Saturday, September 30, 2017

Private investigator helps recover airplane wreck: Zenair CH 601 HDS Zodiac, N4263

Brian West, a private investigator based in Jacksonville, recently helped lead efforts to recover wreckage from a plane crash in Lake Palestine.

“I was contacted about 9 months ago to see if I could remove a plane from lake Palestine,” Brian wrote in an email to the Progress. “The pilot and owner of the plane had been in the hospital for about six months as a the result of the crash. His son, who was also in the plane, swam away with only a sprained ankle and wrist.”

The incident occurred when the pilot made too steep of a turn and the left wing went into an accelerated stall. This caused the airplane to roll and hit the water at a slight angle with the left wing down. The plane hit the water at about 135 mph and roughly a 30 degree downward angle. Both occupants of the plane survived.

West said that the insurance company was not interested in recovering the wreck and decided not to pay for the plane. The owner of the plane could have faced fines from the river authority for not having the wreck removed, and his funds were exhausted from medical expenses. West took the case for free to help out.

“After several months of record searches and interviews with those involved we were able to finally get accurate coordinates for the wreck from an eyewitness and sonar sweeps were able to confirm thew site of the wreck,” wrote West. “We performed several dives to determine the bottom conditions and planned accordingly. We partnered with the International Alert Academy from Big Sandy and coordinated boats from local volunteers, and as a joint operation between Summit Investigations and the Academy were able to bring up the wreck.”

The plane had been damaged so severely salvage is not possible. 

The wreck will be scrapped, according to West, save for a few less specific components that can be cleaned and reused.

Original article ➤

Photo gallery ➤

About three years after a fixed wing, single-engine plane carrying an East Texas man and his son crashed into Lake Palestine, a local private investigator and a scuba diving team have recovered the plane.

On Monday, private investigator Brian West, owner of Summit Investigations and Imaging, a full criminal and civil investigation agency that specializes in underwater, and scuba divers from the International Alert Academy worked to pull the plane out of the lake.

The plane crashed in July of 2014 after the left wing stalled.

The plane hit the water at going more than 120 miles per hour, West said. The pilot spent six to eight months in the hospital with a compound fracture in his right leg, while his son sustained a sprained wrist and ankle, West added.

“Eyewitnesses said he crashed about 50 feet behind a cigar boat that was going in the water,” he said. “They are both lucky to be alive.”

After the accident, West was hired to retrieve the plane. He said it took several months for him to locate the plane because he'd been given several different coordinates for where the plane had gone down. Once he knew the location, he was able to work on a game plan.

The plane was located about one a quarter mile northeast of the dam at Lake Palestine, near the lake's center, West said.

The project required high-powered lights, a 500-pound lift bag, a boat that helped pull the plane and other equipment.

West said the divers, who were led by Captains Mike Harmon and Mike Gast, worked in just about zero visibility while underwater and had to go by feel to attach the equipment that pulled the plane out of the lake.

About eight hours later, the group’s efforts were successful.

Original article can be found here ➤

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

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: CEN14LA342
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, July 04, 2014 in Frankston, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/09/2015
Aircraft: SLAUGHTER MIKE CH601-HDS, registration: N4263
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

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

The pilot and passenger were returning home after attending a fly-in at another airport. The passenger reported that, during the descent to land, the pilot spotted a boat on the lake that they were overflying and began to follow it at low altitude. The pilot then made a steep turn, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle-of-attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall. The pilot then lost airplane control, and the airplane subsequently impacted the water. The pilot and passenger were rescued by nearby boaters. The airplane wreckage was not recovered from the water; neither the pilot nor passenger reported any anomalies with the airplane before the accident.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain adequate airspeed while maneuvering at low altitude, which resulted in the airplane exceeding its critical angle-of-attack and experiencing an aerodynamic stall. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's decision to make a steep turn at low altitude.

On July 4, 2014, at 1405 central daylight time, a Slaughter CH601-HDS ultralight airplane, N4263, impacted Lake Palestine, Texas, near Frankston, Texas, while maneuvering at low altitude. The pilot was seriously injured and the passenger received minor injuries. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight originated from Mineola Airport (3F9), Mineola, Texas, and was en route to Aero Estates Airpark (T25), Frankston, Texas.

According to statements provided to FAA Inspectors and law enforcement officers, the pilot and his son were returning to T25 after attending a fly-in at 3F9. The son said that during their descent to T25, the pilot spotted a boat and began to follow it at low altitude. The pilot then made a steep turn and stalled the airplane, lost control, and impacted the water. The pilot and passenger were rescued by nearby boaters.

The wreckage remained in the lake and was not available for examination. Neither occupant indicated there were any system malfunctions with the airplane prior to the accident and indicated fuel exhaustion did not occur.

No comments: