Thursday, November 23, 2017

Report: companies claim Irma fundraising was a scam

MIAMI -  A man who claimed to be a member of a wealthy Puerto Rican family that owns a rum distillery rented warehouses for hurricane Irma donations and chartered five airplanes to take them to the island.

No one suspected that the apparent Good Samaritan was a fugitive with a long criminal record, authorities said

The Miami Herald and El Nuevo Herald report the man used a fake name, has a history of fraud convictions and now is accused of duping donors.

Emilio Ismael Vazquez now stands accused of a nearly $500,000 fraud by two Doral companies — Commercial Property Group, which leased the warehouses to him, and Global Aviation Link, the cargo operator. They claim the 47-year-old paid them with fake checks and fraudulent wire transfers.

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Vazquez managed to board a private airplane at Miami International Airport and fly to Aguadilla, in northeastern Puerto Rico, to distribute the donations. He traveled with members of the Florida Puerto Rico Relief Committee, including singer Olga Tañón and Telemundo host María Celeste Arrarás.

He has an outstanding arrest warrant issued in Orange County, Florida in 2016, for violating the conditions of his probation after a 15-year sentence for fraud.

The story of the hurricane-donation fraud was first reported by Univisión 23.

Several of the alleged Miami victims in the hurricane-donations case interviewed by el Nuevo Herald requested anonymity because they have been contacted by federal authorities who are investigating.

Meanwhile, tons of food and medicine from South Florida and the Orlando area are stranded and spoiling at the Aguadilla airport, Univisión 23 reported. Other donations languish in Doral warehouses.

"Nobody knew they were dealing with such a character. I don't know what this guy was thinking, but Robin Hood doesn't exist anymore," said Rodrigo Narváez, manager of the airline 21 Cargo, owed more than $400,000 by Global Aviation for the flights. "We feel very badly for Global, but we paid for the pilots, airplanes and landing rights, so we have to be paid."

El Nuevo Herald tried but failed to contact Vázquez by phone and email. A reporter went Tuesday to an apartment building in Midtown Miami where he had told a lawyer he lived. A receptionist called a man listed as a resident under the name Emilio Perez, who claimed to be out of town. Florida arrest records show Vázquez has used the alias Emilio Perez.

Vázquez's victims and the volunteers now wonder why he did it. There's no sign he stole money, because the group did not accept cash donations, or that he diverted any of the goods donated.

Vázquez got involved in the Puerto Rico relief efforts on Sept. 22, shortly after Hurricane Maria walloped the island. That day he called the Isla del Encanto restaurants in Kendall, which was collecting donations, with an offer almost as incredible as the $2 million he allegedly offered on television to Ellen DeGeneres.

DeGeneres announced the donation on national television. A man named Emilio had given $2 million for Puerto Rican victims of two hurricanes during the We Are One Voice — Somos Live! benefit concert.

"We were in the middle of the collections when a man called offering an airplane to deliver the help," said restaurant owner Rafael Acosta. "I passed the phone to a volunteer ... to take down the information."

Filled with hope, the volunteers quickly established the Puerto Rico Relief Committee. In less than a week, Vázquez signed a one-year lease for the Doral warehouses. He and two committee members then went to Global Aviation to contract its services.

They scheduled the flights for the Columbus Day weekend, Oct. 6-9. Vázquez paid with checks on Friday Oct. 6 and two flights took off over the weekend.

Vázquez and some of the volunteers flew to Aguadilla Sunday, Oct. 8, to distribute the donations. Monday was a bank holiday. By Wednesday, when the banks notified the companies that the checks were fraudulent, it was too late.

"Global Aviation called to tell me to stop the flights, that they had been defrauded," said 21 Cargo's Narváez. "But the last airplane was already in the air."

"Unfortunately, we were victims of a fraud scheme by individuals who wanted to benefit from this natural disaster," the statement added. "We are now working with authorities and the people involved to determine who is the legal owner of the cargo. We hope that the shipment of the humanitarian assistance reaches those who need it as soon as possible."

Telemundo's Maria Celeste Arrarás — who traveled on a private plane with Vazquez — said that while the situation was "regrettable," she took comfort knowing the donations that she and the volunteers delivered in Aguadilla "were distributed to civic organizations that handed them out to the victims."

When the victims confronted Vázquez with evidence of the fraud, he told them to talk to his lawyer, Anthony Accetta. But the Coral Gables attorney said he never signed an agreement to represent Vázquez.

"He tried to hire me, but I told him we had discovered his true name and criminal history. He even told me that was his twin brother, who is the black sheep of the family," said Accetta, a former prosecutor. "The man sat in my office and all he did was lie, lie, lie."

In one of his last text messages, Vázquez told his alleged victims and several volunteers that he was taking an emergency flight to London because his daughter had died in an accident. They haven't heard from him since.

According to a violation of probation affidavit from Orange County Department of Corrections, Vázquez's sister, Vivian Vázquez, told authorities last year that her brother does not have any daughters.

"He uses this story as a ruse," the affidavit said.


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

Mooney M20C Ranger, N6894N: Fatal accident occurred November 23, 2017 in Starke, Florida

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida
Lycoming; Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Mooney; Kerrville, Texas

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

Herman Eugene Steele: http://registry.faa.gov/N6894N

Location: Starke, FL
Accident Number: ERA18FA030
Date & Time: 11/23/2017, 1515 EST
Registration: N6894N
Aircraft: MOONEY M20C
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On November 23, 2017, about 1515 eastern standard time, a Mooney M20, N6894N, impacted terrain near Starke, Florida. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed for the 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 personal flight from Ocala International Airport-Jim Taylor Field (OCF), Ocala, Florida to Cecil Airport (VQQ), Jacksonville, Florida. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces. The private pilot was fatally injured. The flight originated about 1500 eastern standard time from OCF.

According to a friend of the pilot, earlier on the day of the accident flight she flew as a passenger with the pilot in the accident airplane to OCF. She said that the flight was uneventful, up until they approached OCF. Prior to landing at OCF, the weather became "very turbulent" as the pilot tried to remain on course. The pilot mentioned that he was trying to maintain altitude as he was preparing for landing. After he landed she said that it was "very windy and raining very hard." They went inside the FBO where the pilot mentioned that he had to get to VQQ for his daughter's birthday and Thanksgiving. The witness said that he should "wait it out", and he agreed. According to the witness, he waited about 45 minutes before he departed.

According to FBO personnel, as the pilot waited for the weather to clear up he asked them to top off his fuel tanks. They advised the pilot that the weather was very bad, and he should wait for the fuel. The pilot said that he needed the fuel now because he was trying to get to his daughter's house for Thanksgiving, and requested the line personnel wipe his fuel caps with a towel. After about 45 minutes, the pilot said that he was "heading out;" and was asked if he found a break. The pilot laughed and said he was "gonna go for it." They advised him to be safe and have a good flight.

Review of preliminary air traffic control radar and voice communication information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Jacksonville Air Route Traffic Control Center revealed that as the pilot was on approach to VQQ, controller cleared him for the ILS Runway 36R instrument approach. While on final, the radar controller advised the local controller that the pilot was making erratic turns. Shortly after, the pilot executed a missed approach while on a 5-mile final. The controller cleared the pilot to 3,000 feet and asked if he would like to go to Jacksonville International Airport (JAX), Jacksonville, Florida, where the weather was better; the pilot replied affirmative. The controller asked the pilot if he was able to climb and make turns, the pilot replied "affirmative." Shortly after the last communication, radar contact was lost with the airplane and an alert notice (ALNOT) was issued.

The local authorities were notified, and a search ensued. The airplane was located at 1600 in a field near the Camp Blanding Joint Training Center.

The pilot, age 73, held a private pilot certificate with a rating for single engine land airplane and instrument airplane. He also held an FAA third-class medical certificate issued July 11, 2016. A review of the pilot's logbook revealed that the last entry was dated September 8, 2017. The total time entered was 3,146 flight hours. His total actual instrument time was recorded as 527 flight hours. The pilot accumulated 400 flight hours in the accident airplane make and model, and 4 hours within the last 90 days. Further review revealed a total accumulation of 27 flight hours and 8 hours of instrument time for the year of 2017.

At 1511, the recorded weather at VQQ included winds from 030 at 12 knots, 2 statute miles visibility in mist, and overcast clouds at 900 feet above ground level. The temperature was 63°Celsius (C), the dew point was 63° C, and the altimeter setting was 29.87inches of mercury.

The wreckage came to rest on 314° heading about 20 miles from VQQ. Examination of the accident site revealed the fuselage was broken into two parts. The cockpit and empennage separated aft of the rear seat at the wing spars. All flight control surfaces were located at the accident site along the debris path.

All flight controls were destroyed, and respective control tubes were impact-damaged. Movement of the flight control tubes could not be established, but the tubes from the yoke mounts to the wing roots were present. Engine and propeller controls were impact damaged and did not reveal useful information. The fuel selector was noted in the left wing tank position and 10 gallons of AVGAS was defueled from the tank. Flight control tubes in the left wing were attached to the left aileron and the aileron remained attached to the wing surface. The flap remained attached to the wing and the flap control tubes were damaged. The position of the flaps could not be established.

Examination of the right wing revealed that it was fragmented along the debris path. All flight control surfaces were accounted for and were impact damaged. The flight surface control tubes were located throughout the debris path and were fragmented.

The empennage was buckled with both horizontal stabilizers and elevators remaining attached. The control tubes remained attached and were broken at the separation point. The vertical stabilizer was separated and located along the debris path. The rudder was separated from the vertical stabilizer and located along the debris path. The rudder and elevator control tubes were located within the empennage and buckled, but could not be manipulated.

Examination of the engine revealed that it was impact-damaged. The engine was partly dissembled for examination. The engine accessories were removed for examination. During examination of the engine; rotation of the crankshaft produced thumb compression and valve train movement on all four cylinders. The spark plugs were removed and were gray in color. The oil sump screen was removed and was free of debris. During the examination of the accessories it was noted that both ignition magnetos were impact damaged. The ignition leads were broken and not attached to the spark plugs. The magneto drive gear was rotated on both magnetos and produced spark on all ignition leads. The vacuum pump was disassembled and revealed all internal blades were intact. The internal drive coupling was intact and not damaged. Examination of the carburetor revealed it was separated from the engine and impact damaged. The carburetor was disassembled, and examination revealed that the bowl was free of debris. Examination of the fuel screen revealed insignificant amounts of debris. The throttle and mixture cable were separated from the carburetor and impact damaged.

Examination of the propeller revealed all 3 blades were damaged and remained attached to the hub and the hub remained attached to the crankshaft. The blades were labeled A, B and C. Blade A was bent aft and had chordwise scoring. Blade B remained relatively straight with scoring on the blade. Blade C exhibited "S" bending and scoring throughout the blade span.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: MOONEY
Registration: N6894N
Model/Series: M20C NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No 
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: VQQ, 79 ft msl
Observation Time: 1511 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 17 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 17°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Unknown
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 12 knots, 30°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 900 ft agl
Visibility:  2 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.87 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: OCALA, FL (OCF)
Destination: JACKSONVILLE, FL (VQQ)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal

Latitude, Longitude:  29.951944, -81.979444

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

Herman Steele



Mooney M20C Ranger wreckage being towed from Camp Blanding.





CLAY COUNTY, Fla. - Authorities on Friday confirmed the identity of the pilot killed when a single-engine plane went down Thursday afternoon inside Camp Blanding.

The Clay County Sheriff's Office confirmed pilot, Herman E. Steele, 49, of Tennessee died in the crash. 

Steele was the only person on board, according to a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman.

FAA officials said they were notified that a Mooney M20C Ranger went down at Camp Blanding in Clay County about 3:15 p.m. Thursday. Clay County deputies said it was a private plane, not a military aircraft. Camp Blanding is off State Road 16 near Kingsley Lake.

Authorities said Steele had taken off from Cecil Field in Jacksonville and dropped off three passengers in Ocala. He was on the return flight to Cecil Field when he sent a distress call to the tower at the Jacksonville International Airport, reporting some sort of problem. 

Officials with JAI said they never heard from Steele again. 

Officials said Steele had intended to continue flying to Tennessee. 

It is unclear what caused the plane to crash, but investigators are not overlooking weather conditions as a potential factor because it was raining and there may have been limited visibility.

Steele crashed near Avenue B and Tampa Street on Camp Blanding about 200 feet short of one of the base’s runways. 

News4Jax spoke with aviation expert Randy Reep about flying in uncertain weather conditions.

"Any event that occurs in bad weather makes that event more difficult," Reep said. "You can’t fly in reference to the ground and (the pilot) is having to rely on his sensations to maneuver the airplane via instruments. It can very difficult, which is why the air traffic control system is designed the way it is."

Reep also mentioned that if Steele filed a flight plan, there will be more evidence to collect because he would have been controlled through radio communications with the ground.

The FAA will investigate and the National Transportation Safety Board will determine the probable cause of the crash.

The Florida Highway Patrol is assisting in the investigation.

Story, video and comments ➤ https://www.news4jax.com




Officials have identified a 73-year-old man who was killed in a plane crash at Camp Blanding.

A Clay County Sheriff's Office spokesperson said Herman Eugene Steele, 73, of Tennessee, was killed after crashing his plane at Avenue B and Tampa Street on Thursday.

Authorities notified the Federal Aviation Administration that a Mooney M20C Ranger went down at 3:15 p.m. Steele was the only person on the plane, officials said.

Steele’s daughter tells Action News Jax he was down visiting family and friends in Florida. She said he dropped two friends off in Ocala, before his final flight.

She tells us he was on his way to Cecil Airport in Jacksonville to visit her for her birthday, when his plane tragically went down.

She said she was happy that he at least died “doing what he loved.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is working to determine the cause of the crash.

Story and video ➤ http://www.actionnewsjax.com

Zlin Z.50L, ZS-VAR: Fatal accident occurred October 06, 2017 in Gauteng Province, South Africa

Werner Nel




NTSB Identification: ERA18WA009

14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Friday, October 06, 2017 in Gauteng Province, South Africa
Aircraft: ZLIN Z50, registration:
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.


On October 6, 2017, about 1530 coordinated universal time, a Zlin Z-50L, South African registration ZS-VAR, was destroyed when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from Kitty Hawk Airport (FAKT), Gauteng Province, South Africa. The pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the local personal flight.


The South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) Accident and Incident Investigations Division (AIID) is investigating the accident. As the State of Manufacture and Design of the engine, the NTSB has appointed a US Accredited Representative under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13 to assist the AIID in its investigation.


All inquiries concerning this accident should be directed to:


South African Civil Aviation Authority

Accidents and Incidents Investigation Division
Private Bag X 73
Halfway House 1685
South Africa

Tel.: +27 (0) 11 545-1055/1050

+27 (0) 83 461-6277 (24 hours)
E-mail:AiidInbox@caa.co.za
Fax: +27 (0) 11 545 1466
Website: http://www.caa.co.za

This report is for informational purposes only. All investigative information will be released by the SACAA.

Officials confiscate a loaded firearm at Yeager Airport (KCRW)

CHARLESTON, WV. – Transportation Security Administration officers found a handgun in a passengers carry-on bag at Yeager Airport (CRW), Thursday morning.

According to a release a from the Transportation Security Administration, the Huntington man was caught with a .380 caliber handgun loaded with three bullets. The officer who was staffing the checkpoint spotted the handgun as it appeared on the X-ray monitor.

TSA officers immediately contacted the Yeager Airport Police, who responded and confiscated the gun. There was no impact to airport operations.

For details on how to properly travel with a firearm visit http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/firearms-and-ammunition.

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

Cessna 550 Citation Bravo, RA-67560: Accident occurred October 29, 2017 at Bremen Airport (EDDW), Germany



NTSB Identification: CEN18WA022
14 CFR Unknown
Accident occurred Sunday, October 29, 2017 in Bremen, Germany
Aircraft: CESSNA 550, registration:
Injuries: 5 Uninjured.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On October 29, 2017, about 1740 UTC, a Cessna 550/551 SP airplane, Russian Federation / RA-67560, was involved in a runway excursion at the Bremen Airport (EDDW), Bremen, Germany. Damage to the airplane was not yet known. The three crewmembers and two passengers were not injured.

This investigation is under the jurisdiction and control of the German government. Any further information may be obtained from:

German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation
Telephone: +49 5 313548 – 0
Facsimile : +49 5 313548 - 246
Email: ops@bfu-web.de
Web: www.bfu-web.de

This report is for informational purposes only and contains only information released by, or obtained from, the German Federal Bureau of Aircraft Accident Investigation.

Cessna 421C Golden Eagle, N421RX, Aroostook Medical Center: Incident occurred November 22, 2017 at Northern Maine Regional Airport at Presque Isle (KPQI), Aroostook County, Maine

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Portland, Maine

Aircraft landed short of the runway and slide onto the taxiway.

Fresh Air LLC: http://registry.faa.gov/N421RX

Date: 22-NOV-17
Time: 23:45:00Z
Regis#: N421RX
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: C421
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: MINOR
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: UNKNOWN
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
City: PRESQUE ISLE
State: MAINE

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine ( NEWS CENTER)— Federal authorities are looking into a crash landing at the Northern Maine Regional Airport in Presque Isle.

According to Karen Gonya with the Aroostook County Medical Center, just after 6:50 Wednesday evening, a fixed-wing aircraft that was carrying a patient as well as a paramedic and nurse from the Crown Critical Care Transport team crash-landed at the south end of the airport.

Gonya said, The plane is owned and operated by Fresh Air, LLC and is one of two planes contracted by the Aroostook Medical Center to transport patients in need of care in a tertiary care hospital, such as the ones in Bangor and Portland.

Early reports indicate that the plane experienced an engine fire after takeoff and was trying to return to the airport when it lost power and landed short of the runway.  The patient, the Crown Critical Care transport crew and the pilot were all transported to TAMC’s emergency department where they are being evaluated, said Gonya.  

TAMC President Greg LaFrancois, said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with all of those involved. I want to thank the first responders who were so quick to action to get these individuals to safety.  Our own Crown ambulance crew members, as well as crew from the Presque Isle Fire Department ambulance service were both incredible tonight.”

Gonya says federal authorities will continue to investigate the incident. 

Original article can be found here ➤  http://www.wcsh6.com

A medical transport plane carrying a patient, a paramedic, a nurse and the pilot crash landed at the Northern Maine Regional Airport in Presque Isle Wednesday.

The aircraft, owned and operated by Fresh Air LLC is leased by the Aroostook Medical Center, to transport patients to higher levels of care at different hospitals.

According to a release issued by the hospital the aircraft’s engine caught fire on takeoff and as the pilot attempted to return and land the plane it crashed short of the runway.

All four people on board including the patient, transport crew and the pilot, were injured and were being evaluated at the hospital, according to the release from medical center President Greg LaFrancois. No patient conditions were released by the hospital.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with all those involved,” LaFrancois said in a prepared statement. “I want to thank the first responders who were so quick to action to get these individuals to safety.”

Ambulances from Crown Ambulance and the Presque Isle Fire Department responded to the crash.

The crash is under investigation by federal aviation authorities.

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

PRESQUE ISLE, Me (WAGM) - A plane slid off the runway at the Presque Isle Airport Wednesday night.


According to TAMC, just after 6:50 this evening, a fixed-wing aircraft that was carrying a patient as well as a paramedic and nurse from the Crown Critical Care Transport team crash landed at the south end of the Northern Maine Regional Airport in Presque Isle. 


The plane is owned and operated by Fresh Air, LLC and is one of two contracted by The Aroostook Medical Center to transport patients in need of care in a tertiary care hospital, such as the ones in Bangor and Portland.


Early reports indicate that the plane experienced an engine fire after takeoff and was trying to return to the airport when it lost power and landed short of the runway. 


The patient, the Crown Critical Care transport crew and the pilot were all transported to TAMC’s emergency department where they are being evaluated.


"The plane was a twin-engine Cessna, it crashed off the east side of taxiway alpha on airport grounds.


Luckily there was four souls on board, there was minor injuries.


It was a medevac plane that was taking a patient down to another hospital. 


Everyone is being treating right now and seem to be okay," said Presque Isle Deputy Fire Chief Adam Rider.


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

Cessna 152, OO-TMC: Incident occurred October 31, 2017 near Namur-Suarlee Airport (EBNM), Namur, Belgium

NTSB Identification: CEN18WA028
Incident occurred Tuesday, October 31, 2017 in Namur, Belgium
Aircraft: CESSNA 152, registration:
Injuries: 2 Uninjured.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

On October 31, 2017, at 1305 coordinated universal time, a Cessna 152, Belgium registration OO-TMC, registered to Aero Motion, was involved in an off airport landing following a loss of engine power while preparing to land at the Namur-Suarlee Airport (EBNM), Namur, Belgium. The airline transport rated pilot and passenger were not injured. The airplane was not damaged. The flight originated from EBNM about 1205.

The accident investigation is under the jurisdiction and control of the Belgium government. This report is for informational purposes only and contains only information released by or obtained from the Air Accident Investigation Unit (Belgium). Further information pertaining to this accident may be obtained from:

Federal Public Service Mobility and Transport
Air Accident Investigation Unit
City Atrium
Rue du Progrès 56
1210 Brussels
http:www.mobility.belgium.be/nl

Cessna 172G Skyhawk, N4676L, registered to Anne Kristine II Inc and operated by the pilot: Fatal accident occurred November 22, 2017 in Pittsford, Rutland County, Vermont

ExplorersClub‏ 
R.I.P. Capt. Norm Baker FN '70


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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Portland, Maine
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas

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

Anne Kristine II Inc: http://registry.faa.gov/N4676L

Location: Pittsford, VT
Accident Number: CEN18FA037
Date & Time: 11/22/2017, 1700 EST
Registration: N4676L
Aircraft: CESSNA 172G
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On November 22, 2017, about 1700 eastern standard time, a Cessna 172G, N4676L, was destroyed when it impacted trees and terrain near Pittsford, Vermont. The pilot was fatally injured. The aircraft was registered to Anne Kristine II, Inc., and operated by the pilot under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Weather conditions at the site are to be determined. The flight was not on a flight plan. The flight originated from the Pittsfield Municipal Airport (PSF), Pittsfield, Massachusetts at an unconfirmed time and the Middlebury State Airport (6B0), Middlebury, Vermont, was the intended destination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N4676L
Model/Series: 172G G
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:  No 
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:  Unknown
Condition of Light: Night/Dark
Observation Facility, Elevation: RUT, 787 ft msl
Observation Time: 1656 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 15 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 2°C / 0°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots, 310°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 2000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.94 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Departure Point: PITTSFIELD, MA (PSF)
Destination: MIDDLEBURY, VT (6B0)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 43.755556, -73.040000

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



Norman Baker

PITTSFORD, Vt. —  The remains of a plane wreck in Pittsford were recovered Saturday morning and the investigation into what caused the fatal crash has started.

Police said 89-year-old Norman Baker, a very experienced pilot, was killed Wednesday when his plane crashed into a ridge in Pittsford. Police said he was traveling from his home in Massachusetts to visit family in Vermont for Thanksgiving.

An investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board documented the scene Saturday morning before the wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure site in Massachusetts for further inspection.

"It was a high-energy impact and there were several trees, some fairly large trees, that were broken," investigator John Brannen said.

Brannen said the evidence leads him to believe the engine did not fail and cause the crash, though the investigation is just beginning.

"We have to look into the pilot's background, the weather, if air traffic control was communicating with him, see if we can get radar data ... all that kind of stuff," Brannen said.

The senior air safety investigator said he has investigated hundreds of crashes with the NTSB and Baker is one of the oldest pilots in all of the fatal crashes he has seen. Brannen will also look into his medical records and the autopsy report, though Baker's family told police he didn't have any previous medical conditions.

Brannen will lay out all the wreckage Sunday and finish his examination before putting out a preliminary report next week.

"Then, once I've done all the data collection and things that I need to do, I’ll write the factual report. That usually takes about six months to a year," Brannen said.

He said the probable cause finding will come out after that. The NTSB looks into all civil aviation accidents, fatal or not.

"We’re looking for ways to prevent accidents, similar accidents, from happening in the future," Brannen said.


Story and video  ➤  http://www.mynbc5.com


WINDSOR — Norman Baker lived a full life of adventure: on land, water and in the sky.

The 89-year-old pilot, skier, sailor, equestrian and arctic explorer died Wednesday when his plane crashed in Pittsford, Vt., while he was en route to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family, his eldest son, Daniel, said Friday.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

"My dad didn't drive," Daniel Baker, of Starksboro, Vt., said with a small chuckle. "My dad would rather fly than drive."

Baker had flown his 1966 Cessna across the country and to Canada several times, and regularly to visit his sons in Vermont and Provincetown and his daughter in Milton, according to his family.

The Windsor man was an engineer by trade but an explorer at heart, having been the navigator in three of the famed Thor Heyerdahl reed boat expeditions, according to friends and family, and a longtime fellow and former director of the Explorers Club in New York City, which brought him on yearly travels and lectures around the world.

"He was just an amazing, unstoppable man and with just a huge sense of adventure," said his youngest son, Mitchell Baker, 53, of Provincetown.

At age 13, Baker was awarded flying lessons after winning a model airplane-building contest, and by 17, he was flying solo.

It was at Cornell University where Baker, captain of the Pilots Club, learned to ski, a passion he brought with him through the rest of his life.

After college, he took a job as a laborer and later as an engineer in the gold mines of Alaska before moving out West as a surveyor, where he staked out the last state boundary lines, but soon ended up enlisting in the Navy, where he was a commander during the Korean War, Daniel Baker said.

Baker met Heyerdahl by chance after the war, while in Tahiti, and he became his lifelong mentor and friend. Photos of Baker on the reed boats Ra, Ra II and Tigris, are displayed in Heyerdahl's Kon-Tiki Museum in Norway.

Mitchell Baker and his sister, Elizabeth Atwood, said they knew from an early age that their father was unique from those in other families they knew.

Mitchell, Daniel and Elizabeth were on skis by the time they were walking and were acquainted with people from every continent before they were teenagers.

As children, their family traveled around the country as Baker held lectures about his expeditions, and in the 1980s, the entire family moved to the British Virgin Islands, where they rebuilt the Norwegian schooner Anne Kristine.

They lived on the tall ship, which was built in 1868, for several years and sailed it to Manhattan, N.Y., before it was destroyed in the "Perfect Storm" in 1991, Daniel Baker said.

But of all their father's adventures, the most special to Baker was his 43-year marriage, his children said. In 2003, Mary Ann Baker died of lung cancer at 66.

"She was the most important part of his life and really completed him," Mitchell Baker said. "And they had a really beautiful marriage."

The death of Mary Ann devastated the family. The Windsor community, where the Bakers had lived full time since the 1990s, came together to grieve with Baker.

"He and my mom were so grateful to move to Windsor," Atwood said. "The community is the warmest, healthiest place. I can't even tell you how, over the years, how they have cared for my dad."

Each year, to honor his wife, Baker and his friends would get together for a memorial paddle on Plainfield Pond, according to Sue Flores of Cummington, who was friends with the Bakers for over 20 years.

When the couple moved from New York City, where Baker ran a concrete construction company, to Windsor, they became actively involved in the small community.

The Bakers are Jewish, but Norman and Mary Ann were members of the West Cummington Congregational Church, where they made many friends over the Past few decades.

He would regularly pop in at the Sangar General Store, pick up skim milk and noodles, and chat with the store's owner, Prem Sangar.

"He was here this week, on Monday," Sangar said. "He was talking about how he was excited about going to see his family."

"He only had one personality, and that was optimistic and sure of himself," Flores said Friday night.

Baker loved to tell stories about his travels, many of which Flores recounted Friday evening.

At nearly 90 years old, he didn't slow down and was looking forward to a season of skiing in the Berkshires, Flores said.

"Norman had a lot of friends, and he was this extremely accomplished person who lived in our midst very humbly and enthusiastically," said Kristi Nelson of Hadley, who was a good friend of both Bakers. "He had this love for life and this adventurous spirit that was absolutely unstoppable. He was this incredible storyteller, and all his stories were based in reality."

Before his death, Baker was splitting his time between his home in Windsor and Atwood's home in Milton.

Each morning, Baker would make himself a bowl of granola and fruit before beginning his exercise routine, which included pull-ups on a bar he installed in Atwood's house.

Baker could do more pull-ups than his 19-year-old grandson and Atwood's husband, William, his daughter said.

"It wasn't a narcissistic thing," Atwood said. "He was very committed to living his life in the fullest way possible."

Atwood recalled a trip the family took to Rwanda about five years ago to visit her daughter. During the trip, the family took a strenuous hike into the mountains to find gorilla families.

One silverback gorilla walked over to Baker and pushed him over, which immediately concerned the rest of the family.

"But he just started laughing," Atwood said. "He was just thrilled to be pushed over by a silverback in the jungles of Rwanda."

When Baker wasn't sharing stories about his own adventures, he was intently and curiously listening to the stories of Atwood's three children, whom he adored, she said.

"He would listen to my children's lives, about high school life, and appreciate it just as if he was listening to Thor Heyerdahl's stories," Atwood said, choking up. "He was a great father to my brothers and I, but he was an even better grandfather."

Two weeks before his death, Daniel Baker's partner gave birth to twin girls, and Baker took the trip to Vermont to meet his youngest grandchildren.

While devastated by her father's loss, especially so close to Thanksgiving, Atwood feels grateful that Baker died, without suffering, while doing what he loved. Atwood said that she is sure that, during his last breaths, her father was thinking of his wife.

About two years ago, Baker broke his neck when he fell off a horse. More recently, he had hip surgery. Neither incident stopped him from exploring, but occasionally made walking more difficult, Mitchell Baker said.

"His airplane was the one place he felt young and not impaired at all," Mitchell Baker said. "Especially after losing my mother, flying was his great passion."


Story and photo gallery:  http://www.berkshireeagle.com

PITTSFORD — A Massachusetts man is dead after his plane crashed in the woods in Pittsford sometime on Wednesday, according to Vermont State Police.
Norman L. Baker, 89, of Windsor, Massachusetts, was traveling to the Middlebury area to visit family for Thanksgiving, according to Capt. Michael Manley, troop commander of the Vermont State Police southern division.

“We obviously feel sorry for the family, on a holiday to be losing a family member. Our condolences go out to the family,” Manley said.


Baker was the owner of the plane, a single-engine, four- seat 1966 Cessna Skyhawk, and he was only person on board when it crashed, officials said.


The plane was found in the woods off of Route 7 near Whistle Stop Lane on private property in Pittsford.


At a press conference on Thursday, police said Baker was an experienced pilot who had been involved with aviation since he was a teenager.


Detective Todd Wilcox, of the Vermont State Police, said Baker’s son was on the crash scene Thursday with police. Wilcox said the family “seemed to be doing fairly well for the tragic event.”


While police were not able to provide details on Thursday about whether Baker had ever flown professionally, they said he had made the flight between Windsor and Middlebury about 20 times.


“It is unknown why Mr. Baker crashed. The (National Transportation Safety Board) is sending an investigator to assist in the examining of the crash wreckage,” said Lt. Bill Pratico of the Pittsford Police Department.


Baker’s body will be taken to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner for an autopsy. Manley said the results will help police determine if a medical event may have caused the crash.


“We’ve spoken to family, and there’s nothing as of right now that makes us believe he was unfit to fly,” he said.


According to Manley, it’s not unusual for a plane as old as the Skyhawk to continue to be in use if it is wellmaintained, although he offered no opinion on the condition of Baker’s plane.


Pratico said local emergency responders faced a challenge determining if a crash had taken place.


On Wednesday, around 5 p. m., local police in Pittsford and the Rutland barracks of the Vermont State Police learned of a potential aircraft incident in the area of Sugar Hollow Road.


The first person to call police reported a small aircraft was flying low.


“As it continued on the site, the caller indicated that they heard a loud noise. The caller was fearful that the plane had crashed and added that they only heard a noise and did not see the plane crash nor did they see any wreckage,” Pratico said.


Police learned there were no unaccounted flights due at the Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport and none of the aircraft in the area had broadcast a distress signal.


Officers searched the area but there was no sign of a plane crash and police received no other reports, Pratico said.


The Vermont Civil Air Patrol also conducted a search by air but found no evidence of a crash.


However, around 11:30 p. m., police learned a plane had left Pittsfield, Massachusetts, flying toward Middlebury, but hadn’t arrived.


The Vermont State Police Search and Rescue Team put together a search with the assistance of fire department members from Pittsford, Brandon and Chittenden.


Again, nothing was found and a second air search, conducted by Vermont Civil Air Patrol and the Vermont Army National Guard, was also unsuccessful.


The location of the wreckage was reported by a Pittsford resident who had heard about the incident and decided to look around his property to see if he could find anything, Pratico said. He found the plane while walking his property, police said.


Pratico said the timing of the crash, the day before Thanksgiving, didn’t seem to have an effect on getting the resources needed to conduct the search.


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





PITTSFIELD — A Windsor pilot flying out of Pittsfield has been identified as the victim of a fatal crash after his plane went down in Vermont on Wednesday. 

Vermont State Police said 89-year-old Norman L. Baker took off from Pittsfield on Wednesday and intended to make a routine flight to Middlebury, Vt., but crashed in Pittsford, Vt.

Baker was the only person in the plane, which was not discovered until Thursday, after multiple searches, according to a statement released by Vermont State Police on Thursday night. 

It is not clear why the 1966 Cessna crashed, and the investigation is ongoing. 

Police described Baker as an experienced pilot who had made the journey from Pittsfield to Middlebury 20 times. An autopsy will be conducted at the Chief Medical Examiner's Office. 

A resident in Pittsford called 911 at about 5 p.m. Wednesday to report seeing a low-flying aircraft and then, after it continued out of sight, hearing a loud noise that could have been a crash.

First responders, including Pittsford Police and Vermont State Police, canvassed the area but found no wreckage. 

The Federal Aviation Administration, Vermont Civil Air Patrol and the Rutland Regional Airport reported no unaccounted aircraft and no distress signals from any planes in the area, according to police. 

At about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Massachusetts State Police reported a plane that had left Pittsfield but never arrived in Middlebury.

The report prompted the Vermont State Police Search and Rescue Team to coordinate another unsuccessful search — again focused in Pittsford — with firefighters from the Pittsford, Brandon and Chittenden, Vt., fire departments. 

Early Thursday morning, a Vermont Army National Guard helicopter and multiple planes from the Vermont Civil Air Patrol flew overhead, but again found no evidence of the crash. 

On Thursday, the crash site was reported to police at about 11:30 a.m. by a local resident who had scoured his property after learning of the missing plane.

The plane had come to a stop near U.S. Route 7 in the town of Pittsford near Whistlestop Lane, police said. Baker was found dead near the plane. 

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


One person is dead after a plane that left from Massachusetts crashed in Pittsford, Vermont.

The plane was located on the east side of Route 7 having sustained heavy damage. There were no passengers on board the aircraft but its pilot was found dead at the scene, say Vermont State Police.


The pilot was identified as 89-year-old Norman Baker from Windsor, Massachusetts. 


Baker's Cessna 172G Skyhawk left the Pittsfield Municipal Airport in Massachusetts on Wednesday afternoon headed for Middlebury.


Baker has been flying his whole life. He had made the trip from Pittsfield to Middlebury approximately 20 times before Wednesday's crash.


Pittsford Police were alerted by a caller to a crash on Wednesday around 5 p.m. in the area of Sugar Hollow Road. The caller had spotted a small, low-flying aircraft in the area and reported that as the plane traveled out of sight, the caller heard a loud noise. The caller was concerned that the plane had crashed, but did not see a crash or wreckage.


Initial investigation found the caller's claim to be unfounded. Police coordinated with the FAA, Vermont Civil Air Patrol and Rutland Regional Airport to determine that there were no unaccounted for aircraft in the area, nor any broadcasting a distress signal.


Late Wednesday night, however, police were informed of an overdue aircraft en route to Middlebury from Massachusetts. Search parties were activated in Pittsford and surrounding areas.


The site of the plane crash was discovered Thursday afternoon by a private landowner searching his property. The cause of the crash is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.


Story and video ➤ https://www.necn.com



PITTSFORD, Vt. (WCAX) "It's just wreckage strewn about everywhere," Alexis Miller said. "The largest piece I saw was the cockpit."

Miller described finding the horrific aftermath of a single-engine plane crash. The scene was along a ridge line about a quarter of a mile into the woods next to her family's Pittsford cabin.


"There's insulation hanging from trees, there's just little tiny pieces that are maybe the size of a shoebox," she said.


Miller and her dad went out early Thanksgiving morning to search after hearing news reports that her neighbors reported a possible crash nearby the night before. A Civil Air Patrol plane had been searching the area, as well, going off tips of a low-flying plane, described as a white Cessna 172 with maroon trim.


Reporter Tyler Dumont: You actually saw something?


Mike Solari: I saw the plane, well, I saw a plane go overhead.


Solari lives on Sugar Hollow Road not far from the crash scene.


Tyler Dumont: Anything come to your mind at that time?


Mike Solari: No, it was just lower than normal, that's about all I can say.


WCAX News was there as rescue crews and Vermont State Police troopers arrived soon after the plane was found. Authorities confirmed shortly after that the pilot-- the only person on board-- was dead. 


Late Thursday afternoon, they identified the pilot as Norman Baker, 89, of Windsor, Massachusetts. Police say Baker was an experienced pilot who had been flying since he was 13 and they have no reason to believe he was unfit in any way.


Officials say Baker was headed to the Middlebury State Airport over 20 miles away from Pittsford. In a statement, the FAA said: " ... the pilot was flying on visual flight rules and was not receiving air traffic control service. A concerned friend or relative reported that the Cessna departed from Pittsfield Municipal Airport in Massachusetts at about 2:30 p.m. Wednesday... and was scheduled to arrive in Middlebury two hours later."


"I get the feeling that they were probably coming home for the holidays," Miller said. "And I feel really bad for whoever it is, their family, and my thoughts are with them."


The NTSB says it is sending an investigator to the crash scene to determine what happened.


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

PITTSFORD, Vt. (AP) - A pilot found dead after a small-plane crash in Vermont has been identified as an 89-year-old Massachusetts man who had been flying planes his entire life.

Police say Windsor, Massachusetts, resident Norman L. Baker was the only person on the four-passenger plane, which had been reported missing. Baker had been flying from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, to Middlebury, Vermont, 125 miles north.

The 1966 Cessna plane is believed to have crashed Wednesday in Pittsford, Vermont, 25 miles south of Middlebury. The crash site was discovered Thursday by a landowner walking in a wooded area of his property.

Police say the plane was heavily damaged and the pilot was found dead nearby. They say the pilot had done the trip successfully about 20 times and they don't know why he crashed this time.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Original article ➤ http://www.westernmassnews.com

PITTSFORD, Vt. - Update:  Vermont State Police say the pilot from a missing plane was found dead.

Authorities say the missing plane was found on the east side of Route 7 in Pittsford on Thursday.

According to police, the plane was heavily damaged, there weren't any other passengers on the plane. 

Vermont State Police and the Pittsford Police Department are searching for a possible missing plane in the area of Sugar Hollow Road.

Police say they received information Wednesday night about an overdue aircraft headed to Middlebury from Massachusetts. Earlier in the day, State Police said the Pittsford Police Department received a report of a small aircraft flying low. Police say the caller indicated they heard a loud noise, but did not see the plane crash or any sign of wreckage.

Original article ➤ http://www.mychamplainvalley.com