Thursday, July 27, 2017

That Airline Seat You Paid for Isn’t Yours: Frustrated fliers discover that paying for a preferred seat on a flight guarantees them nothing

The Wall Street Journal 
By Scott McCartney
Updated July 26, 2017 1:37 p.m. ET

If you buy an assigned seat at a theater, sports or concert venue, you get the seat you picked. But an assigned seat on an airline is radically different: Every so often, you don’t get it, even when you pay extra for it. Premium-seating fees guarantee nothing.

It’s happened to families who see their children reassigned rows away from their parents. It’s happened to single travelers when airline computers automatically shuffle seats on full flights. And it famously happened to political commentator Ann Coulter, who erupted in a Twitter tirade earlier in July after Delta moved her from a preferred aisle seat to a window seat in the same extra-legroom row. Delta roared back, calling her out for attacking employees and the airline over what was at best a minor inconvenience.

Airlines started placing price tags on particular seats—letting fliers pay an ancillary fee for a preferred seat, often with extra legroom—in about 2010. But they didn’t really change their procedures at airport gates to match the marketing. That means passengers’ expectations often don’t match up with reality.

Good gate agents are skilled puzzle-solvers who historically have moved people around liberally. They still have wide latitude despite the seat-assignment advance sales. (In Ms. Coulter’s case, Delta said an agent made a mistake while trying to help another customer. It refunded her $30 fee for the preferred seat.)

Agents try to seat families together, take care of VIPs, accommodate passengers bumped from first class by air marshals, find seats for high-fare or top-tier fliers and squeeze in passengers from canceled flights. Airlines swap planes for particular trips, triggering shuffling of seats when replacement planes have different seating configurations.

When most seats on a plane were similar, passengers knew seat assignments were fluid. Many tried to sweet-talk their way to exit rows or even first class. But now passengers think they can buy the rights to a specific seat. If 15F costs $32 extra and you buy it, you think you own 15F for that flight.

Airlines say that legally, you don’t. They can sell you one thing and deliver something else because the terms and conditions on seat purchases give them discretion. United and American use the same wording in their terms and conditions: “Seat assignments are not guaranteed.” Delta says it can reassign seats, paid or not, “at any time, even after boarding of the aircraft, for operational, safety or security reasons. The final decision resides with the ground staff and operating crew on the day of the flight.”

Airlines say they attempt to assign the same or similar seat type and location when they make changes. They also try to keep traveling companions together when they are booked in the same reservation. (Tip: If you are traveling together on separate passenger records, call ahead and ask the airline to link the two records.)

Delta says it’s encouraging agents to confer with customers and get consent before making a seating change. American says it’s studying ways to address what it recognizes is a source of frustration for travelers.

Doug Greenberg, a co-owner of a San Diego storage business, got separated from his 9-year-old son on a June 24 United flight even though they had confirmed seats together. (His wife and infant were on a separate passenger record.) United substituted a larger plane for a Houston-to-Jamaica leg of the trip and the family was scattered.

When he asked United agents why they seated a child alone when they had the age in the passenger record, the agents blamed an automated system. “This is really just a complete lack of thoughtfulness for the customer’s needs,” Mr. Greenberg says. “A 9-year-old should never be taken and seated in another section of the plane.”

A United spokeswoman says the airline regrets it was unable to seat the Greenbergs together.

Jim Hatch, a Philadelphia consultant, booked a trip to Tampa, Fla., for himself, his wife and an adult daughter with Down syndrome. He paid extra for preferred seats on American so they’d be sure to sit together. In an emergency, his daughter would need assistance.

It turned out the March flight was switched from an A320 to a smaller A319, and American told him seats would be assigned at the gate. The seats were in the last row, where legroom is tighter, but together. He checked on the return flights a week later and discovered they no longer had any seats on that flight, let alone their paid preferred seats. When seats were assigned, they were not together, but a gate agent reseated them to three seats together in the last row again.

“It’s tremendously frustrating,” Mr. Hatch says. American refunded the full cost of the seat fee, $121, after he complained, and they each got 5,000 miles.

American spokesman Josh Freed says the airline reserves a few seats—often the last row, among others—on all flights for gate agents to assign so they can keep families together after changes like aircraft switches or canceled flights.

Lisa Jadwin of Rochester, N.Y., suffered what she calls a “bait and switch” twice on one round trip to San Francisco on Delta. The college English professor selected flights with available Comfort Plus seats. The seats got changed on one flight west to San Francisco and again on one of her return flights east. No extra legroom; not even a seat assignment on one flight.

Ms. Jadwin’s husband, Steve Derne, complained to Delta about his wife’s seating shuffle and received an apology, a refund of $69 for Comfort Plus upgrades and 7,500 miles for her account. He thought a refund should be automatic and quick, not requiring a customer complaint.

Ms. Jadwin says her return trip with a connection in Minneapolis was especially stressful. Not having a seat on the connecting flight meant three hours of wondering if she’d be stranded in the Twin Cities. “They gave no explanation and I had a confirmed seat assignment,” she says. “Why does this keep happening?”

Delta says Ms. Jadwin’s assigned seats were taken away by an automated process that was attempting to seat several passengers for full flights. On the return to Rochester, the system was actually attempting to upgrade her to first class, a spokesman says, “but ultimately didn’t.”

Cessna P210N, N212SB: 560 pounds of methamphetamine, Santa Rosa plane tied to alleged Australian drug scheme

Santa Rosa plane broker says this is the Australian man who bought a plane to allegedly smuggle 560 pounds of methamphetamine to Australia.

This is the Cessna Hugh or 'John' Gorman bought. Sonoma County broker says Gorman was the worst pilot he's ever met.

At least 560 pounds of methamphetamine are seen in this image after being found inside a storage facility in Santa Rosa, California.

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Drugs and money often go hand-in-hand in a Hollywood script. But this time, the location is the Bay Area. And it's all part of an alleged scheme to fly a payload of drugs from California to a place thousands of miles away.

The alleged plan was to buy a small plane in Santa Rosa, strip the seats, stuff it with methamphetamine, and somehow fly it to Hawaii before getting to Australia. That's 2,480 miles on the first leg. And then, to get to Melbourne, it would have been 5,343 miles more.

The owners of the business had no idea their Australian customer, who they say could barely start the engine much less take off and land unassisted, allegedly planned to fly across the ocean with a payload of drugs.

Robert Nicolas with Propjet Aviation showed ABC7 the type of plane that "Hugh," also known as John Gorman, allegedly planned to fly home to his native Australia with $200 million worth of meth on board.

"In 6,000 hours of flying this model airplane, he was undoubtedly the worst pilot I've ever flown with," said Nicolas.

He's a plane broker based at the Sonoma County Airport. He sold Gorman a Cessna 210 for $630,000 in the spring.

Nicolas says he had no idea Gorman was allegedly trying to smuggle more than 500 pounds of methamphetamine across the Pacific. That is, until Sonoma County Sheriff's officials said the DEA found the drugs during a raid of a Windsor storage facility in June.

"It's unprecedented," said Sgt. Spencer Crum, who said he can't comment on the investigation since the Australian federal police are the lead agency. But Crum noted the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office is thrilled to get the drugs off their streets.

"I've been in law enforcement for 27 years and I've never seen a 560 pound meth bust, ever," he said.

Nicolas adds, "He's the last person in the world that I would think would be involved in drugs."

According to Nicolas, he and his instructors spent hours flying with Gorman and thought the 72-year-old man, who claimed to be an engineer, was just interested in flying their planes.

But, even if he had been an accomplished pilot, his alleged scheme to fly the drugs from Santa Rosa to Hawaii and then onto Australia was inconceivable.

"We didn't know he was going to install an extra 500 to 600 pounds worth of cargo. If he would have done that with the fuel load and taken off here, he never would have left the airport," said Nicolas. "The plane would have crashed upon takeoff."

But Gorman never made it back to the Bay Area to pick up his plane. Instead, he was arrested at the Melbourne Airport.

The stockpile of drugs is worth more than $200 million if sold on the Australian black market.

Anne Arundel County, Maryland

UPDATE 4:36 pm- Accidental activation of a transponder that reported a plane down. There was a hard landing of a plane reported at the airport near the Bay Bridge where the aircraft went from 2000' to zero - no injuries were reported.

UPDATE 4:09 p.m.- - This may be a good intent call. Crews are searching for an aircraft that may or may NOT have been in the air.

Pasadena, MD- A single-engine plane has reportedly crashed in Pasadena, Maryland, on Mountain Road near Schmidts Lane. This is in the area of Mountain Road Airport.

BWI has sent a crash truck to the scene and units are on foot searching for the plane. It is reported that the crash site is roughly 500 yards from a residence. 

Units are on the scene. Use caution in the area and expect delays with emergency equipment in the area.

Multiple football teams will be using multiple planes to travel this year

It’s a new era in the National Football League for travel, and changes to plane availability have resulted in multiple teams switching from one plane to two for road trips.

Pro Football Talk has learned that at least three teams will be using two planes this year: The Steelers, Bills, and Dolphins. (We became aware of the issue via a report from Andy Slater of WINZ regarding the Dolphins using two planes.)

The Bills will be using two planes for most trips, but not of all of them.

Earlier this year, several teams had to scramble to find air service when American restricted access. As one league source recently explained it to Pro Football Talk, the airlines simply have realized that they can make more money by using planes in more traditional ways.

It’s odd to see the NFL at the mercy of the airline industry, because usually it’s pretty much everyone else who’s at the mercy of the NFL. This has sparked some speculation that perhaps the best play for the league would be to maintain its own fleet of planes that would transport teams each and every weekend, when up to 16 teams travel. The planes then would be leased for use in the offseason to corporate groups and muckety-mucks who want to travel in a bird bedazzled with NFL logos.

Read more here:

Aerobatic pilot pays visit to North Idaho High School Aerospace group

SANDPOINT — The colorful stars on "Jacquie B" Warda's red, Extra 300 shone as she flew into the Sandpoint Airport to greet students in the North Idaho High School Aerospace Program, as well as several others who came out to meet the aerobatic pilot and see her moves.

As she rounded toward the group on the runway, the tail of the plane swerving around in true taildragger fashion, the words on the plane, "Ladies, it's time to fly," came into view. Warda said she has been flying for 30 years, and in 2003 she started her aerobatic career, becoming the first female pilot to enter the business at the age of 50. So for some aspiring local female pilots, like 31-year-old Lacey Barlow, Warda is an inspiration.

"Being in this field has been so inspiring to me," Barlow said. "People are following their dreams and, in the most literal sense, reaching for the stars, so it's just been a really energizing group of people to connect with." 

Unfortunately, Warda was unable to show off her skills or give aerobatic rides as planned in Sandpoint due to the width of the runway. She said 75-feet wide is minimum for her to land the plane because it is a taildragger, and adding a passenger in front of her would create some visibility issues. So the students each made plans to meet her at the Coeur d'Alene Airport over the next couple days.

In the meantime, Warda spent some time looking over the airplane some of the students built. The students recently finished the Zenith Zodiac CH601XL, which was a kit airplane donated to the high school program to help teach students the ins and outs of the aerospace industry.

Daniel Spencer, 17, one of the students who helped work on the plane, said they can't fly it because the group is waiting for FAA inspection.

"Hopefully that will happen soon so we can start testing," Spencer said. "It is legal, though, to do taxi tests, so we did some taxi tests to check the instruments and stuff. It went pretty well."

Monday's visit was the first time Warda flew into Sandpoint, but she has Skyped with some of the students who participate in the ground school three or four times over the years. She doesn't just talk to them about flying, though. She talks to them about goals and making choices.

"I would rather spend my energy trying to encourage young people to be good people," Warda said. "The flying is the easy part, but being a good person, being a responsible person, and being the kind of person other people want to look up to is more important to me. If you become that kind of person that others want to look up to, everything will come to you, everything will be easy for you."

Warda met Ken Larson, the program's pilot training and academic instructor, about eight years ago, she said, when he brought one of his former female students, Maggie Kirscher, to an air show Warda was performing in Twin Falls. It was Kirscher's first air show, Warda said, and Larson saw a female was flying. So he called Warda up and asked if she would meet with them at the show.

"I laughed and said, 'That's so silly, of course I will talk to you,'" Warda said. "We just became good friends and I couldn't not support him every time he called me."

Warda said the NIHSA program is "wonderful," and she wishes there were 100 other like Larson, teaching youth all about aerospace.

The NIHSA program consists of three sections — the Aces Aviation Workshop where the students are built the plane, a ground school held at Sandpoint High School where students get credit to learn to the basic information they need for pilot training, and flight training where the students learn how to fly and have the opportunity to obtain a pilot's license.

A sport pilot license, for flying light sport planes like the Zodiac the students are building, requires a minimum of 20 hours of flight training. The model currently in use for flight training is the same model as the plane they are building. A minimum of 40 hours of flight training is required for a private pilot license. Both require a knowledge exam and a checkride with an FAA inspector.

Students from several area schools are enrolled in the program, including Sandpoint Middle School, Sandpoint High School, Forrest Bird Charter School, Northwest Academy and home-school.

Jonah McGlothlin, 17, is a senior at Forrest Bird Charter School and has been working on his license for a couple months through the program. He became interested in the program after getting a free flight through Sandpoint's Experimental Aircraft Association, Chapter 1441, and the pilot let him fly the plane around a bit.

"I really liked it," he said matter-of-factly. "I'm hoping I can get up to commercial license and make a career out of it."

Lilly Falconer, 17, is a home-school student who started in the program in January. Her favorite part, she said, of course, is flying. She comes from a long line of pilots, from her grandfather to her great-great-grandfather, she said. She never really knew her grandfather, but when she was 8 years old, she went to his funeral and flew in a commercial plane to get there.

"When we went above the clouds, it was like a whole new world up there and I said, 'Oh man, I have got to do this for sure,'" Falconer said.

She plans on obtaining her commercial license and becoming a bush pilot in Alaska. Spencer also plans to become a bush pilot in Alaska and is 5.3 hours in on his license. He will initially get his private license, he said, and then build hours to get his commercial license.

Along with the plane the students built, two more small planes have been donated to the program. Most recently, the group obtained a 1945 Taylorcraft, which is now stripped down to the skeleton for the students to begin a new project.

"It's in great shape," said Barney Ballard, community outreach and career guidance for the program. "It has a wooden leading edge spar and it has a wooden trailing edge spar ... So it's a little bit of wood, and then aluminum and a little bit of steel. It's down to the basics and we are going to put it back together after we inspect everything."

Instead of building an engine for the plane, as they did with the Zodiac, they are going to find a used one and, after making sure it's in good shape, the group will install it in the plane, Ballard said. The group also obtained another small single-seat plane, which they plan to fix up and sell to help pay for some of the program's projects.


Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Boeing Curbs Costs, Boosting Profits and Shares: Stock jumps more than 9% as jet maker reports strong earnings and raises forecasts

The Wall Street Journal
By Doug Cameron
Updated July 26, 2017 3:47 p.m. ET

Boeing Co. continues to clamp down on the cost of building jetliners, boosting profits at the world’s largest aerospace company and on Wednesday driving its shares up nearly 10%.

The company reported forecast-beating earnings for a fifth quarter in a row on Wednesday. It also lifted its full-year targets again as it boosts production from an order book of 5,700 aircraft and defense equipment worth almost $500 billion.

Boeing has emerged from a long stretch beset by problems building new jets such as the 787 Dreamliner, with the smoother launch of new models and a focus on reducing expenses through a mix of thousands of job cuts and more efficient factories.

It is also chasing a bigger share of the market for maintaining aircraft for airlines and military customers, a pursuit that has unsettled relations with some of the suppliers that are crucial to boosting output of its commercial jetliners.

“There’s some sense of nervousness and uncertainty as we ramp up,” Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg said. “There’s going to be some places where we make some tough decisions, develop alternatives.”

He said Boeing was keeping a close watch on the supply chain as it works to boost production of its 737 workhorse jet by more than a third over the next three years, countering slower sales of its larger widebody planes.

The slimmer workforce and new manufacturing processes are also being used to test the potential for profitably building an all-new twin-aisle jet seating more than 200 passengers.

Boeing shares have climbed by almost 50% this year as investors gain confidence that the rise in global airline passenger traffic will ensure that airlines follow through on all of the jet orders placed in recent years with the U.S. company and rival Airbus SE, which reports Thursday.

The surge in Boeing’s stock Wednesday, up 9.9% at $233.45, made it the largest component in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, overtaking Goldman Sachs Group Inc.

Boeing’s cost-cutting efforts helped it generate more than twice as much free cash as analysts were expecting for the latest quarter, prompting a bump to planned stock buybacks. The company is also prepaying big pension commitments due over the next four years.

Mr. Muilenburg said free cash flow is expected to rise year on year through the end of the decade. Boeing plans to lift stock buybacks to $10 billion this year and will return all of its free cash to shareholders in the form of repurchases and dividends.

Boeing reported quarterly profit of $1.76 billion, or $2.89 a share, swinging from a year-earlier loss of $234 million that reflected charges on its commercial and military programs. Revenue fell to $22.74 billion from $24.76 billion, after Boeing delivered fewer jets as it transitioned to an upgraded version of the 737 and slowed output of its 777 jetliner.

The company still expects to deliver 760 to 765 jetliners this year, and Mr. Muilenburg said plans to sell aircraft to airlines in Iran next year remain on track. Its order book rose to $482 billion.

Boeing boosted its 2017 earnings guidance for the second time this year, adding 60 cents for a range of $9.80 to $10 a share. Its sales guidance was unchanged at $90.5 billion to $92.5 billion.

—Ezequiel Minaya contributed to this article.

PADC/Pilatus Britten-Norman BN-2A-26 Islander, 8R-GRA, Roraima Airways: Fatal accident occurred July 25, 2017 near Eteringbang Airport, Guyana

Roraima Airways Chief Pilot Colin Martin

The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) is preparing to launch an intensive probe into a plane crash at Eteringbang Tuesday afternoon that claimed the life of a Roraima Airways pilot- an incident that has plunged the domestic carrier into mourning.

Dead is Chief Pilot, 39-year old Collin Martin who leaves to mourn his wife , Dr. Roberta Martin, and their eight year-old daughter.

GCAA Director General, Retired Colonel Egbert Field said investigators would be inspecting the crash site early Wednesday morning. The Accident Investigation Group, an entity separate from the GCAA, is also expected to independently probe the incident and produce a preliminary report.

Field said the investigation would include an autopsy, examination of the wreckage, interviews with the pilot of the other Roraima Airways plane and witnesses. “I don’t think we will be short of witnesses because anytime an aircraft is heard overhead, there is always a lot of people coming out to see – just to enjoy, to see the sight of an aircraft- so we shouldn’t have too many problems to find individuals who can be interviewed,” he told reporters. Already, the GCAA Director General has been able to ascertain from the other pilot that visibility was good.

Chief Executive Officer of the Roraima Group of Companies, Captain Gerry Gouveia said the incident was now in the hands of civil aviation investigators, but so far the plane, bearing registration number 8R-GRA, and another Roraima Airways plane left Ekereku and were about to land at Eteringbang  to overnight when the incident occurred. The planes and crew are covered by the relevant insurances, he said.

“The only report that we have so far is that the aircraft was closing off its operations for the day. It was empty, the pilot was flying alone and going into land when the aircraft crashed. We don’t have any indication at this time- the reason it happened,” Gouveia told reporters.

Sources said the plane went down at approximately 5:48 PM about 200 metres on the approach to the Eteringbang airstrip.

The CEO hailed Captain Martin as an “experienced and wonderful pilot” who was working with the domestic carrier for at least six years during which time he emerged as “out star evacuation pilot”,sacrificing his life to save many lives.  “He is a great loss to Roraima. The entire Roraima team is very, very shaken at the moment,” he said of the former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) Major who served in the Special Forces.

Unconfirmed reports are that the two planes were conducting an overpass when  the Britten-Norman Islander that Martin was flying almost flipped before nose-diving. “We have no information of an overpass but when you fly in the interior, it’s not unusual for pilots to fly over the runway to check. These are uncontrolled runways. I don’t know if he did but if he did, he was following correct procedure because you don’t have a control tower to tell you the runway is clear,” he said. The CEO said the other pilot who was flying immediately behind him did not receive any distress call, and so “whatever happened, happened suddenly.”

As the news of the passing of Martin spread, many of his colleagues and friends flocked the Roraima Airways operations office at the Eugene F. Correia ‘Ogle’ Airport to express their condolences to his wife, Dr. Roberta Martin, and family as well as Roraima Airways staff.

After medical personnel pronounced Martin dead at the Roraima Airways hangar, his body was removed from another Roraima Airways plane and placed into a waiting hearse.

Wesley Kirton- who related the sentiments of Captain Martin’s wife in the presence of her and her mother,  his mother and Captain Gouveia and Mrs. Gouveia- asked the media to “allow her to go through her period of mourning and come to grips with what has happened.” “This has come as a great shock and tremendous loss to the family.”

Dr. Martin is a lecturer at the University of Guyana and the doctor-in-charge at the Kitty Health Centre.

Captain Collin Martin

A  pilot employed by domestic airline, Roraima Airways, early Tuesday evening died when the plane crashed on approaching the airstrip at Eteringbang in western Guyana, officials confirmed.

He has been identified as Collin Martin. The wreckage was located and his body was extracted. It was due to arrive in Georgetown Tuesday night.

No other persons were aboard the Britten-Norman Islander bearing registration number, 8R-GRA.

The Director General of the Guyana Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), Retired Col. Egbert Field confirmed receiving a report at about 6:30 PM about the incident that occurred minutes before.

He said a pilot, who was airborne at the time, witnessed the incident. Preliminary indications are that the ill-fated plane was airborne at a location from where the pilot could have seen the Eteringbang airstrip.

Sources said before nose-diving to the ground, the plane almost flipped.

RORAIMA Airways pilot, Colin Martin, perished on Tuesday afternoon after the Britten -Norman island aircraft he was operating crashed on landing at Eteringbang, in Region Seven (Cuyuni/Mazaruni).

Reports are that Captain Martin who was alone at the time was approaching the runway at the border location when he lost control of the aircraft bearing registration 8R-GRA.

Police Divisional Commander, Rabindradath Budhram told the Guyana Chronicle that the man’s motionless body was retrieved from the aircraft and flown to the city Tuesday night. Aviation sources said that the pilot was shuttling between Eteringbang and other airstrips on Tuesday.

Captain Martin, who served the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) in the past, has been described by colleagues as one of the hardworking pilots at Roraima. He was credited with undertaking a number of medical evacuation flights from the hinterland. He is survived by his wife and daughter.

In August 2016, the same aircraft which was involved in Tuesday’s incident sustained substantial damage after it encountered mechanical problems during takeoff at Eteringbang. The pilot lost control of the aircraft at the time and later crashed in a valley during an aborted take-off attempt. He escaped unhurt.

Roraima Airways has been plunged into mourning after an afternoon plane crash claimed the life of the airline’s Chief Pilot, Captain Collin Martin.

The crash of the Roraima Airways Islander aircraft took place just before sunset this afternoon. News Source understands that Martin was the only person in the aircraft during a regular shuttle flight into the Eteringbang community.

Another Roraima Airways plane was flying on the same mission and it was the pilot of that plane that reportedly noticed the crashed aircraft.  The man’s body has been recovered from the wreckage and efforts are being made to transfer the body to the city.

In a Facebook post just moments after reports of the crash surfaced,  Roraima Airways Managing Director, Captain Gouveia remarked “My Dear God”.

He would later tell media operatives that Captain Martin was a dedicated and loved pilot who was committed to the job and went beyond the call of duty whenever an emergency arose.

Shocked Roraima Airways staffers have been left in tears as they try to figure out what went wrong.

Captain Martin was one of the most experienced pilots with the airline who completed dozens of flights daily to all parts of Guyana. He was one of the pilots who led medivac operations during the nights and was also a former Officer of the Guyana Defence Force.

The Guyana Civil Aviation Authority has launched an investigation.

Beech A36TC Bonanza, N60WB, Peak 2 Peak LLC: Fatal accident occurred July 26, 2017 near Ogden-Hinckley Airport (KOGD), Weber County, Utah

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama
Hartzell Propellers; Piqua, Ohio

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Peak 2 Peak LLC:

NTSB Identification: WPR17FA166
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, July 26, 2017 in Ogden, UT
Aircraft: BEECH A36TC, registration: N60WB
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 July 26, 2017, about 1240 mountain daylight time, a Beech A36TC airplane, N60WB, was substantially damaged when it collided with the freeway shortly after departing from Ogden-Hinckley Airport (OGD), Ogden, Utah. The private pilot, and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to Peak 2 Peak, LLC., and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed. The flight was destined for Yellowstone Airport (WYS), West Yellowstone, Montana. 

According to an air traffic control recording from the OGD tower, shortly after departing the runway, the pilot reported "hey, I'm going down, zero-whiskey-bravo." The controller cleared the pilot for landing and four seconds later, another pilot flying in the area reported seeing the airplane impact the highway.

Witnesses who were also general aviation mechanics, located between hangar rows adjacent to the runway at OGD, heard the airplane during its departure. They stated that the sound was unusual which made them look up to see what it was. When the airplane first came into view they stated it was about 100 ft above the ground, and that it should be about 500 feet or higher at that location [which was about 3,700 ft down runway 17]. As the airplane passed by, they noticed the engine sound was underpowered and the tail of the airplane going up and down, as if the pilot was struggling to keep the airplane at altitude.

Dash Cam video from a car on a southwest-bound street, captured the accident airplane in flight. The airplane was first observed flying wings level from the right side of the video frame. As it approached the center of the video frame, it entered a right turn and flew away, paralleling the street. Shortly after, the airplane entered a descending right banking turn until out of view. 

The accident site revealed that the first identified point of contact (FIPC) was the outer edge of the northbound freeway, and came to rest in the median, along the guardrail. The debris field was about 150 feet long with debris in both north and southbound lanes. The main wreckage remained intact with post-crash fire damage. The wing tip tanks and the leading edge of the wings were crushed, consistent with vertical impact damage. All flight controls were accounted for and flight control continuity was attained. The propeller assembly separated from the engine during the accident sequence and was subsequently relocated about 200 feet further up the freeway from the debris field, after being impacted by a passing tractor trailer. No other vehicles were involved in the accident sequence. 

The wreckage was recovered to a secure location for further examination.

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

Diana and Layne Clarke

Perry and Sarah Huffaker

 A small plane crashed on a Utah highway Wednesday, killing two couples heading for a vacation but narrowly missing cars when it barreled across the lanes through a gap in traffic.

The plane went down shortly after takeoff from a municipal airport popular with private pilots north of Salt Lake City, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Allen Kenitzer said. No injuries were reported on the ground after it snarled traffic and left behind blackened wreckage.

Layne Clarke, 48, was flying his wife and two friends as they departed for a vacation, said family friend and colleague Jeff Henderson. Clarke owned an automotive paint business and had gotten his pilot's license about five years ago after a friend got him interested in aviation, he said.

Clarke was a "very energetic, wonderful man," Henderson said.

Also killed in the crash was his wife, Diana Clarke, 46, of Taylor, Utah, and their friends Perry, 45, and Sarah Huffaker, 42, of West Haven, Utah, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Administration are investigating the cause of the crash. It closed most lanes of Interstate 15 in Riverdale, about 35 miles north of Salt Lake City.

The Beech A36 Bonanza crashed about a half-mile from a nearby municipal airport. It hit on the edge of the interstate, went across the northbound lanes during an opening in traffic and landed in the median, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Royce told the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden.

It appeared the plane was out of control and the pilot was trying to land it on the interstate just before the crash, semitrailer driver Obdulio Ruiz told the newspaper.

Driver April Demetropolis was on her way to work when the plane crashed so close to her car that she felt the reverberation and heat from the explosion, the Deseret News reported.

"Out of nowhere from the east side, a plane came swooping in and just nose-dived into the middle of the freeway," Demetropolis told the newspaper. "It exploded. The flames engulfed the entire street."

RIVERDALE — Two couples were killed when a plane crashed on Interstate 15 Wednesday. 

The Utah Highway Patrol identified the victims of the crash as Perry Huffaker, 45, and Sarah Huffaker, 42, of West Haven, and Layne Clarke, 48, and Diana Clarke, 45, of Taylor. 

At 12:40 p.m. Wednesday, a small Beech A36 Bonanza plane crashed on the interstate’s eastern edge, went across the northbound lanes and settled in the median, Utah Highway Patrol Sgt. Todd Royce said. 

The plane had departed from Ogden-Hinckley Airport on Runway 17 and crashed about a half a mile away from the airport, according to Allen Kenitzer, public information officer for the Federal Aviation Administration’s northwest mountain region.

The Huffakers and Clarkes died on impact, Royce said. They were headed to Island Park, Idaho, for a vacation. 

“This is a tragic accident,” Royce said. “Our hearts and thoughts go out to those families.” 

Layne Clarke is believed to have been piloting the plane at the time of the crash, Royce said. 

Witnesses said the plane exploded, and Royce said it caught fire in the median. As the smoke and flames began to clear, charred pieces of the aircraft were scattered across the road’s northbound lanes.

Though it crashed into multiple lanes of traffic, the plane — which was traveling west after leaving Ogden-Hinckley Airport — didn’t hit any vehicles.

“Miraculously at the time, it seemed there was just a gap in the vehicles where it hit and came across ... no other injuries sustained besides the four fatalities,” Royce said. 

Northbound I-15 will be closed at Riverdale Road until 7 p.m. at the earliest, according to Vic Saunders, Utah Department of Transportation Region 1 spokesman. One lane of southbound I-15 is also closed in the area and heavy congestion starts around 31st Street.

RIVERDALE — Four people are reported dead after a small plane crashed onto I-15 in Riverdale on Wednesday, snarling freeway traffic.

The Utah Department of Public Safety confirmed the crash shortly before 1 p.m. The department said four casualties have been reported in the crash.

The Federal Aviation Administration reported the Beech A36 Bonanza took off from Ogden-Hinckley Airport, then crashed a half-mile away for unknown reasons.

All northbound lanes were closed, and southbound traffic was down to two lanes as crews responded, police said, warning that significant delays are expected throughout the afternoon.

April Demetropolis, of Salt Lake City, was driving to work in Ogden when the plane crashed so close to her car that she felt the reverberation of its impact and heat from a large explosion.

"Out of nowhere from the east side, a plane came swooping in and just nose-dived into the middle of the freeway," Demetropolis said. "It exploded. The flames engulfed the entire street."

The plane missed passing cars on the freeway, Demetropolis said. Nearby drivers pulled to the side and immediately rushed to help.

"The kid in front of me … he pulled over in front of me as I pulled over further behind him, he jumped and ran, and he was already on his cellphone," Demetropolis said.

Demetropolis was among numerous witnesses who called 911, then stayed to provide statements to law enforcement.

"It was full force. It didn't look like anyone trying to slow down or anything. It was just a full nose dive straight into the ground," she said.

RIVERDALE — Four people are dead after a small plane crash that happened along Interstate 15 near the Riverdale Road exit Wednesday.

Weber County emergency dispatchers confirmed a small airplane crashed on the interstate’s northbound side, mostly in the median, at about 12:40 p.m. Wednesday.

All northbound lanes were closed, and only one southbound lane was open, according to Utah Public Safety. Drivers should expect significant delays throughout the afternoon.

Allen Kenitzer, public information officer for the Federal Aviation Administration’s northwest mountain region, confirmed that there were four passengers on the plane at the time of the crash.

The Utah Division of Public Safety confirmed that all four passengers on board died in the crash.

It is unknown as of 2:30 p.m. what caused this plane crash. 

Reached by telephone, Ogden-Hinckley Airport general manager Jon Greiner said he’s out of town and didn’t have much information other than what he was told in a phone call about 12:45 p.m.

“I’m at Bear Lake, so I don’t have a lot of information,” he said. “But apparently a plane augered in, and I’m assuming the pilot expired.”

Mark Kendell, Ogden Hinckley Airport Advisory Committee chairman, was out of state and said he hadn’t heard about the crash. A worker at the Ogden airport’s control tower was unable to comment on the plane crash. 

It was unclear whether any cars were involved in the crash as of 1:25 p.m. It was also unclear who the plane belonged to or where it was going.

Obdulio Ruiz, a truck driver from Los Angeles, was at the scene of the crash and said he saw the plane go down. Ruiz said the plane looked like it was out of control before it crashed in front of his semi-trailer.

Ruiz, who was driving a truck full of flammable chemicals, said it looked like the plane attempted to land on the interstate but was unable to.

Kat Yoder, who was in a nearby parking lot when the plane crashed, said there was an immediate explosion but she didn’t see any vehicles involved.

WEBER COUNTY, Utah - Four people died Wednesday afternoon when a small plane crashed on I-15 in Weber County.

The victims have been identified as Layne and Diana Clarke of Taylor, Utah, and Perry and Sarah Huffaker of West Haven, Utah.

The crash happened shortly before 1 p.m. near 5600 S.

Sgt. Todd Royce of the Utah Highway Patrol said the plane is believed to have taken off from Ogden-Hinckley Airport and was destined for Island Park, Idaho.

Utah Highway Patrol troopers closed all of I-15's northbound lanes and all but one southbound lane in the area.

"I-15, if you can think about it, is our most heavily-traveled interstate in Utah. And to shut this down, northbound, during the evening commute, that's going to cause considerable inconvenience for a lot of folks," said Utah Department of Transportation spokesman John Gleason.

Gleason suggested using US-89 or, for those traveling from the Salt Lake City area, going up Parleys Canyon and back down Ogden Canyon.

"That's a long detour, but you may actually make your destination a little sooner than you would if you chance coming up here on I-15," Gleason said.

No cars were involved in the crash.

"We're here in Weber County, three lane interstate. It's usually very busy. It's actually pretty miraculous that no one got hit that was traveling in there," said Sgt. Todd Royce, UHP.

Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Security Board officials will be at the scene to conduct an investigation of the plane crash. Utah Highway Patrol and State Bureau of Investigation officials are also documenting the crash.

"We just want people to know, especially those that are caught in traffic, that this takes some time and please be patient," Royce said.

Due to the ongoing investigation, it's unclear when the freeway will reopen.

The NTSB confirmed the plane was a Beech A36TC Bonanza.