Sunday, February 5, 2017

Commissioners to decide Fabens Airport (E35) future



EL PASO COUNTY, Texas - The Fabens airport isn’t the largest or most popular air field in our county, and County Commissioners may be looking to use it more.

“We will know next Monday for certain whether we might go with the vendor who might get the RFP to be our Fixed Base Operator,” said County Judge Veronica Escobar.

Thing is there was only one bid to be operator and it came from the same people who are running the Fabens airport now, something nearby residents said off-camera wasn’t being done very well, so the county is looking at the bid, but it’s not the only option.

“As we begin to expand the usage of the airport, not only through UTEP, but hopefully as it grows as more of an economic development driver, is it better for us to contract with someone for them to be our Fixed base Operator, or is it better to hire someone to be there full time,” Escobar said.

The future of the airport? UTEP is looking to use the field to train students, and they’re hoping to move in soon.

“We had committed to UTEP to have them move in April first. We had staff check with them to see if that is still a target date. Not only is it a target date, but they said if they can move in sooner they would love to move in sooner, so we’re gonna see how quickly we can advance this,” said Escobar.

The El Paso County Commissioners will be meeting Monday at 9:30 am.

Story and video:  http://www.kvia.com

Cessna 172P, N62731: Fatal accident occurred August 19, 2015 in Townsend, Broadwater County, Montana

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

Docket And Docket Items -  National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Aviation Accident Data Summary -  National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Johnny Ray Gluhm:   http://registry.faa.gov/N62731

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

FAA Flight Standards District Office: FAA Helena FSDO-05

NTSB Identification: WPR15FA247
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 19, 2015 in Townsend, MT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 01/18/2017
Aircraft: CESSNA 172P, registration: N62731
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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.

The non-instrument-rated pilot notified his wife at 2211 that he would be departing the airport momentarily. The direct route to the destination of the dark night cross-country flight crossed a mountain range with elevations over 7,200 ft. The following morning, an emergency locator transmitter signal was detected, and the wreckage was subsequently located in the mountains at an elevation of about 5,000 ft along the direct route of flight. The wreckage pattern and ground scars indicated that the airplane impacted a rock formation on the face of a mountain during a steep right turn. An examination of the airframe and engine did not reveal any preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. 

Although the pilot had accumulated some experience crossing the mountain range, he had never completed this flight in nighttime conditions, and he had only 3.8 hours of night flight experience. The pilot's wife reported that she had made the flight several times with the pilot, and he would typically fly over the mountain range unless the clouds were low, in which case he would take a longer route to avoid the mountains. The departure airport was reporting an overcast cloud layer that was about 8,000 ft mean sea level. Further, a witness at the destination airport reported that the sky condition was "pitch black," which was likely the result of a partially illuminated moon blocked by the overcast layer. In addition, mountain obscuration due to smoke and haze was present at the time of the accident, which would have further decreased the pilot's ability to recognize obstructions. As stated in a January 2008 National Transportation Safety Board safety alert, Controlled Flight Into Terrain in Visual Conditions, "darkness may render visual avoidance of high terrain nearly impossible," and "the absence of ground lights may result in loss of horizon reference." 

It is likely that the airplane collided with terrain because the pilot could not see and avoid the surrounding terrain given the dark night conditions and mountain obscuration. Pilot spatial disorientation may also have occurred due to multiple risk factors including the pilot's lack of night flight proficiency and his absence of mountain flying experience in dark night conditions. Because the airplane was in a steep turn, it could not be determined whether the pilot was trying to avoid terrain that he saw at the last minute or if he was disoriented and inadvertently banked the airplane.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The non-instrument-rated pilot's decision to conduct a cross-country flight over a mountain range in dark night conditions with limited night flight experience, which resulted in a collision with mountainous terrain.



Johnny Ray Gluhm





HISTORY OF FLIGHT 

On August 19, 2015, about 2230 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 172P, N62731, was substantially damaged after it collided with mountainous terrain near Townsend, Montana. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a personal flight under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed about the time of the accident, and a flight plan was not filed for the local flight. The flight originated from Helena Regional Airport (HLN) about 2215, and was destined for White Sulphur Springs Airport (7S6), White Sulphur Springs, Montana. 

According to the pilot's wife, her husband departed 76S for HLN about 2000 to pick-up a friend who was scheduled to arrive on a commercial flight at 2100. He landed approximately 45 minutes later, picked up the passenger and then called his wife at 2211 before they departed on the accident flight. 

On the following morning, Salt Lake Center recorded an emergency locator transmitter signal near Bozeman, Montana, that was also picked up by a low flying aircraft. The pilot's flight instructor, who was the Chief of Safety for the Montana Department of Aeronautics, subsequently initiated an aerial search, and located the airplane about 0830.

The accident pilot's wife reported that her husband had flown from 7S6 to HLN twice on the day of the accident. During the first trip, her husband collected some belongings from Helena, and then returned to their home in White Sulphur Springs, Montana. The pilot's wife had driven to HLN to help transport some of the items that would not fit on the airplane. She then returned to White Sulphur Springs at the same time her husband was preparing to leave on his second trip to HLN to pick-up his friend who was returning to White Sulphur Springs after visiting his daughter in Ohio. 

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

A review of the pilot's logbook revealed that he had amassed a total of 280 flight hours at the time of the accident; about 277 of which were in the accident airplane make and model. The pilot had accrued a total of 3.8 hours of total night flight experience; 3 hours of which were completed with an instructor in October 2013, and 0.8 hours were completed over two separate flights without an instructor. The pilot's first night flight without his instructor took place in December 2014 over 0.4 flight hours. He recorded another night flight about 1 month before the accident, during which time he accumulated 0.4 flight hours. The logbook indicated that both flights consisted of 3-4 landings in the airport traffic pattern. According to the pilot's flight instructor, they completed one instructional cross country night flight from Helena to Bozeman. The second instructional night flight consisted of 12 landings at a local airport and did not include any cross-country flight time. The last entry in the logbook showed that the pilot had flown from 7S6 to HLN on August 19, 2015.

Flight Training

According to the pilot's flight instructor, the pilot began taking flight lessons from him in April 2013 when the instructor was employed by a flight school at HLN. The pilot received instruction in a Cessna 172M model airplane until he purchased the accident airplane later that year. In September 2014, his flight instructor endorsed him to fly solo to commute between 7S6 and HLN. The instructor stated that the pilot's upset recovery abilities and aeronautical decision making were "typical of someone starting in their late 50's." 

Private Pilot Examination

Records furnished by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) indicated that the pilot was unsuccessful during his initial private pilot check ride. According to the designated pilot examiner who administered the check ride, the pilot did not demonstrate adequate pilotage during the examination. The pilot deviated from his assigned course by approximately 7 nautical miles, and was unable to identify multiple terrain features. The pilot subsequently completed two instructional flights that included navigation practice to prepare for the follow-up examination to his private pilot check ride. 

72-Hour History

A follow-up interview with the pilot's wife was used to construct a 72-hour history of the pilot's activities. On Sunday, August 16, 2015, the pilot attended a church service, and completed some activities around the house. During the following 2 days, the pilot attended gatherings at a local cafĂ© for coffee, and performed some work within the community. The pilot's wife observed no abnormalities in the pilot's behavior or sleep patterns on the day of the accident and the 3 days that preceded it. 

The pilot's wife reported that she had flown with him between 7S6 and HLN about four times. During these flights, they would typically fly over the mountain range; however, if the clouds were "too low," they would circumvent the mountain.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

According to FAA records, the airplane was manufactured in 1982, and registered to the pilot and his wife on July 26, 2013. 

The airplane was powered by a Lycoming O-320-D2J, a normally-aspirated, direct drive, air cooled, 160 hp engine. A maintenance history was constructed from a collection of work orders that were provided by the pilot's maintenance facility as the aircraft logbooks were not recovered. The work orders indicated that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on June 25, 2015; at that time, the recorded tachometer reading was 9,056.6 flight hours. Although the tachometer was found a few feet from the main wreckage, the tachometer time at the time of the accident could not be verified due to the condition of the unit. 

Refueling records provided by the 76S airport manager showed that the pilot purchased 13.6 gallons of 100 low lead aviation grade gasoline on August 13, 2015, at a self-service fuel pump. The pilot noted "fuel" under some entries in his personal logbook, but did not include the total fuel quantity; therefore, a fuel quantity for the accident flight could not be computed.

COMMUNICATIONS

According to an NTSB Air Traffic Control Specialist, there was no available audio for the pilot's departure on the night of the accident as HLN tower had closed at 2000.

A review of Enhanced Radar Intelligent Tool data from the Salt Lake City Air Route Traffic Control Center did not show the accident airplane or its route of flight.

AIRPORT INFORMATION

HLN, a class delta airport, was publicly owned and operated by the Helena Regional Airport Authority at the time of the accident, and did have an operating control tower that closed at 2200 MDT on the night of the accident. The airport was located approximately 18 nautical miles from the accident site at an elevation of 3,877 feet above mean sea level.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

According to an NTSB Meteorological study, the 2253 recorded weather observation at HLN included winds from 250 degrees at 7 knots, visibility 4 statute miles, haze, an overcast cloud layer at 4,100 feet above ground level (agl), temperature 22 degrees C, dew point 5 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.86 inches of mercury.

A Terminal Aerodrome Forecast was issued for HLN at 1908. The field weather forecast for the accident time included visibility of 4 statute miles, haze, and scattered clouds at 4,000 feet agl. An Area Forecast was issued at 2045 by the Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City, Missouri. The narrative forecasted a broken smoke layer at 8,000 feet and occasionally visibility between 3-5 statute miles in smoke and haze. 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration publishes a Smoke Text Product, which is a narrative used to describe significant areas of smoke associated with active fires. A Smoke Text Product was issued on the day of the accident that reported heavy smoke over parts of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Montana, forecast for that evening. The report described moderate density smoke farther east into Central Montana.

An Airmen's Meteorological Information (AIRMET) advisory was issued as 2045 for mountain obscuration due to smoke and haze at the time of the accident in a region inclusive of the accident site. 

The United States Naval Observatory, Astronomical Applications Department for Townsend recorded the moon phase as a waxing crescent Moon with 22% of the Moon's visible disk illuminated. The recorded Moonset for Townsend was 2243.

A witness reported the visibility at 76S on the night of the accident was approximately 2 statute miles, and the sky was "pitch black." 

According to Lockheed Martin Flight Services, the pilot did not file a flight plan or request a weather briefing through them or DUATS. 

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane impacted an area of mountainous terrain that was located on the rising face of a ridge at a terrain elevation of 5,046 feet. All four corners of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site. A debris path that measured about 100 feet long by 80 feet wide was oriented on a 351-degree magnetic heading. The initial impact point (IIP) was identified by a broken green aircraft position light and silver colored signatures that were vertically oriented, and spanned approximately 13 feet in length on a rock face. The airplane main wreckage, comprised of the cockpit, fuselage, and empennage, was located about 70 feet beyond the IIP. A local sheriff detected an odor at the accident site that resembled fuel.

Airframe

The outboard section of the right wing was located in the debris path about 30 feet below the initial impact point. A piece of the inboard section of the right wing was identified by the right wing strut, and was located about 15 feet from the main wreckage. The leading edge of the wing was compressed into alternating ridges and grooves that resembled corrugated metal. The right wing fuel tank was breached, and void of fuel. Both the flap bell crank and jackscrew had separated from the right wing, and were found in the energy path about 30 feet from the main wreckage. The flap jackscrew measured 2.9", consistent with a 10-degree flap deployment. 

The left wing came to rest a few feet from the main wreckage, and was co-located with the engine. Several portions of skin were pulled back away from the wing, which revealed a breached left wing fuel tank that was void of fuel. 

The rudder, elevator trim, and elevator cables were traced from the cockpit to each control surface. Both aileron cables had separated at the wing roots; however, the fracture surfaces exhibited signatures consistent with tensile overload. 

The empennage was co-located with the main wreckage, and remained attached to the tail cone by a piece of airframe skin. The vertical stabilizer and rudder assembly were connected, but damaged by the impact. Both elevators remained attached to the horizontal stabilizers; however, the right and left elevator torque tubes had separated in tensile overload. The elevator trim tab measured 1.15", indicative of a 5-degree tab down position. 

The fuel selector handle had separated and exposed the selector pin, which rotated successfully to each detent. Air was directed through the unit as the selector was moved, which confirmed continuity through the left, right, and both positions of the selector. The fuel strainer bowl was found in the debris field, but the fuel strainer screen was not observed.

The attitude indicator was recovered from the debris field. An examination of the unit revealed that the gyro spun normally when turned by hand. The gyroscope surface displayed a significant amount of scoring along its circumference, which indicated that it was rotating at impact. 

Engine Examination 

Both propeller blades were recovered from the debris path along with the propeller hub, which had separated from the crankshaft at the engine flange. Propeller blade one displayed chordwise scratches, gouges, s-bending, and tip curling, but remained attached to the hub. Propeller blade two had separated at the blade tip and the blade root, which was attached to the propeller hub. The propeller blades exhibited both chordwise scratches and gouges at the leading and trailing edges. 

A hole was observed in the crankcase between cylinders three and four that measured approximately 8 inches in diameter. The crankshaft had seized, which precluded a successful rotation of the powertrain; however, drive-train continuity was confirmed through a visual inspection. The cylinders displayed normal operating signatures, and all valves appeared to be seated properly when examined with a borescope.

Both magnetos were removed from the engine accessory section and tested. The right magneto produced spark on all leads when rotated by hand. The left magneto was destroyed, and could not be tested. 

The top and bottom spark plug were removed, and placed in a spark plug inspection tray. The spark plugs to cylinders one and three were dark in color, but exhibited normal wear. Examination of the top and bottom spark plugs from cylinders two and four did not reveal any anomalies.

The carburetor was destroyed, which precluded an examination of the floats and needle valve. The carburetor fuel inlet screen was not recovered. 

The vacuum pump had separated from the accessory housing, and was found in the energy path of the accident airplane. Disassembly of the pump revealed that the rotor had broken into sections; however, the vanes displayed even wear without any signs of binding. 

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the Montana Department of Justice, Forensic Science Division. The autopsy report listed the pilot/owner's cause of death as "multiple blunt force injuries."

Forensic toxicology testing was performed on specimens of the pilot by the FAA Bioaeronautical Science Research Laboratory (CAMI), Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, which did not detect any ethanol in the pilot's muscle or drugs in the pilot's urine. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

According to an NTSB Safety Alert that was published January 2008, 

"Terrain familiarization is critical to safe visual operations at night. Use sectional charts or other topographic references to ensure that your altitude will safely clear ter­rain and obstructions all along your route."

"In remote areas, especially in overcast or moonless conditions, be aware that darkness may render visual avoidance of high terrain nearly impossible and that the absence of ground lights may result in loss of horizon reference." 

"When planning a nighttime Visual Flight Rules (VFR) flight, follow Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) practices, such as climbing on a known safe course until well above sur­rounding terrain. Choose a cruising altitude that provides terrain separation similar to IFR flights (2,000 feet above ground level in mountainous areas and 1,000 feet above the ground in other areas)."

According to the FAA Aeronautical Information Manual, Chapter 7-5-6, "Mountain Flying,"

"Understand Mountain Obscuration. The term Mountain Obscuration (MTOS) is used to describe a visibility condition that is distinguished from IFR because ceilings, by definition, are described as "above ground level" (AGL). In mountainous terrain clouds can form at altitudes significantly higher than the weather reporting station and at the same time nearby mountaintops may be obscured by low visibility. In these areas the ground level can also vary greatly over a small area. Beware if operating VFR-on-top. You could be operating closer to the terrain than you think because the tops of mountains are hidden in a cloud deck below. MTOS areas are identified daily on the Aviation Weather Center located at: http://www.aviationweather.gov."

"Some canyons run into a dead end. Don't fly so far up a canyon that you get trapped. ALWAYS BE ABLE TO MAKE A 180 DEGREE TURN!"

"VFR flight operations may be conducted at night in mountainous terrain with the application of sound judgment and common sense. Proper pre-flight planning, giving ample consideration to winds and weather, knowledge of the terrain and pilot experience in mountain flying are prerequisites for safety of flight. Continuous visual contact with the surface and obstructions is a major concern and flight operations under an overcast or in the vicinity of clouds should be approached with extreme caution."

NTSB Identification: WPR15FA247 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 19, 2015 in Helena, MT
Aircraft: CESSNA 172P, registration: N62731
Injuries: 2 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 August 19, 2015, about 2230 mountain daylight time, a Cessna 172P, N62731, collided with mountainous terrain during low altitude flight near Helena, Montana. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the wings, fuselage, and empennage. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed about the time of the accident, and a flight plan was not filed for the local flight. The flight originated from the Helena Regional Airport (HLN) at 2215 and was destined for White Sulphur Springs Airport (7S6), White Sulphur Springs, Montana. 

According to local law enforcement, the pilot contacted his wife about 2207 and subsequently departed for 7S6, with a family member onboard. The following morning Salt Lake Center recorded an electronic locator transmitter signal near Bozeman, Montana that was also picked up by a low flying aircraft. The pilot's flight instructor then initiated an aerial search and located the airplane about 0830 the day after the accident.

The airplane impacted an area of rising mountainous terrain in a valley between two ridges at a terrain elevation of 5,046 feet. The initial impacted point (IIP) was identified by a green marking that resembled an aircraft position light located below an aluminum material transfer mark that spanned about 13 feet in length on a vertical rock face. The outboard section of the right wing was located at the base of the rock face about 30 feet from the IIP. Multiple sections of right wing were located in a tree that sat on a hillside about 30 feet beyond the IIP and surrounded by portions of the right wing and propeller at the base of the tree. Both the engine and left wing were located in the energy path about 20 feet from the tree, but before the main wreckage which was located about 20 feet beyond the engine at a lower elevation.

An onsite examination of the airplane by the National Transportation Safety Board investigator-in-charge revealed that the airplane impacted right wing first and subsequently came to rest on the downhill slope about 70 feet from the IIP. The rudder, trim and elevator cables were traced from the cockpit to their respective control surfaces. Both the elevator trim tab actuator and aft chain were intact and in their original position within the horizontal stabilizer. The flap bell crank and jackscrew assembly had separated from the right wing and were found in the energy path about 30 feet from the main wreckage. The flap jackscrew measured 2.9", consistent with a 10 degree flap position, which corroborated the flap indicator position. Both propeller blades were accounted for at the accident site and exhibited chordwise scratches, leading edge nicks, and bending. 

The 2153 recorded weather observation at HLN, located approximately 18 nautical miles west of the accident site, included winds from 250 degrees at 5 knots, visibility 5 statute miles, haze, an overcast cloud layer at 4,800 feet, temperature 22 degrees C, dew point 4 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.86 inches of mercury.

The density altitude at the time of the accident from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was 7,192.1 feet. 

The pilot, age 59, held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single engine land that was issued on September 30, 2014. A review of the logbook revealed that the pilot had accumulated a total of 280.4 flight hours; 276.9 of which were in the accident airplane make and model, and 3.8 were at night. The pilot accumulated a total of 0.8 night flight hours in the preceding 8 months.

Akron, Ohio, history: Thousands witness horrifying crash of Goodyear blimp in 1932



They sowed the wind and reaped the whirlwind. Brave pilots helped tame the skies for airship travel during the early 20th century, but the risks were as high as the thrills.

The Goodyear blimp Columbia lost a battle with nature 85 years ago in a spectacular wreck that was witnessed by thousands. There was nothing anybody could do. Not even the pilot.

Built in Akron in 1931, the silver airship was the latest addition to the Goodyear fleet, which included the blimps Defender, Mayflower, Reliance, Puritan and Vigilant. The Columbia was 141 feet long, boasted a gas capacity of 112,000 cubic feet, cost $65,000 to build (about $1.1 million today) and required a $6,000 supply of helium ($105,000 today).

“It will carry six passengers in addition to the pilot,” the Beacon Journal reported in 1931. “It is tastefully outfitted with brown leather chairs and upholstering and walnut woodwork in the cabin. It has a gasoline capacity of 100 gallons and a flying speed of 60 miles an hour and is equipped with two Warner Scarab motors of 110 horsepower each.”

The christening ceremony was scheduled for Tuesday, July 14, at the Goodyear-Zeppelin Airdock near Akron Municipal Airport. Two days before the celebration, an ominous event occurred.

A violent storm ripped sister ship Mayflower off its moorings at Kansas City Municipal Airport on July 12, 1931, slamming it into a hangar roof and tangling it in power lines. With its gas tanks leaking, the blimp ignited.

Two passengers leaped from the gondola to safety. Goodyear pilot Charles E. Brannigan, 35, was trapped in the cabin, though, and suffered serious burns. Co-pilot R.H. Hobensack braved the flames to free his companion, but Brannigan died July 17 of his injuries and was buried in Bowling Green, Ohio.



Akron christening

As Brannigan lay dying in a hospital, the Columbia was welcomed in Akron with a 200-piece band and a 200-voice chorus. At the christening, Gertrude Harpham, wife of Fred M. Harpham, vice president of Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., broke a bottle of liquid air over the control cabin.

She was assisted by Rebecca Huber, Minnie Stewart, Elizabeth Crouse, Nina Williams and Elizabeth Noble, the wives of executives and chamber leaders. Pilots Karl Fickes and Arthur Cooper took the women on the inaugural flight over Akron.

“This occasion marks another step in the march of lighter-than-air development,” Lt. Frank McKee, Ohio director of aeronautics, told the crowd at the ceremony. “The faith which Akron has placed in this new industry will be justified.”

The Columbia left in August for New York, where it was based at Holmes Airport in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of Queens, N.Y. Goodyear ran a sightseeing service in which passengers paid $3 for 15-minute flights around New York City.

In a famous stunt, the blimp picked up a bundle of newspapers in September at the New York Evening Journal and delivered it to a man atop the new Empire State Building as a test to see if airships could anchor on the skyscraper’s mast.

Seven months after its debut, the Columbia met an untimely demise following three uneventful flights on the morning of Feb. 12, 1932, a day that began clear and calm until the wind kicked up at 10:30 a.m.

Pilot Prescott Dixon, 23, and Goodyear chief mechanic John Blair, 32, unexpectedly encountered gusts of 50 to 60 mph while trying to land at the Queens airport. Seeing a ground crew of only six, Blair scribbled a note, wrapped it around a wrench and dropped it to the ground. It was a request for more men.

The blimp circled Flushing Bay for an hour before running low on fuel and trying to land again as a ground crew of 20 men gathered. Sensing the ship was in distress, thousands of New Yorkers stopped what they were doing to watch.

About 50 feet up, the Columbia ran into an unexpected vertical current that smashed it into the ground, tearing off its landing gear and bending its propellers. As Dixon shut off the engines to avoid a fire, an unexpected updraft lifted the wrecked blimp and ripped it from the hands of the ground crew.



Desperate plan

The pilot hoped to ditch the free-floating airship in the water after three hours of high winds.

“I thought that Flushing Bay was the best bet, and the wind was carrying us straight for it,” he later told a reporter. “We figured on coming down on the water, and hopping out of the gondola.”

But the wind swept the Columbia back over land, and Dixon decided to dump the helium before getting swept out to sea. He ordered Blair to pull the ripcord.

“That opens up a 25-foot gash in the top of the bag, and in any ordinary circumstances that would cause the ship to fold up and hit the ground,” Dixon later explained. “I saw him reach for it, but the wind was so strong that it held the bag in place and the gas did not come out immediately.”

The blimp shifted and Blair fell out of the cabin door, plunging 50 feet to his death as onlookers watched in horror. The Columbia then knocked two men off a warehouse roof, crashed into a gravel company and knocked down power lines before settling along the electric tracks of the Long Island Railroad about 1:30 p.m.

“Hundreds were now rushing up from all sides,” the New York Times reported. “Dixon could be seen peering out of the gondola windows. The gondola had perched at a teetering angle on a pile of rubbish, and pieces of the motor and of the bag were twisted around in such a way that he could not get out.”

Spectators dug through the debris and pulled the dazed pilot out of the wreckage. He and the men who fell from the warehouse were rushed to a hospital with minor injuries. Blair was pronounced dead on arrival.

Police guarded the blimp to make sure no one would take souvenirs. The envelope, motors, tail-fin assembly and gondola were shipped on flat cars to Akron as salvaging ended Feb. 15.

Goodyear sped up construction of its new blimp, Resolute, to replace the Columbia.

Osee State, the wife of Goodyear engineer William C. State, broke a flask of liquid air over the gondola at the christening in late April 1932.

Another brave pilot, the latest in a long line, prepared to fly the blimp to New York.

“It will leave tonight if conditions are favorable,” the Beacon Journal noted.

Story and photo gallery:  http://www.ohio.com

Piper PA-18-150 Super Cub, N9265D: Accident occurred August 08, 2015 in Talkeetna, Alaska

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

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

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

Docket And Docket Items  -  National Transportation Safety Board:   https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N9265D

NTSB Identification: ANC15LA063
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, August 08, 2015 in Talkeetna, AK
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/23/2017
Aircraft: PIPER PA 18-150, registration: N9265D
Injuries: 1 Serious.

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 was returning home after delivering passengers to a remote hunting camp. He recalled flying about 500 ft above ground level and looking at the north side of a mountain. The next thing that he remembered was waking up with a broken leg and the airplane on the ground. He extracted himself from the wreckage and requested assistance via satellite phone. He had no recollection of the events leading up to the accident. 

The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings, the fuselage, and empennage. The pilot noted that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or anomalies with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. The airplane was not recovered from the accident site.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
Impact with terrain during low-level cruise flight for reasons that could not be determined based on the available information. 

On August 8, 2015, about 1900 Alaska daylight time, a Piper PA-18-150 airplane, N9265D, was substantially damaged after a loss of control and a subsequent collision with terrain about 45 miles west of Talkeetna, Alaska. The commercial pilot, the sole occupant, sustained serious injuries. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a Federal Aviation Administration flight plan had not been filed for the flight.

The pilot stated that he was returning home after dropping off some hunters at a remote hunting camp. During the flight home, flying about 500 feet above ground level, he was looking at the north side of Sleeping Lady mountain. The next thing that he remembered was after the airplane had crashed and he had a broken leg. He extracted himself from the wreckage, found a satellite phone and requested assistance. 

The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings, fuselage, and empennage. 

A UH-60 helicopter from the Alaska Air National Guard located the accident site on the evening of the accident and transported the pilot to a medical facility for treatment.

In the NTSB form 6120.1 submitted by the pilot, he noted that there were no preaccident mechanical malfunctions or anomalies with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. He added that the airplane was not recovered from the accident site.

Alleged DUI driver crashes into own garage after helicopter pursuit through Fresno

A man was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving Saturday night after a helicopter pursuit ended at the man’s own home in northeast Fresno, said the Fresno Police Department.

Paul Meza, 48, was driving his GMC pickup east on Highway 180 near Highway 41 when Fresno’s Skywatch helicopter heard he was being pursued, said police. The aircrew caught up with Meza and illuminated him as he sped through Belmont Street.

California Highway Patrol officers ended their pursuit, but Meza continued driving on surface streets, ignoring red lights, said police. The Skywatch crew used the searchlight to warn other drivers, but Meza eventually collided with another car. The occupants were not injured, police said, and Meza continued driving to his home near Saint Agnes Medical Center.

He pulled into his driveway, crashing into his garage door. Police said he stumbled out of his truck trying to get to his front door before officers arrived, arresting him after a brief struggle.

Meza was booked into the Fresno County Jail on suspicion of a number of felonies, including DUI.

Source: http://www.fresnobee.com

Cessna 560XL Citation XLS, Snow Peak Ventures LLC, N560JF: Accident occurred August 05, 2015 at Spanish Fork Airport-Springville-Woodhouse Field (U77), Spanish Fork, Utah County, Utah

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

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

NTSB Identification: GAA15CA215
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, August 05, 2015 in Spanish Fork, UT
Probable Cause Approval Date: 10/08/2015
Aircraft: CESSNA 560XL, registration: N560JF
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

During taxi to the runway, the Captain reported that he originally planned to back taxi on the runway, but he observed a gyroplane waiting to takeoff and decided to taxi on the closed taxiways to allow the other aircraft to depart. As the taxi progressed on the closed taxiway, the Captain reported that his First Officer stated, "Watch that left side!" When the Captain looked to his left, he observed the left wing of the airplane strike a construction vehicle that was parked next to the taxiway. After the collision, the Captain stopped the airplane and shutdown the engines on the taxiway. The Captain stated there were no mechanical malfunctions or failures with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation. The left wing sustained substantial damage. 

The Captain stated that there were no barricades present on the closed taxiways, and the construction vehicle was not marked or flagged. The Captain also reported that he checked the notices to airmen (NOTAMs) during preflight and was aware of the taxiway closures at the departure airport. During postaccident interviews, an employee of the fixed based operator (FBO) stated that he moved the barricades on the closed taxiways earlier in the morning so that another airplane could depart. The airport manager stated that the taxiways were published closed and he did not provide any instructions to move the barricades.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The Captain's decision to taxi on a closed taxiway, which resulted in a collision with a parked construction vehicle. Contributing to the accident was a ground crew employee's decision to move barricades from the closed taxiway.

Watchdog barks at IndiGo, airline loses security center license

When you replace computers with pen and paper, one of your wings gets clipped. Ask budget carrier IndiGo.

Aviation security watchdog Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has suspended the license of the airline's aviation security training for alleged lapses in the examination system.

BCAS started growing suspicious about IndiGo after its cabin crew started scoring high marks – 90 percent or more – consistently. A subsequent inspection brought to light what could be called a scam.

To start with, it was found that IndiGo employees illegally circulated question papers to their cabin crew. BCAS also found that the airline has been using the same question papers for eight months and replaced the computer-based exam system with pen and paper.

"This is complete breach of trust. It (the exam) was farcical," BCAS chief Kumar Rajesh Chandra said. The BCAS action means that the IndiGo centre, run by parent InterGlobe Aviation, will not be able to function from Monday.

This is likely to hit the airline's finances as it would now have to outsource the security training programme. Besides, the BCAS move comes at a time when the airline's market share is already on a decline – from 42.1 percent November 2016 to 40.3 percent in December last year. This, despite carrying more passengers (38.48 lakh) in December 2016.

The aviation security regulator has now issued a show-cause notice to the center. "On Friday, we suspended the licence for fudging or leaking question papers for cabin crew," Chandra said. The centre, being a BCAS-accredited one, is supposed to keep the watchdog in the loop about changes in exam format.

"What they did was without informing us, from April-May 2016 onwards, they changed from computer-based system to pen-and-paper examination," he said.

BCAS found that in as many as eight batches, all candidates got over 95 percent marks, Chandra said. Each batch in the six-day training programme has around 35-40 people.

Security centres train cabin crew on dealing effectively with emergency situations like hijacks and fire breaks. "If security training is compromised, it raises serious questions," said an official in the civil aviation ministry.

IndiGo, however, said that all its other training programmes are continuing and its flight operations will continue. An airline spokesperson said that it is in discussion with BCAS and will comply with regulatory requirements.

Chandra, however, made it clear that the training centre's licence would be restored only after it rectifies all anomalies. He even warned that the centre's licence could be suspended indefinitely.

All scheduled airlines have to compulsorily impart aviation security training to its security staff, cockpit and cabin crew – either through their own centres or BCAS-approved facilities or through other authorised centres. The BCAS conducts such programmes for airlines and other stakeholders in all its regional offices.

While cockpit and cabin crew are imparted a one-week training in various aspects of airline and airport security, those deployed in other jobs are trained for more than a week.

Source:  http://www.dnaindia.com

Aerospatiale AS 350B2 AStar, United States Department of Homeland Security, N6095U: Accident occurred July 29, 2015 in Tucson, Pima County, Arizona

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

Docket And Docket Items -   National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

Aviation Accident Data Summary  -  National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

US DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: http://registry.faa.gov/N6095U

NTSB Identification: GAA15CA204
14 CFR Public Aircraft
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 29, 2015 in Tucson, AZ
Probable Cause Approval Date: 12/03/2015
Aircraft: AIRBUS AS350-B2, registration: N6095U
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 Uninjured.

NTSB investigators used data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator and did not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

According to the Pilot/Operator Aircraft Accident Report, the operator reported that, the flight instructor(CFI) was demonstrating the flare portion of an autorotation to the pilot-rated student when the aircraft continued through the power recovery point and impacted the runway. However, during the interview with the CFI and the student, both pilots referred to "flare portion" as the quick stop maneuver, which was the maneuver being performed at the time of the accident.

Both pilots stated that they hover taxied to the approach end of the runway, stopped over the runway numbers and established a hover between 65-75 feet above ground level. They reported that they hovered over the runway numbers, facing in the direction of the runway heading, and the CFI described the intricacies of the quick stop maneuver. The CFI specified that the maneuver would terminate to a hover, and initiated the quick stop demonstration by accelerating to the airspeed of 65 knots. 

The CFI reported that as he talked through the maneuver, he lowered the collective and applied aft cyclic. He stated that as the helicopter began to settle, he misperceived the helicopters altitude in relation to the ground and the helicopter skids impacted the ground hard. Both pilots stated that the CFI responded by increasing collective and the helicopter ascended, started moving aft, and the tail boom separated impacting the left side of the fuselage. The student reported that he and the CFI were both on the controls after the first impact. 

Both pilots recalled lowering the collective in order to set the helicopter down, the helicopter remained in a level pitch attitude, but yawed left and landed on the skids. The helicopter remained on the ground as the left yaw continued, and the engine was shut down. Both pilots reported that the helicopter spun on the skids, in two complete circles while on the ground, before coming to a stop. 

The tail boom and main rotor system sustained substantial damage. 

Both pilots reported that there were no pre-impact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies with any portion of the helicopter that would have prevented normal operations. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The flight instructor's misperception of the helicopter's altitude in relation to the runway surface during a low altitude maneuver, resulting in ground impact.

Senate committee approves bill to limit patients’ air ambulance costs



HELENA -

A bill to protect Montanans from extremely high air ambulance bills cleared a Senate committee with unanimous support Friday morning.

The Senate Business, Labor and Economic Issues Committee approved Senate Bill 44, after members added several amendments.

The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. Gordon Vance of Belgrade, would require health insurers to cover the costs of air ambulance flights — whether or not the company is the insurer’s network of providers.

At a hearing last month, several Montanans testified that they faced up to $60,000 in out-of-pocket costs after loved ones were transported by out-of-network air ambulance services.

One of the amendments, brought forward by Vance himself, adjusted the amount insurers can be required to pay. It also limits SB 44 so it does not apply to air ambulance services controlled by Montana hospitals or that operate on private memberships.

Another amendment, proposed by Republican Sen. Steve Fitzpatrick of Great Falls, provides that most of the bill’s provisions will be invalidated if any section is found to be in conflict with federal law.

Vance says the changes will help balance the interests of consumers, insurers, hospitals and air ambulance services.

“We’ve put a lot of time into this over the past almost two years for the people of Montana, and we really think we’ve come up with something that could be a workable solution for everybody involved,” he said.

Sen. Ed Buttrey, a Republican from Great Falls, chairs the Business and Labor Committee. He praised the work that went into crafting SB 44 and its amendments.

“I think it’s part of a long-term solution to move the ball down the field,” said Buttrey.

The bill will now go to the full Senate for a vote.

Source:  http://www.kxlf.com

Ayres S2R T34, Lewis Ag Aviation Inc., N524SL: Accident occurred July 09, 2015 in Climax, Decatur County, Georgia

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

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


Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms


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

Lewis Ag Aviation Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N524SL

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA270
14 CFR Part 137: Agricultural
Accident occurred Thursday, July 09, 2015 in Climax, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/06/2017
Aircraft: AYRES CORPORATION S2R T34, registration: N524SL
Injuries: 1 Uninjured.

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 commercial pilot of the single-engine, turboprop-equipped, agricultural airplane stated that just after becoming airborne on takeoff, the airplane quickly settled to the ground due to a loss of thrust from the propeller. The airplane struck a wire fence and came to rest in a cornfield at the end of the runway. The engine continued to run at takeoff power before it was shut down. Postaccident examination of the engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or anomalies. The engine power section displayed contact signatures to its internal components, consistent with the engine developing power at the time of impact. Examination of the propeller revealed no evidence of any material anomalies or mechanical deficiencies that would have precluded normal operation prior to impact. Damage to the blades and assembly was consistent with high impact forces during repeated ground strikes of the blades while under power. Although the pilot reported that the propeller stopped producing thrust on takeoff, no mechanical anomalies were noted that would have caused the propeller to do so, and the reason for the reported loss of thrust could not be determined.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
A loss of thrust on takeoff for reasons that could not be determined, because postaccident examination of the engine and propeller assembly did not reveal any mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

On July 9, 2015, about 1050 eastern daylight time, N524SL, an Ayres Corporation S2R T34, was substantially damaged during a forced landing immediately after takeoff from a private airstrip near Climax, Georgia. The commercial pilot was not injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private company. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the aerial application flight that was being conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 137.

The pilot stated that the accident flight was his third flight of the day and the two previous flights were uneventful. The wind was calm and he taxied to the west end of the 1,900 foot-long grass runway for a departure to the east. As the pilot prepared to takeoff, he brought the power up and checked the engine gauges. He said everything was normal and he proceeded to depart. When the airplane became airborne it "quickly settled to the ground as if the prop quit pulling." The pilot said there were no unusual engine noises or vibrations and the engine stayed running, but the propeller stopped producing thrust "like it was wind milling." The airplane struck a wire fence and came to rest in a cornfield at the end of the runway. The pilot said that his hand was on the power-lever the entire flight and he never moved the propeller control, which was full forward. He said the engine continued to run at takeoff power for about 30-to 45 seconds before he was able to shut it down.

An initial postaccident examination of the airplane and engine by a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) inspector and Pratt &Whitney Field Service Representative revealed the left and right wing spars were substantially damaged. The propeller, firewall, landing gear, and lower fuselage were also damaged. The engine's power section was seized and would not rotate, but the gas generator compressor would turn through the AGB starter pad. The main engine oil filter was removed and no debris was noted. The power section chip detector and strainer were removed and no debris was noted. The PY and P3 sense lines were visually inspected and found to be in good condition. Positive torque was applied to all "B" nuts for the PY and P3 sense lines and all nuts were secure. The left exhaust stack was removed for power turbine blade inspection and found to be intact and in good condition. The power section rotor could not rotate. The airframe fuel filter was removed and the bowl was full of fuel and absent of debris and water.

The turbo-prop engine (Model PT6A-34, S/N 56452) was sent to Pratt & Whitney Canada where an examination and engine test-run were conducted under the supervision of the Canadian Transportation Safety Board (TSB). The engine power section displayed contact signatures consistent with the engine being near a high power setting at the time of impact. The engine was test-run using a slave power section, the original propeller governor assembly and a slave P3 filter and housing. The first attempt to start the engine resulted in a hung start. All pneumatic lines were checked and the P3 filter was checked with no anomalies found. The second start attempt again resulted in a hung start. Installation of a slave fuel control unit resulted in a normal start and test-run of the engine. Bench testing of the fuel control showed normal operation, and disassembly and detail inspection showed all the internal components to be in normal condition. The cause of the hung starts could not be determined.

The engine's last 100-hour inspection was conducted on June 18, 2015, and it had accrued 27,561 hours since new and 6,119.9 hours since overhaul. No pre-mishap mechanical discrepancies were noted with the engine or its components that would have precluded normal engine operation prior to impact.

The three-blade propeller (Model HC-B3TN-3D, S/N BUA32424) was examined on August 6, 2015 at the operator's facility, and additional examination of the propeller's cylinder assembly was conducted at Hartzell Propeller Inc. on October 5, 2015, under the supervision of the FAA. The propeller assembly remained attached to the engine and all three blades were uniformly twisted and bent aft toward low pitch. The cylinder, piston, feathering spring assembly and guide collar had separated from the hub unit but remained attached to the propeller assembly by the link arms and beta rods. The propeller assembly was removed and the interior of the piston was examined. An impact mark was observed about 2-inches from the bottom edge of the piston near the No. 2 blade. According to Hartzell, this equated to a blade angle about 12 degrees (toward flight idle) and that the piston was extended toward low pitch during the impact sequence. The piston also exhibited impact marks from the propeller's counterweight arms/slugs. The guide collar was fractured and marks were observed near each of the propeller blade's respective link arms. All three of the link arms were bent but remained secure to their respective attachment point. The No. 2 link arm was fractured. The cylinder, which had separated during the impact sequence, exhibited damage to the attachment threads. To determine if the cylinder may have separated due to a material anomaly with the thread, it was sent to Hartzell for additional testing. The testing revealed no material anomalies.

The propeller's last 100-hour inspection was conducted on June 18, 2015, and it had accrued 591.1 hours since overhaul.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He reported a total of 6,986.8 hours; of which, 2,000 hours were in the same make/model as the accident airplane. His last FAA second class medical certificate was issued on April 22, 2015.

Weather reported at Camilla-Mitchell County Airport, Camilla, Georgia, about 12 miles northeast of the accident site, at 1000, included variable wind from 4 knots gusting to 6 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies and temperature of 90 degrees F.

Sedalia City Council to discuss Sedalia Regional Airport (KDMO) projects

The Sedalia City Council will be reviewing two MoDOT grants for projects at the Sedalia Regional Airport during tonight’s meeting.

Council will be reviewing three ordinances relating to airport construction.

First is an ordinance approving and accepting a state block grant agreement with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission for design apron construction and north hangar expansion at the Sedalia Regional Airport. The MoDOT grant is for $104,085 and the city’s match is $11,565.

The next is an ordinance approving and accepting a state block grant agreement with the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission for Runway 5/23 study, airport layout plan update and environmental assessment for runway improvements at the Sedalia Regional Airport. The grant is for $108,090 with a city match of $12,010.

Council will also discuss a current airport project by reviewing a change order from Emery Sapp & Sons for $1,408.89 for the taxiway construction project at the Sedalia Regional Airport.

Read more here:  http://sedaliademocrat.com

Aeronca 7BCM/L-16 Champ, N10497: Fatal accident occurred July 04, 2015 in Portland, Texas

Catherine George


Jeffrey Ross Mitchell and Catherine George



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

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

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

Docket And Docket Items -   National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

NTSB Identification: CEN15FA291
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 04, 2015 in Portland, TX
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/06/2017
Aircraft: CHAMPION 7BCM, registration: N10497
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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.

A witness reported seeing the airplane flying “right over the rooftop” of a home before turning along the shoreline at an altitude of 20-50 ft above the ground. He initially thought the airplane was going to land. The witness then observed the airplane climb straight up into a loop maneuver, roll inverted, then descend nose-first into the ground. Another witness said the airplane did 3-4 “wing waves” before it completed ½ of a loop, then descended straight down. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures that would have precluded normal operation. The impact damage to the airplane was consistent with a stall/spin, which resulted from the airplane exceeding its critical angle of attack during the attempted loop. 

Toxicological testing revealed the presence of several impairing substances, including alcohol, opiod medication (hydrocodone), a benzodiazepine (alprazolam), as well as evidence of withdrawal from cocaine. The pilot was likely significantly impaired by the combination of these substances, and this level of impairment contributed to his poor decision-making, as well as his inability to safely operate the airplane. 

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s ostentatious low-altitude aerobatic display, which resulted in an aerodynamic stall/spin when he exceeded the airplane’s critical angle of attack. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s impairment due to alcohol and drugs. 

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On July 4, 2015, about 1420 central daylight time, a Champion 7BCM, N10497, sustained substantial damage when it impacted the 16th-tee box of the Northshore Gulf Course located on Corpus Christi Bay in Portland, Texas, while maneuvering at a low altitude. The pilot and passenger received fatal injuries. The airplane was owned by a private individual and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed the McCampbell-Porter Airport (TFP), Ingleside, Texas, at an unknown time. 

A witness reported that he observed the accident airplane flying about 100 feet above the bay and about 250 feet from the shoreline numerous times within the last month. On the day of the accident, he observed the airplane flying even lower over the bay – about 50 ft. However, he did not observe the accident. 

A witness reported seeing the airplane flying "right over the rooftop" of one the homes near the shoreline before turning north along the shoreline at a "really, really" low altitude of 20 to 50 ft off the ground. He initially thought the airplane was going to land. Then he saw the airplane go straight up into a loop maneuver, went upside down, and then "nosed dived" into the ground. Another witness said the airplane did 3 to 4 "wing waves" before it completed 1/2 of a loop, and then it went straight down. 

Witnesses attempted to assist the pilot and passenger until the local emergency responders arrived about 5 minutes after the accident occurred. The location of the accident site was near one of the pilot's relative's home that overlooked the bay and the golf course. 

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The 28-year-old pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land airplane rating. He held a second class airman medical certificate that was issued on July 18, 2014, with the restriction to wear corrective lenses. During his medical examination in July 2014, the pilot reported that his total flight time was 700 hours.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

The airplane was a tandem two-seat, single-engine Champion 7BCM, serial number 47-934. It was equipped with a 95-horsepower Continental C90-8F engine, serial number 15452-9-8R, which powered a two-bladed, wooden Sensenich propeller. The airplane's maintenance records were not obtained during the course of the investigation.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

The 1356 surface weather observation at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station (NGP) located about 11 miles to the south the accident site was: wind 150 degrees at 18 knots gusting to 25 knots; 10 miles visibility; few clouds at 2,100 feet; scattered clouds at 4,000 feet; temperature 31 degrees C; dew point 26 degrees C; altimeter 29.99 inches of mercury.

WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane impacted the terrain in a steep, nose down attitude. There was no post impact ground fire. The engine compartment, fuselage, wings, and empennage exhibited extensive crushing and buckling, but otherwise remained intact. The propeller and engine compartment were crushed up and aft from the impact. The wings remained attached to the fuselage. The right wing was broken and buckled forward about mid-span. The inboard leading edge of the right wing was found resting over the engine compartment. The outboard leading edge of the right wing impacted the edge of the tee box where the terrain dropped down about 3 feet. The left wing exhibited aft crushing along its outboard lower leading edge. The ailerons remained attached to the wings. The tail and empennage exhibited forward buckling. There was no impact damage to the horizontal and vertical stabilizers. Flight control cable continuity was confirmed from all flight control surfaces to their respective cockpit controls. The elevator trim continuity was confirmed from the elevator trim to the elevator trim control.

Witnesses, who arrived at the accident site before the emergency first responders, reported that they saw fuel leaking from the wings and smelled fuel. Both wing fuel tanks were split open along the leading edge of the fuel tanks. The grass exhibited fuel blight when it was examined about 48 hours after the accident occurred. 

The examination of the Continental 95-horsepower engine revealed that it had power train continuity when the propeller was turned. Thumb compression and suction were observed on all four cyliders. The left and right magnetos fired on all four towers when the magneto shaft was rotated. The spark plugs exhibited a light gray color and the electrodes exhibited normal wear patterns. The carburetor was broken at the air intake attachment. The carburetor bowl did not contain fuel and the carburetor floats were intact. 

The examination of the two-bladed wooden Sensenich propeller revealed that one blade was fractured about mid-span. About six to ten inches of the remaining wooden blade was splintered opposite the direction of rotation. The other blade remained intact, but it was cracked along the length of the span. The leading edge of the blade had a metal cap installed and it exhibited chordwise scratching.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The autopsy of the pilot was performed by the Medical Examiner, County of Nueces, Corpus Christi, Texas, on July 6, 2015. The cause of death was blunt head trauma and the manner of death was an accident. No significant natural disease was identified.

Toxicology testing performed by AIT labs in Indianapolis, Indiana, at the request of the medical examiner identified alprazolam at 3.0 ng/ml, its metabolite, 7- aminoclonazepam at 12.2 ng/ml, benzoylecgonine at 116 ng/ml, hydrocodone at 18.7 ng/ml, and ethanol at 0.163 gm/dl in femoral blood.

A Forensic Toxicology Fatal Accident Report was prepared by the FAA Civil Aerospace Medical Institute. No carbon monoxide was detected in the blood (heart). 153 (mg/dL, mg/hg) of ethanol was detected in the blood (femoral); 159 (mg/dL, mg/hg) of ethanol was detected in the urine; and 160 (mg/dL, mg/hg) of ethanol was detected in the vitreous. N-Propanol was detected in the urine.

Anhydronecgonine methyl ester was not detected in the blood (heart), but it was detected in the urine. 0.133 (ug/ml, ug/g) of benzoylecgonine was detected in the blood (heart), and 2.9091(ug/ml, ug/g) of benzoylecgonine was detected in the urine. Dihydrocodeine was not detected in the blood (femoral), but 0.019 (ug/ml, ug/g) of dihydrocodeine was detected in the urine. Ecgonine methyl ester was detected in the urine and the blood (heart). 0.085 (ug/ml, ug/g) of hydrocodone was detected in the urine, and 0.021 (ug/ml, ug/g) of hydrocodone was detected in the blood (femoral). Hydromorphone was not detected in the blood (femoral), but 0.026 (ug/ml, ug/g) of hydromorphone was detected in the urine.

The National Transportation Safety Board's (NTSB) Chief Medical Officer provided the following information concerning the toxicology results. (The NTSB Medical Factual Report is in the docket material associated with this accident report)

Alprazolam is a benzodiazepine prescription medication available as a Schedule IV controlled substance. Benzodiazepines cause dose-related central nervous system depression varying from mild impairment to hypnosis. The usual therapeutic window for alprazolam is between 6 ng/ml and 20 ng/ml and it carries the following warning: The side effects of alprazolam are typical of benzodiazepines and include sedation, impaired coordination and muscle relaxation. Warnings - may impair mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks (e.g., driving, operating heavy machinery).

Benzoylecgonine and ecgonine methyl ester are inactive metabolites of cocaine and anhydroecgonine methyl ester is a metabolite of cocaine that is only present after cocaine has been smoked. Cocaine is rapidly metabolized; its half-life is approximately 0.8 ± 0.2 hours, while the half- life of benzoylecgonine is 6 hours.3 Smoking cocaine acutely results in euphoria, excitation, feelings of well-being, general arousal, and increased sexual excitement; higher doses may result in psychosis, delusions, hallucinations, irritability, fear, paranoia, antisocial behavior, and aggressiveness. After the brief "high" wears off, users may exhibit dysphoria, depression, agitation, nervousness, drug craving, fatigue, and inability to sleep.

Hydrocodone is an opioid analgesic available as a prescription medication and listed as a Schedule II controlled substance, most commonly in combination with acetaminophen (also known as Tylenol). It is commonly sold with the names Vicodin, Lortab, and Norco. Hydrocodone does not undergo significant post mortem redistribution and post mortem levels likely represent antemortem ones. Its usual therapeutic range is between 0.010 and 0.050 ug/ml and it carries this warning: Hydrocodone is more toxic than codeine, with a greater addiction liability. May impair mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks (e.g., driving, operating heavy machinery). Hydromorphone and dihydrocodeine are metabolites of hydrocodone and are both also active opioid analgesics.

Ethanol is the type of alcohol present in beer, wine, and liquor. It is a social drug that acts as a central nervous system depressant. After ingestion, at low doses, it impairs judgment, psychomotor functioning, and vigilance; at higher doses ethanol can cause coma and death. Generally, the rapid distribution of ethanol throughout the body after ingestion leads to similar levels in different tissues. Federal Aviation Regulations, Section 91.17 (a) prohibits any person from acting or attempting to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft while having 0.040 gm/dl or more alcohol in the blood. The effects of alcohol on aviators are generally well understood; alcohol significantly impairs pilots' performance, even at very low levels.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

The pilot's iPhone 6+ and the passenger's iPhone 5S were sent to the NTSB's Vehicle Recorder Division for examination. The pilot's iPhone 6+ had received severe internal damage which precluded data recovery. (The NTSB Personal Electronic Devises Factual Report is in the docket material associated with this accident report)

The passenger's iPhone 5S was not damaged and it contained text messages, photos, and videos pertinent to the accident. The in-flight videos taken by the passenger showed the following (all imagery was from N10497):

1. The male pilot was not wearing a shirt throughout the flight and had an orange audio cable coming out of his left front pants pocket (the cable was identified as belonging to the pilot and was plugged into his iPhone). The pilot was wearing a headset. N10497 had no door on the right side. The female passenger was wearing a headset. Pilot and passenger were not wearing parachutes.

2. The aircraft took off on a paved runway, accelerated in ground effect above the runway, then climbed rapidly, turned to the right, descended, and flew within 10 feet of grass and brush covered land before climbing rapidly.

3. The aircraft flew through thin clouds as the pilot and passenger reached their arms out into the airstream.

4. The aircraft flew one complete aileron roll or barrel roll and attempted another roll; in both instances, the aircraft lost altitude.

5. The last video ended at 13:28:10 CDT, as the aircraft was descending, in a slight nose down attitude (similar to a normal, power-off descent), with the engine at idle. The accident was not captured.




     



NTSB Identification: CEN15FA291
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, July 04, 2015 in Portland, TX
Aircraft: CHAMPION 7BCM, registration: N10497
Injuries: 2 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 4, 2015, about 1420 central daylight time, a Champion 7BCM, N10497, sustained substantial damage when it impacted the 16th-tee box of the Northshore Gulf Course located in Portland, Texas, while maneuvering at a low altitude. The pilot and passenger received fatal injuries. The airplane was owned by a private individual and operated by the pilot under the provisions of the 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and no flight plan was filed.The flight's origination and destination are unknown.

Witnesses reported seeing the airplane flying at a low altitude before the airplane impacted the terrain in a steep, nose down attitude. The engine compartment, fuselage, wings, and empennage remained intact and there was no post impact ground fire. The propeller and engine compartment were crushed up and aft from the impact. The wings remained attached to the fuselage and exhibited crushing on the underside of the leading edges. The right wing was broken and buckled forward about mid-span; it impacted the edge of the tee box where the terrain dropped down about 3 feet. The ailerons remained attached to the wings. The tail and empennage exhibited forward buckling. There was no impact damage to the horizontal and vertical stabilizers. Flight control cable continuity was confirmed from all flight control surfaces to their respective cockpit controls. The elevator trim continuity was confirmed from the elevator trim to the elevator trim control. Witnesses, who arrived at the accident site before the emergency first responders arrived, reported that they saw fuel leaking from the wings and smelled fuel. The grass was examined about 48-hours after the accident occurred and it exhibited fuel blight.

The examination of the Continental 95-horsepower engine revealed that it had power train continuity when the propeller was turned. Thumb compression and suction were observed. The left and right magnetos fired on all four towers when the magneto shaft was rotated. The spark plugs exhibited a light gray color and the electrodes exhibited normal wear patterns. The carburetor was broken at the air intake attachment. The carburetor bowl did not contain fuel and the carburetor floats were intact. 

The examination of the two-bladed wooden Sensinech propeller revealed that one blade was fractured about mid-span. About six to ten inches of the remaining wooden blade was splintered opposite the direction of travel. The other blade remained intact, but it was cracked along the length of the span. The leading edge of the blade had a metal cap on it and it exhibited chordwise scratching.

The 1356 surface weather observation at the Corpus Christi Naval Air Station (NGP) located about 11 miles to the south the accident site was: wind 150 degrees at 18 knots gusting to 25 knots; 10 miles visibility; few clouds at 2,100 feet; scattered clouds at 4,000 feet; temperature 31 degrees C; dew point 26 degrees C; altimeter 29.99 inches of mercury.