployed in case of emergency. The BRS consisted of a rocket-deploying container that was located just forward of the cockpit in the nose section of the fuselage. A cable ran from this container to an activation handle just to the right of the pilot's seat on the instrument panel. Once the activation handle had been pulled, the rocket would exit the fuselage and accelerate away from the airplane. After the parachute was completely extracted and exposed to the relative wind, it would begin to inflate, generating drag forces to decelerate the airplane. When the parachute had fully deployed, the airplane would descend at a rate of about 1,000 to 1,500 ft per minute.


According to FAA and maintenance records, the airplane was manufactured in 2010. Its most recent condition inspection was completed on the day of the accident. At the time of the inspection, the airplane had accrued 74.7 total hours of operation.


According to one of the two mechanics who performed the condition inspection, on June 19, 2015, the pilot flew the airplane to 01NC on a ferry permit. The ferry permit was required because the pilot had been sick and could not fly the airplane somewhere to have the condition inspection performed when it was due.


On June 20, 2015, the two mechanics began the condition inspection. On that date, the pilot advised the mechanics that he had accidently "put oil" into the coolant fill port on top of the engine because he thought the oil level was low. The mechanics flushed the cooling system and added new coolant. The mechanics also noticed that the bushings holding the radiator onto the engine were cracked and replaced them.


The pilot told the mechanics that the engine oil had been changed 23 hours earlier and that the oil should not be changed. The mechanics then discovered that the spark plugs needed cleaning, but, after advising the pilot of the cost of new spark plugs, the pilot had them install new plugs instead of cleaning the old ones.


According to the mechanic, on the day of the accident, as part of the inspection, to the mechanics opened all the inspection panels on the airplane, closed them, and the airplane was returned to service about 1400. The mechanics then locked up the hangar and went home.


METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION


At 1556, the recorded weather at the New River Marine Corps Air Station (NCA), Jacksonville, North Carolina, located 16 nautical miles northeast of the accident site, included: wind 230° at 6 knots, 10 miles visibility, scattered clouds at 5,000 ft, temperature 34°C, dew point 22°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.94 inches of mercury.


AIRPORT INFORMATION


01NC was an uncontrolled, privately-owned airport, located 2 miles southwest of Holly Ridge, North Carolina. 


The field elevation was 65 ft above mean sea level. The airport had two runways oriented in a 18/36 and 3/21 configuration. Runway 21 was turf covered, in good condition, and measured 3,200 ft long and 75 ft wide.


FLIGHT RECORDERS


The airplane was equipped with a Garmin GPSMAP 696 portable multifunction display that was mounted in a recess in the instrument panel. The unit consisted of a GPS receiver with a 7-inch diagonal high resolution liquid crystal display.


The unit could store data including, date, time, latitude, longitude, and altitude information for multiple flights in non-volatile memory (NVM).


Data recovered from the unit included track logs from June 5, 2011, through June 21, 2015. The last track log corresponded to the accident flight and contained data from 1525:57 to 1531:35.


According to the data, the airplane began its takeoff roll on runway 21 at 1530:19 and became airborne about 1530:38. The airplane continued to climb while turning to the west until about 1 minute after the takeoff, and, at 15:31:35, the airplane reached a GPS altitude of 309 ft and a derived groundspeed of 104 knots. This was the final recorded position.





WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION


Examination of the accident site revealed that the airplane struck trees in a steep, nose-low attitude, and the pilot was ejected from the cockpit. The airplane then fell nose first to the forest floor below, impacted in a 90° nose-down attitude, nosed over, and came to rest inverted.


Numerous areas of crush and compression damage to the fuselage and wings were noted, and there was evidence of fuel staining on the leading edges of the wings. There was no evidence of any inflight structural failure, inflight fire, or inflight explosion.


Examination of the cockpit canopy revealed that it was detached from its mounting location and was lying underneath the aft portion of the inverted fuselage. The majority of its clear bubble was broken into multiple pieces; however, the pieces were not scattered around the accident site but were collocated with the canopy frame. One of the canopy lift struts was missing and was not recovered. The damage patterns observed on the canopy frame and cockpit sill did not match and could not be correlated with each other. The canopy latching mechanism hooks were found to be partially retracted, the canopy locking mechanism and activation handle were in the "OPEN" position, and the slots in the canopy frame that the hooks engaged when the canopy was closed and locked showed no evidence of tear-out.


Both wing fuel tank caps were closed, both wing locker doors were closed and secured, all the inspection panels were closed and secured, and the pitot tube was clear and free of debris. The wing flaps were in the up position, and flight control continuity was established from the ailerons, elevator, and rudder to the control stick and rudder pedals in the cockpit. The aileron, elevator, and rudder trims, were about neutral.


The pilot's four-point harness was intact and attached to its attachment fittings; however, the center buckle assembly was unlatched. The emergency locator transmitter had not been armed, and the ballistic recovery system activation handle safety pin with its "REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT" flag was still in place.


The master switch, strobes switch, landing light switch, and electric fuel pump switch were all in the on position. The magneto switch was in the both position; the throttle was in the full throttle position; and the choke lever was in the off position. The fuel selector was in the right tank position. The carburetor heat control was in the off position.


Examination of the propeller speed reduction unit (PSRU) revealed that it was impact damaged, and the case had been breached. Examination of the propeller, the PSRU propeller gear assembly, and the PSRU overload clutch, revealed evidence of rotation. Smearing was evident on the metal faces of the overload clutch. The propeller drive shaft was also sheared, displayed a 45° conical break at the shear face, and showed evidence of torsional rotation.


Examination of the engine revealed that it was impact damaged; both carburetors had separated from their mounting locations, and the float bowls had separated from the carburetors. Portions of the air intake system, exhaust system, and the ignition harnesses had separated from their mounting positions.


MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION


The pilot was an 89-year-old male, who, as of his last FAA medical exam, was 68 inches tall and weighed 187 pounds. The pilot had first applied for a medical certificate in 2004 and reported to the FAA a medical history that included coronary artery disease treated with a stent in 2002 and coronary artery bypass grafting in 2004. In addition, he had hypertension and a history of a period of atrial fibrillation. After additional detailed information was reviewed, the pilot received a special issuance third-class medical certificate in 2005 with the limitation that it was valid for 1 year.


The pilot continued to renew his special issuance medical certificate annually, providing detailed information requested by the FAA. He developed recurrent atrial fibrillation in 2008 when an atrial clot was also diagnosed. He was treated with rate control medication and blood thinners. With a few periods of being deferred because he needed to get better control of his rate or degree of blood thinning, the pilot generally continued to receive special issuance third-class medical certificates. At the time of his last exam, he reported using warfarin (a blood thinner), diltiazem (a blood pressure medicine also used to control the heart rate in patients with atrial fibrillation), and febuxostat (a medication to prevent attacks of gout) and received a special issuance third-class medical certificate limited by a requirement for corrective lenses and marked, "not valid for any class after 07/31/2014." At the time of the accident, the pilot was flying an airplane that met the definition of a light sport aircraft; thus, he was required only to hold a valid driver's license.


According to the autopsy performed by the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, Division of Forensic Pathology, the pilot's cause of death was multiple extreme injuries due to aircraft crash, and the manner of death was accident. The evaluation of natural disease was limited. The heart was described as "mildly enlarged" and weighed 430 grams (average for a 185-pound man is 358 grams with a range of 271-473 grams). The coronary arteries were significantly narrowed by atherosclerotic plaques including 80% stenosis of the left main and left anterior descending, 90% stenosis of the first diagonal, 70% stenosis of the circumflex, and 30% of the right coronary, which was fed by a patent coronary artery bypass graft. The septum was 1.5 centimeters thick (average is 1.3 centimeters). Microscopic evaluation of heart tissue demonstrated mild interstitial fibrosis.


The FAA's Bioaeronautical Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing, but it and was limited by the absence of available blood. The evaluation for volatiles identified 79 mg/hg of ethanol in muscle and 19 mg/hg in liver as well as N-butanol and N-propanol in muscle. Ethanol may be ingested in beer, wine, and liquor but may also be produced by microbial action after death. The alcohols N-butanol and N-propanol are only produced by microbial action after death. In addition, atenolol, verapamil, its metabolite norverapamil, and warfarin were detected in liver, and verapamil and warfarin were detected in muscle. Atenolol and verapamil are prescription medications used to treat hypertension and control the heart rate in atrial fibrillation. Warfarin is a blood thinner used to prevent clot formation and resulting strokes in patients in atrial fibrillation. None of these medications are impairing.


TESTS AND RESEARCH


The airplane manufacturer's published Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH) for the airplane stated that "Before engine starting," the canopy should be "clean, closed, and locked" and that the pilot should "tighten" the safety harness. The POH also stated that "Before takeoff," the cockpit canopy should be "closed and locked," recommended to "manually check by pushing the canopy upwards," and again stated to "tighten" the safety harness.


Review of Section 7 (Description of Airplane and Systems) in the POH revealed guidance regarding the canopy that stated, "make sure that the canopy is latched and mechanism is securely locked into position on both sides before operating the aircraft." Section 7 also provided guidance regarding the safety harness that stated, "adjust the buckle to a central position on the body."


Supplement 03 to the POH, issued September 2010, advised that, if a canopy inadvertently opened on an airplane, it would not be possible to close the canopy, but the airplane would be fully functional. The supplement indicated the following:


- During takeoff: the canopy would open about 2-inches.

- During climb and descent (with the airspeed at 60-75 knots): the canopy would stay open 2-3.2 inches.
- During horizontal flight (with airspeed at 60-80 knots): the canopy would stay open 2-3.2 inches.


The supplement advised that in all of the above-mentioned cases, there would be no flight problems, no vibrations, good aircraft control, and no change of flight characteristics. It recommended that, before takeoff, the pilot should "manually check the canopy is locked by pushing on the canopy upwards," and cautioned that, with the canopy open in flight, "do not perform any slipping."

NTSB Identification: ERA15FA245

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, June 21, 2015 in Holly Ridge, NC
Aircraft: CZECH SPORT AIRCRAFT AS PIPER SPORT, registration: N35EP
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 June 21, 2015, at approximately 1530 eastern daylight time, a Czech Sport Aircraft, Piper Sport; N35EP, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain after a loss of control during climb, after departing from Topsail Airpark (01NC), Holly Ridge, North Carolina, The certificated private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight, destined for Albert J. Ellis Airport (OAJ), Jacksonville, North Carolina.


According to the pilot's wife, on the day of the accident, the pilot attended church with her and then they went out to lunch. The pilot then dropped his wife off at their condominium and then he went to 01NC to check on his airplane. When he arrived at the airport, the mechanic was there who had finished the conditional inspection on the airplane. The pilot then paid him for his services and received a receipt.


The pilot then then decided to pick up his wife at their condominium and fly the airplane back to OAJ where he based it.


When the pilot and his wife returned later to 01NC, they found that the gate was closed so they could not drive up to the airplane. The pilot then walked to the airplane from the access road. This was 100 to 200 feet from the road. It was now around 1500 and the temperature was in the "upper 90s." The humidity was high, and there was little or no breeze at all, and with the "clear roof" (canopy) it would get hot inside of the airplane. The pilot then called his wife from the airplane before he took off at 1524 and advised her that would take her 45 minutes for her to reach OAJ and he would be there in 15 minutes. He also advised her that he would meet her in the air conditioned fixed base operator (FBO) at OAJ. However when she arrived at the FBO, he was not there.


According to a mechanic, on June 19, 2015, the airplane had been ferried to 01NC on a ferry permit, as the pilot had previously been sick and could not fly the airplane somewhere to have the conditional inspection performed when it was due.


On June 20, 2015, the mechanic along with another mechanic began the conditional inspection. On that date, the pilot advised the mechanics that he had accidently "put oil" into the coolant fill port on top of the engine because it looked low. The mechanic advised that the pilot was pretty upset about it. The mechanics then flushed the cooling system and added new coolant. The mechanics also noticed that the bushings holding the radiator on to the engine were cracked and broken and replaced them.


The pilot advised them that the engine oil had been changed only 23 hours earlier and that the oil should not be changed. The mechanics then discovered that the spark plugs needed cleaning but after advising the pilot of the cost of new spark plugs, the pilot had them install new plugs instead of cleaning the old ones.


The next day (day of the accident), the pilot arrived at the airport about 1030 and went home to get some rest, advising the mechanics that he would return about 1600. One of the mechanics advised him that they would leave the gate unlocked for him. At this time, the only thing still required to be done as part of the inspection was to open up all of the inspection panels on the airplane. This was accomplished, the inspection panels were then closed, and the airplane was returned to service at approximately 1400. The mechanics then locked up the hangar and went home.


At 1711, one of the mechanics received a call from the airport owner who advised that he had received a telephone call from the pilot's wife and that the pilot had not arrived at OAJ and that he was probably was still at 01NC. The airplane however was not at 01NC. After looking around the area adjacent to the airport for the airplane without result, the mechanic called 911. Downed airplane procedures were then initiated, and then about 1900, a search for the airplane by federal, state, and local authorities was initiated.


At approximately 2130, the wreckage of the airplane was discovered in a wooded area approximately 1.1 miles west of 01NC.


Examination of the accident site revealed the airplane had struck trees in a steep nose low attitude and the pilot had been ejected from the cockpit. The airplane then fell nose first to the forest floor below, impacted in a 90 degree nose down attitude, nosed over, and then came to rest inverted.


Examination of the wreckage revealed that the majority of the airplane's wreckage was present on-scene. Numerous areas of crush and compression damage and evidence of fuel staining on the leading edges of the wings were also present. There was no evidence of any inflight structural failure, inflight fire, or inflight explosion.


Both wing fuel tank fuel caps were closed, both wing locker doors were closed and secured, all of the inspection panels were closed and secured, and the Pitot tube was clear and free of debris


The wing flaps were in the up position, and flight control continuity was established from the ailerons, elevator, and rudder to the control stick and rudder pedals in the cockpit. The rudder trim was approximately neutral.


The magneto switch was in the both position, the throttle was in the full throttle position, and the choke lever was in the off position. The fuel selector was in the right tank position. The carburetor heat control was in the off position. The pilot's four point harness was intact and attached to its attachment fittings however; the center buckle assembly was unlatched. The emergency locator transmitter had not been armed, and the ballistic recovery system activation handle safety pin was still in place.


Examination of the propeller speed reduction unit (PSRU) revealed that it was impact damaged and the case had been breached. Examination of the propeller, the PSRU propeller gear assembly, and the PSRU overload clutch revealed evidence of rotation. Smearing was evident on the metal faces of the overload clutch. The propeller drive shaft was also sheared, displayed a 45 degree conical break at the shear face, and evidence of torsional rotation.


Examination of the engine revealed that it was impact damaged, both carburetors had separated from their mounting locations and the float bowls had separated from the carburetors. Portions of the air intake system, exhaust system, and the ignition harnesses, had separated from their mounting positions.


Examination of the cockpit canopy revealed that it was detached from its mounting location and was lying underneath the aft portion of the inverted fuselage. The majority of its clear bubble was broken into multiple pieces however, they were not scattered around the accident site but were instead collocated with the canopy frame. One of the canopy lift struts was also missing, and the damage patterns observed on the canopy frame and cockpit sill did not match and could not be correlated with each other. The canopy latching mechanism hooks were also found to be partially retracted, the canopy latching mechanism and activation handle were in the "OPEN" position and the slots in the canopy frame that the hooks engaged when the canopy was closed showed no evidence of tear-outs.


The wreckage was retained by the NTSB for further examination.




Dillard Martin Powell 

Cary pilot killed in crash remembered for love of flying, service

As a boy in Ruffin, Dillard Martin Powell climbed atop a smokehouse on his family’s tobacco farm whenever he heard a plane approaching.

Powell loved planes. He loved them so much that he acquired his pilot’s license at 15. He tried on multiple occasions to join the Army Air Corps to fight in World War II. Too skinny to be a pilot, he was sent to the front lines in Europe. He even owned a flying service in his hometown.

His family members say they don’t think he ever let his pilot’s license lapse.

It was no surprise to them that Powell was in his single-engine plane above Topsail Island the afternoon of June 21, even at the age of 89.

That’s when Powell’s Czech Sport Aircraft SportCruiser crashed shortly after takeoff in Holly Ridge, killing him, and stunning many who admired the Cary lawyer for the way he lived an illustrious life as a WWII veteran and civic leader.

“He’s been a rich contributor all his life to his country and community,” said John Halada, a lawyer who got his start in the legal field years ago when Powell hired him straight out of law school. “He had a very full life and influenced a lot of people.”

An investigation into the crash is ongoing, his family says.

Powell, the youngest of eight children, was always a good kid, they said. His 18th birthday, the day he enlisted the Army, might have been the only time he ever disappointed his mother.

He quickly made her proud.

Powell arrived in Europe in 1944, fighting in the Battle of the Bulge and serving in the division that crippled German forces by uniting with the Red Army on the Elbe River. Powell manned anti-tank guns and earned numerous accolades, including two Bronze Stars.

But his time liberating the concentration camp in Buchenwald, Germany, might have been his longest-lasting memory.

“He said he saw things no 19-year-old should ever see,” said John Powell, Dillard’s 53-year-old son, a few days after his father had died.

Immersed in Cary

Dillard Powell enrolled at N.C. State University upon returning from war and married Anita Hall, who he stayed with for 62 years until she died in 2010.

He earned a degree in textile management before going to work at the Fieldcrest Mills plant near Ruffin. He worked there nearly 20 years before burning out.

“He said he didn’t want to be a corporate slave,” said Judy Wood, Powell’s 60-year-old daughter.

Powell moved his family back to the Triangle and got a job at N.C. State while he earned a law degree from UNC-Chapel Hill. Upon passing the bar at age 46, Powell opened what his family believes to be Cary’s first law practice.

He soon became entrenched in the Cary community and its core group of movers and shakers, including Ralph Ashworth, Jerry Miller, Dick Ladd, Jim Adcock, former Cary Mayor Koka Booth and others.

Powell served as president of the Cary Chamber of Commerce and the Cary Rotary Club. He also was on the founding board of the Cary Library and helped launch the Heart of Cary Association, an advocate group for businesses and residents in downtown Cary.

“We’ve lost a true Caryite that helped build the foundation of the chamber,” said Howard Johnson, president of the Cary Chamber of Commerce. “He was a true business guy.”

Powell often claimed he was months away from retiring, but never did. He practiced law up until his death, often wearing three-piece suits to Ashworth Drugs for a hot dog – with chili, slaw and onions – before going to court.

“I would ask him, ‘Aren’t you overdressed for Ashworth’s?’” his son recalled. “He’d say, ‘No, I have to go to court.’”

Ashworth described Powell as a serious, “no fuss” kind of guy.

“He was old Cary,” Ashworth said. “And he was all business, but he got things done and was helpful.”

A life of faith

Powell’s faith played an important role in his life, family members said. He was active in White Plains Methodist Church and often performed legal work pro bono for local church groups.

John Powell remembers walking by his parents’ bedroom as a child and seeing his dad on his knees, praying next to their bed. At the time, he didn’t quite understand the depth of his dad’s faith. But John now reflects on it with reverence.

“He would say he felt called to use his talents to give back,” John Powell said.

As Powell’s three adult children swapped stories in his living room on Wednesday, they reflected on how their dad used his skills to give back to them.

They remembered how as kids in Ruffin, they’d go flying with him and sit in his lap.

“He would wave the wings at our mom as we passed over the house,” said his oldest daughter, Marcia Pitts, 63, of Cary.

They remembered how, one winter, Powell tied the strings of their sled around his waist and lead them through the snow on skis. He had learned to ski in the Alps while part of the U.S. Occupation Forces.

He was good at showing appreciation for those he loved, including Peggy Valentine, whom he married last year.

From his condo at Topsail Island, Powell liked to use his binoculars to watch military helicopters fly down the beach. Sometimes, if he made eye contact with someone on the chopper, he’d salute them.

“And sometimes they’d salute back,” Pitts said.

At his funeral service Saturday, his friends will, too.

“He was an American patriot,” said Ladd, his longtime friend. “He was a good man. There was no one like him.”

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