Sunday, October 15, 2017

Again, live turkeys tossed from plane at Arkansas festival

YELLVILLE -- Several live turkeys were tossed from an airplane as it flew by the annual Turkey Trot festival Saturday.

But it was a different airplane from previous years and apparently a different pilot.

"My plane is on the ground," texted Dana Woods, a Mountain View alderman and pharmacist who had been "the Phantom Pilot" for the previous 15 years.

The 1966 Piper PA-28-140 that flew by the festival Saturday and dropped turkeys is registered to Aldino Raimondi of Yellville, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.

Three live turkeys were tossed from the plane shortly after noon Saturday, then several more during the afternoon as the plane made circles over Crooked Creek, which is two blocks south of the downtown square, where about 4,000 people were gathered for the annual festival. A few kids left the festival to collect the turkeys.

Raimondi didn't return voice and text messages left on his cellphone Saturday.

Animal-welfare activists have been trying to stop the 50-year tradition of the Yellville plane drops, which may have inspired a 1978 episode of the television show WKRP in Cincinnati in which turkeys were dropped from a helicopter as a Thanksgiving promotion.

The Phantom Pilot is celebrated by some in Yellville. T-shirts declaring "I'm with the Phantom" were for sale Saturday on the town square, and people could get photos made with their faces in a cutout of the Phantom Pilot.

Rose Hilliard of Bruno said she would file a complaint with the Marion County sheriff's office, probably on Monday, regarding Saturday's airplane drops.

Hilliard filed a complaint earlier this month in an attempt to stop the Phantom Pilot, but Sheriff Clinton Evans said he hadn't seen a crime committed, and the previous festival happened over a year ago, so the statute of limitations had expired for misdemeanor crimes. Evans wasn't sheriff last year.

"I didn't think he would go back and investigate anything from last year," Hilliard said. "But I thought he might try to stop it from happening this year."

According to Arkansas Code 5-62-103, cruelty to animals is a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Upon a fourth conviction within five years, cruelty to animals becomes a felony in Arkansas, and the guilty party is ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation.

This year's Turkey Trot festival was held Friday and Saturday.

No airplane turkey drops occurred Friday, but turkeys were released from the Marion County Courthouse roof both days as well as from a stage on the square.

Lisa Chism, who owns Simply Beautiful Medical Spa in Gassville, caught one of the turkeys launched from the courthouse roof. It landed next to her child's stroller.

"They will never believe I caught the turkey," said Chism, apparently referring to her clients.

She said she'll have the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner, when all her kids are there.

Gemma Vaughan, an animal-cruelty caseworker with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, said the group had people in Yellville watching turkeys being dropped from the plane and the courthouse roof.

"We rescued four turkeys -- one who was trussed by his legs and tossed onto the concrete where he lay panting as spectators walked over him, and another found bleeding from her neck and legs," Vaughan said.

"Both are being rushed to a veterinarian for their injuries. Anywhere else, the participants would be in jail, and officials' failure to prosecute those responsible makes Yellville synonymous with cruelty to animals."

"The turkey drop is a throwback to a sorry time when human beings were bone-ignorant of animals' feelings," she said.

The Phantom Pilot usually tries to remain anonymous. But newspaper photographs in 2015 revealed the identification number of Woods' single-engine 1959 Cessna 182B.

He flew again as the Phantom Pilot last year.

Investigators with the FAA met with Woods and determined that he wasn't doing anything that violated their rules regarding turkeys being "released" from his plane as it flew over Crooked Creek.

It's legal to drop objects from airplanes as long as they don't damage people or property on the ground, said Lynn Lunsford, a spokesman for the FAA in Fort Worth.

"FAA regulations don't specifically deal with dropping live animals out of airplanes, so we have no authority to prohibit the practice," he said in an email. "This does not mean we endorse it."

Animal cruelty isn't the FAA's jurisdiction, he said.

Terry Ott, the county judge in Marion County, said things seemed to go smoothly Saturday.

"The ones I saw flew fine, no trouble whatsoever," he said. "One of them while I was there flew back over the town and went to the north side of town."

Most of the turkeys glide to a landing and are then caught by people at the festival, who sometimes have them for dinner during the holidays.

Last year, about a dozen turkeys were dropped from Woods' plane, and two of them reportedly died on impact.

For more than 50 years, the turkey drops have occurred during the annual Yellville Turkey Trot festival. No turkeys were released from airplanes from 2012-14. Woods resumed the practice in 2015. He said the hiatus wasn't because of outside pressure. During that time, turkeys were tossed from the roof of the courthouse or from the stage.

In a text message Saturday, Woods wrote that "all those 'bird-loving' people" have misplaced priorities. They use "nasty, threatening words" and are upset about turkeys, which can fly, but they didn't say anything when a 4-year-old child was killed in the area in November.

Whether wild turkeys can fly has been a central issue of the turkey-drop debate.

Wild turkeys can fly at speeds up to 55 mph, but they usually fly from treetop to treetop, at an altitude of less than 100 feet. Woods said last year that the turkeys were released at an altitude of 600 to 700 feet over the creek.

Yvonne Vizzier Thaxton, a professor of poultry science at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, said that altitude would be enough to cause stress to the birds. She called the turkey drop a "horrific act of abuse."

Story, photo and comments ➤ http://www.arkansasonline.com

Rescue from above: Firefighters in Wine Country fires save lives, homes from the sky

When the wildfire started on top of Atlas Peak in Napa, several residents found themselves in a harrowing situation — the flames were getting closer, but downed trees and power lines blocked the road and made it impossible for them to escape.

That’s when an angel in the form of a Super Huey helicopter came to the rescue.

Cal Fire Capt. James Robbins and his crew, in their 1970s-era helicopter — a veteran of the Vietnam War — swooped in last Monday morning and landed nearby. They hiked up to the homes in the 5000 block of Atlas Peak Road, where the distress call originated, and found a husband and wife and their two dogs. Then they used the couple’s car to press on, checking for more evacuees. That’s when they found three more people desperate to get out — an elderly couple and a younger woman.

The team loaded the people and dogs into their Super Huey and a second helicopter provided by the California Highway Patrol, and dropped them safely off at a shelter set up at Solano County Community College.

The count of people reported missing in the fires is already too high, Robbins said.

“Any time we can take that number and change it by grabbing people and taking them out of harm’s way, it’s a good feeling,” he said.

Along with the firefighters on the ground, Cal Fire has dozens of aircraft battling the blaze from the sky — everything from small helicopters that douse the flames with a few hundred gallons of water at a time, to a massive 747 that holds nearly 20,000 gallons of bright-pink fire-retardant. The aircraft work along a fire’s edge, dropping water and retardant to slow the blaze enough so that firefighters on the ground can dig trenches and clear brush to form a line that will stop the flames from spreading.

Helicopters also shuttle teams of firefighters to the fire line, execute daring air rescues and perform reconnaissance missions — flying above the fire-swept landscape to gather intel on the blaze’s size, location and the direction it’s moving, to help ground crews plan their route of attack. It’s a key part of the strategy in a firefight where steep terrain and limited resources have made it difficult to quickly deploy enough firefighters on the ground.

But aircraft don’t pose a perfect solution. In high winds like the North Bay has been experiencing this past week, fire-retardant blows away after it’s dropped, instead of smothering the flames as intended. And on Wednesday, smoke blew so thick into Robbins’ base at Angwin Airport in Napa County that all aircraft were grounded for several hours — forcing them to sit helpless on the ground, unable to aid the firefighters on the front lines.

For Robbins and his pilot, Todd Hudson, the firefight is personal. Both are locals, and are normally based out of Boggs Mountain Helitack Base, just north of Calistoga.

In the helicopter last Monday, there wasn’t much quiet time to exchange names, phone numbers or even thank yous, so Robbins doesn’t know what became of his charges after he spirited them away to safety. But that air rescue was a bright spot at the start of what shaped up to be a long and grueling assignment for Robbins and his crew.

Robbins worked all night Oct. 8 fighting the Sulfur fire in Lake County, finally returning to Angwin Airport around 6 a.m. the next day. Almost as soon as he landed, he got the call about the families stranded on Atlas Peak — stretching his day into a 36-hour marathon.

Firefighters are supposed to work 24-hour shifts, followed by 24 hours off duty, but with resources stretched thin across multiple fires, some have been forced to work 60 or even 96 hours at a time.

“There’s so many miles of open line,” Robbins said. “The resources are spread so thin, that there’s nobody there to do it.”

That makes it that much harder to fight these fires, especially in a high-risk situation like making a water drop from a helicopter. While flying just 100 feet off the ground, the pilot has to look out for trees and power lines that seem to disappear against a smoke-filled sky.

“Everybody’s trying to stay awake and not lose focus on our mission,” Robbins said, “and make sure everyone’s safe.”

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.mercurynews.com

Cessna 182A Skylane, N2230G: Fatal accident occurred March 13, 2016 near Alpine Airport (46U), Lincoln County, Wyoming

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

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA084
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 13, 2016 in Alpine, WY
Probable Cause Approval Date: 11/06/2017
Aircraft: CESSNA 182A, registration: N2230G
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

The noninstrument-rated, private pilot and three passengers were departing in dark night conditions with the moon below the horizon. The area along the flight route was unpopulated with few lights in the immediate vicinity. A handheld GPS unit found in the wreckage revealed that, shortly after becoming airborne, the airplane made a climbing 360° turn from about 20 to 425 ft above ground level (agl). The airplane then maintained a heading toward the destination for about 30 seconds, never climbing above about 550 ft agl. During the last seconds of the flight, the airplane made a descending right turn likely because the pilot experienced a loss of visual reference due to the dark night conditions. Ground scar analysis, impact signatures, and wreckage fragmentation patterns indicated that the airplane impacted terrain in a nose-low attitude, consistent with the airplane stalling before impact. A postaccident examination of the airframe and engine revealed no evidence of a mechanical malfunction or failure that would have precluded normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The noninstrument-rated pilot's failure to maintain airspeed during the initial climb in dark night conditions with no visual reference, which resulted in a stall and collision with terrain.



Heidi and Thomas “Brook” Summers

Jessica and David Anderson


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

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

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

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

http://registry.faa.gov/N2230G



NTSB Identification: WPR16FA084
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 13, 2016 in Alpine, WY
Aircraft: CESSNA 182A, registration: N2230G
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On March 13, 2016, at 0227 mountain standard time, a Cessna 182A airplane, N2230G, collided with terrain shortly after departing from Alpine Airport, Alpine, Wyoming. The private pilot and three passengers sustained fatal injuries, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated by a private individual as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal cross-country flight. The flight was departing from Alpine with an assumed destination of Rigby Airport, Rigby, Idaho. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the departure airport about the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed.

A resident, who lived on the east side of the runway at Alpine Airport, stated that he heard the airplane land on March 12 about 1930 and heard the airplane depart about 0230 the next day. He stated that the departure sounded normal but without the typical "slow fade away of the prop noise." The noise had just suddenly stopped, which he thought was unusual enough that he looked out the window and only observed some stars with a few clouds.

According to a saloon employee, the pilot and passengers had visited Alpine on numerous occasions, where they would usually have dinner at the Bull Moose Saloon; it is unknown how many flights they had conducted to Alpine previously, but they had driven there many times. She recalled that they arrived about 2000 and left about 0200. She stated that they were in a good mood the entire time and did not notice any anomalies. She stated that the pilot did not drink alcohol while he was at the tavern.

A Garmin GPSMAP 396, battery-powered portable GPS receiver was located in the wreckage. The unit included a built-in Jeppesen database and was capable of receiving XM satellite radio for flight information. The unit stored date, route-of-flight, and flight-time information; all recorded data were stored in nonvolatile memory.

Recorded data plots were recovered for the timeframe that matched the airplane's anticipated flight track after departing from Alpine. The track indicated that the airplane departed from runway 31 at 0224:35. After becoming airborne, the airplane continued over the runway until reaching the departure end, where it made a climbing 360° left turn from about 5,650 to 6,075 ft mean sea level (msl or about 20 to 425 ft above ground level [agl], respectively). The airplane maintained a northwest heading for about 30 seconds, never climbing above 6,200 ft msl (550 ft agl).

The last four data points of the flight track occurred over 7 seconds from 0226:33 to 0226:40. During that time, the speed increased from 71 to 104 knots, and the altitude decreased about 350 ft while entering a descending right turn (the direction of travel changed from 300° true to 32° true). The last recorded point was timestamped 0226:40 and showed the airplane about 500 ft southwest of the accident site at 5,859 ft msl with a groundspeed of 104 knots.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a single-engine land rating. His third-class medical certificate was issued on April 12, 2012, with no limitations. The pilot's personal flight records were not recovered.

The airplane's owner stated that the pilot had recently obtained his pilot's license and started borrowing the airplane about 2 months before the accident. The pilot was checked out in the airplane by a flight instructor and was free to use it as he pleased. The pilot sent the owner a text at 1912 on the night of the accident stating that he was going to take the airplane flying.

AIRPLANE INFORMATION

The airplane, serial number 51530, was manufactured in 1958. It was equipped with a Continental Motors O-470-L engine, serial number 68518-8-L. A review of the airplane's maintenance logbooks revealed that the airframe's last annual inspection occurred on December 03, 2015, at a total time of about 2,505.6 hours, at which time the engine underwent its last 100-hour inspection, at a tachometer time of 1,393.6 hours.

According to the airport manager, the airplane was not refueled in Alpine. The airplane owner estimated that, at the time of the accident, the airplane would have had about 48 gallons of fuel. The amount of fuel in each wing tank could not be determined.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

A METAR generated by an Automated Surface Observation System at the airport indicated that, about the time of the accident, the conditions were as follows: wind was from 060° at 4 knots, temperature 6°F, dew point -1°F, and altimeter setting 29.87 inches of mercury.

According to the U.S. Naval Observatory, on the morning of the accident, the sun rose at 0739. At the time of the accident, the moon was about 28° below the northwestern horizon; the phase of the moon was waxing crescent with 25% of the moon's visible disk illuminated.




WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The accident site was located on hard snow-and-gravel terrain along the shoreline of the Palisades Reservoir, located about 1 mile northwest of the runway. The entire wreckage sustained thermal damage, and the cockpit was consumed by fire. The debris field stretched from west to east and was about 50 yards long and 35 yards wide. At the beginning of the debris field, the propeller was found embedded in a crater about 3 ft deep and 8 ft wide.

The destination airport in Rigby, Idaho (elevation 4,845 ft msl), was about 47 nautical miles (nm) from Alpine Airport (elevation 5,630 ft msl) on a bearing of about 310°. A valley extended between the two airports with peaks on either side reaching up to 8,000 ft msl. The surrounding area was unpopulated with few lights in the immediate vicinity. The flight data indicated that the airplane had flown between the airports on prior occasions; however, it could not be determined if the pilot flew those trips.

TESTS AND RESEARCH

Following recovery, the wreckage was examined at a facility in Greeley, Colorado. The wreckage was partially consumed by fire. The intensity of the thermal damage in the cockpit area prohibited investigators from being able to establish complete flight control continuity.

An external examination of the engine revealed that all cylinders were secured to the crankcase. Both the exhaust and induction systems sustained impact damage. The carburetor had separated, and only a portion of the bowl remained attached to the mixture cable in the lower cowling wreckage. The carburetor throttle plate and control arm remained attached to the damaged throttle cable. The throttle control arm remained attached to the carburetor base and throttle plate shaft.

Removal of the top spark plugs revealed that the No. 3 plug was covered in mud. According to the Continental Motor's Group representative, the remaining spark plugs revealed evidence of normal wear conditions and combustion deposits. Engine internal continuity was confirmed by manually rotating the engine. The pistons moved normally inside the cylinders. The rear accessory gears rotated normally. Thumb compression could not be achieved due to impact damage. The combustion chambers remained mechanically undamaged, and there was no evidence of foreign object ingestion (preimpact) or detonation. The valves were intact and undamaged. No evidence of valve-to-piston face contact was observed.

The engine oil sump was crushed upward against the internal engine components. The engine oil pump remained attached. The oil screen was removed and inspected, and no abnormal contaminants were found on the oil screen. The oil cooler had separated but was recovered.
Both the right and left magnetos had separated from their mounts but remained attached to the ignition harness. Both magnetos exhibited thermal damage. The magnetos could not be functionally tested due to thermal damage. Both magnetos were partially disassembled to examine the internal components, and all components were thermally damaged.

The propeller had separated from the engine crankshaft. Both propeller blades remained attached to the hub but were loose in the hub housing. Both blades exhibited chordwise scratching and gouging with deep gouging along the leading edge of one of them. Both propeller blades were bent rearward and thermally damaged.

There was no evidence of mechanical malfunction or failure with the airframe or engine that would have precluded normal operation. A complete examination report is contained in the public docket for this accident.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

The Lincoln County Coroner's Office stated that it was unable to conduct an autopsy of the pilot due to the thermal damage.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory performed toxicological tests on specimens from the pilot. According to the toxicological report, the results were negative for ethanol (alcohol) and other tested drugs.

NTSB Identification: WPR16FA084
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, March 13, 2016 in Alpine, WY
Aircraft: CESSNA 182A, registration: N2230G
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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

On March 13, 2016, about 0230 mountain standard time, a Cessna 182A, N2230G, collided with terrain shortly after departing from Alpine Airport, Alpine, Wyoming. The airplane was registered and operated by a private individual under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. The private pilot and three passenger sustained fatal injuries; the airplane sustained substantial damage. The personal cross-country flight was departing from Alpine with an assumed destination of Rigby Airport, Rigby, Idaho. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan had been filed.

A resident at the Alpine Airport stated that he heard the airplane land on March 12 about 1930. The pilot and passengers then went to a local restaurant for the night. The resident heard them depart about 0230 on March 13. The departure sounded normal but he could not discern the slow fading of noise of a takeoff that he could normally hear during a departure due to the orientation of the mountains.

The airplane wreckage was located about 1.5 mile north-northwest of the runway and was consumed by fire. The wreckage was recovered for further examination.

Travel Air 4000, N9872, Fun Flights LLC: Accident occurred November 14, 2015 at McClellan–Palomar Airport (KCRQ), Carlsbad, San Diego County, California

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Diego, California

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

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

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

Fun Flights LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N9872




NTSB Identification: GAA16CA049
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, November 14, 2015 in Carlsbad, CA
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/14/2016
Aircraft: CURTISS WRIGHT Travel Air, registration: N9872
Injuries: 3 Uninjured.

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

According to the pilot of the tailwheel-equipped biplane, during the fourth landing roll of the day, the airplane "fish tailed" to the right and he was not able to maintain directional control. The airplane ground looped to the left on the runway, the right main landing gear collapsed and the lower right wing struck the ground. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the lower right wing and wing strut.

The pilot reported that there were no mechanical failures or anomalies prior to or during the flight that would have prevented normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot's failure to maintain directional control during the landing roll, resulting in a ground-loop, and substantial damage to the right wing and wing strut.

Cessna 172L Skyhawk, N4256Q and Piper J3C Cub, N70522: Accident occurred Sunday, November 15, 2015 at Greeley–Weld County Airport (KGXY), Colorado



Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Denver, Colorado

N4256Q Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


N4256Q  Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms


N4256Q Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


Registered Owner: Burnham Cessna N4256Q LLC

Operator:  Aims Community College

http://registry.faa.gov/N4256Q


NTSB Identification: GAA16CA058A

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, November 15, 2015 in Greeley, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/14/2016
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration: N4256Q
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

N70522 Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

N70522   Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

N70522  Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

http://registry.faa.gov/N70522

NTSB Identification: GAA16CA058B
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Sunday, November 15, 2015 in Greeley, CO
Probable Cause Approval Date: 03/14/2016
Aircraft: PIPER J3C, registration: N70522
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

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

According to the pilot of tandem cockpit, tailwheel-equipped Piper airplane, which he was operating from the rear seat, while taxiing to the runway his forward visibility was diminished by his airplane's nose, requiring the use of "S" turns in order to clear the area in front of the airplane. He reported that a Cessna airplane was in front of his airplane, and taxiing to the runway as well. He remarked that he and the Cessna were holding on the taxiway momentarily in order to monitor and give way to arriving and departing traffic. He reported that the Cessna moved forward, and he followed, but while entering the "S" turn, he lost sight of the Cessna. He remarked that he abruptly applied the right brake in order to avoid a collision, and his left wing impacted the Cessna's rudder. 

The pilot of the Cessna reported that during his taxi to the runway, his airplane was struck from behind by the Piper airplane. Both pilots shut down their airplanes, assessed the damage and exchanged information. The Cessna sustained substantial damage to the rudder, while the Piper sustained minor damage to the left wing.

Both pilots reported that there were no mechanical failures or anomalies prior to or during the flight that would have prevented normal operation.

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident as follows:
The pilot of the following airplane failed to maintain adequate spacing during the taxi to the runway, resulting in a collision with the lead airplane.

Law Review: Hot air balloon crashes in vineyard

Jim Porter
Law Review

Seventy-eight year old Erika Grotheer, a German citizen visiting California, signed up for a hot air balloon tour with a company called Escape Adventures. The eight passengers were to land in a nearby vineyard owned by Wilson Creek in Temecula, Calif.

THE CRASH

The first part of the ride was spectacular and uneventful. The landing less so.

The balloon was being pushed "at a good clip by the wind" and was "going sideways" as one rider later described, when it crashed into a three-rail fence, hit the ground with a "hard bump and a bounce" and dragged down wind 30 or 40 yards, coming to rest "on its side, not its bottom."

Erika Grotheer suffered a broken leg and sued Escape, its operator Gallagher and Wilson Creek. Who sues over a broken leg, especially after signing a release?

CAUSE OF THE CRASH

Operator Gallagher claimed the balloon's descent was hastened by a "false lift," which he described as a condition where the wind travels faster over the top of the balloon than the rest of the balloon. He tried adding heat to the balloon's envelope, but it was too late.

Erika Grotheer's balloon pilot expert disagreed testifying that the balloon had simply experienced a wind sheer, and Gallagher negligently failed to add sufficient heat before the balloon crashed.

ARE HOT AIR BALLOONS 'COMMON CARRIERS?'

A common carrier is "a person or company that transports goods or passengers on regular routes at set rates." Like planes and trains. Common carriers "must use the utmost care and diligence for passengers' safe carriage," a higher duty of care to their customers. Common carriers status emerged in California in the mid-1900s involving stagecoaches, later expanded by the courts to scenic airplane and railway tours, ski lifts and rollercoasters — plus planes and trains, of course.

Faithful readers recall our column where the Supreme Court declined to extend common carrier "utmost care" status to bumper cars, a court opinion I wrote of approvingly.

As the court concluded in our hot air balloon case, operators of rollercoasters, ski lifts, airplanes, and trains can take steps to make their passengers safer, while with hot air ballooning safety measures and pilot training can only go so far in mitigating landings because of a hot air balloon's limited steerability.

Escape was found not to be a common carrier held to a higher duty to protect its passengers.

ASSUMPTION OF RISK

You faithful readers, same group as above, know that the "Law Review" has discussed the assumption of the risk doctrine where given the inherent risks associated with certain sports and activities, the participants "assume the risk" of injury and have limited rights to sue.

These cases include, water skiing, flag football, man walking into the Burning Man effigy, white water rafting, snow skiing and boarding, golf, errant foul balls at a baseball game, auto racing, motocross, cross country horseback riding, and on and on.

I always liked this quote: "The primary assumption of risk doctrine helps ensure that the threat of litigation and liability does not cause [certain] recreational activities to be abandoned or fundamentally altered in an effort to eliminate or minimize inherent risks of injury."

INJURED BALLOON PASSENGERS

The Fourth District Court of Appeal ruled against our broken leg passenger concluding that hot air balloons are not common carriers, a huge win for those companies; and Erika Grotheer had assumed the risk of her injuries when she signed up for a hot air balloon ride — even though the operator was negligent.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee and Tahoe City, and Reno. His practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOA's, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at http://www.portersimon.com.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.sierrasun.com

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Fertile, Polk County, Minnesota: Man accused of shooting at plane, facing attempted murder charge

CROOKSTON, MN (KFGO) - A Fertile man has been charged with attempted murder and assault after a pilot discovered a bullet hole in his small plane following a flight near Fertile last week.

Chad Olson, 51, has been charged. The pilot told Polk County deputies that he heard something hit his airplane, but didn't discover the damage until the next day. There was a hole in the fuselage.


The complaint says Olson, who lives near the Fertile airport, had earlier complained to the Federal Aviation Administration about planes flying over his property and that he may have to use lethal force if he felt threatened by the airplanes.


A friend said Olson was holding a rifle after he heard gunshots and Olson told him not to say anything to investigators. The friend also told a deputy that he saw Olson fire at a plane that was flying over his home last spring and that Olson believed the planes were involved in terrorism.


Olson was released from jail after posting $15,000 bond.


Original article can be found here ➤ http://kfgo.com

Greenwood County Airport (KGRD) land use ordinance gets public hearing

A proposed ordinance that would alter future development opportunities around the Greenwood County Airport will be subject of a public hearing Tuesday.

Among the most high-profile changes would be requiring new subdivisions to include a disclaimer on deeds that the property is within 10,000 feet of an airport, limiting new businesses to no more than 100 employees and mandating that owners of non-conforming structures maintain and install aviation markets at their own expense.

“The regulations set forth in this article are designed to protect, promote and improve the public safety and general welfare by preventing the location of structures or natural growth which would constitute hazards or obstructions to aircraft operating in the vicinity of the county airport. Through these regulations a general compatibility between use of property within the airport and in the vicinity thereof can effectively be brought about,” the ordinance states.

The provision has its origins in a 2012 change to the South Carolina Code of Laws, which tasked the state Aeronautics Commission to create maps delineating what types of land use may be incompatible for airport use and operations.

“The staff here has worked hard with many communities already to address the state code with local ordinance development, but our airports are not all protected with these ordinances yet. The system of airports in South Carolina represents great economic impact and as encroachments happen, that can diminish the utility and value of this critical part of the state’s transportation infrastructure,” James Stephens, the commission’s executive director, said.

With 44 of the state’s 46 counties maintaining a public airport, Stephens said officials expect local governments to review it and create tailored versions.

“As the aeronautics commission continues to have dialogue with our local airport owners, we have been encouraging them to adopt local ordinances that further protect and solidify this oversight for our airports. These local ordinances can be specific to the local airport, and should be customized to meet the specifics of the local community and airport,” he said.

A full copy of the proposed ordinance can be found on the county’s website at greenwoodsc.gov.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.indexjournal.com

Laser pointed at multiple planes around Boston, Federal Aviation Administration says

BOSTON —  Pilots from two separate flights passing through Boston airspace Friday night reported having the cockpit illuminated by a laser pointer, the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed Friday night.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, US Airways flight 3787, operated by Air Wisconsin, was illuminated by a laser 30 miles north of Logan Airport around 7:43 p.m. Friday. The plane was headed to Dulles Airport in Washington from Portland, Maine.

The Federal Aviation Administration said US Airways flight 4188, also operated by Air Wisconsin, reported seeing a laser around the same time. That aircraft was headed to Portland from Philadelphia.

The Federal Aviation Administration said local police were notified and the Federal Aviation Administration was investigating the two incidents.

The laser pointer incidents happened one week after three similar incidents involving planes landing at Logan Airport using a runway that had them fly just north of Boston were reported.

On October 6th, the crew of United Airlines flight 6276 operated by GoJet Airlines from Raleigh-Durham reported a green laser illuminating their cockpit around 9:40 p.m. The crew of Southwest Airlines flight 1480 from Midway Airport in Chicago reported a similar incident around 10:08 p.m. The crew of United Airlines flight 1223 reported the same type of incident around 11:17 p.m.

Online flight records show all three planes passed just north of Logan Airport before landing safely.

In all three of those incidents, the Federal Aviation Administration said Massachusetts State Police were notified and are investigating.

Story and video ➤ http://www.wcvb.com

Dropping turkeys from planes triggers Arkansas festival flap

To some it's an Ozark Mountain Mardi Gras that includes live turkeys being dropped from a low-flying plane to an eager crowd below. To others, it's just animal abuse.

The 72nd Yellville Turkey Trot opened Friday with questions over whether the turkey drop portion would continue. The Chamber of Commerce for the small northern Arkansas city has distanced itself from the tradition it once endorsed and is hoping a "phantom pilot" won't fly over this weekend. But that hasn't stopped thousands of people from emailing the chamber about doing more to protect the birds.

"Why don't you jump yourselves with no parachute .... Think you'll like it?" one person wrote to the chamber Monday. Others used more colorful language.

Arkansas is one of the nation's top turkey-producing states, and the weekend festival is meant to be a celebration of the bird. There is a 5K run, music and dancing, and the Miss Drumsticks pageant, in which contestants are judged only on their legs. Of course, turkey also stars on food vendors' menus.

"It means fall is here," the Yellville Chamber of Commerce wrote in an open letter. "It means a turkey dinner a few weeks earlier than the rest of America. It means homecoming for many. ... Turkey Trot is so much more than turkeys being released from an airplane."

The festival started a year after World War II as a complement to a turkey calling contest run by the local American Legion hall. During the first turkey drops, which helped the festival draw a crowd, the birds were dropped from the courthouse roof for people to chase, with some becoming pets and the others Thanksgiving dinner. But at least 50 years ago, the switch was made to a small plane.

A 1989 National Enquirer article on the flights sparked outrage and prompted the chamber to cut turkey drops from the festival lineup. But local pilots kept it up, though there were no flights for a time after an animal rights group offered a $5,000 reward for the pilot's arrest. The aerial assault resumed in 2015, and last year a Mountain View pharmacist, Dana Woods, said he was "The Phantom Pilot" at the past two festivals. He wasn't punished, nor were others who have been identified as previous flyers.

"They can fly a long ways," Woods told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last year. "We treat the turkeys right. That may sound ironic, but we don't abuse those turkeys. We coddle and pet those turkeys. We're good to them."

Wild turkeys can fly, but they typically do so from tree top to tree top. Questions over their ability to fly made for a "WKRP in Cincinnati" episode in 1978 after a radio station stunt involving birds dropped from a helicopter went horribly awry.

Last year, about a dozen birds were dropped and not all survived the fall.

"Despite officials' insistence that this is 'humane,' at least two turkeys died last year when they crashed to the ground in what was undoubtedly, for them, a terrifying fall," one critic emailed the chamber.

The Federal Aviation Administration said it hadn't been contacted by any pilots about making a run this year, as it had in previous years.

"FAA regulations don't specifically deal with dropping live animals out of airplanes, so we have no authority to prohibit the practice. This does not mean we endorse it," spokesman Lynn Lunsford said. "We sent an inspector to the first day of the event (last year) to verify that the drops were occurring where the pilot said they would. Based on that, we found no evidence to pursue an enforcement case."

A woman filed a complaint this month with the local prosecutor in an effort to prevent the flights, but nothing has come of it. Bill Sadler, a spokesman for the Arkansas State Police, said his agency typically doesn't work misdemeanor cases. Any investigation would likely occur after a flight, not before one.

"We have no jurisdiction to say you cannot put a turkey on an airplane," Sadler said.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://abcnews.go.com

F-35 has arrived at Eielson Air Force Base with Norwegian test pilot

FAIRBANKS - An F-35 fighter jet arrived at Eielson Air Force Base Thursday on an equipment-testing mission, according to a news release from the Air Force. It's the first F-35 to land at Eielson.

The F-35A Lightning II is here to test two main types of equipment: the airplane's ability to land on icy runways and a drag-chute modification of the plane that's been requested by the Royal Norwegian Air Force, an F-35 program partner.

It is the same model that will be based at Eielson in 2020. Eielson is scheduled to receive 54 F-35s along with about 3,500 airmen, civilian employees, contractors, and military family members.

During the testing this week, the Air Force will try to demonstrate that F-35s are capable of landing under conditions known as Runway Condition Reading 7. A reading of 23 is considered a dry runway, while a reading of 5 is comparable to landing on ice. The F-35A is now certified to land at a reading of 12.

The drag chute is a modification requested by Norway to help the F-35 land under Arctic conditions. Norwegian test pilot Maj. "Taz" Amdal is at Eielson to demonstrate the drag chute.

Eielson is hosting an event on Tuesday to explain to community leaders the F-35's mission in Alaska.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.newsminer.com

Cherry Capital Airport (KTVC), Traverse City, Michigan: New medical aircraft hangar to improve emergency response time

GRAND TRAVERSE COUNTY, Mich., (WPBN/WGTU) -- On Saturday, dozens of people attended the official grand opening of the North Flight Aero Med Hangar at Cherry Capital Airport.

The open house offered tours of the brand new hangar and its emergency aircraft.

North Flight Aero Med is a critical care emergency service that serves both Munson Healthcare and Spectrum Health.

People were able to get an inside look at the aircraft, speak to pilots and the paramedics.

Guests were also greeted by Piper the Cherry Capital Airport K-9.

“Prior to the completion of this hangar, we were operating out of multiple spaces here at the airport,” said Tiffany Obetts, program director with North flight Aero Med. “So having the whole team together quickens our response time which is really what is best for patient care.”

The open house also celebrated the one-year anniversary of the joint venture between Munson Healthcare and Spectrum Health.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://upnorthlive.com

Cessna 172M Skyhawk, N7CF: Fatal accident occurred October 13, 2017 in Ramsey, Anoka County, Minnesota

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


Analysis 

After takeoff, the pilot proceeded south until reaching the Mississippi River when he proceeded to fly along the river at a low altitude. As the airplane approached a bend in the river, the pilot entered a shallow left turn to follow the river. The airplane subsequently struck power lines spanning the river that were located about 200 yards beyond the bend. Ground-based video footage and witness statements indicated that the airplane was at or below the height of the trees lining both sides of the river shortly before encountering the power lines. One witness initially thought that the pilot intended to fly under the power lines due to the low altitude of the airplane. Several witnesses also noted that the sound of the engine seemed normal and steady before the accident. A post-recovery examination of the airplane did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction.

The power lines were below the level the trees on either side of the river. Red aerial marker balls were installed on the power lines at the time of the accident. Weather conditions were good at the time of the accident; however, the sun was about 9° above the horizon and aligned with the river. It is likely that the position of the sun in relation to the power lines hindered the pilot's ability to identify the hazard as he navigated the bend in the river at low altitude. In addition, the location of the power lines relative to the river bend minimized the reaction time to avoid the lines.

FAA regulations prohibit operation of an aircraft less than 500 feet above the surface in uncongested areas unless approaching to land or taking off, and at least 1,000 feet from obstacles in congested areas. They also prohibit operations in a reckless manner that endanger the life or property of another. Based on the available information, the airplane was less than 100 feet above the river and within 400 feet of the residences located along the river during the final portion of the flight.

The pilot's flight instructor described the pilot as "reckless" because of his habit of low-level flying.

While the location of the bend in the river and the position of the sun relative to the power lines may have hindered the pilot's ability to see and avoid the lines, it was the pilot's decision to operate the airplane along the river at a low altitude contrary to applicable regulations and safety of flight considerations that caused the accident. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be: 

The pilot's decision to fly along the river at a low altitude contrary to applicable regulations and safety of flight considerations which resulted in the impact with the power lines. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's inability to see the and avoid the power lines due to their proximity to a bend in the river and the position of the sun at the time of the accident. 

Findings

Aircraft
Altitude - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)
Monitoring environment - Pilot (Factor)
Personality - Pilot

Environmental issues
Wire - Contributed to outcome (Cause)
Light condition - Effect on personnel (Factor)
Wire - Ability to respond/compensate (Factor)
Light condition - Ability to respond/compensate (Factor)

Factual Information

History of Flight

Maneuvering-low-alt flying
Low altitude operation/event (Defining event)
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Uncontrolled descent
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

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

Additional Participating Entities:

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

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


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

Chad J. Rygwall: http://registry.faa.gov/N7CF 

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board 

Location: Ramsey, MN
Accident Number: CEN18FA011
Date & Time: 10/13/2017, 1734 CDT
Registration: N7CF
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Low altitude operation/event
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On October 13, 2017, at 1734 central daylight time, a Cessna 172M airplane, N7CF, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with power lines and the Mississippi River near Ramsey, Minnesota. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Princeton Municipal Airport (PNM), Princeton, Minnesota, about 1705.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) air traffic control radar position data depicted an airplane on a visual flight rules (VFR) transponder code near PNM. The initial contact was recorded at 1708 and the airplane subsequently proceeded south. At 1731, the airplane turned toward the southeast for approximately 1 mile before reversing course toward the northwest and proceeding along the Mississippi River. The final data point was recorded at 1733; the airplane was about 0.25 mile east of the Ferry Street Bridge and about 2.5 miles southeast of the power lines at that time. No altitude (mode C) data was available.

Ground-based video footage, taken by a witness located about 200 yards east of the accident site, depicted the airplane flying at low altitude over the Mississippi River. The airplane appeared to be near treetop level proceeding northwest along the river. It appeared to be intact and in a shallow left turn apparently to follow a bend in the river at that location.

Witnesses reported observing the airplane strike power lines as it flew along the river. Several witnesses noted that the airplane was below the level of the trees that lined both sides of the river. One witness initially thought that the pilot intended to fly under the power lines due to the low altitude of the airplane. Several witnesses also noted that the sound of the engine seemed normal and steady before the accident. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 47, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 Waiver Time Limited Special
Last FAA Medical Exam: 03/24/2017
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 
Flight Time:  300 hours (Total, all aircraft), 230 hours (Total, this make and model), 270 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft) 

The pilot's private pilot certificate was issued in November 2012. On the application for that certificate, he reported 70 hours total flight time. His pilot logbook was reportedly kept in the airplane; it was not recovered. On his most recent application for an FAA airman medical certificate in March 2017, the pilot reported a total civilian flight time of 300 hours, with 35 hours flown within the preceding 6 months.

The pilot's flight instructor informed FAA inspectors that the pilot was "reckless" when he flew because of his habit of low-level flying. The instructor stated that he had counseled the pilot not to fly in such a manner. The pilot's father also informed FAA inspectors that his son was in the habit of flying at low altitudes along the Mississippi River.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N7CF
Model/Series: 172M M
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1975
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal; Utility
Serial Number: 17265261
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 05/02/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2299 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 8 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 3359.5 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT:  C91A installed, activated, did not aid in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-360-A1A
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

A review of the airplane maintenance records revealed that the originally installed engine, a 150-horsepower Lycoming O-320-E2D, was removed and the accident engine, a 180-horsepower Lycoming O-360-A1A, was installed in December 1984. The originally installed propeller was also changed at that time. The engine/propeller retrofit was completed under Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) SA807CE. In December 1986, the airframe was converted from a tricycle landing gear configuration to a tail wheel landing gear configuration under STC SA5433SW. In May 1996, an 18-gallon supplemental fuel tank was installed in the aft baggage compartment under STC SA615NE.

Maintenance records indicated that testing and inspection of the transponder was completed in September 2010. The records contained no subsequent entries related to the transponder. The pilot's mechanic confirmed that the airplane was equipped with automatic pressure altitude reporting equipment having Mode C capability. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: MIC, 869 ft msl
Observation Time: 1753 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 160°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Temperature/Dew Point: 14°C / -2°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots, 10°
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.1 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Princeton, MN (PNM)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Princeton, MN (PNM)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1705 CDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

According to data obtained from the U.S. Naval Observatory, at the time of the accident, the sun was approximately 9° above the horizon to the west-southwest (249°). Sunset was at 1831 on the day of the accident.

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  45.218056, -93.433889 

The airplane impacted a set of four power lines installed across the Mississippi River. The river was about 190 yards wide and was bordered by wooded areas on both sides at that location. The power lines were located about 200 yards west of a bend in the river. The river was oriented to the northwest (about 300°) east of the bend. West of the bend, the river was oriented to the southwest (about 250°).

The power lines were installed with dual-pole supports on each shoreline. The poles extended about 47 feet above ground level, which was about the height of the trees along either river bank. According to witness statements, the power lines were equipped with red aerial marker balls.

The airplane was recovered from the river two days after the accident; however, the wings and cabin doors had separated from the fuselage and were not recovered. A postaccident examination did not reveal any anomalies consistent with a preimpact failure or malfunction. A detailed summary of the examination is included in docket associated with the investigation. 

Medical And Pathological Information

An autopsy of the pilot was performed at the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office in Ramsey, Minnesota, on October 16, 2017. The pilot's death was attributed to blunt force injuries sustained in the accident. Toxicology testing performed by the FAA Bioaeronautical Research Sciences Laboratory was negative for all drugs in the testing profile. 

Additional Information

FAA regulations (14 CFR 91.13) prohibit the operation of "an aircraft in a careless or reckless manner so as to endanger the life or property of another." Furthermore, except when necessary for takeoff or landing, the regulations (14 CFR 91.119) require pilots to maintain an altitude of at least 1,000 feet above the highest obstacle within a 2,000-foot horizontal radius of the aircraft in congested areas. In uncongested areas, pilots must maintain at least 500 feet above the surface, except over open water or sparsely populated areas. In those cases, an aircraft may not be operated closer than 500 feet to any person, vessel, vehicle or structure.


FAA regulations (14 CFR 91.215) require aircraft operated within 30 miles of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport from the surface to 10,000 feet mean sea level to be equipped with an operable transponder and Mode C-capable automatic pressure altitude reporting equipment. In addition, the regulations (14 CFR 91.413) specify that a transponder may not be used unless it has been tested and inspected within the preceding 24 months. The accident site was located within 30 miles of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

NTSB Identification: CEN18FA011
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, October 13, 2017 in Ramsey, MN
Aircraft: CESSNA 172M, registration: N7CF
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

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

On October 13, 2017, at 1734 central daylight time, a Cessna 172M airplane, N7CF, was destroyed during an in-flight collision with power lines and the Mississippi River near Ramsey, Minnesota. The pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by private individuals as a 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed. The flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated from the Princeton Municipal Airport (PNM), Princeton, Minnesota, about 1700.

Ground-based video footage depicted the airplane flying at a low altitude over the Mississippi River about 200 yards east of the accident site. The airplane appeared to be near treetop level proceeding northwest along the river. It appeared to be intact and in a shallow left turn apparently to follow a bend in the river at that location.

Witnesses reported observing the airplane strike power lines as it was flying along the river. Several witnesses noted that the airplane was below the level of the trees, which lined both sides of the river. One witness initially thought that the pilot intended to fly under the power lines due to the low altitude of the airplane. Several witnesses also noted that the sound of the engine seemed normal and steady before the accident.

The airplane impacted a set of four power lines installed horizontally across the river. The lines were installed with dual-pole supports on each shoreline. The supports did not appear to extend above the height of trees along either river bank. According to witness statements, the lines were equipped with red aerial marker balls.

The river was about 190 yards wide in the vicinity of the accident site and was bordered by wooded areas on both sides. The accident site was located near a bend in the river. The video footage and witness statements indicted that the airplane approached from the southeast. The section of the river approaching the bend was oriented to the northwest (about 300 degrees), while the section past the bend was oriented to the southwest (about 250 degrees), requiring an approximate 50-degree left turn to navigate the river. The power lines were located about 200 yards beyond the bend as the airplane proceeded northwest along the river.

According to data obtained from the U.S. Naval Observatory, at the time of the accident, the sun was approximately 9 degrees above the horizon to the west-southwest (249 deg). Sunset was at 1831 on the day of the accident.



Chad Rygwall loved flying his plane, family members said.

Jill Rygwall
Princeton, Minn., School District

Chad Rygwall on the day he got his pilot’s license.



Flying over obstacles
June 1, 2015 

To fly… to soar over the treetops, looking down at lakes and streams, roofs and roads – that is the dream of many young boys.  Chad Rygwall, of Princeton, was no exception.

Chad was lucky enough to have an uncle who was a pilot, so he was able to get a taste of his dream at a young age. He accompanied his uncle Jim on trips to the North Shore, Mille Lacs, and all over Minnesota. His favorite trip with his uncle was going to the North Shore, especially in the fall, when the leaves turned to golds and fiery reds and the blue of Lake Superior stretched out below. Chad looked forward to the day when he could be the one at the controls, and hoped for a career as a commercial pilot.

But a high school diagnosis of color blindness dashed Chad’s dreams before he could begin training for his pilot’s license. Becoming a commercial pilot when you are color blind is an unlikely outcome – most folks would say it is impossible. (The term color blindness is misleading – it does not mean being blind to all colors, but rather having difficulty distinguishing between colors.  So people who are color blind may see reds as pinks or browns, and may not be able to distinguish between different colors of green.  Since airports use colored lights to signal planes, it is important that pilots be able to tell the difference between colors.)  Chad gave up his dream of being a pilot, instead going to school for HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) and building maintenance.

Many years later, with his career in full swing, Chad began to think again about flying.  When uncle Jim’s son, Brian, got his pilot’s license, Chad accompanied him a number of times on short flights around Minnesota. But a family and job kept him busy; for many years he didn’t find time to go flying.  Finally, when a health issue cropped up around Chad’s 40th birthday, he began to think again about flying.

According to Chad, his health concerns definitely influenced his decision.  “It was kind of like a bucket list,” he said.

Another flight with his cousin, Brian, cemented the idea.  “That was when I decided to go for it,” said Chad, and he began to do some research into getting his pilot’s license.

It didn’t take long before Chad found that, although color blindness may prevent a person from getting a commercial pilot’s license, a private license is not quite as restrictive.

“You do have to pass another test through the Federal Aviation Administration.  You have to learn a different way to know which color is which,” explained Chad.  The FAA also has your license flagged based on your degree of color blindness, so you might not be able to fly at night or under certain conditions.

The health issues were also something he had to contend with.  Chad had to have a medical exam, including blood tests, and has to complete a “stress test” every two years.  A medical certificate from an FAA-approved doctor every two years is a requirement.

Chad soon discovered that a friend of his cousin’s is a flight instructor.   Jason Erickson, Brian’s friend, is not just a certified flight instructor; he is the owner of Ascend Aviation, a flight school with locations in both Princeton and Maple Lake.  In fact, the Princeton location is just a few miles from Chad’s home.

Soon Chad was taking lessons from Jason at Ascend Aviation, who commutes by air between the Princeton and Maple Lake locations.

“He takes you up; you do maneuvers, steep turns, stalls, circles, all kinds of things.  After about 10 hours you learn how to take off and land.  Then there is more practice,” said Chad.  A minimum of 40 hours flight time is required in order to get a private pilot’s license.

“You also have to do a certain amount of hours of ground school and pass written tests.  And you have to do two solo cross-country trips – flying by maps,” said Chad.

The entire process took 13 months.  Then there was the test – a 2 ½ – 3 hour ordeal including a written test, an oral test, and then an air test – going up in the air with the examiner.

“You show them all your maneuvers – turns, stalls, steep turns, and emergency landings,” remembered Chad, “and if you pass, they sign off.”

Chad was thrilled that he was able to pass the first time.  He got his license on Nov. 19, 2012, and has been flying ever since.  Soon after Chad got his pilot’s license he purchased a Cessna 172 Taildragger, which, he explains, is like a bush plane. It has big tires and can land on grass, on the beach, on tundra, wherever you want to.

Chad flies now about two to three days a week, depending on the weather.  His wife, Jill, and son, Andrew, have gone with him on short trips throughout Minnesota.  They have attended festivals and “fly-ins” and have even taken trips just to go to lunch somewhere.  Since he can land anywhere with the Taildragger, he has visited neighbors and friends, even landing in a field behind his house (by permission, of course).

But Chad’s favorite trip is still heading to the North Shore in the fall – flying above the trees and along the shore, with the blue lake and the gorgeous reds and yellows of the leaves painting a beautiful and varied palette below him.

Original article  ➤  https://www.srperspective.com

The two people killed Friday night when a small plane nose-dived into the Mississippi River in Ramsey have been identified as a couple from Princeton, Minn., who shared a love of flying.

They were on a low-altitude scenic flight over the rain-swollen river around 5:30 p.m. Friday when their single-engine Cessna struck power lines over the river near the 6400 block of Riverdale Drive NW., Lt. Brent Erickson of the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office said Saturday.

“Just a husband and wife out for a flight and, unfortunately, tragedy,” he said. “He was flying upriver … in a westerly direction. The skies were clear last night. … He may have been blinded by the sun. That may have played a part in him not being able to see the power lines.”

No one else was on board.

A salvage crew worked the river Saturday after sonar scans found the fuselage and one of the wings about 300 yards downriver from the power lines. High, swift water full of swirling debris prevented divers from entering the water.

The body of the presumed passenger, Jill M. Rygwall, 48, of Princeton, was found in the river shortly after the crash. The body of her husband, whose name has not been released by authorities, is believed to be in the underwater wreckage, Erickson said.

Public records identify him as Chad J. Rygwall, 47, and confirm that he has had a private pilot’s license for five years. A single-engine Cessna is registered in his name.

A 2005 article on the Senior Perspective magazine website said that Rygwall was colorblind but had dreamed of being a pilot like his relatives. It said Federal Aviation Administration rules restricted him from flying at night and he had to receive special medical certification every two years to retain his license.

Chad Rygwall became enamored with flying as a child when his uncle flew him over the forests of the North Shore, but he didn’t get his license until after a severe heart attack a few years ago, said his cousin, Brian Rygwall, who also is a pilot. “I mean, he took every chance he could to fly. He took Jill, his wife, up all the time, and I’m assuming they just went up and were having a joy ride like they always do.”

Brian Rygwall was flying back from Los Angeles when he heard air traffic radio transmissions about the crash, but he didn’t know who it was until someone called him at home.

Jill Rygwall worked in special education in the Princeton School District. She graduated in 1991 from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn.

“Jill was very kind in her work with special needs students, helping them to meet their goals,” Princeton Superintendent Julia Espe said. “She will be greatly missed.”

The Rygwalls have a son, Andrew, 13, who is with his grandparents.

The plane flew out of the small Princeton airport. National Transportation Safety Board officials are participating in the investigation.

Lora Hamilton, 83, of Ramsey, said Friday that she was dining at her home near the river when she saw the plane. “It was below tree height,” she said. Then she heard the crash.

Chad and Jill Rygwall were married for 23 years. Their deaths have devastated the family, Brian Rygwall said. “As happy as the two of them were, they were the model couple.”

Original article can be found here ➤  http://www.startribune.com

Chad Rygwall’s small plane was pulled from the Mississippi River in Anoka County on Sunday afternoon and, as expected, the body of the 47-year-old Princeton, Minn., man was found inside, sheriff’s officials said. 

Anoka County sheriff’s deputies solemnly packed away gear and wrapped up their efforts on the river as Lt. Brent Erickson talked to the media Sunday afternoon in Mississippi Point Park in Champlin.

Erickson said the Anoka and Hennepin County dive teams and a local salvage company tried to recover the plane Saturday evening but the swift current and swirling debris made it too dangerous.

A commercial diving company was contacted and a diver was in the water by noon Sunday. The diver reached the wreckage, attached lines and the plane was pulled from the water about 12:45 p.m. on the Dayton side of the river, Erickson said.

Rygwall’s body was taken to the Midwest Medical Examiner’s office in Ramsey about 1:40 p.m., Erickson said.

The body of his wife, Jill Rygwall, 48, had been found in the river shortly after the crash Friday in the late afternoon. The couple, both flying enthusiasts, were on a sightseeing flight, flying low to see the fall colors.

Chad Rygwall, the pilot, hit power lines that stretched across the river and the plane nose-dived into the water. The wreckage was found by sonar about 300 yards downriver from the power lines.

The National Transportation Safety Board was expected to arrive at the scene Sunday afternoon; the FAA was on the scene and helping with the investigation, Erickson said.

Erickson said the water was about 12 feet deep and about 52 degrees.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen [the river] this high in the fall,” he said. “This is more indicative of spring levels.”

The Rygwalls’ flight originated from the Princeton airport. 

Rygwall had had a private pilot’s license for five years and the single-engine Cessna was registered in his name.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.startribune.com

It will be some time, of course, before federal investigators release the cause of the plane crash near Ramsey last evening, in which a Cessna plunged into the Mississippi River, the fourth fatal plane crash in Minnesota in 2017.

But the Star Tribune’s report from a witness provides a possibility.

Witnesses who called 911 reported the plane was flying low — at or below the treetops — and heading upriver when it hit power lines stretched across the river and “did a nose-dive into the river,” he said. According to witness statements, the plane did not appear to have engine trouble.

“Why the pilot didn’t see the power lines or why he was flying low … we are unsure,” Erickson said.

The Mississippi River — any winding river, really — has always been inviting to pilots to fly low along its winding course. The scenery is beautiful, the sense of speed of an airplane is enhanced, and the perspective is unmatched.

It’s also exceedingly dangerous.

“Those lured by low flying often do not consider the possibility of tangling with wires or striking birds, the likelihood of which increases as one gets closer to the ground,” Barry Schiff, an airline pilot and columnist for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, writes. “Another problem is that low-flying pilots do not allow sufficient time and altitude to cope with mechanical problems that can develop. Inadvertently running a fuel tank dry might only be an annoyance at altitude, but the same experience at 100 feet can force a landing with little or no choice of landing sites.”

But some pilots do it anyway.

Power lines across a river are indicated on pilot navigation maps, but a lot of pilots no longer use the maps or pay attention to much detail, depending on a GPS instead.

I had a friend a few years ago who posted a video of his flight down the Mississippi south of St. Paul, skimming the surface no more than a foot or two above the water. He was lucky because there aren’t many power lines across the river in that area once you get past the Wakota Bridge. I doubt whether he knew it one way or the other.

We urged him to stop doing it and, at the very least, take the video down so the Federal Aviation Administration wouldn’t see it.

One problem is the Federal Aviation Administration regulations are vaguely defined. Pilots are required to fly at least 1,000 feet higher than the tallest structure over “congested” areas and fly at least 500 feet high over “other than congested areas.” The rules allow them to fly lower as long as they don’t come any closer than 500 feet of any person, vehicle, or structure.

The Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t define what constitutes a structure. Is a power line a structure?

In the absence of such detail, it expects pilots to use common sense, fly safely, and listen to the old-timers’ admonishments that just because you can do something doesn’t necessarily mean you should.


Original article and videos ➤ https://blogs.mprnews.org

A couple from Princeton was in a Cessna 172M Skyhawk that crashed into the Mississippi River in Anoka Friday evening, according to the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office.

Jill Marie Rygwall, 48, was found Friday night and pulled from the water by witnesses. Resuscitation efforts failed and Rygwall was pronounced dead at the scene. Her husband, believed to be the pilot, has not been found or identified, the sheriff’s office said Saturday. The couple has a 13-year-old son who is currently in the custody of his grandparents.

Police responded to a call around 5:30 Friday night about a plane down two miles northwest of the Ferry Street bridge over the Mississippi. Witnesses reported the plane had hit a power line before going down into the Mississippi. There were no indications of mechanical issues with the airplane prior to the crash, according to the sheriff’s office.

The plane took off from the Princeton Airport Friday afternoon, but because the airport is unregulated, the sheriff’s office does not know the exact time of takeoff or the destination.

Recovery efforts have been limited by the high water level and extreme current conditions, the sheriff’s office said. Divers arrived to help, but reported it was unsafe for them to enter the water. Sonar equipment was used to locate the fuselage and one wing of the plane.

“Rescue efforts are really being hampered by the fast current. The location of the wreckage is in about 12 feet of water, so that hampers the efforts as well. It’s not shallow,” Anoka County Lieutenant Brent Erickson said Saturday.

Erickson said the recovery efforts may last several days.

Original article can be found here ➤ http://www.twincities.com