Sunday, April 9, 2017

Veteran military aircraft call Pueblo's Weisbrod museum home

Six miles east of Pueblo, a large group of legendary U.S. combat veterans live together under one roof.

They've engaged in training missions at home and combat missions abroad. Fought wars on four continents. Saved countless American lives and killed swarms of enemy soldiers that sought to injure or kill their compatriots.

Some of these soldiers even paid the ultimate price -- giving their lives in the name of American liberty.

Yet as tragic as it is to consider the price that some of these service vets had to pay, there's perhaps one bright side: They're still here, they're still whole and you can visit them any time you like for just $9.

The assembly of veterans that's amassed east of town is none other than the one-of-a-kind collection of aviation and military artifacts at the Pueblo Weisbrod Aircraft Museum, which attracts upward of 7,500 visitors from all over the globe every year.

And although these vets are quite different from the living, breathing soldiers who've fought for the U.S. around the globe, the role that they've played in defending American lives and freedoms cannot be understated.

"If it wasn't for the ground troops you wouldn't need the air troops," Shawn Kirscht, museum curator said, "But this (museum) just kind of shows the history of the progression of the military."

Since its inception in 1972, the Weisbrod has amassed its collection piece-by-piece, relying mostly on private and public donations to provide Puebloans with an active portal to visit the past of U.S. military aviation.

And despite its unassuming location on Magnuson Avenue next to the Pueblo Memorial Airport, the museum houses artifacts that can't be found anywhere else on earth.


One of the biggest attractions at the Weisbrod is an utterly colossal craft named "Peachy" -- a restored B-29 Superfortress that's made its home in Pueblo since being donated to the city by the Naval Weapons Center at China Lake, Calif., in 1976.

The B-29 model still is considered to be the largest and most sophisticated bomber to fly in World War II and, according to Kirscht, "Peachy" is one of just six intact static displays of B-29s in the world.

The name "Peachy" comes from the restorative nose-art paint job that the team at Weisbrod chose for their B-29. It was selected because the original "Peachy" was piloted by Pueblo native Robert T. Haver, who named his plane and painted its signature insignia based on a pet name he had given his younger sister.

Although the Weisbrod's "Peachy" spent the duration of its life as a training plane and never left U.S. soil, the original "Peachy" flew 35 combat missions into enemy territory from Tinian Island in the Marianas Islands chain in the central Pacific, according to, a tribute website to the historic WWII bombers.

UH-1M "Huey"

A bullet-hole-ridden helicopter located in between the museum's two large hangars represents the very last of its kind to ever see a firefight.

The UH-1M -- referred to as the HU-1 prior to 1962, sparking the nickname "Huey" -- was originally designed for the U.S. Army as a medical evacuation and utility helicopter and first saw combat operations during the Vietnam War.

While the UH-1 may have originally been designed as an evacuation craft, the barreled machine guns on each side of the Weisbrod's "Huey" show it to be a model with a very different purpose.

"This one was a gunship," Kirscht said.

"This is the last surviving M-model that's seen combat. They're getting hard to see, but can you see these cherries?" he asked, pointing to painted-over indents in the nose of the craft, "They're actual bullet holes. The copilot was killed in this helicopter."

Grumman F-11 Tiger

The Weisbrod also features a military aircraft that revolutionized aerospace technology and can't be seen anywhere else in the world: the Grumman F-11 Tiger Jet.

"There's only one in existence," Kirscht said.

"The F-11 is the first aircraft to ever use reverse thrust. You know how when you're on a plane, you hear the change in the engines when it lands? They're reversing the thrust to help slow down. So this plane was grandpa to all of that technology."

Prior to the F-11, Kirscht said most jets used a combination of parachutes and heavy braking systems to bring the aircraft to a halt.

Despite its revolutionary implementation of reverse thrust, Kirscht said that singular fact is not the only interesting facet about the Weisbrod's F-11.

"This particular plane has three claims to fame. It was a Blue Angel -- I believe it was No. 4 or No. 6 -- then, it became the first plane with reverse thrust and it's also the last F-11 to ever fly."

Lafayette Escadrille

While a large part of the museum's collection is geared toward aviation, some of its most interesting artifacts are relics of the men who flew them.

On the eastern wall of the museum's main hangar, a formation of mannequins in glass cases display the uniforms and decorations of some of the United States' oldest fighter pilots: The Lafayette Escadrille, a squadron comprised of mostly volunteer American pilots who joined up with the French Air Service over a two-year period to fight the Germans in World War I.

"Over that two-year period, either through attrition, death, rotation, medical injuries or fatigue, there was only 38 of them left," museum secretary Mac McCormack said.

"When (the U.S.) entered the war, (the Lafayette Escadrille) transitioned to the American Air Service. At the end of the war they were so sick of war they said, 'We want nothing to remind us. No music, food, sounds, no memories. Just throw everything away. We're going to go home,'" McCormack said.

McCormack said that, fortunately, someone exercised judgment to preserve and maintain the collection of uniforms, which eventually found its way to airplane and military history collector Andy Parks.

Parks not only maintained the uniforms, but commissioned signature mannequins that portray the accurate height, stature and facial features of each pilot to accompany the uniforms.

"Everything you see here we have 100 percent provenance," McCormack said, "This is actually what they wore 100 years ago."

Southern Colorado Space Museum and Learning Center

While most of the Weisbrod collection shares a connection to either aviation or the U.S. military, inside of the museum's second hangar lies a smaller, separate corridor, featuring artifacts from the U.S. space program.

"This is pretty much my museum inside of (Kirscht's) museum," said Steve Janssen, curator of Southern Colorado Space Museum and Learning Center. "They've been so generous to give me the space here to fill it up, and we just keep growing."

Some of the space museum's most notable artifacts include an engine nozzle that would have gone on a gem rocket of the Delta II launch system, a lunar oxygen test bed donated by Lockheed Martin, items that flew on NASA missions, spacesuit parts and, perhaps most impressively: the military helicopter used to rescue the first American astronaut in space, Alan Shepard.

"They don't even teach this stuff anymore!" Janssen said.

"Kids don't even know who Alan Shepard was. So they don't teach the history, I don't think. So they can come here and learn about that, and it's the same thing with the air museum -- people just don't know about that kind of stuff. And that's what museums do, they preserve the past."

Preserving the past

Speaking to the importance of entities like the air museum, Kirscht recalled a story that he said seemingly embodies the vital significance of history museums in the U.S.

"When you talk about history and teaching people, that right there is the biggest teacher," Kirscht said, motioning to a large red flag with a German Nazi insignia on the wall.

"As near as we can tell, there was a group from La Junta that was in WW II, and they captured that flag. It was donated to the museum. We get a lot of complaints that we're glorifying it, but I'm kind of passionate about that one because that is history that we need to remember so that we don't repeat it."

"There was a group of people once that was standing there complaining about it and there was this older gentleman that was standing off to the side, and he walked over and he said 'Can I show you something?'

"He rolled up his sleeve and he had the tattoo from the Holocaust, you know the prisoner number, and he looked at those people and he said, 'Thank God they have this (pointing to the flag) so that we don't repeat this (pointing to his tattoo).' "

Original article can be found here:

Captain Doron: Cessna 172 makeover

 Published on April 24, 2017
 By Captain Doron 

Bellanca 8KCAB Decathlon, N55067: Accident occurred April 09, 2017 at Stafford Municipal Airport (3TA), Kansas

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Wichita, Kansas

NTSB Identification: GAA17CA234
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, April 09, 2017 in Stafford, KS
Aircraft: BELLANCA 8KCAB, registration: N55067

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

Aircraft on takeoff, flipped over. 

Date: 09-APR-17
Time: 18:20:00Z
Regis#: N55067
Aircraft Make: BELLANCA
Aircraft Model: 8KCAB
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)

STAFFORD COUNTY – A Kansas man was involved in a small plane mishap just before 1:30p.m. on Sunday in Stafford County.

The Kansas Highway Patrol reported a Bellanca 8KCAB Decathlon piloted by Milton D. Pinkston, 86, St. John, aligned the takeoff path incorrectly.

The aircraft went too far to the east, traveled off the runway and entered a muddy wheat field. The landing gear dug in and the aircraft flipped.

Pinkston was not injured. 

Original article can be found here:

Before Reaching the Launch Pad, Rocket’s Price May Be Returning to Earth: Cost-cutting push so early in program reflects challenges facing Boeing and Lockheed Martin

The Wall Street Journal
April 9, 2017 9:00 a.m. ET

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.—Before NASA’s Orion exploration capsule has had its first full-blown test flight, Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.  already are talking about slashing roughly 50% off the price of later versions of the spacecraft and its heavy-lift rocket.

The unusual cost-cutting push so early in the program, spelled out by officials from both companies at a conference here, reflects new financial and policy challenges confronting the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and its two largest contractors.

The agency likely faces flat or declining budgets for at least the next few years, even as funding needs for these and other big-ticket development programs persist and perhaps even climb.

The result is that Lockheed Martin, the prime contractor for Orion, and Boeing, which heads up the team developing a powerful rocket called the Space Launch System, are seeking to fend off rivals and shore up congressional and public support by emphasizing projections of aggressive cost reductions in future years.

Orion’s immediate challenges include potential extra costs if NASA and the White House opt to put astronauts on the first test flight. The initial schedule called for a 2018 mission without a crew, followed by one in 2021 carrying astronauts. But to show more dramatic progress, NASA and Lockheed appear to be leaning toward accelerating certain work to allow two astronauts to be on board for the first demonstration flight that is targeted for 2019.

Over roughly the same time frame, Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. and Blue Origin LLC run by Inc. Chairman Jeff Bezos are proposing privately funded cargo and crewed missions beyond Earth’s orbit, some targeting the moon and even Mars.

Those commercially funded trips are slated to cost just a fraction of the roughly $1.6 billion NASA is committed to pay for the first or second Orion demonstration flight. Orion’s champions aim to show that subsequent flights of their deep-space vehicle would be considerably less expensive.

Jim Chilton, president of Boeing’s network and space systems, told reporters that managers for the SLS rocket “are trying to get good economics into the production system” by relying on increased automation, which translates into fewer workers on the factory floor.

Reflecting large upfront engineering and development costs, NASA has estimated that early SLS flights are likely to cost roughly $1 billion apiece. But Boeing has an internal target of eventually reducing recurrent launch costs to about half that, according to company and industry officials familiar with the details.

Costs for big aerospace programs typically drop following the development phase, though savings in this case will be harder than usual to achieve because the production volume will be so low—NASA anticipates a single Orion launch annually. Signaling cost concerns, the agency last fall made a preliminary request for the industry to propose less-expensive alternatives, potentially using different hardware.

SLS is slated to be the most powerful rocket ever built, designed to weigh more than 5.5 million pounds and stand taller than the Statue of Liberty. In the ultimate version, it is intended to carry more than 130 tons into orbit with thrust equivalent to the power of roughly 30 Boeing 747 jumbo jets. “No other system currently in development can do that,” said Peter McGrath, another senior Boeing official.

SpaceX and Blue Origin have said they plan to build even more powerful rockets than SLS. But those concepts are nowhere near production or testing.

Mike Hawes, a veteran former NASA official who now runs the Orion program for Lockheed Martin, said in an interview that his target is reducing the capsule’s eventual per-flight cost to less than $300 million from today’s roughly $600 million figure. “Part of getting the costs down,” he said, is locking in the design of environmental-control systems and other components as early as possible “to prepare for the ultimate production role.”

Eventually, Orion is supposed to enable four astronauts to start exploring the solar system. But just to get to the first crewed flight, engineers need to overcome major technical hurdles related to software and the operation of emergency crew-abort systems.

One of the biggest questions affecting recurrent costs is whether NASA will allow the capsules to be reused after fiery returns to Earth that by design, will erode Orion’s heat shield, Mr. Hawes said. Lockheed Martin envisions reusing crew seats, avionics and other portions the spacecraft, he said.

But to determine whether the structure itself can be flown again, he said the first capsules would be outfitted with special sensors to gauge stresses and loads during flights and landings.

In addition, the team is considering “a lot more 3-D printing and advanced manufacturing” to cut costs, Mr. Hawes said. Already, engineers were able to save a lot of weight and make the crew module simpler to assemble by reducing the number of pieces to seven from more than 33, he said.

In contracts with suppliers for the simplified parts on future capsules, he said, “we’ve cut the cost of those by roughly 50%.” 

Original article can be found here:

Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II, Jay-Z LLC, N9540K: Incident occurred April 09, 2017 at Phoenix Deer Valley Airport (KDVT), Arizona


PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -     An airplane at Deer Valley Airport caught fire Sunday morning. 

The plane started on fire when the pilot was trying to start it.

According to Phoenix Fire Department, the fire was small and was handled by one engine. 

No one was injured. 

Original article can be found here:

Airbus A320-200, Delta Air Lines, N333NW: Incident occurred July 07, 2016 in Rapid City, South Dakota

Warnings went unheeded in wrong-airport landing at Ellsworth

As Delta Flight 2845 soared west above eastern South Dakota at 7:50 p.m. on July 7, the pilot forewarned the co-pilot about mistaking Ellsworth Air Force Base for their intended destination, Rapid City Regional Airport.

“You do have to be careful with, ah, Eielson — not Eielson, Ellsworth,” said Capt. James Evans, “because their runways kind of align.”

The comment, revealed in public documents that are part of an ongoing investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board, did not prevent the pilots from landing at Ellsworth by mistake.

Nor did their review of a document in the cockpit that explained the close proximity of the base runway and the intended runway at the airport.

Nor did a routine verbal warning from an Ellsworth approach controller who told the pilots, “Use caution for Ellsworth Air Force Base located six miles northwest of Rapid City Regional.”

Nor did an expensive air-traffic control computer system at Ellsworth that failed to issue the warning it should have.

In hindsight, the fate of the flight was sealed at 8:39 p.m., while the plane was dropping altitude northeast of Rapid City and the pilots began a left turn. They caught sight of what they thought was Rapid City Regional Airport in the twilight below and took the plane down to it.

Both pilots had inklings of their mistake as they descended, they later told investigators.

At about 500 feet from the ground, they did not see the type of runway lights they expected.

At about 20 feet from the ground, the co-pilot, First Officer Matthew Moeller, noticed the number 13 on the runway instead of the expected 14.

As the unlucky number passed beneath the plane, Moeller realized what was happening.

“OK," he said, "we’re on Ellsworth.”

“Oh #,” Evans replied. (The numerous expletives in the transcript of the cockpit voice recording are replaced by “#” signs.)

Evans considered pulling up, he later said to investigators, but his mind flashed to his training and he decided it was safer to land. The tires hit the runway at 8:42 p.m. and both pilots uttered more expletives before Evans said, “All right, tell ’em. Talk.”

Moeller went on the radio and broke the news to an air-traffic controller at Rapid City Regional Airport, who had noticed the plane drop off a radar screen moments earlier.

Evans addressed the plane’s four flight attendants and 123 passengers.

“Well, ladies and gentlemen, you’re not gonna believe this,” he said over the passenger address system. “It was my leg and Ellsworth and Rapid City are directly in line. And I just landed at Ellsworth. So we’re gonna have to get off the runway, come back around and take off and go over to Rapid City. First time in my career to do that.”

Two hours and 21 minutes of waiting ensued for the plane's crew and passengers while airmen at Ellsworth followed their protocol, which is well established from at least six wrong-airport landings at the base during the past 20 years.

Airmen secured the plane and collected information from the pilots while talks began among Ellsworth, Rapid City Regional Airport and Delta Air Lines. Arrangements were made for a short flight to Rapid City Regional.

Amid the bustle, Col. John Martin of Ellsworth spoke about the pilot, Capt. Evans, to Ellsworth’s tower watch supervisor.

“He might be hanging it up after this,” Martin said of Evans, according to a transcript of radio communications.

Delta reported the next day that Evans and Moeller were grounded as pilots. More recently, a Delta spokesman declined to tell the Journal anything about the pilots’ current status, but the investigative documents made public by the NTSB include extensive biographical information about both men.

Evans, the captain of the flight, was 60 years old at the time and resided in Alaska. He had been flying since he was 16 and flew Army helicopters before becoming a commercial pilot. He had flown into and out of Rapid City Regional Airport once before, in 2014.

The July 7 trip from Minneapolis to Rapid City was among the first flights Evans had piloted since returning from a monthlong break, during which he used all his vacation time before his planned retirement on Aug. 31, 2016.

A transcript of the cockpit voice recording includes colorful language that Evans used throughout the flight. Among the 72 expletives replaced by “#” signs in the transcript, 62 are attributed to Evans, including many before the landing.

The Journal asked NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson why the NTSB scrubs the expletives from transcripts, and whether the scrubbing masks unprofessional conduct in the cockpit.

“Including the actual expletives spoken by crew members would not add any investigative value to the product,” Knudson wrote in an email reply. “All of the information relevant to understanding the communications about the accident or incident being investigated is included in the transcript.”

Moeller, the co-pilot, was 51 years old at the time and resided in Utah. He formerly flew for the Air Force, but he had never flown into or out of Ellsworth or Rapid City Regional Airport.

Neither pilot had any record of prior accidents, incidents or enforcement actions, and both tested negative for drugs the day after the Ellsworth incident. No one was injured in the mistaken landing.

In an interview with investigators and in a written statement, Moeller was apologetic. While noting that others involved in the landing, including air-traffic controllers, could have done more to help him and Evans avoid their mistake, Moeller blamed himself and Evans and listed several things they should have done differently.

In a written statement for Delta, Moeller said, “I apologize for any problems or inconvenience our error may have caused our passengers and Delta Air Lines.”

Evans did not apologize in his written statement. In a phone interview with investigators, he resisted blame.

“When asked if there was anything he could have done differently to avoid this incident, he stated he has spent a lot of time thinking about the event but could not think of anything he could have done differently,” said a written summary of the interview. “He felt that the event itself was 'the perfect storm' and that it was a big embarrassment for him.”

It could also prove embarrassing for Raytheon Co., maker of the air-traffic control system known as STARS, for Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System. The system is included in a $10 million air-traffic control facility that opened at Ellsworth in 2008.

An NTSB investigator’s written report about the July 7 Delta landing at Ellsworth concluded with a finding about STARS.

“In ‘wrong airport’ landings, STARS and similar systems should detect that the aircraft is unexpectedly descending to the ground away from the destination airport and generate a minimum safe altitude alert,” the investigator wrote, but in this case, “no alert was generated.”

Similar STARS failures have been noted in other wrong-airport landings. The NTSB issued a safety recommendation in 2015 asking the Federal Aviation Administration to fix the problem. But, wrote the NTSB investigator assigned to the Ellsworth incident, a fix will require Raytheon Co. to modify the STARS software. Recent Journal phone and email messages to Raytheon spokespeople were not returned.

The failure to issue alerts during wrong-airport landings is one of many problems the FAA and Raytheon have faced while trying to implement STARS in air-traffic control facilities across the nation. The FAA began upgrading to STARS in 1996 with a goal of replacing 172 systems for $940 million by 2005. Cost increases and delays added $1.3 billion to the effort in 2004, and the project is still underway with completion now expected in 2020.

Whether or not the STARS problem gets fixed, other changes have already been made at Ellsworth and Rapid City Regional Airport to decrease the likelihood of future wrong-airport landings. At Ellsworth, according to NTSB documents, air-traffic controllers have been directed to ensure that pilots arriving from north of the base on a visual approach to Rapid City Regional Airport have both airports in sight, except for pilots who report being familiar with the local area. Additionally, Rapid City Regional Airport has directed its controllers to refrain from issuing landing clearances to aircraft arriving from the vicinity of Ellsworth until those aircraft have passed the base.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the July 7 mistaken landing at Ellsworth is wrapping up, an NTSB spokesman told the Journal recently. A final written report could be released within a few months.

The events of July 7 ended with Evans and Moeller taking off from Ellsworth shortly after 11 p.m. — with all passengers still aboard — and flying east past Rapid City Regional Airport before swinging around for an approach from the southeast. They landed at 11:31 p.m., four hours and six minutes after taking off from Minneapolis and nearly three hours past their expected arrival at Rapid City Regional.

Though Evans later resisted blame while talking with investigators, he was apologetic to the passengers during several addresses he made while waiting on the runway at Ellsworth.

“I can’t believe this,” Evans said in one of those addresses. “In over 30 years I’ve never done anything like this."

Then he added: "Nice landing. Just at the wrong airport.”

Original article can be found here:

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

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Delta Air Lines Inc:

Aviation Incident Preliminary Report  -  National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: DCA16IA200
Scheduled 14 CFR Part 121: Air Carrier operation of DELTA AIR LINES INC (D.B.A. Delta Airlines)
Incident occurred Thursday, July 07, 2016 in Rapid City, SD
Aircraft: AIRBUS INDUSTRIE A320 211, registration: N333NW
Injuries: 129 Uninjured.

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

On July 7, 2016, at 8:42pm central daylight time, Delta flight 2845, an Airbus A320, N333NW, landed on runway 13 at the Ellsworth Air Force Base (RCA), Rapid City, South Dakota. The flights intended destination was Rapid City Regional Airport (RAP), Rapid City, South Dakota. The airplane was not damaged and none of the six crew members or123 passengers were injured. The flight was operating under 14 Code of Federal Regulation Part 121 as a regularly scheduled passenger flight originating from Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport (MSP), Minneapolis, Minnesota. Visual weather conditions prevailed at the time of the incident.

Alaska Airlines: Incident occurred April 09, 2017 at Modesto City-County Airport (KMOD), California

MODESTO, Calif. (KCRA) —    An Alaska Airlines flight made an emergency landing Sunday morning at the Modesto City-County Airport after a fire sparked in the cargo area, the Modesto Fire Department said.

The plane landed safely at 6:50 a.m. No injuries were reported, and all 62 people onboard were safely moved to the terminal.

There was no active fire on the plane when it landed, but its fire extinguishing system had been activated, according to the Modesto Fire Department.

The plane departed Sacramento Sunday morning and was headed to San Diego.

Original article can be found here: 

An Alaska Airlines passenger plane required an emergency landing at Modesto City-County Airport Sunday morning after a fire alarm onboard the plane began to ring.

Modesto and Ceres firefighters were sent to the airport after receiving reports of a fire inside the plane’s cargo area.

The plane landed safely at the airport just before 7 a.m. and no smoke or fire was visible from the outside, Modesto Fire Department reported.

All 62 passengers onboard were safely taken from the plane as firefighters investigated.

Investigators said the plane’s fire extinguishment system had activated, and though thermal cameras indicated positive heat signals, firefighters were unable to find signs of a fire.

The plane had departed from Sacramento and was on its way to San Diego.

Original article can be found here:

EVA Air: Incident occurred April 08, 2017 at John F. Kennedy International Airport (KJFK), New York

US RULES:The accidental triggering of an emergency door slide during routine maintenance meant that the people assigned seats near the door could not use them

A maintenance error delayed an EVA Air flight from New York to Taipei scheduled to arrive at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport this morning and forced the airline to find alternative flights for 57 of the passengers, the airline said yesterday.

The Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to be used for Flight No. BR31 had been undergoing routine pre-departure maintenance when the evacuation slide on the L5 cabin door was accidentally activated by engineers from the airline’s maintenance agent at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK).

US aviation safety regulations required the airline to keep the seats near the L5 cabin door vacant following the activation of the slide, which meant that 57 passengers could not board the BR31 flight, the airline said.

The passengers were rescheduled on other flights, the airline said, adding that the last group of the 57 would arrive in Taiwan this morning.

BR31 finally took off at 4:27am on Saturday, three hours after its scheduled 1:25am departure time, airline officials said.

As the incident was caused by EVA’s maintenance agent and EVA’s flight operations were disrupted as well, passengers would not be eligible for compensation from EVA for any inconvenience caused by the incident, it said.

Original article can be found here:

Hughes 369D, Olympic Air, N50713: Accident occurred November 24, 2015 in Carlisle, Washington

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Renton, Washington 
Boeing Helicopter; Mesa, Arizona
MD Helicopters; Mesa, Arizona

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Docket And Docket Items - National Transportation Safety Board:

NTSB Identification: WPR16LA032
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Tuesday, November 24, 2015 in Carlisle, WA
Aircraft: HUGHES 369D, registration: N50713
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.

On November 24, 2015, about 0945 Pacific standard time a Hughes 369D, N50713, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing following a loss of engine power near Carlisle, Washington. The helicopter was registered to and operated by Olympic Air, Shelton, Washington, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The commercial pilot, sole occupant of the helicopter, was not injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the repositioning flight. The flight originated from Hoquiam, Washington, about 5 minutes prior to the accident, with an intended destination of a staging area near Carlisle.

The pilot reported that he originally departed a staging area near Francis, Washington, where he was parked on a hillside, waiting for improving weather. Prior to departing, he added about 50 pounds of fuel, noting he had 250 pounds of fuel total on board. The pilot departed and decided to land at Hoquiam, after noticing that the fuel gauge quantity indication was not decreasing as he would have expected for the flight. The pilot landed uneventfully at Hoquiam, noted he had about 140 pounds of fuel on board according to the fuel gauge, which was consistent with his estimations of how much fuel should have been on board. The pilot decided to depart and relocate the helicopter 12 nautical miles to a staging area where he was planning to refuel the helicopter prior to conducting external load operations in the area. The pilot stated that during the flight, the engine lost total power. He initiated an auto rotation to a partially open wooded area. Subsequently, the helicopter landed and rolled onto its right side.

Postaccident examination of the helicopter by the pilot revealed that the tailrotor and tailrotor gearbox were separated from the tail boom. The helicopter was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

Examination of the recovered wreckage revealed that the main rotor blades were removed to facilitate wreckage transport. The tailboom had contact damage from main rotor blade strike(s) and was fractured into multiple segments. The tail rotor system was still attached to the tailboom's aft frame. The tail rotor blades were damaged but exhibited little rotational damage. All main rotor blades exhibited various areas of bends, leading edge and trailing edge damage.

Control continuity was established for the collective and cyclic controls. Except for breaks in the area of the tailboom damage, tail rotor control continuity was verified. The drive system was functional from the engine through the main transmission to the main rotor hub. The tail rotor driveshaft had multiple fractures aft of FS 150 due to impact damage. The tail rotor transmission and tail rotor controls functioned normally. The upper flight controls and main rotor hub sustained minimal damage.

Electrical power was applied to the airframe and the N2 warning horn was found functional. The caution light panel was tested and all normal lights illuminated, including the low level fuel light. At this time, the fuel gauge indicated zero pounds of fuel. The fuel cell access covers were removed and the cells inspected. Only a small amount of fuel was found in the sump area below the start pump.

The engine and related systems sustained little visible damage. A fuel system vacuum check was successfully completed. The airframe fuel filter was removed from the housing. The filter and housing exhibited a slight amount of foam-like debris. Similar debris was observed in the fuel boost pump and in both the left and right fuel tanks.

In order to examine the fuel gauge quantity accuracy, 20 gallons of fuel was added in intervals utilizing 5-gallon fuel cans. With electrical power applied to the helicopter, the fuel quantity indicated on the fuel gauge were measured. When 4, 5, 7.5, 10, 12.5, 15, and 20 gallons of Jet A, which weighs about 6.8 pounds per gallon, was added to tank, the fuel quantity gauge indicated about 40-45, 80, 100, 150, 155-160, 175, and 245 pounds of fuel respectively.

While removing the fuel which was previously added, the low level fuel light illuminated at which time the fuel gauge displayed about 70 pounds of fuel. After the low level fuel light illuminated, the remaining fuel within the tank was removed and measured at about 5 gallons.

Bell 206L LongRanger, N16760, Smoky Mountain Helicopters: Fatal accident occurred April 04, 2016 in Pigeon Forge, Sevier County, Tennessee

Two new lawsuits claiming negligence have been filed by family members of victims of a deadly 2016 Sevier County sightseeing helicopter crash.

Together, the suits seek $250 million in damages from those connected to the aircraft’s operation.

The Bell 206L helicopter, run by Smoky Mountain Helicopters, crashed just after 4 p.m. on April 4, 2016. All five people on board were killed. The NTSB investigation is ongoing.

The first suit was filed by Keith Morvant, husband to Johna Morvant, and Lynne Frederick, Johna’s mother. Johna and her two children, Parker and Peyton Rasmussen, were killed when the aircraft crashed on April 4, 2016. Autopsy reports previously showed Johna died of blunt force trauma, while Parker and Peyton were killed by the ensuing post-crash fire.

The suit names M-Helicopters of Tennessee, operator Smoky Mountain Helicopters, maintenance company Vertiflite Air Services, as well as chopper owner Rock Riggs, Jon Riggs,  and David Noble. It also includes pilot Jason Dahl, and his estate.

Dahl, 49, was also killed in the crash.

The lawsuit alleges seven counts of negligence, one against each of the named defendants, and a final court of “Gross Negligence against All Defendants.”

“The Defendants willfully and wantonly disregarded Johna’s safety and rights,” the complaint reads.

The Morvants request a jury trial, and seek compensatory damages of $10 million, and punitive damages of $15 million, according to the documents. 

The second lawsuit was filed by Scott Rasmussen, father to Parker and Peyton, and Delavae Carlson, mother to Michael Mastalez. It names Smoky Mountain Helicopters, M-Helicopters of Tennessee, and the Riggs family. It does not name pilot Jason Dahl or his estate.

“The crash was survivable, but the helicopter burst into flames and the fire caused the death of all occupants on board, including Plaintiffs’ decedents Peyton Nicole Rasmussen, Parker Stone Rasmussen and Michael Glenn Mastalez,” the complaint states.

A medical examiner determined Johna died of blunt force trauma.

The suit includes counts of negligence and strict liability against each of the following: Smoky Mountain Helicopters, M-Helicopters, and Bobby Riggs. Rock and Hillda Riggs are also accused of negligence. Finally, the suit includes a count of ‘Constitutional Challenge.’

The families ask for a jury trial, and are seeking $25 million per death in compensatory damages, and $50 million per death in punitive damages.

This brings the total lawsuits filed in connection to the April 2016 crash to three – the first was filed against Bobby Riggs in Florida back in January.

Story, video and photo gallery:

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration AVP-100; Fort Worth, Texas
Transportation Safety Board Canada - Accredited Representative; Gatineau, QC
Bell Helicopter; Fort Worth, Texas
Rolls-Royce; Indianapolis, Indiana
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Nashville, Tennessee

National Transportation Safety Board - Aviation Accident Preliminary Report: 

NTSB Identification: ERA16FA144

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, April 04, 2016 in Pigeon Forge, TN
Aircraft: BELL 206, registration: N16760
Injuries: 5 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to chang
e, 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 April 4, 2016, about 1610 eastern daylight time, a Bell 206L, N16760, was destroyed when it impacted terrain while maneuvering in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. The helicopter was operated by Great Smoky Mountain Helicopters, Inc., doing business as, Smoky Mountain Helicopters. The commercial pilot and four passengers were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed for the flight that departed Sixty Six Heliport (6TN3), Sevierville, Tennessee. The local air tour flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

According to the operator, the helicopter had been purchased in 1986 for air tour/sight-seeing purposes. At the time of the accident, the operator owned two helicopters, a Bell 206B that was based in Cherokee, North Carolina, and the accident helicopter, which was based at 6TN3.

A company pilot reported that he flew the helicopter an estimated 10 flights on the morning of the accident, and before the accident pilot began flying sometime between 1300 and 1400. The accident pilot performed 4 flights in the helicopter and then shut it down while waiting for additional customers. The accident pilot subsequently restarted the helicopter, and completed a 4 minute flight before departing on the accident flight, which was scheduled to last between 7 and 8 minutes. He further stated that a check of the fuel level prior to departure revealed it was "just below the 6-inch line," which he estimated corresponded to about 300 pounds of fuel on board.

Another helicopter tour company pilot operating in the area about the time of the accident reported that he did not hear any distress calls. He further stated that he recalled the accident pilot made a normal landmark position report over "wonderworks."

A witness who lived near the accident site reported that he was outside when he observed the helicopter flying low in a descent, and it "didn't sound right." He further described the sound as if "the engine was wound tight" and it "lost the rotor sound." He then heard the engine go silent, "as if the pilot cut the power," which was followed by sounds associated with impact. Another witness reported hearing the impact and observed the accident site engulfed in fire.

The helicopter initially impacted trees near the top of a ridge that was about 1,100 feet mean sea level (msl). The helicopter came to rest in a wooded area near the bottom of the ridge, on its left side, on a heading of about 340 degrees magnetic. Two large, freshly broken trees were located about 100 feet south of the main wreckage, which was mostly consumed by a postcrash fire. In addition, the entire area surrounding the main wreckage was charred.

All major structural components of the helicopter were located at the accident site. One of the two main rotor blades was separated, and located about 20 feet northwest of the main wreckage. The leading edges of both main rotor blades did not exhibit significant impact damage. Manual rotation of the main rotor blade that remained attached to the main rotor hub resulted in rotation of the main rotor mast, the engine-to-transmission drive shaft, the engine's No. 4 turbine wheel, the tail rotor drive output, and confirmed free-wheel functionality. The tail rotor drive shaft was fractured in multiple locations. The flexible couplings between the drive shaft flanges were intact and did not display evidence of fractures or deformation consistent with power at impact. The tail rotor gearbox was separated from the tail boom and located about 30 feet southeast of the main wreckage. Manual rotation of the tail rotor blades resulted in rotation of the gearbox input. The splines at the tail rotor gearbox did not exhibit evidence of fractures or smearing. All three flight control servo control linkages were fractured at multiple locations; however, the linkages remained attached to their respective input and output ends. There was no evidence of damage to the engine's first stage compressor section, or fourth stage turbine wheel.

The engine and airframe were recovered from the accident site and retained for further examination.

Initial review of maintenance records revealed that at the time of the accident, the helicopter had been operated for about 40 hours since its most recent 100 hour and annual inspections, which were performed on March 4, 2016. In addition, the helicopter had been operated for about 22,560 total hours.

The pilot reported 550 hours of total flight experience on his most recent application for a Federal Aviation Administration second-class medical certificate, which was issued on April 21, 2015. According to an initial review of the pilot's logbook, as of March 25, 2016, he had logged about 1,300 hours of total flight experience, which included about 870 hours in Bell 206 series helicopters.

A weather observation taken at airport located about 3 miles northeast of the accident site, about the time of the accident, reported: winds from 220 degrees, at 10 knots, 10 statute miles visibility, clear skies, temperature 24 degrees Celsius (C), dew point 2 degrees C, and an altimeter setting of 29.93 inches of mercury.  

This SnapChat photo shows the moments before the chopper took off on April 4, 2016

Jason "JD" Dahl