Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Piper PA-25-235 Pawnee, N90866, Skyline Soaring Club: Fatal accident occurred October 07, 2017 near Front Royal-Warren County Airport (KFRR), Front Royal, Warren County, Virginia

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Herndon, Virginia
Skyline Soaring Club; Front Royal, Virginia
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania


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

Skyline Soaring Club: http://registry.faa.gov/N90866 

NTSB Identification: ERA18FA006 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, October 07, 2017 in Front Royal, VA
Aircraft: PIPER PA 25-235, registration: N90866
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 October 7, 2017, about 1345 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-25-235, N90866, was destroyed when it impacted terrain during initial climb from Front Royal-Warren County Airport (FRR), Front Royal, Virginia. The airline transport pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was operated by the Skyline Soaring Club as a glider-tow flight conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the local flight.

According to the flight instructor in the glider that was being towed, he was providing an introductory glider flight to a passenger in the glider. The passenger was seated in the front seat and the instructor was seated in the rear seat. He stated that the takeoff from runway 28 was normal and he momentarily looked away from the tow airplane at a low altitude. When he looked back, he did not immediately see the airplane and then noted that it was below and to the right of the glider. Additionally, the flight instructor noticed slack in the cable attaching the glider to the airplane. He then released the cable, performed a 180° turn, and landed on runway 10 uneventfully. While approaching the runway, the flight instructor saw a fireball from where the airplane had been descending. Several witnesses at the airport stated that the takeoff appeared to be normal, but then the airplane pitched down, descended below the glider and turned right before impacting terrain.

The wreckage was consumed by a postcrash fire and located in the backyard of a residence, about 1,600 ft northwest of the departure end of runway 28. A small crater was observed in the grass, consistent with engine contact and fragments of the propeller were also located near the crater. The main wreckage came to rest upright, on a magnetic heading of 315°, about 65 ft north of the crater. The tow cable was also located along the debris path. The left main landing gear had separated and was located left of the main wreckage. The right main landing gear and tailwheel remained attached. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The flaps and ailerons were located with their respective wing, but the wings were consumed by fire. Control cable continuity was confirmed from the left and right ailerons to the control stick in the cockpit. Continuity was also confirmed from the elevator and rudder to the control stick and rudder pedals, respectively. No readable instruments were recovered from the cockpit.

The engine separated from the airframe and was resting in front of it. The four wooden propeller blades separated from the hub and two of the propeller blade roots remained attached to the hub.

The single-seat, low-wing, fixed tailwheel airplane was manufactured in 1981. It was powered by a Lycoming O-540, 235-horsepower engine, equipped with a Hoffman four-blade, fixed-pitch wooden propeller. Review of the maintenance records revealed that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on February 2, 2017. At that time, the airframe had accumulated about 8,265 total hours of operation and the engine had accumulated 468 hours since overhaul.

The pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with a rating for airplane multiengine land. He also held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. Additionally, the pilot held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine, airplane multiengine, and instrument airplane. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration second-class medical certificate was issued on October 1, 2015. At that time, the pilot reported a total flight experience of 11,953 hours.

The recorded weather at FRR, at 1355, was: wind from 230° at 10 knots, gusting to 15 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; clear sky; temperature 29° C; dew point 14° C; altimeter 30.01 inches of mercury.

The wreckage was retained for further examination. The flight instructor in the glider recorded a video of most of the flight. While the recording did not capture the actual impact of the airplane, it captured portions of the airplane's flight just prior to impact. A copy of the recording was forwarded to the NTSB Vehicle Recorders Laboratory, Washington, DC, for further examination.

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


Steven Zaboji




One of the most iconic manufacturer sales representatives in the consumer electronics industry in the Mid-Atlantic territory, Steven B. Zaboji, was killed Saturday just before 2:00pm, when the Piper Pawnee aircraft he was piloting crashed shortly after releasing a glider it had towed into the sky. According to the Virginia State Police, the crash occurred near the Front Royal Airport, the airport it had taken off from, in Warren County, Virginia.

Zaboji, 76, lived in Reston, VA, and has been an aviation enthusiast for most of his life. Not only was he a licensed pilot, but he was also a certified flight instructor. In the incident that occurred Saturday, Zaboji’s Piper had towed a glider into the air and had successfully disconnected from the glider. According to the police, after disconnecting, the Piper developed some type of problem that led to its crash on private property just off the airport. The plane caught fire upon crashing. No one on the ground was hurt and the glider he had been towing landed safely without incident.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are on the scene today to investigate the cause of the crash.

Read more here ➤ https://www.strata-gee.com

Steven Zaboji


A Reston man has died in a plane crash in the Front Royal area.

According to Virginia State Police, Steven B. Zaboji was flying a single-engine prop plane when he “began experiencing problems and crashed onto private property… near the airport.” The plane caught fire as a result of the crash.

Zaboji, identified by VSP as a 76-year-old Reston resident, died at the scene. He had been a pilot for 55 years, according to an essay he penned for a pilot’s association.

More from a VSP press release, below.

At 1:39 p.m., Saturday (Oct. 7), Virginia State Police Trooper S.R. Marks responded to a report of a plane crash in Warren County.

The Piper PA-25-235 Pawnee took off from the Front Royal Airport at approximately 1:35 p.m., Saturday (Oct. 7), with a glider in tow. After the glider safely disconnected, the Piper PA-25 Pawnee began experiencing problems and crashed onto private property in the 1700 block of Ridgeway Road near the airport. The impact of the crash caused the plane to catch fire.

The pilot of the Piper PA-25 Pawnee, Steven B. Zaboji, 76, of Reston, Va., died at the scene.

The glider safely landed after the crash. No one on the ground was injured in the crash.

The crash remains under investigation.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board were notified of the crash, and will respond to the scene Sunday. 

The National Transportation Safety Board will provide an update on their crash investigation to media at the scene at approximately noon Sunday (Oct. 8)

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.restonnow.com

Tt was a solemn scene inside the FRR terminal in the hours after the fatal crash.


Virginia State Police said a private plane crashed off Ridgeway Road west of the airport in Front Royal and caught fire just before 2 p.m. on Saturday.

A Piper PA-25-235 Pawnee took off from the Front Royal Airport with a glider in tow. The glider disconnected safely but the Piper experienced problems and crashed and caught fire onto a private property.

The pilot of the Piper PA-25-235 Pawnee is Steven B. Zaboji, 76, or Reston, Virginia, a Virginia State Police spokesman said in a statement.

The glider landed safely after the crash. No one on the ground was injured.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board will be on scene Sunday to investigate.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://wtop.com


From Ridgeway Rd. looking east back down the runway the towplane and glider were departing westward from. The entrance to the accident scene is about a third of a mile further down Ridgeway to left.


According to Front Royal Airport (FRR) Manager Reggie Cassagnol, the pilot of a glider tow plane that crashed shortly after take off early Saturday afternoon died at the scene. That scene was reported as property at 1747 Ridgeway Road. The Warren County Sheriff’s Office still had the scene cordoned off several hours after the fatal crash.

The glider being towed aloft on a beautiful, if windy fall day was able to detach its tow line and land without injury to its occupants.  No identification of the pilot was immediately available. Cassagnol noted that emergency glider detachments are a constant part of the training regimen of the club based at the airport.

Returning from the scene mid-afternoon, Cassagnol appeared shaken.  The Skyline Soaring Club has long been a valued and active tenant at FRR.  In fact, several years ago this reporter was taken up for a glider ride by the club as background research for a story on the club and its presence at FRR.

Cassagnol theorized that at takeoff the tandem plane and glider encountered some turbulence that led to the glider rising above the tow plane and jerking the plane’s tail upward.  The incident appears to have occurred before the plane had climbed high enough to successfully correct what had suddenly turned into a nose dive at low altitude and full takeoff throttle.

One person at the airport terminal at the time of the accident said there was a gap from when they saw smoke from beyond the trees to the west of the airport and the sound of an explosion.  The plane is believed to have burned after impact.  Fire engines were at the scene, along with units from the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police.

Unconfirmed reports from the scene indicated that the 1747 Ridgeway Road property where the crash occurred belongs to the daughter of Fork District Supervisor Archie Fox.  Fox could not be reached for verification prior to initial publication of this story.


Original article can be found here ➤ https://royalexaminer.com



Airport Manager Reggie Cassagnol’s vehicle leaves the scene.


A small plane crashed in Front Royal, Virginia, and caught fire on Saturday afternoon, killing one person, officials say.

The "small, private aircraft" crashed on the 1700 block of Ridgeway Road, Virginia State Police said in a statement. 

The scene is about a mile from the Front Royal-Warren County Airport.

State police responded about 1:40 p.m.

The name of the person who died was not released immediately. It was not immediately clear if anyone else was affected.

Video taken from Chopper4 shows the charred remains of the plane. 

The plane that crashed is a Piper PA-25-235 Pawnee, the National Transportation Safety Board said on Twitter. That type of plane is widely used in agricultural spraying.

The cause of the crash is under investigation. The Federal Aviation Administration and NTSB have been notified, police said.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.nbcwashington.com

The ‘X’ marks approximate location of crash in relation to airport on Warren County map.


One person died in a plane crash Saturday afternoon in Warren County, according to Virginia State Police.

The small, private aircraft crashed and caught fire around 1:39 p.m. in the 1700 block of Ridgeway Road in Front Royal, police spokesperson Corinne Geller said. 

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board have been notified and the crash remains under investigation, Geller said.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.insidenova.com


County and state police units at the airport.

Looking west to the right of the FRR runway over hangars and parked aircraft – the crash occurred beyond the trees to the right of the hangars.


A fire truck leaves the scene past a WCSO unit at intersection of Ridgeway Rd. and long driveway into 1747 Ridgeway where plane went down.







FRONT ROYAL, Va. (ABC7) — One person is dead following a small, private plane crash in Warren County Saturday afternoon. 

Virginia State Police officials responded to the crash of a Piper PA-25 Pawnee in the 1700 block of Ridge Way at 1:39 p.m. The plane had a glider in tow during takeoff.

After the glider disconnected safely, police say the plane started experiencing issues and crashed onto private property near Front Royal Airport, which then caused the plane to catch fire.

Steven B. Zaboji, 76, of Reston, who was the pilot, was pronounced dead at the scene. No one else was injured during the crash, police say.

Officials say the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board have been notified following the crash, which is currently under investigation. 

Original article can be found here ➤ http://wjla.com

A pilot is dead after a small private plane crashed and caught on fire in Warren County, Virginia Saturday afternoon.

The pilot was identified as 76-year-old Steven B. Zaboji.

Police said Zaboji's plane took off at around 1:35 p.m. with a glider in tow. 

The plane started experiencing problems after the glider was safely disconnected.

At 1:39 p.m., the plane crashed in the 1700 block of Ridgeway Road near Front Royal Airport.

The glider safely landed after the crash.

Police said the Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board have been notified. 

Virginia State Police are investigating the crash. There is no further information at this time.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.wusa9.com

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