Thursday, August 31, 2017

Lawsuit: Pilot crashed plane after being ‘misdirected’ by Federal Aviation Administration; Socata TBM 700 (850), N536EM, accident occurred October 05, 2014 in Fayetteville, Fayette County, Georgia

A married Buckhead couple is suing federal agencies for failures they say led to them crash-landing a small plane onto an athletic field in October 2014, according to a lawsuit. 

S. Blaine McCaleb III was flying a Socata TBM 850 with his wife, Cynthia McCaleb, when the plane lost engine power. Blaine McCaleb contacted the Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controller and declared an in-flight emergency, says the complaint, filed Friday in the U.S. District Court's Northern District of Georgia.

The air traffic controller misdirected Blaine McCaleb to an airport located about 10 nautical miles away, instead of one that was about 1.7 miles away, according to the filing. The former airport was beyond the distance the plane would have been able to glide without engine power; the latter was “well within” that distance, it says.

The plane crashed short of the airport allegedly identified by the FAA. The McCalebs were both injured, with Cynthia McCaleb suffering “multiple broken bones, facial injuries and scarring and traumatic brain injuries,” the complaint says. 

The lawsuit does not name the two airports, and the McCaleb’s attorney, Alan Armstrong, declined to identify them because the office doesn’t comment on pending litigation. But in 2014, Fayette County Sheriff’s officials said the plane left DeKalb-Peachtree Airport in Atlanta for Harris County Airport in Pine Mountain, but was diverted to Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field in Peachtree City before crash landing in the vacant athletic field at Starr’s Mill High School in Fayetteville, according to news reports at the time.

The lawsuit claims the defendants — the federal transportation department and the FAA — failed to follow training directives and failed to use reasonable care during air traffic control communications with Blaine McCaleb. The couple seeks damages.

The Department of Justice, which represents federal agencies in litigation, declined to comment. 

Original article can be found here ➤

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia 
Daher Socata; Pompano Beach, Florida 
Pratt & Whitney Canada; St. Hubert, Quebec 

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board:

TBM 850 536 LLCL

NTSB Identification: ERA15LA006
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, October 05, 2014 in Fayetteville, GA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 06/29/2016
Aircraft: SOCATA TBM 700, registration: N536EM
Injuries: 1 Serious, 1 Minor.

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

The private pilot was conducting a personal cross-country flight. The pilot reported that, during cruise flight at 6,000 ft mean sea level, he observed a crew alerting system oil pressure message, followed by a total loss of engine power. An air traffic controller provided vectors to a local airport; however, the pilot reported that the airplane would not reach the runway. He did not attempt to restart the engine. He feathered the propeller and placed the power lever to “idle” and the condition lever to “cut off.” The pilot subsequently attempted a forced landing to a sports field with the gear and flaps retracted. The airplane collided with trees and the ground and then came to rest upright.

Examination of the engine revealed that it displayed contact signatures to its internal components and evidence of ingested unburned organic debris, consistent with the engine likely being unpowered and the engine gas generator and power sections wind-milling at the time of impact. No evidence of any preimpact mechanical anomalies or malfunctions to any of the engine components was found that would have precluded normal operation.

Recorded GPS flight track and systems data showed that the loss of engine power was preceded by about 5 minutes of flight on a constant heading and altitude with an excessive lateral g force of about 0.17 g and a bank angle between about 8 and 10 degrees, consistent with a side-slip flight condition. The airplane then entered a right turn with the autopilot engaged, and it lost power at the end of the turn. The data indicated that, even though the autopilot was engaged, the lateral g forces increased as the airplane leveled off and accelerated, indicating that the automatic rudder trim feature of the yaw damper system was not engaged. Given that the yaw damper system operated normally after the flight, it is likely that the pilot inadvertently and unknowingly disengaged the yaw damper during flight with the autopilot engaged. During a postaccident interview, the pilot stated that he was not aware of a side-slip condition before the loss of engine power.

Although the fuel tank system was designed to prevent unporting of the fuel lines during momentary periods of uncoordinated flight, it was not intended to do so for extended periods of uncoordinated flight. Therefore, the fuel tank feed line likely unported during the prolonged uncoordinated flight, which resulted in the subsequent loss of engine power. If the pilot had recognized the side-slip condition, he could have returned to coordinated flight and prevented the engine power loss. Also, once the airplane returned to coordinated flight, an engine restart would have been possible.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot’s inadvertent deactivation of the yaw damper in flight, which resulted in a prolonged side-slip condition that led to fuel starvation and the eventual total loss of engine power. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to attempt to restart the engine.


On October 5, 2014, about 1255 eastern daylight time, a Socata TBM 700 (850), N536EM, was force landed onto a high school sports field near Fayetteville, Georgia. The commercial pilot received minor injuries and one passenger, his wife, had serious injuries. The airplane was registered to TBM 850 536 LLC and was operated by pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Dekalb-Peachtree Airport (PDK), Atlanta, Georgia about 1240 and was destined for Pine Mountain, Georgia (PIM).

The pilot reported the following. During cruise flight at 6,000 feet above mean sea level (msl), he observed an oil pressure message on the crew alerting system (CAS) and a total loss of engine power. The air traffic controller provided vectors to Falcon Field, Peachtree City, Georgia (FFC), and later the pilot reported that he would not make the runway. An engine restart was not attempted. He feathered the propeller, placed the power lever in idle, and the condition lever to cut off. The landing gear and flaps remained in the retracted positions. Radar contact was subsequently lost and the pilot force landed the airplane. The airplane collided with trees and the ground before coming to rest upright. There was no fire. The pilot and his wife exited the airplane and were transported to a local hospital for treatment.


The pilot, age 66, held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single engine land and instrument airplane. He reported a total flight experience of 4,244 hours, including 411 hours in the accident airplane make and model. He possessed a class 3 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) medical certificate with no limitations.

The pilot completed a TBM 850 recurrent training course at SIMCOM, Orlando, Florida on January 24, 2014.


The accident airplane was a Socata model TBM 700 (850), serial number 536, manufactured in 2010. It was a single engine low-wing monoplane of mainly aluminum construction. It had a retractable tricycle landing gear and was configured to seat six occupants. The airplane was powered by a Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6A-66D engine, serial number RV0159, rated to produce 850 shaft-horsepower. It was fitted with a Hartzell HC-E4N-3, four-bladed, constant speed propeller.

An examination of available maintenance records revealed that an annual inspection was completed on the airframe and engine on January 8, 2014. The airframe total time at the time of the accident was 719.8 hours. The time since the last annual inspection was 135.6 hours.


The 1253 surface weather observation for FFC, located about 3 nautical miles west-northwest of the accident site, included sky clear, wind calm, visibility 10 statute miles or greater, temperature 64 degrees F, dew point 36 degrees F, and altimeter setting 30.06 inches of mercury.


An inspector with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) responded to the accident site and examined the wreckage. The wreckage came to rest, upright, on level ground at a high school sports complex. The fuselage and both wings exhibited structural damage and both wing fuel tanks were ruptured from impact forces. The landing gear and wing flaps were found in the retracted positions. There was evidence of fuel spillage throughout the wreckage path. The propeller and gearbox were broken free from the engine. The engine remained attached to the firewall.

All major airframe structural and flight control components were accounted for within the wreckage debris field. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit controls to the ailerons, elevator, and rudder. The fuel tank selector handle was found in the "L" (left) tank position.


The airplane was equipped with a Garmin G1000 all-glass avionics suite. The unit held a Secure Digital (SD) card and investigators confirmed that the card recorded flight and systems data before and during the accident sequence.

GPS track data, retrieved from the Garmin G1000 system, depicted the airplane departing PDK about 1240. About 18 seconds after takeoff, the autopilot was turned on. G1000 data indicated that during the climb portion of the flight, the lateral acceleration values were near neutral. This indicated that the rudder trim was appropriately set for the climb portion of the flight.

About 1244:52, the airplane reached 6,000 feet above mean sea level, leveled off, and began to accelerate. During the next 5 minutes, the airplane's lateral acceleration reached 0.17g while the airplane maintained a left bank of about 8-10 degrees while on a heading of about 190 degrees. These roll, lateral acceleration, and heading values indicated that the airplane was flying in a side-slip.

At 1249:53, the airplane started a right turn with the autopilot engaged, to a heading of 240 degrees. At the end of the turn, at 1250:16, the engine lost power. A sudden drop of NG (gas producer speed), torque, and fuel flow was observed. At 1251, the pilot disconnected the autopilot and the airplane returned to near-coordinated flight until the airplane completed its descent to the forced landing.


Fuel System

The aircraft fuel system was examined after recovery of the wreckage to a storage facility. The cockpit fuel selector was in the LEFT tank position and the fuel selector valve indicated that fuel was feeding from the left tank. Both inboard wing fuel doors were opened to inspect the pickup area; no anomalies were found. The fuel screen, low fuel sensor, and flapper valves all appeared normal.

The fuel lines from the left tank to the engine were examined for obstructions with forced air; none were found. The fuel filter was removed and examined; no contamination was found. The fuel selector valve operated in a normal manner.


The engine was removed and sent to the manufacturer's facility for disassembly and examination. The engine displayed moderate impact damage including structural separation of the forward reduction gearbox, impact fracture of the propeller shaft, and light compressional deformation of the exhaust duct.

The gas generator rotor and accessory gearbox turned freely by hand. Light circumferential rubbing was displayed by the compressor turbine shroud due to contact with the adjacent blade tips. Unburned organic debris was distributed in the combustion section. The power section was seized due to the deformation of the exhaust duct. Circumferential rubbing was displayed by the first and second stage power turbine shrouds due to contact with their adjacent blade tips. None of the engine mechanical components displayed any indications of any pre-impact anomalies or distress.

Investigation of the engine controls and accessories included functional testing of the fuel pump, fuel control unit, flow divider, fuel nozzles, and torque limiter. The propeller governor was disassembled and inspected as impact damage precluded functional testing. None of the components showed any conditions that would have precluded normal operation.

Rudder Trim System

The electrical rudder trim actuator was found positioned slightly left of neutral. Electrical power was applied to the rudder trim and yaw damper systems after the accident and both operated in a normal manner.


Fuel Tank Design

The airplane had integral fuel tanks formed by sealing of the structure in each wing. Each tank was divided into an inboard (feeder) area and an outboard (storage) area. The feeder section of each fuel tank was formed by the root rib and the second rib outboard from the root. This rib contained one-way valves that would allow fuel to flow from the outboard storage area into the inboard feeder area, but prevented fuel from flowing outboard. The fuel capacity of the feeder section of the tank was about 33 liters or about 8.7 gallons. The one way valves in the feeder section were intended to prevent unporting of the fuel tank pickup due to momentary periods of uncoordinated flight as would be encountered during turbulence, but were not intended to do so for extended periods of uncoordinated flight.

Autopilot and Yaw Damper Systems

The airplane was equipped with an automatic flight control system (AFCS) that included an autopilot and yaw damper. The autopilot controlled the aircraft pitch and roll attitudes following commands received from the flight director. The yaw damper system operated independent of autopilot and was designed to monitor lateral acceleration to achieve coordinated flight. The system was also designed to automatically actuate the rudder trim to achieve trimmed flight. The automatic trim feature was only enabled when the yaw damper system was engaged. The rudder trim system also included a manual electric yaw trim (MEYT) switch on the pilot yoke that enabled the pilot to trim the rudder without yaw damper engagement. The yaw damper system could be enabled independent of the autopilot by depressing the "YD" button. In addition, if the pilot selected the "AP" key, the autopilot, yaw damper and flight director would be activated simultaneously. The yaw damper system could be disengaged by activating the MEYT switch located on the yoke, or by depressing the "YD" button. The parameters recorded by the G1000 avionics system did not include a discrete parameter indicating yaw damper engagement or trim motor actuation.

The G1000 indications of extended flight in a slip condition were indicative of the yaw damper being disconnected while the autopilot was engaged. Steady heading side slips occur with no trim action on the yaw axis as the aircraft increases speed and maintains a steady heading and altitude. Rudder trim was provided automatically with the yaw damper on, or manually using the rudder trim. During a post-accident interview with the pilot, he stated that he was not aware of a side-slip condition prior to the loss of engine power.

On September 8, 2014, TBM issued Service Information (SI) 2014-006, which provided an upgrade (version 14.02) to the G1000 version 14.01 software. Included in the upgrade was a new CAS caution message, "AP ON YD OFF" that illuminated when the autopilot was on while the yaw damper was off. This condition would include a scenario of inadvertent pilot deactivation of the yaw damper. An aural warning was also incorporated to direct the pilot to the CAS message. At the time of the accident, the accident airplane did not have the upgrade to version 14.02 installed. The owner reported that he planned to install it at the next annual inspection, due in January, 2015.

Chapter 3 of the TBM 850 Pilot's Operating Handbook addresses engine failure in flight. Step number 8 of the ENGINE FAILURE DURING FLIGHT checklist calls for an air start attempt and directs the pilot to the air start procedure (section 3.4). The pilot reported that he did not attempt an air start.

Elite Airways announces service to White Plains, New York from Sarasota Bradenton International Airport (KSRQ)

 Elite president John Pearsall was joined by Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority chairman John Stafford and Sarasota Bradenton International Airport president and CEO Fredrick “Rick” Piccolo for Thursday’s announcement.

Manatee --  Elite Airways announced additional service from Sarasota Bradenton International Airport to another destination along the east coast on Thursday afternoon.

At a press conference in front of Elite’s ticket counter at SRQ, Elite president John Pearsall, SRQ president and CEO Fredrick “Rick” Piccolo and Sarasota Manatee Airport Authority chairman John Stafford delivered remarks on new service to White Plains, New York. The nonstop flight will operate on Mondays and Fridays beginning Nov. 10.

Early-bird fares start at $179 with one free checked bag and carry-on bag.

White Plains is a new destination for Elite. The airline’s other east coast services include flights to and from Newark, N.J., and Portland, Maine.

“The consumer demand for New York-to-Florida service continues to be strong and we are thrilled to introduce nonstop service between White Plains and Sarasota-Bradenton this fall,” Pearsall said in a release.

New York is the Bradenton area’s largest domestic tourism feeder market outside Florida, according to Bradenton Area Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Elliott Falcione.

“To bring more lift into SRQ from that market is exciting,” Falcione said. “The demographic we target aligns with the White Plains market really well. We can’t wait until Nov. 10.”

Almost exactly a year ago, Elite and SRQ announced the arrival of the airline’s services in the Bradenton area. Elite, which aims to make passengers feel like they’re “flying with family,” started at SRQ with twice-weekly service to Portland, Maine. Earlier this year the airline added a Halifax, Nova Scotia, leg to the Portland route.

Pearsall alluded to another announcement coming from Elite in the coming weeks.

“We’ve been working very hard on some other projects here in Sarasota and we are looking forward, in the next few weeks, to making another announcement for another city,” Pearsall said at the press conference. “We think it will be a terrific complement to Sarasota. It’s up north; I won’t say where, but a lot of people from that area live here also.”

Last week, Delta Airlines announced the addition of seasonal service to John F. Kennedy International Airport. The new Delta and Elite services help Piccolo further justify the $35 million in terminal improvements during the past five years as well as the upcoming $4 million and $2 million in roadway and parking improvements, respectively.

SRQ had an increase in total passengers in May, June and July of 2017 compared to the same months last year, deflecting from flat and declining passenger reports in the first four months of this year.

Original article can be found here ➤

How March Field Air Museum ended up with Wright brothers plane

Riverside County is now home to two of the world’s Wright Flyer replicas.

The original plane, with which Wilbur and Orville Wright made their historic Kitty Hawk flight, hangs in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. But there are several full-size reproductions that have been built over the years. At least one, built by the Wright Experience for the centennial celebration of the initial flight, is airworthy.

The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics started its own Wright Flyer project in Southern California in 1978. Over the years, the group built two replicas. One was designed to undergo wind tunnel tests at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Sunnyvale. The second was built to fly. So far, it hasn’t. It has been sitting in a hangar at Flabob Airport in Jurupa Valley since 2007.

The first replica, which successfully underwent the NASA wind tunnel tests in 1999, had been hanging on display at the Federal Aviation Administration West Coast headquarters in Hawthorne until recently. The agency is remodeling its offices and was looking for a new home for the flyer. Officials from March Field Air Museum in Riverside stepped up.

On Aug. 16, it was shipped to the Inland museum. After some slight restoration, it was lifted into place on Wednesday, Aug. 30, suspended from the ceiling of one of the museum’s hangars. It will go on display in the coming weeks, after some additions, including a background mural and a display depicting the Wright brothers’ bicycle shop.

“Now we’re complete,” said Jamil Dada, chairman of the museum’s board of directors. “I feel like we have the beginning and the end. We have the Predator (an Air Force drone currently in use in combat areas) and we have the first airplane.”

Museum curator John Houlihan said the new plane provides context.

“We can show people how far aviation has come,” Houlihan said. “It’s going to make all the difference in the world.”

While there are slight differences between the original Wright brothers’ plane and the museum’s replica, they are slight. The “engine” mounted at the center of the 40-foot 4-inch wing, weighs the same as the original but is not a working engine. Locking nuts were used instead of the original screws. But some of the elements are impressive duplications.

The influence of the Wright brothers’ familiarity with bicycles is evident in some of the flight mechanisms. Bicycle chains were used in several places. In fact, according to the aeronautic institute’s website, “The Diamond Chain Company, who had made the chain for the Wrights, still had the tooling to make the now non-standard chain and manufactured ours.”

Details such as this, Houlihan said, make the plane worthy of attention.

The Wright design used a set of elevators in the front of the plane to provide the up and down control provided by ailerons in most modern planes. Twin vertical rudders in the rear of the plane were operated by the pilot, supported by a cradle, shifting his hips to one side or the other.

The museum also plans to mount a mannequin in the pilot’s position, dressed in period clothing.

While the plane’s design is obviously antique and its structure, according to Houlihan, is “very, very delicate,” it will hold its own as a museum display.

“It’s a big airplane,” Houlihan said.

Gazing up at the hovering model, Dada agreed.

“I didn’t realize it was going to be so big,” he said, remarking that it dominates the portion of the hanger it occupies. “It’s huge.”

The museum is at 22550 Van Buren Boulevard, Riverside. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday. Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children 5-11. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Viewpoints: Legislators aim to improve aviation safety, address crippling pilot shortage

By Stan Bernstein and Tim Komberec

Stan Bernstein is president of the Regional Air Cargo Carriers Association. 

Tim Komberec is president of Empire Airlines.

The News article, “Senate panel votes to weaken Flight 3407 safety law,” is erroneous when it alleges regional airlines want to dilute the co-pilot requirements for commercial airlines. In fact, no one who represents the industry is proposing to lift the requirement that a pilot have 1,500 hours of experience – the number required to be awarded an airline transport pilot license. The proposals by Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and other congressional legislators were in response to safety concerns raised by the industry and do not advocate weakening the 1,500-hour requirement.

Airline training and operational executives reported during the last two years of the World Airline Training conference a decline in pilot quality and a doubling of the wash-out rate. Both raise troubling safety concerns about the next-generation airline pilot. In response, airlines have increased their training programs from 10 to 15 sessions. Despite these challenges, regional airlines continue to succeed at producing professional pilots worthy of the title. Still, the underlying safety issues remain unaddressed.

Studies indicate the decline in pilot preparedness results from the unstructured flying these pilots do to build hours to meet the 1,500-hour requirement. Indeed, many are surprised there is no training between college/flight school and airline hiring. We have found these pilots lose the discipline and professionalism they learned in structured training arenas requiring extensive remedial training. Regional airlines have been reporting this change since 2014. It should be noted that both the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) rejected an hourly minimum as an appropriate metric for determining pilot quality.

We have also seen a large dropout rate among pilots because of the cost of college, training and building hours at a time when the industry will need more than 600,000 pilots by 2035. The industry is now experiencing a historic pilot shortage that has forced it to curtail service. In the immediate aftermath of the new rule, more than 86 communities lost 10 percent or more of their air service.

The pilot shortage now threatens an additional 200 communities, which constitute over $121 billion in economic activity and 1.1 million jobs. The average distance of these communities to a medium or large hub ranges between 125 and 200 miles. Major airlines and airports report service would actually expand were it not for the pilot shortage.

Equally important is the growth of online orders and the cargo lift provided by regional cargo carriers. That Amazon order you placed may not be able to be delivered to small communities nationwide because of the pilot shortage.

Thune’s proposals address the cost of pilot training as well as allow for a more structured way to build hours so that prospective pilots do not lose the skills, discipline and professionalism the NTSB deems so important. In fact, many of the industry proposals adopt the recommendations of the Aviation Rulemaking Committee, a federal body made up of all parties, including pilots, to determine how to further improve safety.

In 1994, the entire industry rejected the learn-from-the-accident method of aviation safety improvements in favor of the data-driven advances that have given us the safety record we have today. Regional airlines have also adopted this approach and are reporting safety data we think should be considered. Consequently, to suggest the regional airline industry is only interested in lowering requirements to increase profits is dead wrong. We have identified a safety issue and have been fighting to be heard over political hyperbole. Pilot training is complex and needs a thorough understanding of both sides of the issue.

Original article can be found here ➤

Van's RV-12, N212ZF: Fatal accident occurred August 31, 2017 at Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport (KUMP), Fishers, Hamilton County, Indiana

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

Additional Participating 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Indianapolis, Indiana
Rotax Aircraft Engines; Vernon B.C, FN
Van's Aircraft, Inc.; Aurora, Oregon

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Norman B. Levine:

NTSB Identification: CEN17FA334
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Monday, July 31, 2017 in Fishers, IN
Aircraft: VANS AIRCRAFT INC RV-12, registration: N212ZF
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 August 31, 2017, about 1130 eastern daylight time, a Vans Aircraft Inc. RV-12 airplane, N212ZF, impacted terrain following a takeoff from runway 15 at the Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport (UMP), near Fishers, Indiana. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed during the impact and a post impact ground fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area about the time of the accident, and the flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight was originating from UMP at the time of the accident.

A flight instructor giving dual instruction at UMP reported that he was with a student in a Robinson R22 helicopter preparing to execute an autorotation landing to runway 15. His student made a radio call approximately 4 miles from the field that announced their intentions to make a straight in landing on 15. As the helicopter descended through short final, an airplane began to cross the runway hold short line to take 15 while simultaneously announcing his departure over the radio. As soon as radio call ended the aircraft was just reaching the runway 15 threshold markings. The instructor immediately made a radio call announcing that the helicopter was already on short final. The airplane pilot did not respond and continued to take the runway. The instructor indicated, "At this point it was clear we would have to initiate a go around in order to avoid a collision. Instead of proceeding upwind and risking a collision while he was taking off, I opted to do a right 360 off of the southwest side of the approach end of 15 to ensure we would remain clear of his departure path. As we began the right 360 I made a calmly mannered radio call directed toward the aircraft explaining that it was bad practice to cut off approaching aircraft on short final." The airplane pilot never responded to this or any other radio calls from the helicopter. The instructor further stated, "As we came back around on final after executing the right 360 I noticed a fire in the grass off of the departure end of the runway. I began to look for the departing airplane and also noted that he had not made any other radio calls announcing his departure from the pattern. At this point I realized it was pretty clear that the fire was likely the departing airplane. I immediately initiated a go around and radioed the Metro unicom instructing them to call 911 for the wrecked airplane. I then executed the rest of the go around and flew over the wreckage to try and assess the damage. I immediately landed the helicopter direct to the ramp and then called 911 again from my phone." The instructor said that he never had two-way radio communication with the pilot of the airplane and that he did not see the airplane takeoff or impact terrain.

According to preliminary information given to the airport police, another witness saw the airplane during its climbout. The airplane descended, impacted grassy terrain southeast of the runway, and caught on fire.

The 78-year-old pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) private pilot certificate with an airplane single engine land rating. His most recent application for a FAA third-class medical certificate was dated June 28, 2012. As of this medical exam, the pilot reported that he had accrued 1,200 total hours of flight time and 23 hours of flight time in the six months before the medical certificate. That medical certificate had a limitation: Must wear corrective lenses.

N212ZF was an experimental operating light-sport kit-built Van's Aircraft Inc. RV-12 airplane with serial number 120136. The airplane was a single engine, low-wing monoplane, configured to seat two occupants in a side-by-side seating arrangement. It employed a fixed tricycle landing gear arrangement and was constructed primarily from aluminum alloy materials. The airplane was powered by a 100-horsepower Rotax 912 ULS engine. The engine drove a two-bladed, Sensenich composite, adjustable pitch, propeller. The airplane was equipped with a forward opening, tip-up canopy. An endorsement in the airplane's logbooks indicated that a condition inspection was completed on November 20, 2016, and that the airplane had accumulated 153.4 hours of total time at that date.

The airplane was equipped with a Dynon FlightDEK-D180 seven-inch wide screen display unit.

The unit's primary functions include attitude, airspeed, altitude, vertical speed, gyro-stabilized magnetic compass, slip/skid ball, turn rate, clock, timers, g-meter, and horizontal situation indicator. This instrument features ADAHRS (Air Data, Attitude and Heading Reference System), which integrates over a dozen solid-state sensors. The unit can continuously monitor up to 27 available sensor inputs that cover the engine, fuel and other miscellaneous systems and annunciate any abnormality immediately upon detection. The Dynon's internal memory is capable of logging data depending on the firmware version installed in the unit. The data logging must be configured by the operator to enable logging and set the data log interval.

At 1129, the recorded weather at the Indianapolis Regional Airport, near Indianapolis, Indiana, was: wind 070° at 5kts; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition clear; temperature 21° C; dew point 17° C; altimeter 30.11 inches of mercury.

UMP was a public, non-towered airport, which was owned by the Indianapolis Airport Authority. It was located near Fishers, Indiana, about eight miles northeast of Indianapolis, Indiana. The airport had one runway and a surveyed elevation of 811.3 ft above mean sea level. Runway 15/33 was a 4,004 ft by 100 ft runway with a grooved asphalt surface. The airport listed 123.0 megahertz as its common traffic advisory frequency. Airport operations personnel examined the runway after the accident and no liberated airplane parts were found.

An on-scene examination of the wreckage was conducted. A page from the airplane's checklist, a section of foam, and a pair of glasses were found in the grass near the departure threshold of the runway. The airplane impacted the ground about 225 ft southeast of the departure end of runway 15 where a linear impact mark with a depression at its center, consistent with the size of the airplane's wings, engine cowling, and nose landing gear, was found. That linear mark revealed an impact heading or 140°. The airplane came to rest upright on about a 100° heading about 104 ft after that impact mark. The grass along a linear path between the impact witness mark and where the airplane came to rest was chafed. That linear path heading was about 150°. The nose landing gear was separated from the airplane and was found near the depression at the witness mark. Sections of the airplane were liberated along the path. One side of a headset was found about 13 ft from the impact mark. A composite propeller was found about 20 ft from the impact mark. A section of cowling was found about 80 ft from the impact mark. The fuselage by the cabin and inboard sections of the wings exhibited discoloration, deformation, and consumption damage consistent with a ground fire. Flight control cables from the rudder and elevator were traced from their flight control surfaces to the cabin area near their controls. Aileron control continuity could not be traced due to the fire damage present. The throttle, choke, and cabin heat were found in their forward positions. Engine control cables were traced from the cabin to the engine. Electrical power was applied to the trim motor and the trim motor was found to be operational.

The Hamilton County Coroner's Office arranged for an autopsy to be performed on the pilot.

The engine and Dynon unit were retained for further detailed 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

Norman B. Levine
September 19, 1926 - August 31, 2017

Norman B. Levine, 78, of Carmel, passed away on August 31, 2017. He was born in Detroit, MI to Saul and Evelyn Levine on June 8, 1939.  He was the founder of Glass and Mirror Craft Industries.  Norman moved from West Bloomfield, MI.  He then was able to spend his summers in Carmel, IN and winters in Ocean Ridge, FL. 

He is survived by his wife, Cynthia; sons, Scott (Tina) Levine, Adam (Laura) Levine, and Shawn (Sarah) Levine; 7 grandchildren; sister, Micki Lasher; and brother-in-law, Martin (Irene) Agrest.

Graveside services will be held Wednesday, September 6th, 2017 at 11 a.m. in Congregation Beth-El Zedeck North Cemetery.  Memorial contributions may be made to Weitzman Institute in Israel or to the charity of the donor's choice.

Arrangements entrusted to A.R.N. Funeral & Cremation Services.  Friends may leave a memory or message of condolence by visiting the online obituary at

The pilot who died Thursday in a crash at Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport in Fishers has been identified as 78-year-old Carmel resident Norman Levine.

Investigators are working to determine what caused his plane to crash Thursday about 11:15 a.m. at the airport near East 96th Street and Allisonville Road. He was the only occupant.

Peter Knudson, spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, the agency investigating the incident, told IndyStar on Friday that the plane struck the ground about 225 feet from the departure end of the runway after takeoff.

The plane came to a stop about 100 feet beyond that initial point of impact and at some point after the crash caught fire, Knudson said.  

Hamilton County Coroner Chalfin said Thursday that Levine sustained trauma to his upper body and face and severe burns to his legs. Chalfin notified the media of the pilot's identity on Friday.

The plane, a Van's RV-12, is a two-seat, single-engine propeller aircraft that can reach speeds up to 135 mph, according to the manufacturer's website.

Investigators are sifting through the wreckage and talking to witnesses. Knudson said the plane's engine and attitude  indicator, which relays information to the pilot regarding the aircraft's position relative to the ground, will be taken to a lab for further testing. 

The entire investigation could take a year or more to complete, he said, but a preliminary report will be available in one to two weeks. 

The 445-acre airport, surrounded on most sides by suburban development, has a 3,850-foot-long runway. The airport accommodates about 24,000 flights per year, said Stephanie McFarland, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis International Airport, which owns the Fishers airport. About 150 small planes are based there.

FISHERS, Ind. — Investigators are working to determine what caused a deadly crash Thursday morning at Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport after a small plane burst into flames shortly after takeoff.

The sole passenger of the single-propeller aircraft was killed about 11:15 a.m. at the airport near East 96th Street and Allisonville Road, authorities said. The pilot has not been identified. 

Preliminary information indicates that the plane, a Van's RV-12, crashed under unknown circumstances and caught fire shortly after departing the airport, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro said.

Molinaro said damage to the plane was "substantial." 

Hamilton County Coroner John Chalfin said he was informed before receiving the body that the man had trauma to his upper body and face and that his legs were charred by fire.

Authorities did not have any preliminary identification, so Chaflin said he would try to determine who the pilot was by any identifying scars or other marks.

Jay Nolan, a barista at Starbucks on East 96th Street, said she had a clear view of the plane crash through the coffee shop's large windows. Whether the plane was returning to the airfield immediately after takeoff was unclear.

"It just looked like he came in fast and low then exploded," Nolan said.

Grant Kirsh, an Indianapolis lawyer who takes flight lessons about three times a week at Metropolitan, said an official at the airport told him the pilot was not one of the 150 airplane owners based there.

“It was someone new to the airport,” said Kirsh, whose father, Steve Kirsh, flies at Metropolitan one to three times a week.

Kirsh said he was told the plane overran the runway and crashed when the plane left the landing strip. He said he drove by the airport and saw the damaged tail of the aircraft in the grass 200 feet past the end of the runway.

“It’s really hard to overrun; usually you need only half the runaway,” Kirsh said. “It would appear something else was going on for that to happen.”

He said the airport is very safe and he could not remember another accident there.

“It’s very well-maintained, top-notch, and I see airport authority officials there all the time inspecting it,” Kirsh said.

The 445-acre airport, surrounded on most sides by suburban development, has a 3,850-foot-long runway. The airport accommodates about 24,000 flights per year, said Stephanie McFarland, spokeswoman for the Indianapolis International Airport, which owns the Fishers airport. About 150 small planes are based there.

McFarland said Metropolitan will be closed pending a National Transportation Safety Board investigation. She declined to provide any further details on the crash.

A final determination on a plane crash can take up to 18 months, NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said. A preliminary report is usually available in a week to 10 days. 

The Van's RV-12 is a two-seat, all-metal plane that reaches a top speed of 135 mph, according to the manufacturer's website. 

Story and video ➤

FISHERS, Ind. (WISH) — Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport officials reported around 11:30 a.m. Thursday that a small, private plane crashed into the grass in the airfield, killing the pilot. 

The Fishers Fire Department, Fishers Police Department and Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport Police responded to the wreckage. Officials have not released the identity of the pilot; however, fellow pilots on the scene told 24-Hour News 8 the victim is a local man and an experienced pilot.

Indiana State Police Sgt. John Perrine said the victim was the sole occupant of the aircraft. Perrine said the investigation is now a federal issue with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration.

“We’re going to assist the FAA and NTSB in any way that they ask us to do, but right now the investigation will be in their hands,” Perrine said. “We have an interest because it’s a crash that occurred in the state of Indiana. That’s why we’re here but at this point we’re merely playing an assist role.”

Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport Police spokeswoman Stephanie McFarland said the airport will be closed pending the investigation.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Airport officials said the airport is a reliever airport of the Indianapolis Airport Authority and accommodates approximately 24,000 flights per year. It includes one asphalt runway and several hangars. The site is also the home of the Tom Wood Aviation School.

Story and video ➤

FISHERS, Ind. -- One person died Thursday morning in a plane crash in Fishers, Indiana. 

The crash happened at the Metro North Airport in Fishers around 11:30 a.m.

Fishers Police Department spokesperson Tom Weger said the pilot was the only occupant.

A single-engine plane crashed during its takeoff, according to the FAA. Initial sources said the plane was landing at the time of the crash.

The crash is now under investigation by the FAA and the NTSB.

Mike Young, who lives near the airport in Fishers, said he heard his dog barking and looked up.

"There was rolling black smoke just beyond the treeline," Young said. "There are no businesses over here. It was rolling pretty good. Which to me, indicated a problem here."  Young said small planes frequently come in and out of the airport.

Original article can be found here ➤

Cameron Balloons US A-120, N120NM: Incident occurred August 31, 2017 in Peoria, Arizona

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona

Balloon hit powerline while landing.

Date: 31-AUG-17
Time: 14:45:00Z
Regis#: N120NM
Aircraft Model: A-120
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: UNKNOWN
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91

PEORIA, Ariz. (KSAZ) - Police say one person was injured after a hot air balloon crashed in Peoria.

The Peoria Police Department says the pilot had been flying the balloon south towards power lines around 7:30 a.m. when for some reason he decided he needed to land immediately.

FOX 10 was at the scene as the pilot cleaned up about half mile off the road north of the Loop 303 near Lake Pleasant Parkway.

Three people, including the pilot, were inside of the balloon when it went down. One had minor injuries and didn't need to be taken to the hospital.

As well all know, this is a very popular area for hot air balloon rides, but the police department says they hardly see any accidents.

"Very rare... I think in my 19  years as an officer I haven't been to any calls out here with a hot air balloon going down," Officer Paul Hermans said. "From what we could tell, the hot air balloon did not hit the power lines. It was just a rough landing."

Officer Herman says the NTSB will not come out to investigate.

Story and video:

Veteran Mike Copeland: The Three Basics of a Love of Flight

The power at Downtown Island Airport is temporarily shut down while a breaker is replaced, and 63-year-old Mike Copeland sits at the table in a dim conference room. Tall and cheerful, he relaxes in a chair in what appears to be his optimum bearing and attitude. He was born in Knoxville on September 19th, 1953 to John and Zelma Copeland. Mike and older brother Richard grew up in South Knoxville and went to Young High School.

When Richard graduated, he enlisted in the Air Force. Mike graduated in 1971 and enlisted that December:

“I was working in Miller’s Department Store, and I walked up to the courthouse and there was an Air Force recruiter on the main floor, and because my brother was in the Air Force, I stuck my head in and the next thing I know, I was drinking the Kool-Aid. [I] listened to their stories and got excited and I came home and told my parents I was going into the Air Force.”

Mike entered basic training in San Antonio, Texas, soon after Christmas that year. His flight there was the first time he’d ever been on an airplane.


One: “The neat part of it was it could be an overcast, nasty day, and you would take off and then you would all of a sudden be on top of the clouds and everything’s beautiful.”

Mike says his love for aviation developed after basic training, as he qualified to be on an air crew as a tail-gunner trainee at Castle Air Force Base in Atwater and then at Robins AFB in Macon, Georgia. In November 1972, Mike was posted to Guam as a tail-gunner on a B52 bomber during the Vietnam War. The B52 squadrons ran missions out of Guam and Thailand, and Mike and his crew arrived as the war was nearing its end:

“I didn’t understand the significance of that at the time, being 18 years old. We flew around at low altitudes a lot, to avoid being shot down, and it was always very rough and violent when you were down at low altitudes. It was very bumpy… and I remember always strapping down very tight to keep from being slung up against the sides.”

Despite being alone in the tail of the airplane amid boneshaking turbulence, Mike says he was never really frightened because the B52s were rarely shot down. “And the reason nobody got shot down,” he says, “was because they would never send the B52s. They didn’t want to have those assets up in an area where they could get shot down, so we were basically down South, bombing areas where the Viet Cong were coming down [across the DMZ].”

In late 1972, following multiple deadlocks in the Paris Peace Accords, then-US-President Richard Nixon pledged aid to South Vietnam. In December, to demonstrate the US commitment to the South, US B52s began bombing North Vietnam, and the danger to Mike’s crew and other B52 crews became imminent:

“The next thing we knew, we were going up north, above the DMZ, and bombing Hanoi and Hai Phong and those areas—about a 23-hour mission. We all became at risk. The first night, I think they shot down six B52s, and then I flew on the 22nd of December and I guess they had shot most of their SAM [surface-to-air] missiles and we didn’t see many that night. The next night, they shot down more. Lucky. In the right place at the right time.”

With the exception of his posting in Guam and a short stint of R&R in Thailand, Mike was never on the ground in Vietnam or the rest of Asia. He says he never experienced what many of his fellow soldiers did or suffered any post-traumatic stress after the war:

“I was just so young and so inexperienced, and I was in the air, and I didn’t really know what to be afraid of. I don’t remember ever really being frightened of it. I guess that’s the good thing about young people: they always think it’s going to turn out well. I always saw the good in everything.”

Two: “And then, it was the excitement of going other places and seeing other things.”

After the war ended, Mike received a scholarship to the University of Tennessee. In 1976, he earned a degree in business logistics and transportation, graduated as a second Lieutenant, and entered pilot training at Vance Air Force Base in Enid, Oklahoma:

“In pilot training…, you had hardly any time. You might have 50 hours in an airplane, and they turn you loose in a twin-engine jet. I can remember sitting on the runway and running the jet engines up and taking off and being up there and thinking, ‘I can’t believe they’re gonna give me a paycheck on the 15th and the 30th’.”

Once his preliminary pilot training was completed in 1978, Mike was posted to Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and was trained to pilot the B52. Until 1982, he piloted domestic and international training missions during the Cold War. He’s still not allowed to say much about what were basically suicide missions:

“The B52s were on alert and I’m not supposed to say what we were on alert with, after all these years. We signed these documents, but you can imagine what we were on alert with. We were part of that emergency war order. If something happened, we would be launched, and we would fly to wherever our target was. And of course, it meant…. We knew we weren’t going to be coming back to much. A lot of times we wouldn’t even have the fuel to get back.”

Copeland says this period was the only time he really got scared:

“They would send us out to Montana and those areas, and we would be flying at night in the mountains, and you would come over a mountain and then to stay out of the radar beams, you would have to push over and go down the backside of the mountain. But then when you got to the bottom, you would have to pull back out so that you wouldn’t hit the ground. I would have these recurring nightmares of not being able to pull out. We had these low-light TV cameras and I would see, in my nightmares, the rocks rushing up and know there was no way to pull out.”

From 1982 to 1986, Copeland was an instructor on the T38 jet in a new training program: the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program at Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, Texas. All the NATO countries participated in the program. “There were instructors and students from all these different countries. They just shoved us all together and the idea was that if we all trained together, then if we ever came into a situation in a conflict, we would be able to operate more efficiently.” During that period, Copeland attended an Air Safety Management Program at the University of Southern California and became an accident investigator for T38 crashes around the country.

He says the next step for a military pilot was then to stop flying and enter a non-flight posting for four or five years. “But my passion has always been aviation, and I want to be around it, I want to do it…, so that didn’t really interest me that much.” A friend from Seymour Johnson was then flying with USAir, and Copeland contacted him. Before long, he was flying with both USAir and British Airways. “Flew a little bit of everything over the next 20 years: Boeing 757s and 767s, Airbus 330s….” Copeland says that one of the things he most enjoyed about his job with the airlines was “jumping between those airplanes, flying different things, and the mission being different.”

At this point, Copeland was living in Knoxville again, “and that was very common…. There were a lot of pilots living in Tennessee because of the tax benefits, no state income tax.” He flew international flights for about 10 years. “Paris, London, Rome, Madrid… I love to go around and walk these cities. You’re over there for about 26 hours, and so you’re able to walk and see all of these different cities…. I probably know London and Paris and Rome better than I know major cities in the United States.”

Three: “And then, it was the actual physical part of controlling a machine in all these different axes. In an aircraft, you’ve got a whole 360 sphere to maneuver in. People ask me what my favorite plane is, and I like them all. I like everything about all of them.”

When Copeland retired from the airlines, he knew he wasn’t finished flying for a living. He opened Flight Choice, an air charter company based at McGhee Tyson and Downtown Island Airports and bought an airplane that still had an air carrier certificate attached, which is required to carry passengers or cargo for hire. Copeland says there aren’t many charter pilots because getting a new carrier certificate from the FAA [US Federal Aviation Administration] is an extremely long process. “It’s really difficult to get a charter certificate. Say you met the minimum requirements—you would fill out a letter and send it to the local FAA office and they respond and say they’ll get to you as quickly as possible, and it might be two years before you hear anything.”

Copeland considers a good charter company to be as important to local and state infrastructure as any interstate system or airport and says flying charter can be a stark contrast to his experience flying for an airline. “I would have 290 people on an A330 Airbus coming in from Rome, and you land and for whatever reason your gate’s not available and there’s nothing you can do about it. Then those people can’t get off the airplane, and you know every minute you’re waiting, someone’s missing their connection.”

Copeland gets most of his work through word of mouth and says that, depending on where you’re going, flying charter can be an economical choice. He flies someone somewhere for a business meeting or carries parts to manufacturing facilities that need them; he flies for the airlines (if something’s broken on a flight, the airline might need a part and a mechanic, and he flies them to wherever they’re needed); and then there are just the random passengers who need to get somewhere quickly. “It’s a lot cheaper than most people think. Every day, I fly for fun. I get the enjoyment of flying and I get the enjoyment of helping people out when they’re in a jam. I’m saving the day.”

Original article can be found here ➤