Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Loss of Control in Flight: Lancair Evolution, N571JM; fatal accident occurred July 17, 2017 near Falcon Field Airport (KFFZ), Mesa, Maricopa County, Arizona

Krista (Evers) Buchanan 

Alan E. Ram

July 17th Record

Burned Record in Wreckage

Record Edits

A dashboard camera installed in a vehicle driven east on E McDowell Road in Mesa, near the Falcon Field airport, recorded the airplane during the last 25 seconds prior to ground impact. The camera was a Polaroid PD-E53H. The recorded video had 1920x1080 resolution and frame rate of 25 fps. 

Photo of the Apple iPhone 6s.

Photo of the Garmin 900X.

Photo of the L3 Trilogy.

Photo taken at 23:03:21 UTC of a portion of the PFD screen indicating both bus 1 and 2 voltages “LOW” and “A/C ON.”

Photo taken at 23:03:26 UTC of a portion of the MFD screen indicating bus 1 and 2 voltages at 23.6V and flaps up.

Photo taken at 23:11:46 UTC of a portion of the MFD screen indicating bus 1 and 2 voltages at 23.4V and flaps up.

Photo taken at 23:27:18 UTC of a portion of the PFD screen indicating bus 1 and 2 voltages “LOW” and “A/C ON.”

Photo taken at 23:27:21 UTC of a portion of the MFD screen indicating bus 1 and 2 voltages at 22.7V and flaps up.

Photo taken at 23:41:12 UTC of a portion of the MFD screen indicating bus 1 and 2 voltages at 19.6V and flaps.

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona

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

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


Location: Mesa, AZ
Accident Number: WPR17FA155
Date & Time: 07/17/2017, 1652 MST
Registration: N571JM
Aircraft: Evolution 19 Lancair Evolution
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Business 

On July 17, 2017, at 1652 mountain standard time, an experimental amateur-built Lancair Evolution, N571JM, was substantially damaged when it impacted a golf course while on approach for landing to Falcon Field Airport, Mesa, Arizona. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was privately owned and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 business flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed and activated for the flight, which departed from Phoenix Deer Valley Airport, Phoenix, Arizona, about 1555, with a planned destination of John Wayne-Orange County Airport, Santa Ana, California.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) provided radar data and audio transcripts of the pilot's communications with air traffic control. After departing Deer Valley, the pilot was cleared to climb to 21,000 ft mean sea level (msl). About 1615, the pilot advised an Albuquerque Center controller that he was having "an electrical charging issue" and requested to go to Falcon Field, explaining that was where the airplane's maintenance facility was located. The airplane subsequently made a right turn and began an east-southeasterly track directly toward Falcon Field as the airplane climbed to 22,000 ft msl (see figure 1). At 1617:20, no altitude was associated with the radar return, consistent with a temporary lack of power to the airplane's transponder. The pilot overflew numerous airports on the way to Falcon Field and did not declare an emergency.

Figure 1: Flight Path

The Phoenix Approach and Falcon Field Air Traffic Controller (ATC) were in contact with the pilot. At 1633, the pilot stated to the controller, "just in case, my system is not charging," explaining that he had an incident "the other day" where the airplane's primary and multifunction flight displays (PFD and MFD, respectively) "just died on me and I don't think its going to happen before we get to Falcon, but if you could keep me on a direct heading to Falcon that would be great." At 1644, the pilot was cleared to land on runway 22L at Falcon Field and requested to cross midfield to enter the downwind leg of the traffic pattern. He then explained that he was "still having an electrical issue," and that his electrical system was "about to go dead." From 1645:56 through the remainder of the accident flight, the airplane's radar returns showed no associated altitude. The radar track indicated that the airplane crossed over the runway around 1647:27 and joined the left downwind leg of the traffic pattern for runway 22L. At 1649, the controller transmitted, "if you can hear me [your] gear appears down." Radar data indicated that the airplane flew the base and final legs of the traffic pattern and then continued over the runway, consistent with a low-level pass. The airplane then continued in a left turn and began a close downwind leg at 1650, about 1,500 ft from the runway centerline. The airplane proceeded from the downwind to the base leg; the final radar target was about 1,400 ft south of the accident site (see figure 2).

Figure 2: Last Portion of Flight

Numerous witnesses in the vicinity of the accident site reported seeing the airplane maneuvering very low and making a steep left turn. They stated that the airplane then entered a nose-low, near-vertical descent. Video footage of the accident captured by a camera mounted in a moving car showed the airplane at an altitude about 325 ft above ground level (agl) before it momentarily climbed 100 ft while making a left turn onto the base leg of the traffic pattern. The airplane remained in a left-wing low attitude at an estimated ground speed of about 83 kts and descended below the tree line. A complete video study is contained in the public docket for this accident.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 53, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 01/24/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 1700 hours (Total, all aircraft), 41 hours (Total, this make and model), 80 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft)

A review of FAA airman and medical certification records revealed that the pilot, age 53, held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. The pilot's most recent third-class medical certificate was issued January 2017 with no limitations.

The pilot's personal flight records indicated that he had about 1,630 total hours of flight experience. In the 90 days preceding the accident, the pilot had accumulated about 80 hours of which 41.3 hours were in the accident airplane. These hours were accumulated during 14 flights of familiarization training at a training provider. The last flight in the accident airplane was logged on June 17, 2017.

The pilot also owned an Aviat Husky A1-200 (purchased in November 2016) and a Columbia 400. According to the pilot's logbooks, he completed a mountain flying course in the Husky and flew that airplane from June 27 through July 12, 2017, totaling 37.7 hours. According to paperwork the pilot completed as part of that class, he noted that the Husky's stall speed with the flaps retracted was 55 kts and about 48 kts with the flaps extended. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Evolution 19
Registration: N571JM
Model/Series: Lancair Evolution
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2011
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: EVO-019
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 05/08/2017, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 4550 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 55 Hours
Engines: 1 Turbo Prop
Airframe Total Time: 376.2 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: P&W CANADA
ELT: Installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: PT6A-135A
Registered Owner: Alan Ram
Rated Power: 750 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The pilot purchased the accident airplane in late May 2017. The Lancair Evolution is an experimental amateur-built airplane constructed mainly of composite materials. The high-performance, pressurized airplane was equipped with four seats, retractable tricycle landing gear, and traditional flight control surfaces. The airplane received a special airworthiness certificate in the experimental category in August 2011. The last condition inspection was completed on May 8, 2017, at a total time of 376.2 hours.

The airplane was equipped with a Pratt and Whitney PT6-135A engine, serial number PCE-PZ1066, rated at 750 shaft horsepower.

The Lancair Airplane Flight Manual stated that the airplane's stall speed was 76 knots indicated airspeed (KIAS) and that stall speed in the landing configuration (flaps extended) was 61 KIAS. Both speeds noted that the speeds should be verified with flight testing. According to the airworthiness documentation provided to the FAA, the accident airplane was flight-tested at a gross weight of 4,246 lbs and a center-of-gravity location of 130 inches. Under these conditions, the airplane's stall speed in the landing configuration was 64 kts; cruise speed was 285 kts.

The manual's after-start procedures required that the generator switch be turned "ON" and that the pilot confirm a minimum of 28 volts. The before-landing checklist stated that the landing gear should be extended below 150 KIAS and the landing flaps extended below 140 KIAS. The minimum speeds listed for operation in the traffic pattern were 100, 90, and 85 KIAS on the downwind, base, and final legs, respectively.

Maintenance History

About 1 week before the accident, the pilot contacted the maintenance facility to repair some cosmetic cracks and to service the oxygen system, which he believed was leaking. On July 14, the pilot went to the maintenance facility to retrieve the airplane. A mechanic noticed that the left main landing gear microswitch had been damaged, presumably while they were washing the airplane, and spent about 30 minutes replacing the switch. During that time, the pilot had the radios on and was checking the weather in the area.

The pilot told the personnel at the maintenance facility that he needed to fly to Deer Valley and stated that, following his departure, he would perform one circuit in the traffic pattern to make sure that the airplane's systems were working normally. The maintenance facility stated that, before departure, the voltage had dropped to about 22.5-22.7 volts from the pilot operating the radios for a prolonged period on the ground.

The pilot departed and stayed in the traffic pattern, performing a low pass over the runway with the landing gear and flaps in the retracted position. The airplane then climbed to about 1,000 ft agl, and the pilot transmitted over the radio that something was wrong with the airplane's landing gear. He sent a text message to the president of the maintenance facility relaying the same information. According to the president, he witnessed the airplane's airspeed become slow and it appeared to be approaching a stall. The president called the pilot on his cell phone and told him to increase the power and climb to an altitude where he could troubleshoot the problem safely. The president instructed him to use the emergency landing gear dump valve, which the pilot responded was not working. The pilot stated that the PFD and MFD had gone blank and the president asked if he had turned on the generator switch. The pilot replied that he "just cycled it." The pilot then said the system came back on, and he subsequently landed the airplane without incident.

After landing, the pilot and the maintenance facility president discussed what had happened. The pilot showed the president the actions he had taken to try to use the emergency landing gear system; the president stated that he had pulled the parking brake and not the emergency landing gear system handle. Additionally, the pilot admitted that he had forgotten to turn on the generator switch, and when he did turn it on, all electrical power was restored.

The maintenance records indicated that, on the day of the accident, the pilot requested that the facility perform an "operational check of the engines and systems and verify door operations." The July 17 logbook entry noted an airframe total time of 429.9 hours. The action taken listed that the mechanic had performed a landing gear operational check and found no anomalies. The entry also stated: Performed charging system fault isolation inspections and checks. No faults found. Top charged main batteries. Operational ground checks performed with no malfunctions or defects noted.

The postinspection checklist accompanying the entry showed that the primary charging system was 27.7 volts. A partially-burned logbook entry was found in the wreckage that was not provided by the maintenance facility. It had the same airframe total time of 429.9 hours, but the date could not be determined. The entry stated that a generator switch was changed, but the maintenance facility stated that they did not do that maintenance and only provided that entry to the pilot to make his passengers feel that the airplane was safe after his electrical problems on July 14.

Electrical System

The airplane's 28-volt electrical system comprised a 300-amp starter/generator, a voltage regulator, and two 24-volt batteries. The generator provided power to the main electrical bus and the batteries. The electrical panel was located immediately in front of the pilot on the left panel and comprised battery, fuel pump, starter, ignitor, generator, and alternator switches. The generator control unit (GCU), a Hitek Inc. model 5-11-0003F, was mounted on the engine side of the firewall. The circuit breaker panel was located between the seats under the armrest. The GCU required a minimum of 18 volts to operate.

The emergency procedures checklist for a generator failure listed the following items:

1. Ammeter: Check

2. Generator Switch: OFF

3. Electrical Load: Reduce

4. Generator Circuit Breaker: Check and Reset

5. Generator: ON

If generator operation is not restored

6. Generator Switch: OFF

Land at nearest suitable airport

The following caution was listed under the checklist:

with generator inoperative, battery power should last approximately 30 minutes with all non-essential equipment off. When possible, turn battery switches OFF to conserve power and then ON for landing. If total electrical failure is experienced, it will be necessary to perform an Emergency Gear Extension and landing without flaps.

The airplane was equipped with an L3 Trilogy Electronic Standby Instrument (ESI), ESI-2000, which provided backup attitude, altitude, and airspeed information on a colored display on the panel. The instrument contained an internal battery that provided backup power for at least 1 hour.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KFFZ, 1380 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1657 MST
Direction from Accident Site: 263°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 15000 ft agl
Visibility:  40 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 5 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 210°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.81 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 36°C / 19°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: PHOENIX, AZ (DVT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: Mesa, AZ (FFZ)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 1556 MST
Type of Airspace:

The automated weather observation recorded at Falcon Field about 5 minutes after the accident included scattered clouds at 15,000 ft agl; 40 statute miles visibility; wind from 210° at 5 knots; temperature 97°F; dew point 66°F; and altimeter 29.81 inches of mercury.

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type:Asphalt 
Airport Elevation: 1394 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 22L
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5100 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: Full Stop; Precautionary Landing; Traffic Pattern

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 33.469167, -111.713056 

The wreckage was located about 0.5 nm northeast of the end of runway 22L, in a green area of a golf course (see figure 3).

Figure 3: Wreckage in Relation to Runway

The first identified point of impact was a crater in the soft terrain in which the propeller blades were embedded. The engine and numerous portions of the airframe were located in the debris field leading from the initial impact point to the main wreckage. The main wreckage was located in an upright position about 25 ft from the initial impact point on a magnetic heading of 115°. The main wreckage sustained thermal damage and consisted of a majority of the airframe's ashen remains (see picture 4).

Figure 4: Main Wreckage

The cockpit area sustained severe thermal damage. The avionics were charred with wire bundles exposed and partially melted. The wings were consumed by fire. The wing flaps were consistent with a retracted position at the time of impact. The physical landing gear position and landing gear selector position was consistent with the gear being retracted at the time of impact.

The engine sustained major impact damage, resulting in the engine separating into three sections. The gas generator and exhaust case exhibited extensive structural deformation, and the front reduction gearbox housing was shattered.

The compressor section displayed tip rubs and bent stator vanes caused by contact with adjacent components. There was no evidence of pre-impact anomalies found on the accessed section of the compressor. The compressor turbine exhibited circular contact damage on the disk consistent with rotation at impact. The power turbine blades were fractured at various locations within the airfoils. Visual examination of the fracture surfaces showed features consistent with overload. Fragments of blades were recovered from the exhaust section of the engine, and the shroud tip portions exhibited rubbing damage from contact with the turbine shroud. These signatures were consistent with the fracture of the power turbine blades due to rotational contact at impact. The remaining components did not show any evidence of pre-impact anomalies.

The accessory gearbox housing was intact. The external surfaces were covered in dirt, debris, and soot. The external oil pump had separated from the gearbox. The starter-generator was in place. The starter-generator was removed and the drive shaft was found fractured. Visual examination of the fracture surface was consistent with overload.

The electrical system could not be examined due to extensive thermal damage of its components.

The examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of preimpact mechanical malfunction or failure that would have precluded normal operation. The complete examination reports are contained in the public docket for this accident.

Medical And Pathological Information

The Maricopa County Coroner's Office, Phoenix, Arizona, completed an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was due to multiple blunt impact injuries.

The FAA Forensic Sciences Laboratory performed toxicological testing of specimens collected during the autopsy. The results of the testing were negative for ethanol and tested-for drugs.

Additional Information

The pilot's cell phone was recovered from the wreckage and investigators were additionally provided the cell phone of the president of the maintenance facility to review the text threads.

The following excerpts of text messages occurred between the maintenance facility and the pilot just before the accident:

1542: [maintenance facility]: hi there, how did the flight go?

1622: [pilot]: headed back. The system isn't charging. My voltage keeps dropping

1625: [pilot]: At 22.9v and dropping

1626: [pilot]: be there in 20

1632: [pilot]: System not charging

1644: [pilot]: This is [the pilot's first and last name]. Coming back to you. The system isn't charging. My voltage keeps dropping.

1645: [maintenance facility]: okay [the president] wants you to turn off ac to save battery life and call home if you can

Additionally, the pilot's cell phone displayed a call made to the FAA WXBrief phone number, which lasted 2 minutes 37 seconds and ended at 1650:35.

Photos were recovered from the pilot's cell phone; the associated metadata indicated the date/time of image capture, 3D GPS location (including mean sea level altitude), true heading of the device, and speed-over-ground of the device at time of capture.

At 1603, with the airplane about 13,800 ft msl, a photo showed that the PFD indicated a low voltage warning for buses 1 and 2, and the MFD showed the voltage on both buses at 23.6 volts; the air conditioning was on. At 1627, with the airplane at an altitude about 10,000 ft msl the voltage was at 22.7 volts; the air conditioner was still on. The last picture recovered was taken at 1641:12 about 14 nm west-northwest of the accident site at an altitude of about 5,300 ft msl; the MFD showed a voltage of 19.6 volts. NTSB Identification: WPR17FA155 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 17, 2017 in Mesa, AZ
Aircraft: Evolution 19 Lancair Evolution, registration: N571JM
Injuries: 2 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 17, 2017, at about 1650 mountain standard time, a single-engine experimental Lancair Evolution, N571JM, impacted terrain following a loss of control while on approach to Falcon Field, Mesa, Arizona. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The cross-country business flight departed from Phoenix Deer Valley Airport, Phoenix, Arizona about 1555 with a planned destination of John Wayne-Orange County Airport, Santa Ana, California. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed and activated.

Phoenix Approach and Falcon Field Air Traffic Control (ATC) controllers were in contact with the pilot. The pilot transmitted that he needed to divert to Falcon Field airport about 1617 "just in case, my system is not charging" explaining that he had an incident "the other day" where his primary and multifunction displays "just died on me and I don't think its going to happen before we get to Falcon, but if you could keep me on a direct heading to Falcon that would be great." The pilot was cleared to land runway 22L and he transmitted to the controllers that "an electrical failure is probably imminent here," and then requested to cross mid-field to enter the downwind. He then explained that he was "still having an electrical issue," and that he "had one on Friday" and his electrical system was about to go dead.

Numerous witnesses that were located in the vicinity of the accident site reported seeing the airplane maneuvering very low and making a steep left turn. They stated that the airplane then went into a nose-low, near-vertical decent. The airplane impacted a golf course and erupted in flames.

The airplane was recovered from the accident site for further examination.

MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - Emergency responders have released blurred body camera video and the 911 calls that were made after a plane crash on a golf course in Mesa during the summer. 

One man called dispatchers and said he was when he saw it crash onto the fairway of the 10th hole at Longbow Golf Club, which is located near McDowell Road between Recker and Higley roads, around 5 p.m. on July 17, 2017.

A woman called who was on the driving range and saw the plane go down.

"We were playing golf on Longbow and a plane went down," said another man to a 911 dispatcher.

He was within a few hundred feet from the crash and saw another man tried to help the two people in the crash.

"There's fire everywhere," he said.

He went closer to the scene where he first saw passenger.

"There's a girl laying outside the plane," he said.

"Is she breathing?" the dispatcher replied.

"No, no," he said.

She was later identified as 22-year-old Krista Buchanan. The body of the pilot, identified as Alan Ram, 53, was also seen outside of the plane.

According to the FAA, Ram said he had mechanical trouble and the plane wouldn't reach Falcon Field. The plane went down about a half mile from Runway 22, said Allen Kenitzer in the agency's communications office.

"He turned like he was going to try to land at Falcon Field and then he nose-dived into the field," said another 911 caller.

No one on the ground was hurt.

Falcon Field is a regional airport that pilots use to fly smaller and often older planes. 

Story, video and photo gallery:  http://www.azfamily.com

Krista Evers Buchanan

Krista Evers Buchanan graduated from Liberty University last year. 
Krista got married last July.

Alan E. Ram

Alan Ram was well-known in the automotive industry and the Scottsdale consulting firm he founded helped train scores of employees, managers and executives at dealerships and other businesses in the U.S. Canada.

Krista Evers Buchanan graduated from Liberty University last year. She got married last July.

Alan Ram, 53, and Krista Evers Buchanan, 22, died Monday in a plane crash in Mesa near Falcon Field. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the fatal plane crash.

Ram was the pilot of the small plane that crashed on Longbow Golf Course near the Mesa airfield that is home to Boeing Co. and other businesses.

The Scottsdale CEO and former Marine was well-known in the automotive industry. He was the founder of Alan Ram’s Proactive Training Solutions.

The CBT Automotive News where Ram was a frequent contributor talked about the business executives contributions and impact.

Liberty Champion — a newspaper at the Christian university — announced Buchanan’s death to the community there.

Evers Buchanan received her degree in advertising and public relations.

“Krista was a beautiful soul with a bright future. While at Liberty, she served our digital media honor society faithfully, initiating and managing social media pages for the group. In the classroom, Krista was a diligent worker who pushed herself to growth,” Liberty University professor Amy Bonebright told the Liberty Champion.

Buchanan received student of the year honors in 2016 from the Liberty communications school.

The last post by Ram on his Facebook page was picture of a small airplane.

Buchanan's last Facebook cover photo was from her wedding.


Ram, Alan E.

Alan E. Ram, 53, of Scottsdale, Arizona, died unexpectedly on Monday, July 17th, 2017, in Mesa, Arizona. Alan is survived by his Fiancée Melissa Brown; his parents Edna and Michael Ram; sisters Shelley Ram-Saban and Dorrit Ram; brothers-in-law Avi Saban and Amit Levy; niece and nephews Mia, Liam, Evyatar and Idan; and Jagger, his F1 Savannah. Raised in Buffalo NY, Alan enjoyed playing competitive tennis, watching the Buffalo Bills and eating wings. He then went on to serve the country in the United States Marine Corps when he was honorably discharged. He stayed in San Diego where he entered into the automotive industry. Alan was a hard worker who seized opportunities to build a successful business that grew to become one of the most successful in the automotive industry. He never took his success for granted and was a generous donor, supporting charities for veterans and under privileged children. He formed the Janeen Barber Foundation in honor of Janeen Barber, who was like a mother to Alan and instrumental in helping him reach his potential. Most of all, Alan was a loyal and dedicated friend with a great sense of humor and a presence that filled the room. He was passionate about flying, football, and travel and will be greatly missed. The memorial services will be held at Hansen Desert Hills Mortuary & Cemetery at 3PM on Friday, July 20.

MESA, Ariz.- The Mesa Police Department have identified the two victims who died Monday when a plane crashed onto a golf course near Falcon Field Airport.

The aircraft that crashed was a Lancair Evolution carrying the pilot, Alan Ram, 53, and passenger Krista Buchanan, 22, who died on scene, according to police.

Ram was a successful businessman here in the Valley who owned Alan Ram’s Proactive Training Solutions. His business focused on increasing individual and dealership productivity in the automotive industry.  

Ram served as a Marine early in his life and was about to get married to the love of his life.

A few of his friends talked with 12 News today about how incredible he was.

"Alan was a very special friend to me. Someone that watched over me, always had my back, would have anybody's back," Sara Jocelyn Borrillo  said. "He really cared about people and would do anything for anybody. I've flown with him dozens of times and he was a great pilot."

"I just found out about this tragic news and I still can't believe it," Eric Meza said. "Alan was a man's man. He had a big heart and he cared for you." 

Ram owned many planes, including the Lancair Evolution that went down Monday afternoon.

Mesa police and fire crews were dispatched to Longbow Golf Course near Highway 202 and Recker Road just before 5 p.m. Monday when the plane crashed on the 10th hole fairway.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration's Allen Kenitzer, the plane reported mechanical trouble and couldn't reach the airport.

Ram was communicating with the Falcon Field Airport Tower moments before the crash. Audio of that conversation indicates Ram was experiencing electrical issues.

The conversation went as follows:

Ram: And Falcon Tower, Evolution 571JM.

Tower: 571JM Falcon Tower, you're number two...just a two mile final, Runway 22 Left, clear to land.

Ram: Runway 22 Left. And I'm still quite a bit to the west of you. Is it okay if I cross midfield and drop in to a left downwind for 22 Left?

Tower: 10-4, that's fine.

Ram: Alright sir, I'm having, still having an electrical issue. I had one on Friday and I'm... I'm about to go dead. So I'm just going to cross over and make left- Lost of audio.

This investigation is ongoing and has been turned over to officials from the FAA.


A 53-year-old man and a 22-year-old woman were identified as the two people who died in a plane crash near Mesa Falcon Field Airport Monday afternoon.

The pilot, Alan Ram, 53, and passenger, Krista Buchanan, 22, were found dead at the scene, according to Detective Nik Rasheta, a Mesa police spokesman.

The Lancair Evolution crashed on the fairway of the 10th hole at Longbow Golf Course shortly before 5 p.m., and the aircraft went up in flames, witnesses said.

MORE: 2 killed in plane crash at golf course near Mesa Falcon Field Airport

An investigation was being conducted by Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board officials.

Allen Kenitzer, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman, said that the aircraft reported mechanical problems before the crash.

The golf course is at the northeast corner of Higley and McDowell roads in Mesa. The airport is southwest of the intersection.


Two people were confirmed dead in a fiery airplane crash at a northeast Mesa golf course late Monday afternoon, with one official describing the scene as "a ball of fire.''

The Lancair Evolution crashed at 4:52 p.m. about a half-mile east of Falcon Field Airport, according to Eric Weiss, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board.

Allen Kenitzer, a Federal Aviation Administration spokesman, said that the aircraft reported mechanical problems before the crash.

The Evolution is a single-engine light plane.

Mesa fire officials were notified of the aircraft down at Longbow Golf Club by the Falcon Field Airport tower, Mesa Deputy Fire Chief Forrest Smith said.

The golf course is at the northeast corner of Higley and McDowell roads in Mesa. The airport is southwest of the intersection.

Smith said crews arrived to find the aircraft had crashed and burned on a fairway at the course.

"It was a pretty horrific scene,'' Smith said. "When crews first arrived, they were met with a ball of fire on the course itself.''

Smith said officials confirmed two people aboard the aircraft were killed. 

No one else was injured in the crash.

Smith said it took firefighters 20 minutes to extinguish the fire, noting firefighters worked to preserve as much of the scene as possible for investigators.

"I just saw this huge plume of black smoke," said Frank Marshall, 72, who saw the smoke as he was heading home from work. "Oh my goodness it got really high. ... It was 500 or 600 feet in the air of smoke."

Marshall, a Mesa resident who lives near Falcon Field, said he had played at the course before and it appeared the crash occurred near the 10th hole.

Officials at Longbow Golf Club declined comment.

The FAA and NTSB were leading the investigation into the crash.


MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -  Federal investigators are trying to piece together the moments before a small plane crashed on a golf course near Falcon Field Monday evening, killing two people on board.

The Lancair Evolution crashed onto the fairway of the 10th hole at Longbow Golf Club around 5 p.m. Planes heading west to Falcon Field often fly low over the golf course, which is located near McDowell Road between Recker and Higley roads.

According to the FAA, the pilot reported mechanical trouble and said the plane was unable to reach the airport. The plane went down about a half mile from Runway 22, said Allen Kenitzer in the agency's communications office.

Aerials from the news helicopter showed the plane was destroyed. The FAA and the NTSB are investigating.

A handful of people were on the golf course at the time, but no one was playing the 10th hole when the crash happened, according to employees of the course. No one on the ground was hurt.

Witnesses described the crash as a loud "boom." Cell phone photos show thick smoke and flames erupting from the wreckage. 

There were no skid marks on the golf course. The airport remained open.

According to FlightAware, a Lancair Evolution flying from Phoenix Deer Valley Airport to John Wayne Airport in Orange County, California was diverted to Falcon Field at 4:52 p.m.  

Falcon Field is a regional airport that pilots use to fly smaller and often older planes. 

This is not the first deadly crash at Longbow Golf Club. Two people were killed in September 2004 when a small plane crashed onto the 15th fairway.


  1. The greatest tribute we can give to an aviator who has flown west in a tragic accident such as this is to learn from them. May God's grace and peace hold the family close during this trying time, and may His promises through the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ bring hope of a glorious reunion.

  2. Get to the ground in control! That'll give you a chance to live another day.

  3. The man was the brother of a colleague of mine. Clearly, he was a good soul - as was the young lady passenger.

    God be with their families in their horrific grief!

    Such a sad thing to ponder. My heart aches for them all.

  4. I seriously think there should be some sort of rules around taking passengers in experimental aircraft. This young woman had her entire life ahead of her I'm sure she had no idea the risk she was taking flying in an home built / non professional maintained aircraft. I'm not against home-built aircraft passengers need to know what they are getting into.

  5. The thing is, this is pilot error. Hard as that may be to hear for the family this is not the fault of the aircraft. Read the record. The pilot failed to turn on the “generator” on a prior flight. How does that happen? Not using checklist? Not the checklist with the turn on generator line, and not the checklist with the check voltage line. And to be so unfamiliar with aircraft systems that he had to be told by the “president” of the maintenance facility to check the generator. There is a lot of denialism going on here too. He first said he “cycled” the generator switch. Cycling means turning it off then back on again. He later admitted that he’d forgotten to turn it on at all. During the crash flight he told ATC that he’d been having trouble with the electrical system and that it had “cut out” on a previous flight when that is not what happened at all. He’d been having trouble with his system management and failing to rely on checklists. During his first event at the maintenance airport the “president” had to warn him to climb and gain airspeed. Man, if you can see that problem from the ground the pilot is truly not paying attention to his flying. Then he did the same thing during the accident flight, but did not have an observer on the ground the remind him he was about to stall. This is a low lever pilot induced stall spin. This guy should never have been PIC of this aircraft. It had nothing to do with the experimental status of the aircraft. This was a pilot who did not use checklists and could not manage a high performance aircraft. Sad, but entirely preventable. Whoever signed him off to fly this airplane should be remorseful.

    1. You have a few things missed or misunstood. Yes He did for get to turn on the generator switch. But that wasn't on this flight, the crash flight. The flight where he forgot to turn it on was a flight on On July 14, "The pilot told the personnel at the maintenance facility that he needed to fly to Deer Valley and stated that, following his departure, he would perform one circuit in the traffic pattern to make sure that the airplane's systems were working normally." In any case, the pilot also messed up on this "testing" flight when he pulled on the emergency brake instead of the "dump valve" when instructed to do so after talking to the president about his landing gear not working. But the point is: Nothing in later text on this page indicates that on this flight of the mishap that the pilot had forgotten to turn on the generator switch. We simply do not know. Could it have happened again! Could he not have followed the printed out pre flight sheets? Certainly it could have happened this way. But as stated, nothing in the crash flight indicated anything more than he "cycled" the generator switch. It does state that when he did it, that there was no change. It could have been that he had a weak battery that wasn't taking a charge. But we can't say that because in the text it doesn't show it. Maybe he didn't charge the batteries and they were low from the beginning because he left the main switch on looking at panels or something like he did on the test maintenance flight. But we don't' know that either because it wasn't shown in the later text. Maybe he simply didn't follow proper preflight and starting procedures. We just don't know. We know the plane crashed and that he didn't declare an emergency, but certainly did want to land due to loosing electrical power. I'm not debating that it might have been pilot error. But the demeanor of your text, shows to me, that you didn't get your facts correct and that you seem to be judgmental to a faulty level.

  6. Something the last two posts missed was that he was supposed to turn off the A/C to conserve power but he didn't do it. It said: "1645: [maintenance facility]: okay [the president] wants you to turn off ac to save battery life and call home if you can". Anyway, Alan was a personal friend of mine since 1991 and I feel so bad that he and Krista were killed in the accident.