Friday, July 14, 2017

Vans RV-8, N559JC: Accident occurred July 14, 2017 near Felts Field Airport (KSFF), Spokane County, Washington

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Spokane, Washington

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR17LA153
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 14, 2017 in Spokane, WA
Aircraft: CLARK JAMES T VANS RV8, registration: N559JC
Injuries: 1 Minor.

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 may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On July 14, 2017, at 1330 Pacific daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Clark Vans RV-8 airplane, N559JC, sustained substantial damage following a loss of engine power and subsequent off-airport forced landing from Felts Field Airport (FSS), Spokane, Washington. The pilot, the sole occupant, received minor injuries. The pilot/owner operated the airplane as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 local personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed.

The pilot reported that the engine started to surge after takeoff and he turned back to the airport. During the turn back, the engine lost power and he observed black smoke coming from the engine compartment. The pilot made a forced landing to an open field that resulted in substantial damage to the airplane. 

The wreckage was transported to a secure facility for further examination.

SPOKANE, Wash. --  The man who crashed a plane in a field near Hillyard told KREM 2 News he is ok.

Jonathan Liard said, “I am ok, no major injuries just a couple scrapes and bruises.”

Liard said he was at home Saturday and he had gone to get some X-rays but they were all negative. He told KREM 2 News he could not discuss details of the crash because it is currently under investigation. 

An Spokane Police Department officer said the crash happened just after 1:30 p.m. Officer Scott Hice was driving just north of the precinct and saw the plane flying very low then saw the plane crash in a nearby field. The officer escorted Liard to safety.

Officials believe Liard was experiencing some engine problems mid-flight, forcing him to crash land the plane. Authorities said the pilot does have former military and flight experience. The officer on scene said Liard told him he was in the U.S. Air Force.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash. An official from the FAA confirmed the plane was a Vans RV8 traveling from Spokane Felts Field to Deer Park, Washington when it went down. 

A pilot walked away with only minor injuries Friday after his small two-seat airplane apparently had mechanical problems and crashed in a field just east of Hillyard.

Spokane Police Officer Scott Hice, who observed the crash, said he was getting into his car at the North Precinct when he heard what sounded like an aircraft with mechanical problems overhead.

“I heard him before I saw him. I looked up and he was flying almost over the top of us. I said, ‘Man, that guy’s flying low,’” Hice said. “You could see he was fighting it.”

The airplane was banking toward a large vacant field east of Market Street and north of Wellesley Avenue. “I knew he wasn’t going to make it out of that field.”

Hice first saw the plan flying north. He banked to the south and turned west before it went down.

“On the last turn, he kind of flared … and then goes down,” he said. “Obviously, the way he put it down, he knew what he was doing.”

Hice said he ran towards the downed craft while he radioed for help. Hice lost sight of the plane and didn’t know that the aircraft had landed in a depression in the field.

“I thought for sure he was gone. I was scared to death I would run up on a fire and someone was burning,” Hice said.

Instead, Hice saw a man walking his way. Hice asked him “Are you the pilot?” The man said yes. “He said, ‘I’m in the Air Force.’ It was pretty crazy.”

Hice then walked the pilot to an area near the intersection of Wellesley Ave. and Ferrall St. and waited for an ambulance, which was already en route. He said pilot was 31 years old, and suffered cuts on his face, arm and left leg.

“I just hoping he wasn’t dead,” Hice said. “I looked up and he was walking away from it like nothing happened.”

Fire Chief Brian Schaeffer identified the plane as an RV 8, a tandem two-seat, single-engine, low-wing aircraft sold by kit aircraft manufacturer Van’s aircraft.

The area, which is near Felts Field, has seen a fairly regular series of crashes over the past few years.

In December of last year, the pilot of a twin-engine aircraft crash landed at Felts Field. The aircraft touched down without its landing gear deployed. The pilot, the sole occupant of the aircraft, was uninjured in the crash.

In May of 2015, two men were killed when their Piper PA-46 crashed into the Spokane River shortly after takeoff while conducting a post-inspection test flight. The National Transportation Safety Board later ruled control cables on the plan that control banking and turning were improperly installed.

Also in 2015, in February, a Piper Malibu crashed near the Hamilton Street Bridge shortly after takeoff from Felts Field near the Hamilton Street bridge. It was later determined the plane was refueled with jet fuel. The pilot, who was pulled from the plane’s wreckage alive but in serious condition, later succumbed to his injuries.

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