Thursday, December 7, 2017

Beech B36TC Bonanza, N679EA, registered to Wings West LLC and operated by a private individual: Fatal accident occurred December 06, 2017 near Spirit of St. Louis Airport (KSUS), Chesterfield, St. Louis County, Missouri

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; St. Louis, Missouri
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas 
Continental Motors Inc; Mobile, Alabama 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Wings West LLC:

Location: Chesterfield, MO
Accident Number: CEN18FA049
Date & Time: 12/06/2017, 1454 CST
Registration: N679EA
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: 
Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On December 6, 2017, at 1454 central standard time, a Raytheon Aircraft Company B36TC airplane, N679EA, impacted a gas station pump canopy and parking lot following a reported loss of engine power while on visual approach to the Spirit of St. Louis Airport (SUS), Chesterfield, Missouri. The private pilot sustained fatal injuries, and the airplane was destroyed by post-impact fire. The airplane was registered to Wings West, LLC, Las Vegas, Nevada, and operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and the flight was conducted on an instrument rules flight plan. The flight departed the Phoenix Deer Valley Airport (DVT), Phoenix, Arizona, at 0926, and was destined for SUS.

According to preliminary radar and communication information, the airplane was on left traffic visual approach to SUS. During the visual approach, the pilot reported an engine issue and losing power, and the local controller immediately cleared the pilot to land on runway 26L. The pilot responded that he may not be able to make it to the airport. No further communications were received from the pilot.

Several witnesses near the accident location observed the airplane at a low altitude with no engine noise. Shortly thereafter, the airplane impacted a gas station pump canopy, the gas station parking lot, and a post-impact fire ensued. Witnesses attempted to suppress the fire with available fire extinguishers. The witness attempts to suppress the fire were unsuccessful due to the intense heat and smoke.

The airplane came to rest upright on the parking lot surface and grass ditch between the parking lot and adjacent roadway. Post-impact fire consumed the forward and center fuselage, and inboard sections of both wings. The left wing sustained impact damage and was partially separated near the wing root. The right main landing gear tire and strut were separated and came to rest in the intersection of two roadways about 190 feet from the airplane.

At 1454, the SUS automated surface observation system, located about 1.6 miles west of the accident site, reported the wind from 280 degrees at 13 knots, visibility 10 miles, few clouds at 6,500 feet, temperature 9 degrees C, dew point -4 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 30.13 inches of Mercury. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N679EA
Model/Series: B36TC
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No 
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: SUS, 463 ft msl
Observation Time: 1454 CST
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 9°C / -4°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 6500 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 13 knots, 280°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.13 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Phoenix, AZ (DVT)
Destination: Chesterfield, MO

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: On-Ground
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 38.400000, -90.370000

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

Jim Smith

CHESTERFIELD, Mo.   Investigators are on the scene this midday of a single engine plane crash that killed a St. Louis business leader. The crash happened when the plane went down in a Chesterfield BP gas station parking lot at Long Road and Chesterfield Airport Road.

The wreckage of the plane is still at the scene.

Federal investigators including the NTSB have been combing over the plan for much of the morning.

The pilot who was killed is identified as Jim Smith, alocal developer who played a major role in restoring the Chase Park Plaza in the late 1990`s. He radioed the tower that he was having power problems shortly before the crash.

This all unfolded a little before 3 p.m. Wednesday.

Investigators say Smith was coming from Phoenix and was trying to land at the Spirit of S. Louis airport very close to where the crash happened. Witnesses say the plane clipped the canopy over the gas pumps and went straight down.

People tried to get Smith out but they couldn`t because of the fire in the plane.

Smith was the only person on board.

There was a small explosion when the plane crashed then the plane caught fire. Witnesses say they did not hear the plane`s engine as it dropped.

Investigators have been taking pictures of the wreckage this morning and studying the scene including the plane`s engine.

NTSB investigator Aaron Sauer says preliminary information shows smith did report some kind of engine trouble and that will certainly be part of the investigation. Authorities plan to move the plane later today to a secure facility in Tennessee for insurance purposes.

Investigators could be in our area for a couple of days but it could take six to nine months before an official cause for the crash is determined.

Story and video:

Jim Smith

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. (KMOX) – Investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration have begun looking for the cause of Wednesday’s plane crash that killed pilot Jim Smith.

The NTSB’s Aaron Sauer, who is leading the probe, says it could take six to nine months to determine the cause.

Thursday morning, Sauer and other investigators examined the wreckage, which still sat against a light pole on the edge of the BP gas station at Long and Chesterfield Airport roads. The cockpit was completely charred, however, the engine compartment was mostly intact.

Sauer says the condition of the engine, and pictures taken by bystanders, will help investigators.

“Even though the aircraft did sustain quite a bit of fire damage, we did get a lot of first-hand photograph imagery come in, as far as where the fire was contained to, where did it spread to.”

After the initial examination on site, the wreckage will be moved to a facility in Tennessee where it can be examined in a controlled environment.

Sauer says despite earlier reports that Smith was flying in from Albuquerque, New Mexico, he actually took off from Deer Valley Airport in north Phoenix, Arizona.

He was on final approach to Spirit of St. Louis Airport when he reported engine trouble. In his last transmission, Smith told the tower he wasn’t sure if he was going to make it to the runway.

Sauer says Smith was an experienced pilot, who as of last year, had over 3,400 hours in the air. He says despite losing his own life, Smith saved lives by crashing the plane where he did.

“As far as being able to put the aircraft down like he did, a tremendous job on his part.”

The plane he was flying, a Beechcraft Bonanza, is a popular model, according to Sauer. The one that crashed was built in 2001, which he says, is “fairly new” in general aviation circles.

Smith was a developer who is credited for leading the redevelopment of the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in the 1990s.

Story and video:

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. ( -- Family and friends say a man who helped revitalize the Chase Park Plaza in the Central West End died Wednesday when his plane crashed near Spirit of St. Louis Airport.

Jim Smith was flying a Beechcraft Bonanza B36 plane. The aircraft clipped the canopy of a BP station near the intersection of Long Road and Chesterfield Airport Road, before crashing in the parking lot just before 3:00 p.m., police said. The FAA said he was on the plane.

An airport official said Smith told air traffic control he was losing power and wasn't going to make it to the airport.

The plane was flying into Spirit of St. Louis Airport from Albuquerque, the FAA said.

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After the plane crash, several people who work nearby grabbed fire extinguishers to try and save Smith.

"We couldn't get the flames out. It was out of control and someone was trying to hit the windshield with a hammer and it was bouncing right off," one man said. "There was nothing we could do."

The rescue effort is not unnoticed by Smith's friends and family.

"Anybody that steps forward in a time of need, especially when they're putting themselves at risk, they're heroes," said Richard Fredman, a friend of Smith.

Fredman said Smith was a father, grandfather and loved to fly.

Smith was an instrumental figure in the rebirth of Chase Park Plaza. Mayor Lyda Krewson tweeted:

"RIP Jim Smith - one of the finest guys I have ever worked with. Saved the shuttered Chase Park Plaza- positive impact for entire CWE and CVC Commish- so so sad."

Story, video and photo gallery:

Jim Smith

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. - CHESTERFIELD, Mo. - Spirit of St. Louis Airport Police and local firefighters responded to a nearby gas station Wednesday afternoon following a report of a plane crash. 

The plane, a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza, was preparing to land at the airport just before 3 p.m. when it crashed at the BP gas station in the 100 block of Long Road Crossing Drive. The aircraft was flying from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Chesterfield, an airport spokesperson said.

An employee at the gas station reported the plane crashed in the business parking lot. An eyewitness said the plane was fully engulfed in flames.

The fire was extinguished and firefighters spread a grey tarp over the front portion of the aircraft. The pilot perished in the crash.

No one else was on board, according to the FAA.The radio transmission between the pilot and the tower indicated his plane was losing power.

Here’s part of that transmission:

Pilot: “Tower, ah, Spirit 6-7-9-echo-alpha has an issue. I’m losing my power”
Tower: “Okay, who called up losing power?”
Pilot: “6-7-9-echo-alpha”
Tower: “Roger. Runway 2-6-left you are clear to land”
Pilot: “I’m not sure I’m going to make it.”

Witnesses said they did not hear the engine of the plane as it started to drop, striking the metal canopy over the gas pumps and crashing into the ground. There was a small explosion and then flames appeared.  Some witnesses tried to rescue the pilot, but the flames were too much.

“They were trying to get him out with fire extinguishers, trying to put out the flames out and then they tried to beat the front of a window with sledge hammer,” said eyewitness Joe Dragovich.

“I saw a guy with an ax just trying to break that window and it just went up in flames,” said Heather Sateia.

The crash was just feet from a tanker that was delivering fuel to the gas station.

“It could have hit cars. It could have killed people,” said Christos Stevens. “The gas truck is there filling up the gas station.”

Some witnesses believe it took too long for firefighters to respond. The Monarch Fire Protection District has a fire house near the scene of the crash, but the department reported that engine house was already out on a call when the call came in for the plane crash.

Monarch Fire Capt. Roger Herin said the department received a call for the plane crash at 2:55 p.m. and the first crew arrived at 3:01 p.m.

The plane was registered to a company in Las Vegas. St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson offered condolences for the family of Jim Smith late Wednesday evening. Krewson said Smith was responsible for the redevelopment of the Chase Park Plaza.

Air traffic controllers temporarily closed Spirt of St. Louis Airport. The airport was reopened by 3:25 p.m.

The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board have been notified of the crash and will investigate.

Story, video and photo gallery:

A single-engine plane barely missed a fuel tanker before crashing into the parking lot of a gas station Wednesday afternoon, claiming the life of the pilot.

The plane damaged a vehicle and a gas pump when it crashed about 3 p.m., but no one else was injured.

Police did not identify the pilot, but late Wednesday St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson identified him on Twitter as Jim Smith.

Smith helped lead the $100 million renovation of the Chase Park Plaza hotel in the Central West End in the late 1990s. He also managed the reopened hotel for years.

Before the crash, the pilot had been cleared to land at nearby Spirit of St. Louis Airport, but then reported the plane was losing power, according to John Bales, director of the airport.

The pilot told Bales, “I don’t know if I’m going to make it.”

Chesterfield Police Capt. Ed Nestor said a police officer who happened to be nearby heard the plane clip the canopy over the pumps at the BP Gas Station at 110 Long Road. She looked up to see the plane crash and explode into flames.

“Several witnesses were out,” Nestor said. “Everybody went over and tried to do what they could, but there really wasn’t much that they could do.”

He said witnesses reported they did not hear any engine noise before the crash. The crash site was just feet from where the fuel tanker was parked.

Fire Marshal Roger Herin said there was one person on board the aircraft when it crashed. That person was pronounced dead on the scene.

“The plane was totally involved in fire when we arrived on the scene,” Herin said. “We extinguished the flames pretty quickly.”

The plane was based here, Nestor said. An online flight tracking site indicated the plane, a Beechcraft Bonanza, was en route to Spirit from Albuquerque, N.M. The Federal Aviation Administration listed Wings West LLC of Las Vegas as the owner.

Chesterfield police secured the scene for investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board.

Ron Mansfield, a Chesterfield resident, drove past the scene about the 30 seconds after the crash, he said.

Mansfield said he saw thick black smoke rising from behind some buildings in an area he knows well.

“As soon as I turned the corner I saw a big fire in the McDonald’s parking lot,” he said. “When I got closer I saw that it was a plane on fire.”

Mansfield thought he saw a man trying to break the plane window open. He said the man had to retreat as the flames grew.

“By the time I pulled up and got out to help it was too late, the fire was enormous,” he said.

Mansfield said he thought the gas station canopy and a light post the plane struck as it crashed stopped it from hitting anything else.

The plane missed an 18-wheel fuel tanker by less than 100 feet, he said.

“People standing in the parking lot were only a few feet from fuel pumps, a tanker and a burning building,” he said. “It could’ve been a lot worse. Unfortunately it was just way too late for the pilot.”

Story, video and photo gallery:

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. - A pilot was killed Wednesday afternoon in a small plane crash in Chesterfield.

The plane crashed near Chesterfield Airport Road and Long Road. Images from 5 On Your Side's chopper show the small plane crashed near a BP gas station and McDonald's.

According to Flight Aware, the plane was on its way to Spirit of St. Louis Airport from New Mexico. It was scheduled to depart from New Mexico at 8:28 a.m., but took off at 10:21 a.m.

The plane — a Beechcraft Bonanza B36 — crashed just a few yards from a tanker transporting gasoline, and burst into flames. A person was pumping gas at the time of the crash, but only suffered minor injuries from falling debris. No one else was hurt.

St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson tweeted that the pilot is Jim Smith who she credits with saving the Chase Park Plaza.

The FAA and NTSB will investigate the crash. The plane will remain on the scene for the investigation.

Chesterfield Airport Road was closed but has since been reopened.

Story, video and photo gallery:


Anonymous said...

Horrific accident pictures. My condolences to the pilot and his family. It's a miracle that the fuel tanker didn't explode and kill many more people. The only positive to this story was the hero bystanders that tried to save the pilot while risking their own lives. R.I.P. fellow aviator.

Anonymous said...

He picked up IFR with Albuquerque Center when just northeast of Albuquerque, but it looks like his point of departure was Deer Valley Airport just northwest of Phoenix Sky Harbor.

Anonymous said...

Turbo Bonanza cruising at 21000 feet for 3 hours. Classic engine shock during descent, high speed descent (260+kts). RIP