Wednesday, July 19, 2017

AMD CH601 XLi, N601PH, Scott Lee Wilcox dba Edge Fitness & Martial Arts: Fatal accident occurred July 19, 2017 near Bradford County Airport (N27), Towanda, Pennsylvania

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Continental; Mobile, Alabama

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Scott Lee Wilcox dba Edge Fitness & Martial Arts:

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA248
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 19, 2017 in Towanda, PA
Aircraft: AIRCRAFT MFG & DVLPMT CO CH601XLi SLSA, registration: N601PH
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 19, 2017, at 1130 eastern daylight time, an Aircraft Manufacturing & Design (AMD) CH601XLi, special light sport airplane (S-LSA), N601PH, was substantially damaged when it collided with terrain shortly after takeoff from Bradford County Airport (N27), Towanda, Pennsylvania. The student 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 N27 reported that the pilot departed the traffic pattern for a local flight of about 15 minutes before returning to the airport to perform touch-and-go landings on runway 23. After the second touch-and-go landing and during initial climb, the engine appeared to be producing partial power; one witness stated, "It was clearly behind the power curve." The airplane climbed and seemed to "mush" through the air and the nose dipped three times. The airplane made a shallow turn to the right, then approximately 2 miles southwest of the airport, it made a left turn crosswind. Shortly afterwards, the pilot made a radio call and declared an emergency, stating that he was attempting to make it back to the airport. The airplane made a second left turn towards the airport, then the left wing quickly dropped and the airplane descended at a steep angle and struck trees and steep terrain. Witnesses saw the ballistic parachute rocket deploy as the airplane descended behind the trees, followed shortly by black smoke.

Two days before the accident flight, the pilot/owner fueled the airplane with 18.79 gallons of 100 LL aviation fuel. The airplane held a total of 30 gallons of fuel between two wing tanks; 28 gallons of which are usable. The pilot then departed N27 for a 20-minute local solo flight, then returned for landing. The airplane was not flown again until the day of the accident.

The pilot held a student pilot certificate. His pilot logbook was not initially recovered, however, between September 20, 2016 and April 14, 2017, his flight instructor's records showed the pilot received 21.2 hours of dual instruction and an additional .3 hours of solo flight including a 90-day solo endorsement which was accomplished on April 14, 2017.

According to Federal Aviation Administration records, the airplane was issued a special airworthiness certificate on July 18, 2007. The airplane was an all-metal, side-by-side, two-seat, fixed landing gear airplane, with a Continental O-200, 100-horsepower engine and a Sensenich two blade wood propeller. It was produced by AMD as a S-LSA airplane per ASTM standards. According to the airframe maintenance logbook, the most recent condition inspection was performed on September 16, 2016 at 264.7 total airframe hours.

At 1553, the weather conditions reported at Elmira/Corning Regional Airport (ELM), which was located at 954 ft elevation, 32 miles northwest N27, included clear sky, wind from 230° at 7 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, temperature 28°C, dew point 19°C, and an altimeter setting was 30.07 inches of mercury.

The wreckage was examined at the accident site, and all major components were accounted for at the scene. The wreckage revealed that the airplane struck steep wooded terrain at an inverted position about 1 1/2 miles from the departure end of runway 23.

The forward fuselage, cockpit and instrumentation were consumed by postimpact fire. Both wings were separated from the fuselage, but found in the immediate vicinity of the accident site. The empennage was wrapped around a tree. The ballistic parachute system was partially deployed, and the parachute was found midway up a 75-ft. tall tree about 50 ft from the wreckage.

Control continuity was established from the cockpit to the flight control surfaces through several breaks and cuts that were consistent with impact and overload separations in addition to rescue personnel cutting tools.

Continuity of the fuel system could not be confirmed. Both fuel tanks were breeched; the right fuel tank exhibited thermal damage, and the left fuel tank was heavily impact damaged. The fuel selector valve and fuel lines were damaged by impact forces and the postimpact fire; the setting could not be determined.

The engine was attached to all its mounts and found in an upside-down position. It exhibited postimpact fire and impact damage, but remained largely intact. All cylinders remained attached to the crankcase. The rocker box covers were removed and no anomalies were noted with the valve springs and rocker arms. The engine could not be rotated by hand by the propeller hub or through the accessory section. The accessories were removed and the engine crankcase was opened to expose the crankshaft, camshaft and valvetrain. One of the camshaft lobes was impinged against the crankshaft, preventing full rotation. All the pistons showed normal wear. During examination of the engine, several ounces of oil drained from the engine and all internal engine components appeared lubricated.

The left and right magnetos were fire damaged and did not produce sparks at the leads, when rotated. The left magneto showed signed of internal damage, and was retained for further examination. The top spark plugs and all associated leads and connections were found in place. The top spark plugs were covered in oil but showed signs of normal wear. The bottom spark plugs showed signs of normal wear.

The carburetor was removed for examination. It was thermally damaged and displayed no signs of mechanical damage; all parts were intact and moved freely. The fuel pump was damaged and significantly deformed.

The oil filter was opened. The internal paper filter was damaged by heat and was heavily carbonized. No metal or ferrous material was found internally. The oil filter screen was clear and free from obstructions.

One of the two wooden propeller blades was found 25 ft from the main wreckage. The other blade was not recovered. The central blade hub was exposed to significant heat and was heavily charred.

The airplane was recovered to a secure facility and retained.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Lt. Col. (ret.) Scott Lee Wilcox, age 53, of Sugar Run, Pa., tragically passed away in an aircraft accident on July 19, 2017 in Monroe Township, Bradford County. 

Lt. Col. (ret.) Scott Lee Wilcox was born in Towanda, Pa., July 3, 1964. The son of the late Donald Wilcox and Henrietta Price of Towanda, Scott was delivered by Doc Pete. He attended school in Wyalusing where he graduated from Wyalusing Area High School in 1982. He received his B.A. degree in geography, graduating cum laude from Bloomsburg University in 1986.

Scott married Marion Bouika Wilcox in 1989. They had a daughter, Haley, in 1996. They later divorced and remained good friends.

Scott joined the United States Air Force in 1988 as a Special Investigative Officer. While in the Air Force, he received a master's degree in human resources management in 1994 from Webster University and another that same year in international relations. He also graduated from the prestigious program of Human Resources Management at Cornell University in 1998.

Scott served most of his Air Force career as a special agent. He was appointed to high ranking commissions such as Chief of Performance Management Division, Air Cargo Section, Plans and Programs, and Counterintelligence. Several assignments included worldwide counterintelligence and anti-terrorism missions, as well as Commander of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations Antiterrorism Team. He also served as the Program Director and visiting lecturer at Cornell University. During his tenure, the Cornell University AFROTC leadership development program was ranked number one in the nation. Scott was the Lead Defensive Tactics instructor for the United States (OSI) Antiterrorism Team. In 2008, Scott was appointed Chief of Investigative Division, Office of Military Commissions, Office of Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon. He served in that role until his retirement from the Air Force in 2011.

Scott married Jennifer Hoffman Wilcox on March 4, 2006. He was father to Alyssa and Alec Alaniz, and they had a daughter, Mia, in 2006.

Scott loved martial arts and was continually involved in martial arts instruction for over 30 years. He had black belts in multiple styles of karate and was a certified Krav Maga military and law enforcement instructor for the USA. Scott was the owner of EDGE Fitness and Martial Arts where he spent his time teaching friends and neighbors of the Bradford County community many different types of martial arts. He was also a mentor, coach and friend to his students and co-workers.

In 2011, Scott opened the EDGE Security Solutions which provided a variety of defense training, handgun training, and self-defense for businesses and individuals. He remained in that capacity until his passing.

Scott was a proud member of the NRA, Victory Church, Towanda Masonic Lodge, Endless Mountains Heritage Region, Life Center Board, and Towanda Gun Club. He enjoyed living life to the fullest with hobbies including hunting, skiing, scuba diving, and traveling.

Scott had a passion for flying and spent much of his free time piloting his plane. He enjoyed taking flights around Bradford County and waving to family, friends, and neighbors while flying by. He was doing exactly what he loved at the time of his passing on July 19, 2017.

Scott was preceded in death by his father, Donald Albert Wilcox on May 5, 1992, and Chieko and Martin Doherty. He is survived by his mother and step-father, Henrietta and Mark Honchell; his wife, Jennifer; four children, Haley, Mia, Alyssa and Alec; sisters, Kim (Wayne) Miller and Yvonne (Corey) Sickler; nieces, Shanna (Keith) Anderson, Andrea, Jennifer, Joyce, June, and Emilee; nephews, Clayton, Mitchell, Tyler and Ryan; and several great nieces and nephews.

A celebration of life will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, July 29, 2017 at the Victory Church in Troy, Pa., with Pastor Josh Payne of the church officiating. Military rites will be held at the church preceding the celebration of life and will be conducted by the members of Air Force Military Honor Guard and the members of the Wyalusing American Legion Post No. 534 as well as Masonic Services conducted by the members of the Union Wyalusing Lodge No. 108 F&AM Masonic Lodge in Towanda, Pa. Family and friends may call from 1 p.m. until the time of the services on Saturday, July 29, 2017 at the church.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made in Scott's name to the Wilmot Volunteer Fire Co., 58 River View Road, Sugar Run, PA 18846 or to the Wyalusing Volunteer Fire Department, P.O. Box 68, Wyalusing, PA 18853.

Arrangements were entrusted with Sheldon Funeral Homes, 155 Church St., Wyalusing, PA 18853. Online condolences may be made at

The identify of a pilot killed when a small airplane crashed near Towanda on Wednesday hasn't been released yet, but federal investigators on Thursday afternoon provided some information about the accident.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported Wednesday that a Zodiac Lite sport aircraft crashed around 11:30 a.m. in a wooded area approximately two miles east of the Bradford County Airport.

Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board briefed reporters Thursday afternoon on some of their early findings.

While the identity of the pilot hasn't been released, the plane was on a local flight and had been in the air for about a minute when it crashed, investigators said.

They are looking at the weather conditions at the time of the crash, the mechanical condition of the airplane, and the pilot. 

Investigators are talking to several witnesses who saw the crash, and are seeking any other witnesses or anyone who might have taken photos.

Anyone who has information about the accident can email

FAA leads probe into fatal plane crash near Towanda

It could take up to two years before the National Transportation Safety Board issues a final report, but a preliminary report will be released within a week to 10 days, investigators said.

In the meantime, an autopsy on the pilot is scheduled for Friday morning. The Bradford County Coroner's Office will issue a news release regarding the victim after the autopsy is completed.

3:30 P.M. UPDATE:

TOWANDA, Pa. (WBNG) -- Bradford County Officials say the pilot of a small plane that crashed near the airport in Towanda has not yet been identified.

Authorities said only one person was on the plane when it crashed near the Bradford County Airport around 11:45 a.m. Wednesday. 

The Bradford County Coroner confirmed the pilot died, but it is not known whether it was a man or a woman. 

"The individual has not been positively identified at this point," said Coroner Thomas M. Carman. "We do have an idea of who the probable pilot was, however until such time as we can properly and positively identified."

Officials updated the media at a 3:30 p.m. news conference.

"We do not know the exact flight pattern. Everything is still under investigation in that regard. TSB will be joining us at a later time to investigate that aspect of it," Carman said.

"The difficulty was the hillside. It was very steep. Filled with pines which made it very slippery.  We were able to get an ATV partial up to it. From there it was all on foot," explained Monroe Hose Company Chief Howard Fowler.

BRADFORD COUNTY, Pa. - UPDATE (2:45 p.m.): A statement released by the Federal Aviation Administration says that the plane involved in this morning's crash was a Zodiac  aircraft.

The statement says that the plane crashed in a wooded area approximately two miles east of Bradford County Airport.

The FAA, along with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), will continue to investigate the crash and try to determine the probable cause. 

UPDATE (1:15 p.m.): 18 News has learned that, according to an eyewitness, a loud noise was heard before the plane crashed into the tree line after takeoff from the Bradford County airport around 11:40 a.m. this morning.

The Federal Aviation Administration, along with the Pennsylvania State Police at Towanda, and Bradford County emergency management are at the scene, which is described as 'active'. 

The Bradford County coroner has confirmed that at least one person has died following a small plane crash near the Bradford County airport. 

First reports of the accident came in around 11:45 this morning.

The pilot of a single-engine plane was killed Wednesday in a crash near the Bradford County Airport, authorities said.

The Bradford County Coroner's Office confirmed the plane's sole occupant is dead.

Coroner Thomas Carman said officials have a tentative identity of the victim, but won't release the name until his identity is confirmed. 

The Federal Aviation Administration, which is leading the investigation, released the following statement:

"A Zodiac aircraft crashed in a wooded area approximately two miles east of Bradford County Airport in Towanda, Pa., at about 11:30 a.m. today," the statement from FAA spokesman Jim Peters said. "Check with local authorities for information about the pilot. The FAA will investigate and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause of the accident."

The FAA defines a light sport aircraft as a simple-to-operate, easy-to-fly aircraft with a single reciprocating engine, unpressurized cabin, fixed landing gear, one- or two-person occupancy and maximum flight speed of 138 mph. 

Pennsylvania state police at Towanda said they would not provide any information about the crash.

Emergency officials on the scene say they don't know if the plane was taking off or landing at the airport when the crash occurred, according to our broadcast news partner, WENY-TV.

Woodside Road, which runs behind the airport, was closed to traffic Wednesday afternoon.

The Bradford County Airport is just south of Towanda in central Bradford County.

The airport is operated by the Bradford County Airport Authority, with members appointed by the county commissioners.

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