Saturday, March 25, 2017

Loss of Control in Flight: Cessna T210L Turbo Centurion, N6563D; fatal accident occurred March 25, 2017 in Hayden, Blount County, Alabama

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Birmingham, Alabama
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama
Textron/ Cessna; Wichita, Kansas

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


Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms 
 
http://registry.faa.gov/N6563D 


Location: Hayden, AL
Accident Number: ERA17FA136
Date & Time: 03/25/2017, 1433 CDT
Registration: N6563D 
Aircraft: CESSNA T210
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 4 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On March 25, 2017, about 1433 central daylight time, a Cessna T210L, N6563D, was destroyed during an uncontrolled descent and subsequent in-flight breakup near Hayden, Alabama. The private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was privately owned and was being operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight, which originated from Kissimmee Gateway Airport (ISM), Orlando, Florida, about 1150 and was destined for McKellar-Sipes Regional Airport (MKL), Jackson, Tennessee.

According to air traffic control (ATC) radar and voice communication data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), after takeoff, the flight proceeded toward the destination at a cruise altitude of 10,000 ft mean sea level (msl). About 1357 and again at 1403, the pilot requested and was approved to deviate right of course due to weather. About 1420, the pilot requested and was approved to climb to 12,000 ft msl; at this time, the controller also issued a frequency change. The pilot subsequently checked in with the next controller, who described moderate to extreme precipitation ahead of the airplane and asked if the pilot needed to deviate. The pilot replied that he would go anywhere the controller thought was the quickest route across the weather. The controller replied that he did not have a better route and allowed the pilot to deviate as necessary, instructing the pilot to proceed to his destination when able. About 1429, the airplane began a series of descending right turns, and the controller instructed the pilot to maintain 12,000 ft. The airplane continued to descend, and the controller again advised the pilot that he was losing altitude; the pilot replied, "I'm doing the best I can." At 1432, the controller advised the pilot that he was descending through 5,800 ft and to check his altitude. There was no response, and radar contact was lost shortly thereafter at an altitude about 2,000 ft msl.

A witness reported that he was standing in his driveway and noticed how windy it was and that the trees were leaning over almost 90°. He said that it was not raining, but he did hear thunder in the distance. He reported hearing an airplane flying above making a "weird" sound. He said he heard a loud "boom" and saw pieces of the airplane falling out of the sky but did not see it break apart. He then saw the fuselage of the airplane, which was spinning through the air, descending toward the ground. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 45, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/22/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 288 hours (Total, all aircraft), 288 hours (Total, this make and model)

The pilot, age 45, held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and instrument airplane. He reported a total flight experience of 288 hours, including 16.6 hours during the previous 6 months, on his most recent FAA third-class medical certificate application dated August 22, 2016. At that time, the pilot reported no medical conditions, and the medical certificate indicated no restrictions. The pilot's logbook was not available for review. The pilot's recent flight experience and instrument flight experience could not be determined. A review of the aircraft logbook revealed that the airplane was flown a total of 25.7 hours since the pilot's most recent flight review on July 27, 2016.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Registration: N6563D 
Model/Series: T210 L
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:1974 
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 21060580
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/18/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 3800 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 4258.5 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: C91A installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: TSIO-520-R
Registered Owner: RHEIORG CONSULTING LLC
Rated Power: 310 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

The airplane was manufactured in 1974 and was powered by a Continental TSIO-520-R engine rated at 310 horsepower equipped with a McCauley three-bladed controllable pitch propeller. The most recent annual inspection was completed on July 18, 2016, at a tachometer time of 2,220.8 hours. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: BHM, 650 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 22 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1453 CDT
Direction from Accident Site:180° 
Lowest Cloud Condition: Unknown
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 4600 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 16 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual:/ None 
Wind Direction: 260°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.09 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 21°C / 12°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: ORLANDO, FL (ISM)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: JACKSON, TN (MKL)
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time: 1250 EDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Synoptic Conditions

The southeast section of the National Weather Service (NWS) Surface Analysis Chart for 1300 depicted a low pressure system over Missouri at 1007-hectopascals (hPa) associated with an occluded front. Over northeast Missouri, the occluded frontal system split into a stationary front across northern Missouri eastward across Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, into Pennsylvania, and a cold front extending southward across eastern Missouri through Arkansas and into Louisiana, where the front became stationary and extended southwestward along the Texas Gulf coast. A squall line was depicted ahead of the cold front from southeastern Louisiana into southern Mississippi with an outflow boundary depicted from the end of the squall line northward across western Alabama, immediately west of the accident site at the time of the accident. The accident site was located ahead of the cold front and the outflow boundary, in the warm air sector of the front.

The station models on the surface analysis chart depicted southerly winds sustained at 5 to 15 knots and broken to overcast sky cover in the area of the accident site. One station immediately south-southwest of the accident site and behind the outflow boundary reported a thunderstorm and rain showers. East of the outflow boundary, the station models indicated temperatures in the mid-to-upper 70s°F, while west of the boundary the temperatures were in the low 60s°F. Dew point temperatures were in the 50s°F to near 60°F near the Gulf Coast.

Regional Radar Mosaic

Weather radar depicted a line of echoes in the immediate vicinity of the accident site, which is enclosed in the red circle (see figure 1), the echoes were immediately west of Birmingham, Alabama at the time. A second more defined line of intense echoes associated with the squall line extended behind the first line from southeast Mississippi, to southeastern Louisiana, and into the Gulf of Mexico. A third area was located behind the two lines west through north of Jackson, Mississippi with an area of intense echoes.


Figure 1: National Radar Mosaic

Convective Outlook

The morning convective outlook chart from the NWS Storm Prediction Center depicted a slight risk of organized severe thunderstorms over western Alabama, eastern Mississippi, and southeastern Louisiana during the period around the accident time, with a marginal area of thunderstorms through western Tennessee and the rest of Alabama. A slight risk indicated that an area of organized severe thunderstorms of scattered coverage was possible across the region, with either short-lived and/or isolated severe storms possible. A marginal risk indicated more isolated severe storm coverage. The convective outlook is typically used in preflight weather briefings to highlight areas where thunderstorms and severe thunderstorms can be expected.

Surface Observations

The closest weather reporting station was Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport (BHM), located 25 miles south of the accident site at an elevation of 650 ft.

The 1353 observation included wind from 160° at 14 knots gusting to 19 knots, 10 miles visibility, a few clouds at 4,700 ft above ground level (agl), broken ceiling at 6,000 ft agl, temperature 26°C, dew point temperature 13°C, altimeter 30.10 inches of mercury. Remarks included peak wind from 200° at 28 knots at 1307, and distant lightning to the northwest.

The 1453 observation included wind from 260° at 16 knots, 10 miles visibility, broken ceiling at 5,500 feet agl, temperature 21°C, dew point temperature 12°C, altimeter 30.09 inches of mercury.

A special weather observation issued at 1502 included wind from 260° at 17 knots gusting to 22 knots, 10 miles visibility, overcast ceiling at 4,600 ft agl, temperature 20°C, dew point temperature 12°C, altimeter 30.09 inches of mercury. Remarks included wind shift occurred at 1442, and distant lightning to the south and southwest.

Preflight Weather Briefing

The pilot accessed an online weather briefing through ForeFlight and filed an IFR flight plan. He obtained a low-altitude route briefing between Kissimmee, Florida, and Jackson, Tennessee, at 0606 and again at 1134, about 20 minutes before departure. The briefing included all relevant reports and forecasts, advisories, and NOTAMs for the route.

The terminal forecast for BHM, which was along the route of flight, predicted marginal visual flight rules conditions with southeasterly wind at 20 knots gusting to 30 knots, with visibility 4 miles in moderate rain, overcast cumulonimbus clouds at 2,000 ft agl, and thunderstorms. At the time of the briefing, other than the AIRMETs Tango for turbulence, there were no hazardous weather advisories current for the route. A review of the briefing indicated that the convective outlook documented above was included in the information accessed by the pilot.

Although there were no hazardous weather advisories or convective SIGMETs active at the time the pilot received his preflight weather information, two of the air traffic controllers who worked the flight broadcast convective SIGMETs while the pilot was on frequency that affected the pilot's intended route of flight and called for thunderstorms with tops exceeding 40,000 ft. One of these SIGMETs was broadcast about 1 hour into the flight, and the second about 2 hours into the flight (about 40 minutes before the accident occurred).

In-Flight Weather Information

Convective SIGMET

Convective SIGMETs 60C and 61C were issued at 1255 for two areas of thunderstorms over western Alabama, Mississippi, southeastern Louisiana, and for the immediate coastal waters. Convective 60C impacted the route of flight but did not extend over the location of the accident. The advisory was current until 1455.

Three sperate convective SIGMETs were issues at 1355 for portions of southwestern Alabama, southern Mississippi, and Louisiana, which were valid until 1555. In the hour prior to the accident, no Convective SIGMENTS were current for the route of flight, although the outlook area warned of potential issuance of advisories over the region.

Reflectivity

Figure 2 depicts the airplane's flight track overlaid on the Birmingham WSR-88D base reflectivity image for 1432 with reflectively elevation angle scans at 0.44°, 1.23° and 2.35°; respectively. Echoes of 5 to 35 dBZ or light to moderate intensity echoes along the flight track were present at all elevation scans with echoes of 45dBZ or heavy intensity echoes present within 5 miles northwest of the flight track. A strong intensity echo with reflectivity of 55dBZ or extreme intensity echoes south-southwest of the accident site was beginning to develop or surge upwards and move to the north-northeast.


Figure 2: Birmingham WSR-88D Base Reflectivity Images

[For additional weather information, see the NTSB Meteorology Factual Report located in the public docket for this investigation.]

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 3 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 4 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 33.909167, -86.732778

The wreckage field was about 4,550 ft long, oriented on a true heading about 247°. The left elevator was located at the beginning of the debris field. Continuing along the wreckage path was the inboard right wing and the left wing assembly, including the aileron and flap. Various parts of the airplane continued along the debris path that led to the main wreckage, which was located at the end of the debris path. The main wreckage comprised the engine, fuselage, and empennage. The engine mounts were broken; however, the engine remained attached to the airframe through hoses, wires, and cables. The cockpit and cabin were destroyed; the flight instruments were impact damaged. The empennage remained attached by the rudder and elevator control cables. The horizontal stabilizers were bent upward toward the vertical stabilizer. The rudder remained attached to the vertical stabilizer.

The left wing and center wing section separated from the fuselage and remained intact. The right wing separated outboard of the top and bottom spars. The right wing was separated into 3 large pieces with the aileron still attached to the outboard portion of the wing. An approximate 6-ft section of the middle portion of the right wing, which included the entire right flap, was removed from the accident site before the site could be secured.

Control cable continuity was established from the rudder, elevator, and elevator trim tab to the forward floor assembly area. Control cable continuity was established from the right aileron bellcrank to the wing root area. Control cable continuity was established from the left aileron bellcrank to the wing root area for the drive cable. The left aileron carry-through cable was fractured in tensile overload from the bellcrank. Examination of the airframe did not reveal any pre-accident anomalies that would have precluded normal operation.

Examination of the engine established continuity between the crankshaft, camshaft, connecting rods, and associated components by rotating the crankshaft with a hand tool. All six cylinders displayed thumb compression and suction. The No. 5 cylinder displayed significantly less compression and suction than the other cylinders; a borescope inspection revealed a small piece of wood between the intake valve and the valve seat. All the cylinders were inspected using a lighted borescope; the internal components displayed normal operating and combustion signatures.

The fuel pump remained attached to its installation point and displayed minor impact damage signatures. The fuel pump was removed; the drive coupling was intact and the driveshaft was capable of rotation. The throttle and fuel metering assembly had broken free from its installation point and displayed impact damage. The throttle and mixture control arms remained secured to their shafts and the fuel inlet screen was clear of any contaminants. The manifold valve was undamaged and disassembled. The internal components displayed normal operation signatures; there were no anomalies noted within the valve housing. The fuel injectors were removed and were clear of obstructions.

Examination of the magnetos revealed that the right magneto had broken free from its mounting pad and the left magneto remained partially attached to its mounting pad. The magnetos were removed and the driveshafts were rotated by hand as well as using an electric drill. Both magnetos produced a spark to each of the posts in the correct order. The ignition harness displayed impact damage signatures to several of the ignition leads.

The top spark plugs were removed and visually inspected; the electrodes displayed normal operating and wear signatures. The bottom spark plug electrodes were inspected using a lighted borescope and displayed normal operating signatures.

The turbocharger remained attached to the exhaust system and displayed impact damage. Continuity was established between the compressor and turbine section and both the compressor and tubing were capable of normal rotation. The compressor and turbine blades displayed normal operating signatures. Examination of the engine revealed no pre-impact anomalies that would have prevented normal operation or production of rated horsepower.

Examination of the propeller revealed that blades No. 1 and No. 2 displayed minor forward-bending deformation and blade No. 3 displayed a significant amount of aft-bending deformation. All blades displayed chordwise scoring and impact damage. No pre-impact anomalies were noted during the examination that would have prevented normal operation. 

Medical And Pathological Information

An autopsy was performed on the pilot by the University of Alabama, Birmingham, Department of Pathology; the cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries.

Toxicology testing performed at the FAA Forensic Sciences Laboratory identified N-propanol and ethanol at 0.046 gm/dl in muscle, but no ethanol in liver, and amphetamine in lung and heart tissue (0.114 µg/g).

Ethanol is the intoxicant commonly found in beer, wine, and liquor. It acts as a central nervous system depressant. Because ingested alcohol is distributed throughout the body, levels from different postmortem tissues are usually similar. Ethanol may also be produced in body tissues by microbial activity after death; in this case levels may vary widely.

Amphetamine is a Schedule II controlled substance that stimulates the central nervous system. It is available by prescription for the treatment of attention deficit disorders and narcolepsy. It carries a boxed warning about its potential for abuse and has warnings about an increased risk of sudden death and the potential for mental health and behavioral changes. 

Additional Information

According to the FAA's General Aviation Joint Steering Committee, a pilot's sight, supported by other senses, allows a pilot to maintain orientation while flying. However, when visibility is restricted (i.e., no visual reference to the horizon or surface detected), the body's supporting senses can conflict with what is seen. When this spatial disorientation occurs, sensory conflicts and optical illusions often make it difficult for a pilot to tell which way is up.

The FAA Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3) describes some hazards associated with flying when visual references, such as the ground or horizon, are obscured. The handbook states,

The vestibular sense (motion sensing by the inner ear) in particular tends to confuse the pilot. Because of inertia, the sensory areas of the inner ear cannot detect slight changes in the attitude of the airplane, nor can they accurately sense attitude changes that occur at a uniform rate over a period of time. On the other hand, false sensations are often generated; leading the pilot to believe the attitude of the airplane has changed when in fact, it has not. These false sensations result in the pilot experiencing spatial disorientation.

FAA Advisory Circular (AC) 60-22, Aeronautical Decision Making, states, "Pilots, particularly those with considerable experience, as a rule always try to complete a flight as planned, please passengers, meet schedules, and generally demonstrate that they have 'the right stuff'." One of the common behavioral traps that the AC describes is "Get-There-Itis." The text states, "Common among pilots, [get-there-itis] clouds the vision and impairs judgment by causing a fixation on the original goal or destination combined with a total disregard for any alternative course of action."

FAA AC-00-6B, Aviation Weather, describes thunderstorms and the turbulence that is associated with them. The AC stated, in part:

Turbulence is present in all thunderstorms. Severe or extreme turbulence is common. Gust loads can be severe enough to stall an aircraft at maneuvering speed or to cause structural damage at cruising speed. The strongest turbulence occurs with shear between updrafts and downdrafts. Outside the cumulonimbus cloud, turbulence has been encountered several thousand feet above, and 20 miles laterally from, a severe storm.

The Turbulence Reporting Criteria Table in the FAA Aeronautical Information Manual provides the following definitions:

Severe: Turbulence that causes large, abrupt changes in altitude and/or attitude. It usually causes large variations in indicated airspeed. Aircraft may be momentarily out of control.


Extreme: Turbulence in which the aircraft is violently tossed about and is practically impossible to control. It may cause structural damage.


NTSB Identification: ERA17FA136

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, March 25, 2017 in Hayden, AL
Aircraft: CESSNA T210L, registration: N6563D
Injuries: 4 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 March 25, 2017, about 1425 central daylight time, a Cessna 210L, N6563D, was destroyed during a uncontrolled descent and subsequent inflight breakup near Hayden, Alabama. The pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Kissimmee Gateway Airport (ISM), Orlando, Florida, and was destined for Mc Kellar-Sipes Regional Airport (MKL), Jackson, Tennessee. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to preliminary air traffic control (ATC) radar and voice communication data provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, ATC described moderate to extreme precipitation to the pilot and asked if the pilot needed to deviate. The pilot replied that he would go anywhere the controller thought was the quickest route across the weather. The controller replied that he did not have a better route, and allowed the pilot to deviate as necessary, instructing the pilot to proceed to his destination when able. The airplane then began to descend, and the controller instructed the pilot to maintain 12,000 feet. The airplane continued to descend and the pilot advised ATC "I'm doing the best I can." The controller advised the pilot that turning to the east or southeast would be away from the weather. The airplane continued descending and the pilot did not respond. ATC advised the pilot that he was descending thru 5,800 feet and to check his altitude. There was no response, and shortly after radar contact was lost.

According to a witness, he was standing in his driveway and noticed how windy it was, and that the trees were leaning over almost 90 degrees. He said that it was not raining but he did hear thunder in the distance. He reported hearing an airplane flying above making a "weird" sound. He said he heard a loud "boom" and started seeing pieces of the airplane falling out of the sky, but did not see it break apart. He then saw the fuselage of the airplane which was spinning through the air heading towards the ground.

The wreckage was scattered over a large area that included dense vegetation. The debris field was about one mile in length, oriented toward 247 degrees true. The first component located along the debris field was the left elevator. Additional components located along the debris path included fragments of the right wing and the left-wing assembly. The fuselage came to rest at the end of the debris path in a dense wooded area. The fuselage, cockpit, cabin section, empennage and engine were destroyed. The wreckage was recovered from the site and retained for further examination.
    Joseph and Jennifer Crenshaw, with their two children Jacob and Jillian 



Jackson, Tennessee 

Joseph and Jennifer Crenshaw of Jackson, TN, along with their two children Jacob and Jillian, lost their lives following a weather-related aircraft accident on March 25th, 2017.

Joseph Connell Crenshaw, 46, was born on June 16, 1970 in Jackson, TN to Nancy Crenshaw and the late Dr. Tom Crenshaw. He is survived by his mother, Nancy Connell Crenshaw of Humboldt; his brothers, John Crenshaw and Tim Crenshaw; three nieces and two nephews; and his father and mother-in-law, David and Lynn Nance of Trenton. Joseph was a graduate of University of Tennessee at Martin. He was a Certified Financial Planner, Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist, and Accredited Investment Fiduciary of First Tennessee Bank. He was also a former Board Member of University School of Jackson where his children attended as well as an Instrument-Rated Pilot and a much beloved father and husband. Joseph hosted the neighborhood Fourth of July fireworks extravaganza each year. He was an intelligent, ambitious, and funny Tom Cruise doppleganger. He fought for his family and truly was the glue that held them all together. 

Jennifer Dawn Nance Crenshaw, 43, was born on January 31, 1972 in Jackson, TN to David and Lynn Caraway Nance of Trenton. She is survived by her parents, David and Lynn Nance of Trenton; her sister Laura Lynn Springfield of Jackson; two nieces and one nephew; and her mother-in-law, Nancy Crenshaw of Humboldt. Jennifer "Ginger" Crenshaw obtained her Bachelors of Science degree from University of Tennessee at Martin and her Registered Nursing degree from Union University. Ginger was a Certified Private Pilot, who enjoyed painting and art, and entertaining family and friends. Jennifer was, first and foremost, a devoted mother and wife. Jennifer was a beautiful spirit who adored her kids more than anything and fiercely protected them. These Crenshaws were true soulmates and stayed together through thick and thin. This family lived well and were loved more than most. This is why they will be missed so very much! 

Jacob Addison Crenshaw, 16, was born on August 10, 2000 in Humboldt, TN to the late Joseph and Jennifer Crenshaw. He is survived by his maternal grandparents, David and Lynn Nance of Trenton and his paternal grandmother, Nancy Crenshaw of Humboldt. Jacob "Thunder Calves" Crenshaw was a sophomore and avid football player at University School of Jackson. He was a four-year member of the USJ band where he played the drums. He also enjoyed playing "Dungeons and Dragons" competitively with his friends. He was a loyal, dedicated, vivacious and handsome young man. He truly inspired those around him with his commitment and positive spirit. Jacob was a natural leader and role model to both his family and friends. 

Jillian Celeste Crenshaw, 14, was born on February 17, 2003 in Jackson, TN to the late Joseph and Jennifer Crenshaw. She is survived by her maternal grandparents, David and Lynn Nance of Trenton and her paternal grandmother, Nancy Crenshaw of Humboldt. Jillian was an eighth grader at the University School of Jackson. Jillian was a USJ Scholar, a tennis club member, and a National Presidential Fitness Award Recipient. She was actively involved in both Kincaid-Gooch Voice Studio and University School of Jackson musicals and plays. Jillian was an incredibly talented and riveting aspiring young actress and singer. She was smart, funny, sensitive, kind and had an infectious smile that would light up an entire room. 

The period of visitation will be held for two hours on Saturday, April 1, 2017 from 11-1 p.m. at West Jackson Baptist Church.

A funeral service will be held on Saturday, April 1, 2017 at 1 p.m. at West Jackson Baptist Church with a private family burial to follow.

George A. Smith and Sons North Chapel

- See more at: http://www.legacy.com

Four roses at the crash site











Aerodynamic Stall / Spin: Cessna 500 Citation I Sierra Eagle, N8DX, fatal accident occurred March 24, 2017 in Marietta, Georgia

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Honeywell Aerospace; Phoenix, Arizona

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N8DX 

Location: Marietta, GA
Accident Number: ERA17FA135
Date & Time: 03/24/2017, 1924 EDT
Registration: N8DX
Aircraft: CESSNA 500
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Aerodynamic stall/spin
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Business 

On March 24, 2017, at 1924 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 500, N8DX, collided with terrain in a residential neighborhood near Marietta, Georgia. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and postcrash fire. The airplane was registered to Shelter Charter Services Inc., which was operating the airplane as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 business flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed near the accident site at the time of the accident. The flight was operated on an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan. The flight originated from Cincinnati Airport–Lunken Field (LUK), Cincinnati, Ohio, about 1812, and was destined for Fulton County Airport–Brown Field (FTY), Atlanta, Georgia.

The pilot, who was based in Atlanta, was returning home from a business trip. The airplane was equipped with a cockpit voice recorder (CVR); the recording started about 1853. The air traffic control (ATC) transcript showed that, at 1851:36, when the airplane was level at 23,000 ft, a controller with the Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) advised the pilot of an amendment to his original flight plan. Ten seconds later, the controller provided new routing information. The controller repeated the new routing at 1852:50 and 1855:17, and the pilot correctly read back the information at 1855:25. The airplane was equipped with a Garmin GTN 750 unit that provided navigation, radio tuning, and other capabilities. Aural clicks and the sound of knobs turning were heard on the CVR consistent with the pilot attempting to enter the new routing into the Garmin GTN 750 GPS.

At 1858:57, the controller instructed the pilot to descend the airplane to 22,000 ft, and the pilot acknowledged this instruction. At 1859:04, the pilot told the controller, "I'm having a little trouble with my ah GPS did you give me direct (unintelligible) on that arrival." The controller then asked the pilot to repeat his request, and the pilot said, "I'm having difficulty with my GPS it's not picking up this arrival and I was wondering if you can give me uh direct routing then instead of going to the arrival." At 1859:46, the controller cleared the airplane direct to FTY and, at 1900:10, instructed the pilot to descend the airplane to 11,000 ft; the pilot acknowledged this information. About three minutes later the CVR recorded the pilot saying, "I have no idea what's going on here."

At 1907:42, the controller instructed the pilot to descend the airplane to 6,000 ft, and the pilot acknowledged this instruction. At 1910:26, the CVR recorded a sound similar to the autopilot disconnecting.

At 1911:02, the pilot told the controller that the airplane was descending though 8,000 ft but was experiencing a "steering problem" and that he could not "steer the aircraft very well." The pilot then mentioned that the airplane was "in the clouds." At 1914:29, the controller instructed the pilot to descend the airplane to 4,100 ft, the minimum vectoring altitude. The airplane continued to descend, during which time the airplane entered visual meteorological conditions. At 1915:44, the controller told the pilot that the airplane had descended to an altitude of 3,600 ft, which was 500 ft below the minimum vectoring altitude, and instructed the pilot to maintain an altitude of 4,100 ft. At 1915:52, the pilot said, "Yeah I understand I'm going back up but an I have no…I have very little steering on here and I have mountains (around me) Atlanta doesn't have mountains." The controller then issued a low altitude warning and advised the pilot again to climb the airplane to 4,100 ft. The pilot responded that he had his "autopilot back…so it gives me stability." At 1917:21, the controller instructed the pilot to change to another Atlanta ARTCC frequency; afterward, the pilot reported that the airplane was at 4,100 ft. At 1917:54, the controller confirmed that the airplane was at 4,100 ft and instructed the pilot to contact Atlanta approach control on a frequency of 121.0 MHz. The pilot reported, at 1918:21 and 1918:26, that "I can't get to one two one point zero" and that, "I'm having a problem with my ah Garmin."

At 1918:33, the pilot asked the controller to "take me in"; the controller agreed. About 1 minute later, the pilot told the controller that he was "just barely able" to keep the airplane straight and its wings level. The pilot also indicated that he was unsure if he would be able to make a right turn into the airport. At 1921:17, the controller told the pilot that the airport was 2 to 3 miles on a heading of 177°, and the pilot responded that he thought that he had a heading of 177° but did not have the airport in sight. At 1922:09, the controller asked the pilot if he wanted to declare an emergency, and the pilot said, "I'm not sure and I think I oughta declare an emergency just in case." The pilot then asked the controller to have the FTY control tower "turn up" the runway's landing lights, and the controller acknowledged this request.

At 1923:09, the pilot asked the controller, "what runway am I running into…is the runway going sideways." The controller responded that runway 8 was the active runway. At 1923:44, the pilot said, "well I've got my landing gear down but I don't know." This statement was the last communication from the pilot to the Atlanta ARTCC controller.

At 1923:55, the CVR recorded the pilot straining. At 1924:00, the pilot is heard on the CVR saying, "..it's going down, it's going down" followed by the sound of the autopilot disconnect tone. At 1924:07, the Terrain Awareness and Warning System (TAWS) announced "sink rate, sink rate" followed by "pull up, pull up." The CVR recording ended at 1924:19.

Data recovered from the TAWS unit, which is part of the onboard enhanced ground proximity warning system (EGPWS), recorded the two warnings heard on the CVR. The first warning, a Mode 1 Sinkrate warning, occurred when the airplane was at an altitude of 4,000 ft and on a heading of 160°. The airplane's descent rate increased from approximately 0 ft per minute (fpm) to approximately 8,500 fpm. About three seconds later, as the descent rate increased, and a Mode 1 Pull Up warning was triggered at an altitude of 2,900 ft. The data ended approximately 7 seconds later with a recorded descent rate of almost 12,000 fpm.

Several witnesses observed the airplane before the accident. A witness, who was a professional pilot, stated that he observed the airplane flying level on a southerly heading about 1,000 ft below the cloud layer. The witness said that there was nothing unusual about the airplane until it made "a complete 360 degree roll" to the left before entering a steep 90° bank to the left. He described the turn as similar to a "military high key turn." The witness also said that the airplane then rolled inverted and entered a sudden vertical nose-down dive. He further said, "the plane entered a slow counterclockwise spiral…as it started its dive" that continued until the airplane disappeared behind a building. Another witness stated that she observed the airplane make a "barrel roll" with the nose of the airplane "slightly elevated." She then observed a second roll and stated that the airplane slowed before its nose began to point down and the airplane spiraled downward counterclockwise. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 78, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 5-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 09/27/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 6000 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

The pilot, age 78, held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, single-engine sea, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. He purchased the airplane in May 2001 and received a Cessna 500 type rating in 2002. The pilot's last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate was issued on September 27, 2016, with the limitation that he possesses glasses for near/intermediate vision. At that time, he did not report his total flight time; his previous medical application (dated September 18, 2013) indicated a total flight experience of 6,000 hours and 50 flight hours in the previous 6 months. The pilot's logbooks were not available for review. As a result, the pilot's overall currency and total flight experience in the accident airplane could not be verified.

The Cessna 500 was originally certified to be operated with a pilot and copilot. The FAA can delegate an exemption to an authorized training facility to approve pilots to operate several aircraft, including the Cessna 500, with a single pilot. To qualify for single-pilot operations, a pilot must successfully complete an FAA-approved single-pilot authorization training course annually.

The previous owner of the accident airplane had been issued a single-pilot conformity certificate by Sierra Industries, Ltd, of Uvalde, Texas, which had performed earlier modifications to the airplane. However, no record indicated that the accident pilot received training under Sierra Industries' exemption. Several training facilities that have the single-pilot exemption training for the Cessna 500 were contacted to see if they had provided such training to the pilot, but none of those facilities had any record showing that the pilot had been trained for and granted single-pilot authority.

A friend of the pilot, who was a flight instructor and an airplane mechanic and had flown with the pilot several times, stated that he repeatedly told the pilot that he needed to fly with a copilot. The pilot said that he preferred to fly alone. The pilot also told his friend that he did not need a single-pilot exemption because the airplane had been given a single-pilot exemption with the Sierra Industries modification.

The friend of the pilot said that he had conducted postmaintenance test flights on the accident airplane and instructed the pilot on operating the Garmin GTN 750, which had been installed in the airplane about 3.5 years before the accident. The Garmin GTN 750 was a more advanced upgrade from the KLN-90 GPS that the pilot had previously been using "for years." The friend said that the pilot was "very confused" with the Garmin GTN 750 unit's operation and would struggle "pulling up pages" and "correlating all the data." If ATC amended a preprogrammed flight plan while en route, the pilot would get confused and not know how to amend the flight plan.

The friend said that the pilot was "very dependent on the autopilot" and would activate it immediately after takeoff and then deactivate it on short final approach to land. The friend also said that the pilot "never" trimmed the airplane before turning on the autopilot, which resulted in the airplane "fighting" the autopilot. As a result, the pilot was "constantly complaining" that the airplane was "uncontrollable." The friend further stated that the pilot "always assumed" that the autopilot would automatically trim the airplane. In addition, the friend said that he flew to Savannah, Georgia, once to "fix" the airplane because the pilot insisted that it was uncontrollable. When the friend arrived and flew the airplane, he quickly realized that the airplane was not trimmed properly and that there was nothing wrong with the autopilot.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Registration: N8DX
Model/Series: 500 CITATION
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:1976 
Amateur Built:No 
Airworthiness Certificate: Transport
Serial Number: 500-0303
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats: 8
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 03/02/2017, Continuous Airworthiness
Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 2 Turbo Fan
Airframe Total Time: 9299.8 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: PWC
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: JT15-1A
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 2200 lbs
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held:None 

The accident airplane was an eight-seat business jet powered by two Pratt & Whitney Canada JT15-1A turbofan engines. The airplane had a Sierra Industries' Eagle wing modification and wing extension.

The airplane had been retrofitted with JetTech LLC Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) No. ST02427LA on August 28, 2013. The STC replaced and upgraded the flight panel instruments to a Garmin GTN 750 display that supported navigation/mapping, radio tuning, weather display, and terrain/traffic awareness. The unit's navigation capabilities allowed waypoints to be entered that could be used to build and store flight plans for future use. In addition to the touchscreen features, the unit had concentric knobs for data input and radio tuning. Communication and navigation radio information was shown on the top portion of the display. For radio tuning, the unit had electronic touchscreen "tabs" that provided recent, nearby, and saved radio frequencies. The radio frequency could also be adjusted using the large and small knobs on the lower right corner of the display. When information was entered using the Garmin GTN 750 touchscreen, an aural "click" sound was annunciated.

The JetTech LLC STC integrated the Garmin GTN 750 display with a Sperry (now Honeywell) SPZ-500C autopilot/flight director instrument system. When engaged, the autopilot, with the use of the integrated flight director, coupled to the selected modes and flew the airplane automatically while the pilot monitored the autopilot performance on flight instruments. The autopilot/flight director instrument system provided automatic flight control in the pitch, roll, and yaw axes with manual, automatic, and semiautomatic flight maneuvering options available to the pilot.

According to Honeywell, the autopilot would automatically disconnect in flight if there were a loss of the vertical or directional gyros, a loss of valid 28-volt power to the autopilot or gyros, or a failure of the autopilot torque-limiter. 

Honeywell also stated that a pilot could disconnect the autopilot in flight using one of the following seven actions:

•Press the AP TRIM DISC button

•Press the vertical gyro FAST ERECT button

•Press the compass LH-RH switch

•Press the AP TEST button

•Select AP Go-Around mode

•Pull the autopilot AC or DC circuit breaker

•Use manual electric elevator trim

The airplane was also equipped with a Bendix/King (now Honeywell) KGP560 GA EGPWS.

The airplane's maintenance was being managed by CESCOM, which is a division of CAMP Systems, the exclusive factory-endorsed maintenance program for Cessna aircraft. This is a continuous airworthiness maintenance program, which is a combined program of maintenance and inspections. The airplane's maintenance logbooks were not located.

The mechanic who had been maintaining the airplane for about 1 year before the accident stated that he would perform maintenance as needed per the CESCOM maintenance program. The last Phase 5 Inspection was done in 2016, and the post-maintenance flight test found no items related to the circumstances of the accident. The mechanic stated that he had never seen the airplane's maintenance logbooks and that he would prepare maintenance entries in the CESCOM system. He further stated that he would either give the physical entries for the logbooks directly to the pilot or leave them in the airplane.

The mechanic said that he last spoke with the pilot about 2 weeks before the accident. The mechanic reported that, at that time, the pilot told him that "the airplane was flying better than ever." The mechanic indicated that the pilot had not mentioned any maintenance issues regarding the autopilot, gyro instruments, the Garmin GTN 750, or the flight controls. The mechanic further indicated that the only time that the pilot had mentioned the Garmin GTN 750 was when he had asked the mechanic to help find a pilot in the Atlanta area that could help him become more comfortable using the unit.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: RYY, 1040 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1947 EDT
Direction from Accident Site: 257°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 5500 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 8 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 160°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.28 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 21°C / 9°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: CINCINNATI, OH (LUK)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: ATLANTA, GA (FTY)
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time: 1812 EDT
Type of Airspace:Class D 

The weather conditions reported at Cobb County International Airport–McCollum Field, located about 3 miles west of the accident site, at 1947 (23 minutes after the accident) were as follows: wind from 160° at 8 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, overcast ceiling at 5,500 ft, temperature 21°C, dew point 9°C, and altimeter setting 30.28 inches of mercury.

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: 34.100000, -84.320000

An on-scene examination of the airplane revealed that it impacted the front yard of a home in a residential neighborhood about 15 miles north of the destination airport. The airplane came to rest in an upright position, and all major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. The wreckage was indicative of the airplane impacting the ground in an approximate nose-level/wings-level attitude with little to no forward momentum. A ground scar just forward of the left wing indicated that the airplane bounced back about 3 ft after it impacted the ground. The wires and trees that were near the impact point showed no indication that they had been struck by the airplane.

A postimpact fire consumed most of the cockpit, fuselage, left wing, and the inboard portion of the right wing. The Garmin GTN 750 unit sustained severe heat and fire damage and could not be examined. The major components of the autopilot system (vertical gyros, directional gyros, autopilot servos, flight director computers, and the autopilot computer), were identified and examined. The components sustained postcrash fire and impact damage, and there was no evidence of an autopilot failure. The autopilot components were then removed from the airplane and examined further. No preimpact anomalies were noted on any of the components.

The empennage separated from the airplane at the aft pressure bulkhead. The horizontal and vertical stabilizers remained attached to each other but separated from the fuselage and were found across the street from the main wreckage site. The left elevator and a portion of the right elevator separated from the horizontal stabilizer, and the rudder separated from the vertical stabilizer.

Flight control continuity was established from each primary flight control system to the cockpit. The cable runs were continuous except in areas with structure breaks or severe fire damage. The flaps were in the intermediate flap position, and the flap handle was in the second (takeoff and approach) position. The speedbrake on the left wing was consumed by fire, and the speedbrake on the right wing was in the down and faired position. The elevator trim actuator measured 2.1 inches, which correlated to a 10° tab up position; the rudder trim actuator measured 1.7 inches, which correlated to a 5° tab trailing edge right position; and the left aileron trim tab actuator measured 1.6 inches, which correlated to a tab down position between 0° and 5°. The elevator trim indicator in the cockpit was between neutral and nose down.

The airplane's fuel tanks (one in each wing) were breached from impact. Two fuel cross-feed valves were found in the wreckage in the open position.

The nose landing gear was found folded aft and underneath the fuselage. The left and right landing gear were folded underneath their respective wings. The damage was consistent with the landing gear being extended at the time of the accident.

The left engine had separated from the aft fuselage and came to rest on the right engine. In the cockpit, the left throttle was found out of the power quadrant pedestal, and the right engine throttle was at idle. Both engines sustained heat and impact damage and exhibited damage consistent with the engines operating at the time of impact.

No preimpact anomalies were noted that would have precluded normal airplane or engine operation. 

Flight Recorders

The airplane was equipped with a Fairchild GA-100 CVR that recorded 30 minutes of analog audio on a continuous-loop tape in a four-channel format: one channel for each flight crew position, one channel for a cockpit observer or the public address system, and one channel for the cockpit area microphone. The CVR exterior sustained some impact damage, but the interior crash-protected case did not sustain damage. Audio data were extracted normally, and a full transcript was prepared for the entire recording. The recording began at 1853:46 while the airplane was in cruise flight, captured the accident sequence, and ended at 1924:20.

The airplane was not equipped with a flight data recorder and was not required to be so equipped. 

Medical And Pathological Information

An autopsy of the pilot was performed by the Cobb County Medical Examiner's Office, Marietta, Georgia. The cause of death was blunt force injuries.

Toxicological testing performed at the FAA Forensics Sciences Laboratory identified ethanol and propanol in the pilot's blood and ethanol in the pilot's heart. These findings were consistent with postmortem alcohol production. No medications or other substances were detected. 

Tests And Research

Testing was conducted on the autopilot computer's roll servo circuit card assembly (CCA) A1T1 transformer, which is part of the roll CCA feedback loop, because of a previous accident involving another Cessna 500 airplane that experienced an uncommanded roll (CEN13FA101). During that accident, an intermittent failure occurred with the A1T1 isolation transformer. Honeywell indicated that a failure (open circuit) of the A1T1 transformer could cause the autopilot to roll the airplane when the autopilot was engaged.

Before the accident transformer was tested, Duncan Aviation notified the National Transportation Safety Board of a failed transformer from the pitch (A2) CCA board of an ancillary Sperry SPZ-200 autopilot computer that had been submitted for repair. The A2T1 transformer (which is similar in design to accident transformer) was removed from the pitch CCA board and examined alongside the accident airplane's roll CCA board and A1T1 transformer.

Honeywell's Circuit Card Assembly Test Plan was used to conduct the examinations. The test plan included photographs, x-rays, and electrical continuity (integrity) tests in hot and cold environments. In addition, the accident airplane's A1 board underwent computed tomography (CT) scanning before testing. At Honeywell, the A1 board was tested with the transformer installed, and then the transformer was removed and tested individually; the ancillary A2T1 transformer was tested individually as well. The tests and CT scans revealed no preimpact anomalies with the roll CCA board/A1T1 transformer from the accident airplane. For the pitch CCA A2T1 transformer from the ancillary Sperry SPZ-200 autopilot computer, however, the tests determined that the transformer's electrical circuit could be opened by pushing on pin 6 of the transformer's pins.

Once this testing was completed, the transformers underwent additional CT scanning. The CT images did not reveal any suspect areas in the accident A1T1 transformer. The scans of the accident A1T1 transformer showed multiple voids and particles within the transformer, but there appeared to be a continuous electrical path from the pin to the coil. No open circuits were identified. For the ancillary A2T1 transformer, the additional CT scanning confirmed anomalous areas of the pin 6 coil wire.


No preimpact deficiencies were noted with the airplane's autopilot system that would have precluded normal operation.

NTSB Identification: ERA17FA135
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, March 24, 2017 in Marietta, GA
Aircraft: CESSNA 500, registration: N8DX
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On March 24, 2017, about 1925 eastern daylight time, a Cessna 500, N8DX, collided with terrain in a residential neighborhood near Marietta, Georgia. The private pilot, and sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by the impact and post-impact fire. The airplane was registered to Shelter Charter Services Inc and operated as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 business flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed near the accident site at the time of the accident and the flight was operated on an instrument flight rules flight plan. The flight originated from Cincinnati Airport - Lunken Field (LUK), Cincinnati, Ohio, about 1810, and was destined for Fulton County Airport-Brown Field (FTY), Atlanta, Georgia.

A preliminary review of air traffic control (ATC) radar and radio communications information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration revealed the pilot was in contact with the Atlanta Air Route Traffic Control Center, and had requested a radar vector direct to FTY. The pilot stated that the reason for the request was because his autopilot was not working and he was having steering problems. When the airplane was about 15 miles north of FTY, ATC lost radar and radio contact with the flight.

Several witnesses observed the airplane prior to the accident. A witness, who was a professional pilot, stated that he observed the airplane flying level on a southerly heading about a 1,000 ft below the cloud layer. The witness said there was nothing unusual about the airplane until it made a complete 360° roll to the left before entering a steep 90° bank to the left. He described it similar to a "military high key turn." The witness said the airplane then rolled inverted and entered a vertical nose down dive. He said, "The airplane entered a slow counterclockwise spiral as it started its dive..." before it disappeared from his view behind trees. Another witness stated that she observed the airplane make two complete "barrel rolls" with the nose of the airplane slightly "elevated." During the second roll, the airplane slowed before the nose pointed down and began to spiral counterclockwise. She said, "As the airplane descended, we heard a 'whoosh', followed by the impact explosion and saw the plume of smoke. At no time do we recall hearing engine noise."

The airplane impacted the front yard of a home in a residential neighborhood in a nose level/wings level attitude. An indentation in the ground about the same size and shape as the left wing was noted in the front yard of the house. The wires and trees close to the house and driveway were undamaged. There were no ground injuries.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, single-engine sea, multiengine land, and instrument airplane. His last FAA third-class medical certificate was issued on September 27, 2016. At that time, he did not report his total flight time; however, on his previous medical application in 2013, he reported a total of 6,000 flight hours.

The weather conditions reported at Cobb County-McCollum Airport (RYY), located about 3 miles west of the accident site, at 1947, included wind from 160° at 8 knots, visibility 10 statute miles, an overcast ceiling at 5,500 ft, temperature 21° C, dewpoint 9°C, and a barometric altimeter setting of 30.28 inches of mercury.

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


Norman Keller 
(Credit: St. Joseph Catholic Church)




Marietta residents Norm and Barbara Keller were not at home Friday when a Cessna 500 Citation I Sierra Eagle plane spiraled into their front yard, setting their home ablaze. They thank God for that.

The Kellers were having dinner at St. Joseph Catholic Church, a common practice for observant Catholics during Lent, a period of religious reflection leading up to Easter.

“We went to our local church’s fish fry and then we did the Stations of the Cross,” Norm Keller said, referring to the practice among some Christians of symbolically tracing the steps of Jesus Christ’s life leading up to the Crucifixion.

The Cessna 500 Citation I Sierra Eagle reportedly was flying from Cincinnati to Fulton County Airport about 17 miles away from the Keller home when it spiraled into the suburban Cobb County neighborhood. The pilot, 78-year-old Robert George Westlake of Atlanta, was killed. Investigators said Westlake radioed moments before the crash that he was having trouble with his autopilot.

Flames spread from the crash and consumed the Kellers’ home. Norm Keller said he and his wife wondered whether they would have been quick enough to make it out of the house without injury.

Although the Kellers lost virtually everything in their home for the past decade, Norm, a deacon at St. Joseph, said he hopes prayers from the community go to Westlake and his family.

“The house and all of this stuff can be replaced. The poor pilot’s family have to go through this grief and they need more support,” he said. “We’ll do all right. We have each other and we have family and community and church.”

For now, the Kellers are staying with their daughter and plan to remain in the area. Norm Keller said their church, neighbors and the broader community have been very supportive.

When they went to have their prescription medicines replaced at their local Publix, the store waved its fees and gave the Kellers flowers, lunch and a gift card. That and the support of family and friends is evidence of the “grace of God,” he said.

“This is what the Scripture tells us,” he said.


Story and video:   http://www.myajc.com







COBB COUNTY, Ga. - Cobb County police have identified the pilot killed in a plane crash in Marietta.

Police said Robert George Westlake, 78, of Atlanta, died in the crash that happened just after 7:30 p.m. Friday.

"He was a dear father, grandfather and a good pilot. He will be dearly missed," the victim's son-in-law said in a statement. 

Police said the 1976 green/white Cessna Citation 500 jet, which was based out of Charlie Brown Airport in Fulton County was returning from a business trip in Cincinnati when the pilot radioed that he was having mechanical troubles.

"He said he was having trouble with his auto-pilot," said Leah Read, a senior air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board. 

Within moments of doing so, the plane crashed in the front yard of a house in the 100 block of Vistawood Lane in Marietta. 

“Everything just kind of went in slow motion,” witness Trey Richardson told Channel 2’s Nicole Carr.

One house was destroyed due to intense fire and a second house sustained collateral damage due to the heat generated in the crash, according to police.

The family living in the house that was destroyed was at church at the time. Norm and Barb Keller said they are grateful to be alive and their prayers go out to Westlake's family. 

Representatives from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were at the crash site for two days and concluded their on-scene investigations Saturday evening. 

The NTSB will piece together the plane at its Griffin facility. Investigators hope a cockpit recorder will officer critical information in their investigation.

Story and video:  http://www.wsbtv.com