Saturday, December 29, 2018

Cessna 172 Skyhawk, N893JA: Accident occurred August 18, 2018 at Addison Airport (KADS), Dallas County, Texas

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; North Texas

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Addison, TX
Accident Number: CEN18LA344
Date & Time: 08/18/2018, 1700 CDT
Registration: N893JA
Aircraft: Cessna 172
Injuries: 3 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Other Work Use 

On August 18, 2018, about 1700 central daylight time, a Cessna 172S, N893JA, impacted terrain on an adjacent taxiway shortly after takeoff at Addison Airport (ADS), Dallas, Texas. The pilot was conducting a discovery flight with two passengers on board. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the airplane fuselage, wings and empennage. The commercial and flight instructor-rated pilot and two passengers were seriously injured. The airplane was registered to Mat-Valley Aero Services LLC and operated by US Sport Aircraft under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a discovery flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and no flight plan was filed.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna
Registration: N893JA
Model/Series: 172 S
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Pilot School (141) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation:
Observation Time:
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point:
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 
Lowest Ceiling:
Altimeter Setting:
Type of Flight Plan Filed:
Departure Point:

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 Serious
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Serious
Latitude, Longitude:

Rhonda Reeder with Post Acute Medical presents Steven Salazar with the photo that will hang on the rehab hospital's Wall of Honor. Salazar was in a plane crash in August 2018.

Steven Salazar was close to his dream of becoming a regional airline pilot when he was seriously injured in an accident involving a Cessna 172 Skyhawk.

Although he had survived the crash August 18th, he couldn't help but feel as if the life he had worked so hard to build as a flight instructor in Dallas was stripped away from him.

The 26-year-old recalled the anger and disappointment he felt inside the rehab hospital room back in his hometown of Victoria. He underwent surgery for a broken back and broken bones in his legs. He also suffered nerve damage. He grew accustomed to his new routine, and the hospital became his second home.

While his body healed its shattered bones, his dog, Cooper, a mini Australian shepherd, was allowed to visit every evening. Another daily visitor was his grandfather, Robert Rodriguez.

And after he was discharged, Rodriguez drove him to Post Acute Medical Rehabilitation Hospital of Victoria for outpatient therapy five days a week.

"He has been my right-hand man, my caretaker, my motivator, my personal comedian, my cameraman during physical therapy, my chauffeur and the best grandpa I could ever ask for," he said Friday during a ceremony celebrating his induction into the Wall of Honor at PAM Rehab Hospital.

Soon a framed photo of Salazar smiling next to a plane will join four others on the wall, each patient with their own inspiring story of recovery.

At the lectern, before the cake was served, he said recovery would have been even harder without his strong support network.

His parents, Barbara and Frank Salazar Sr., said there was no doubt that their middle child would get through this. "He's always been one for adventure," she said. "Nothing holds him back."

"Once he gets his mind on something he does it," added his older brother, Frank Salazar Jr.

Steven Salazar recently completed a Jingle Bell 5K Run sponsored by the hospital and afterward helped pack 150 care packages for military troops.

"He was always here working his tail off," said Dion Ruiz, his physical therapist at Post Acute Medical. "He is the perfect patient because he really buys in to what we tell him and he trusts us."

Salazar still has physical therapy and is working to improve his gait.

Amid the crowd of more than 50 gathered in the hospital hallway was his friend Niko Ramirez, who was diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury and left unable to walk or talk after a 2013 motorcycle accident.

Doriann Kraatz, Ramirez's mother, said Salazar was consistently caring for Niko immediately after his accident, even driving themto medical appointments.

She said it was in a doctor's waiting room a few years later that she remembers encouraging her son's friend to pursue his own career dreams.

She learned that Salazar wanted to be a pilot and was looking into classes in Waco. "I said, Niko is fine. He is stable," she recalled.

Salazar said that going through the experience with Niko and his family taught him to never give up hope.

While his career plans may change, he said, he is trying to stay focused on being healthy and enjoying life every day. "I want to cherish the time I have with my friends and family and slow down a little."

Original article ➤

Friday, December 28, 2018

Robinson R22 Beta, N8319T: Accident occurred December 28, 2018 near Hayward Executive Airport (KHWD), Alameda County, California

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Hayward, CA
Accident Number: WPR19CA052
Date & Time: 12/28/2018, 1045 PST
Registration: N8319T
Aircraft: Robinson R22
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Birdstrike
Injuries: 2 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

The flight instructor reported that the student pilot was practicing takeoffs and landings at the airport. The student took off from spot C (taxiway Z), flying a right traffic pattern with the intent to land on taxiway A. As the helicopter was making a right crosswind turn over a golf course at an altitude of about 300 ft above ground level, a large bird flew out of the trees and struck the tail rotor. The flight instructor took over control as the helicopter began to yaw and he subsequently initiated an auto rotation to the golf course. As a result of a hard landing, the tailboom and fuselage were substantially damaged.

The flight instructor reported no mechanical anomalies with the helicopter that would have precluded normal operation.

Bird remains were found on the golf course and were identified as a Turkey Vulture. The average weight of the species is 4 pounds. 

Flight Instructor Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 37, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): Helicopter
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Helicopter
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Helicopter
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 01/17/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 06/13/2017
Flight Time:  1116 hours (Total, all aircraft), 900 hours (Total, this make and model), 999 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 164 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 59 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 3 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Student Pilot Information

Certificate: None
Age: 52, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: None
Last FAA Medical Exam: 
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  17.7 hours (Total, all aircraft), 17.7 hours (Total, this make and model) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Robinson
Registration: N8319T
Model/Series: R22 BETA
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Year of Manufacture: 1994
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 2488
Landing Gear Type: Skid;
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 11/30/2018, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1369 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 35 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 13508 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
Engine Model/Series: O-320-B2C
Registered Owner: Spitzer Helicopter Llc
Rated Power: 160 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KHWD, 52 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site:
Observation Time: 1054 PST
Direction from Accident Site:
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 8 knots / 18 knots
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction: 340°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.26 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / -6°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:  No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Hayward, CA (KHWD)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Hayward, CA (KHWD)
Type of Clearance: VFR
Departure Time: 1043 PST
Type of Airspace: Class D

Airport Information

Airport: Hayward Executive (KHWD)
Runway Surface Type: Grass/turf
Airport Elevation: 52 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Soft
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Traffic Pattern 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 None
Latitude, Longitude: 37.663889, -122.128056 (est)

HAYWARD, California  (KGO) -- A student pilot and his flight instructor were able to walk away from their helicopter after making an emergency landing. It all happened after they were hit by a bird.

"It was pretty crazy!" says Randy Acosta.

Acosta and his friends were playing a round of golf at Skywest Golf Course in Hayward. The pilots, who launched from the Hayward Executive airport, made their emergency landing near the 10th hole of the course.

Acosta says they were one hole behind from where the chopper came down.

"You could see the helicopter pilot kind of had it (turn) strongly to the right, regain control and then it went down and he maintained control," says Acosta.

Airport officials say a large turkey vulture, which can have a wingspan of up to six feet wide, hit the windshield shortly after the pilots took off.

A student pilot was flying, but then his flight instructor immediately took over after being hit.

"It was a miraculous landing when you think about it. The tail rotor which maintains directional flight for the helicopter was impaired and the instructor was able to still land the helicopter safely," explains airport manager, Doug McNeeley.

McNeeley says the pilots flew about half a mile when they were hit.

Victor Toy and his group came to see what happened after the chopper landed and were amazed that no one was injured in the crash.

"I thought, aww man, that doesn't look good at all," says Toy. "Then I look at it now, (and think) that's an incredible pilot. The way that it was out of control. To land it the way it is. That's pretty amazing. That's awesome skill."

The two pilots were able to walk away uninjured but shaken up.

Airport officials say it is rare to have problems with birds at this airport. The NTSB will also be investigating.

Original article can be found here ➤

Cessna 172RG Cutlass, F-GEJD: Fatal accident occurred June 13, 2019 in Sailagouse, France

NTSB Identification: GAA19WA341
14 CFR Non-U.S., Non-Commercial
Accident occurred Thursday, June 13, 2019 in Sailagouse, France
Aircraft: CESSNA 172, registration:
Injuries: 2 Fatal.

The foreign authority was the source of this information.

The government of France has notified the NTSB of an accident involving a CESSNA 172 airplane that occurred on June 13, 2019. The NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative to assist the government of France's investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13.

All investigative information will be released by the government of France.

Sikorsky UH-60A, N60CU: Incident occurred July 11, 2020 in Minden, Douglas County, Nevada

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Reno, Nevada

Rotorcraft performing fire fighting operation, snorkel struck belly.

UC Helitanker 1 LLC

Date: 11-JUL-20
Time: 22:30:00Z
Regis#: N60CU
Aircraft Make: SIKORSKY
Aircraft Model: UH60
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)

Family members of 2016 plane crash victims sue United States government: Cessna 182H Skylane, N1839X, fatal accident occurred December 26, 2016 near Gatlinburg-Pigeon Forge Airport (KGKT), Sevier County, Tennessee

Joseph "David" Starling and Kim Smith

Joseph "David" Starling 

Family members of a local 8-year-old boy and a mother who died in a plane crash are now suing the United States government.

The plane took off from Keystone Heights on December 26th, 2016, and crashed into the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee.

The crash killed all three people on board: Bradford County father David Starling; his son, Hunter Starling; and his girlfriend Kim Smith.

David Starling was piloting the plane.

The plane crashed into a mountain peak while flying through a cloud layer where the pilot had low visibility.

The lawsuits filed by Hunter’s mother, Tabitha Starling, and Kim Smith’s son, Joshua Garrett Smith, claim the Federal Aviation Administration “approach controller never warned the pilot that he was at an obvious risk of colliding with the mountain.”

The federal government filed a response blaming the “negligent acts and omissions of the pilot.”

Action News Jax reported in 2016 that Starling did not have the proper license for a low-visibility cross-country flight.

“When you are searching for an airport and you don’t have an instrument rating … you have a tendency to... get lower and lower trying to see the airport and maintain visual contact with the ground. And, unfortunately, the clouds sometimes hide the terrain,” said Jacksonville University assistant professor of aeronautics Wayne Ziskal in 2016.

The National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Final Report said, “The pilot had a history of disregard for established rules and regulations.”

The report said Starling had a history of operating his plane in conditions he was not licensed to fly in.

The NTSB also said he “used the potentially-impairing stimulant phentermine at some time before the flight, but the samples available for testing were inadequate to quantify impairment.”

Phentermine is an amphetamine-like prescription appetite suppressant.

Original article can be found here ➤

Joseph David Starling, his 8-year-old son Hunter, and Kim Smith.

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office: Nashville, Tennessee
Continental Motors, Inc.; Mobile, Alabama

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Gatlinburg, TN
Accident Number: ERA17FA073
Date & Time: 12/26/2016, 1602 EST
Registration: N1839X
Aircraft: CESSNA 182
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event:  Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT)
Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 


The non-instrument-rated private pilot elected to conduct the cross-country flight over mountainous terrain without obtaining a weather briefing or filing a flight plan. As he approached his destination, the pilot requested a descent from his cruising altitude of 9,500 ft mean sea level (msl), which was approved by air traffic control. The controller instructed the pilot to maintain visual flight rules flight throughout his descent. Instead, the pilot descended the airplane into a cloud layer between 7,000 ft msl to 5,000 ft msl despite his instructions from air traffic control. Radar data and satellite weather imagery depicted the airplane in a steady-state descent inside a solid cloud layer which tracked north, directly toward the destination airport. The radar track ended at 5,400 ft. msl abeam a mountain peak at 6,500 feet elevation. The accident site was located at 5,400 ft in steep, mountainous terrain about 15 miles south of the destination airport at the same position as the last radar target.

Examination of the wreckage revealed no pre-impact mechanical anomalies and signatures consistent with controlled flight into terrain.

The pilot had a history of disregard for established rules and regulations. The pilot's medical certificate was expired, and his airplane was about 2 months overdue for an annual inspection. He was counseled numerous times by an experienced flight instructor about his unsafe practice of operating the airplane in instrument meteorological conditions without an instrument rating, but he continued to do so over a period of 2 years and again on the accident flight. His contempt for rules and regulations was consistent with an anti-authority attitude, which is hazardous to safe operation of aircraft.

The pilot had used the potentially-impairing stimulant phentermine at some time before the flight, but the samples available for testing were inadequate to quantify impairment. Therefore, it could not be determined if the pilot's use of phentermine contributed to this accident. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The non-instrument-rated pilot's intentional visual flight rules flight into instrument meteorological conditions, which resulted in controlled flight into terrain. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's established anti-authority attitude. 


Altitude - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)
Qualification/certification - Pilot (Cause)
Total instrument experience - Pilot (Cause)
Personality - Pilot (Factor)
Self confidence - Pilot (Factor)
Prescription medication - Pilot

Environmental issues
Low visibility - Effect on operation (Cause)
Low visibility - Decision related to condition (Cause)

Factual Information

History of Flight


Controlled flight into terr/obj (CFIT) (Defining event)

On December 26, 2016, about 1602 eastern standard time, a Cessna 182H, N1839X, collided with mountainous terrain during descent for landing to Gatlinburg Pigeon Forge Airport (GKT), Sevierville, Tennessee. The private pilot and two passengers were fatally injured; the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal cross-country flight. The airplane departed Keystone Airpark (42J), Keystone Heights, Florida, about 1300.

Information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) revealed that the airplane was receiving visual flight rules (VFR) flight-following services and was at 9,500 ft mean sea level (msl) when the pilot requested a descent into GKT. At 1554, the controller approved the descent, issued an altimeter setting, and directed the pilot to "maintain VFR." Radar data depicted a descent on a ground track of about 340° directly toward GKT at a groundspeed between 130 and 150 knots.

At 1558, about 20 miles from GKT, the airplane descended below the minimum vectoring altitude of 8,000 ft msl. The airplane continued its descent on the same ground track and about the same speed. At 1602, the radar target was at 5,400 ft msl abeam the peak of Mt. LeConte, elevation 6,500 ft, when the radar track ended.

At that time, the controller issued the airplane a radio frequency change to the GKT frequency and terminated radar services. No reply was received from the airplane, and no further attempts to contact the airplane were made.

Local law enforcement was notified of the overdue airplane by concerned family members. A search was initiated, and the wreckage was located later that evening by helicopter at 5,400 ft in steep, mountainous terrain at the same position as the last radar target. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 41, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 12/03/2013
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:  272 hours (Total, all aircraft), 219 hours (Total, this make and model) 

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He was issued a third-class medical certificate on December 3, 2013, and he reported 12 total hours of flight experience on that date. That certificate expired on the pilot's 40th birthday in September 2015. A search of FAA records revealed that the pilot had not applied for a medical certificate in any class after December 3, 2013.

The pilot was issued his private pilot certificate on April 1, 2014 at 45.3 total hours of flight experience. His pilot logbook was not recovered. On April 27, 2016, the pilot reported to his insurance carrier that he had accrued 272 total hours of flight experience, 219 hours of which were in the accident airplane. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: CESSNA
Registration: N1839X
Model/Series: 182 H
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18255939
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 10/03/2015, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2348 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2595 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer:  CONT MOTOR
Engine Model/Series:  O-470 SERIES
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 230 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held:  None 

The four-seat, single-engine, high-wing, fixed-gear airplane was manufactured in 1965 and equipped with a Continental O-470-R-series, 230-horsepower, reciprocating engine. According to the airplane's maintenance records, the most recent annual inspection was completed on October 3, 2015, at 2,595 total aircraft hours. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: GKT, 1013 ft msl
Observation Time: 1615 EST
Distance from Accident Site: 13 Nautical Miles
Direction from Accident Site: 344°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 4600 ft agl
Temperature/Dew Point: 18°C / 13°C
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm
Visibility (RVR):
Altimeter Setting: 30.3 inches Hg
Visibility (RVV):
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Precipitation
Departure Point: KEYSTONE HEIGHTS, FL (42J)
Type of Flight Plan Filed:  None
Destination: Gatlinburg, TN (GKT)
Type of Clearance: VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 1300 EST
Type of Airspace: Class E

At 1615, the weather reported at GKT, located 15 miles north of the accident site, included few clouds at 4,600 ft and calm wind. The temperature was 18°C; the dew point was 13°C; and the altimeter setting was 30.30 inches of mercury.

Airmen's Meteorological Information (AIRMET) Sierra for mountain obscuration was in effect along the airplane's flight route. Satellite imagery showed instrument flight rules (IFR) conditions with cloud tops between 6,000 and 7,000 ft msl in the area surrounding the accident site. Conditions north of the ridgeline that the airplane struck and at the destination airport were VFR.

At 1545, about the time the airplane passed overhead, the weather reported at Macon County Airport (2,034 feet elevation), Franklin, North Carolina, about 25 miles south of the accident site included scattered clouds at 700 ft, a broken ceiling at 1,200 ft, and an overcast cloud layer at 2,400 ft. The visibility was 4 statute miles in fog.

A pilot who transitioned through the area of the accident site around the time of the accident captured images and weather information near the site. He said that during the climb, his airplane entered a flat, stratus cloud layer at 5,000 ft and that the cloud tops were at 7,000 ft msl. According to this pilot, the cloud layer remained consistent throughout the en route and descent portions of his flight.

A search of official weather briefing sources, such as Lockheed Martin Flight Service and the Direct User Access Terminal Service, revealed that no official weather briefing was received by the pilot from those sources. A search of ForeFlight weather information revealed that the pilot did not request a weather briefing, nor did he file a flight plan using ForeFlight mobile. However, at 1449, the pilot did enter route information from 42J to GKT in ForeFlight, but he did not view any weather imagery. It could not be determined if the pilot viewed weather observations or terminal area forecast information en route as Foreflight did not archive that information.

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type:  N/A
Airport Elevation: 1013 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: N/A
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width:
VFR Approach/Landing: Straight-in 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries:  N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  35.651944, -83.458333 (est) 

The wreckage was examined at the accident site by an FAA inspector. There was an odor of fuel, and all major components were accounted for at the scene. Because of the hazardous conditions at the site, a brief photo-documentation of the wreckage was performed before it was recovered by helicopter for further examination. During the subsequent examination, it was determined that two landing gear and a propeller blade were not recovered from the accident site.

The airframe was segmented by both impact and cutting performed by the aircraft recovery technicians. Control continuity was established from the cockpit area, through several breaks and cuts, to the flight control surfaces. All breaks were consistent with overload failure or mechanical cutting during recovery.

The leading edges of both wings were uniformly crushed. Examination of the instrument panel revealed that the instruments were destroyed by impact, and no useful data was recovered. The mixture, throttle, and propeller controls were all found in the full-forward positions. The fuel selector valve was in the "Right" tank position.

The propeller, propeller governor, engine case, No. 6 cylinder, and the crankshaft forward of the No. 4 main bearing were separated by impact forces. The engine could not be rotated by hand due to impact damage. The oil sump was also separated, which allowed for visual inspection of the power section. Visual inspection and borescope examination revealed normal wear and lubrication signatures. The engine accessories were also separated from the engine due to impact. The magnetos could not be tested due to impact damage. Disassembly revealed normal wear and no pre-impact mechanical anomalies.

Aids To Navigation

GKT was depicted on the Atlanta VFR Sectional Chart at 1,014 ft msl. The Maximum Elevation Figure (MEF) for the quadrant that contained both GKT and Mt. LeConte was 7,000 ft msl. Instrument approach procedure charts for GKT depicted the minimum sector altitude as 7,900 ft msl, which provided a minimum clearance of 1,000 ft above all obstacles within a 25nm radius of GKT.

These charts were available to ForeFlight subscribers. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Regional Forensic Center, Knox County, Tennessee, performed the autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was listed as multiple blunt force injuries.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicological testing for the pilot. Phentermine was detected in the liver at 0.167 ug/ml, in the spleen at 0.125 ug/ml, and in the kidney at 0.116 ug/ml.

Phentermine is a prescription stimulant/appetite suppressant medication marked under various names including Adipex. It is a central nervous system stimulant, and side effects include overstimulation, restlessness, and dizziness. It carries the warning, "phentermine may impair the ability of the patient to engage in potentially hazardous activities such as operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle; the patient should therefore be cautioned accordingly." The pilot had not disclosed use of this medication to the FAA. There is no known relationship between tissue levels and impairment for this drug. 

Additional Information

The owner/operator of the flight school at 42J where the pilot received his primary flight instruction was interviewed. According to the flight school owner, who was a flight instructor, the pilot "pushed his training as hard as he could and cut corners wherever he could." According to school records, the pilot scored a 73 on his FAA private pilot written exam. The pilot purchased the airplane as soon as he passed his practical exam.

The pilot later built a hangar on his property and kept the airplane there, but he continued to fly in and out of 42J. The flight school owner said that he watched the pilot depart 42J with his family on multiple occasions in weather that was "below VFR minimums." He said that he counseled the pilot numerous times about operating the airplane VFR in instrument conditions. Most recently, he counseled the pilot 2 weeks before the accident.

The flight school owner stated, "I've been flying for more than 40 years, and I tried to explain to him the history of pilots with an anti-authority attitude. It's an attitude that catches up with you. He was a low-time, flat-land pilot with no mountain experience. There was an AIRMET for mountain obscuration that day… there was plenty of information out there."

When asked why he thought the pilot departed on the accident flight with those conditions along his route of flight, the instructor said, "I counseled him numerous times about taking instrument training and getting an instrument rating. Lots of us around here did. He couldn't be bothered. He would just draw… [the flight route] on his iPad and go."

He blew the whistle on Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport scandal — and says it could cost him his business

Tom McDermott, who owns Crabtown Raw Bar and Grill in Hampton, also ran restaurant and food services at the Newport News airport from 2003 to 2017.

Tom McDermott lost his restaurant at the Newport News/Williamsburg International Airport in late 2016, kicking off more than two years of legal wrangling.

Now he’s on the verge of losing his other restaurant, too — and he blames the hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees he’s spent fighting the airport.

McDermott has owned Crabtown Raw Bar & Grill, on East Pembroke Avenue in Hampton, since 2015.

But the city shut Crabtown down on October 30th — changing the locks on the doors — because of the restaurant’s failure to pay meal taxes going back more than six months, Hampton Commissioner of the Revenue Ross Mugler said.

He declined to say how much was owed, saying he’s precluded from doing so by law. “But we don’t close doors for nothing,” Mugler said.

McDermott says he couldn’t make ends meet with huge legal bills stemming from his dispute with the airport, on top of several lines of credit he had for his two restaurants — only one of which was still bringing in money.

“This is the result of two years of this nonsense,” McDermott said. “We tried as best we could to continue to make payments, but I couldn’t do it.”

McDermott, 55, of Hampton, said he’s since paid back much of the overdue meal tax, and will soon pay the rest. But he’s now planning to sell Crabtown, saying his treatment from the airport’s board has left a sour taste in his mouth.

“I had a relationship with the airport for almost 30 years,” he said. “The board allowing me to get screwed like this — it’s inconceivable. This stupid thing has destroyed me.”

McDermott’s company, New Dominion Clubs, began providing food and beverage services at the airport in 2003, when it renovated a dilapidated Burger King and turned it into the Blue Sky Cafe. The company later added bar and kiosk areas on the concourses, and McDermott said airport officials always pushed those expansions.

McDermott said he regularly charged reduced rates for airport and city events, and local charitable functions, saying he regularly sold the food at cost for airport events and covered the labor.

But in late 2016, the Peninsula Airport Commission voted to unilaterally end his long-term lease and kick him out. The airport filed for a court judgement, saying it needed the space “for an airport purpose” — running its own restaurant.

As the lease dispute was heating up, McDermott exposed a $5 million loan guarantee that the Airport Commission had secretly given to a startup airline, People Express Airlines, in 2014.

McDermott, who believes his knowledge of that loan is the real reason he was forced out, filed an open records request for loan documents in late 2016.

That led the Daily Press to press for answers about the loan guarantee in early 2017, leading to the revelation that the airport spent $4.5 million in public money to pay off the loan when People Express collapsed only months later.

A judge ruled in early 2017 that the airport was within its rights to terminate McDermott’s lease. But the judge also said the 2010 lease requires the airport to reimburse the company for its capital investments, minus depreciation.

Two years on, that amount is still a matter of hot dispute.

McDermott says he pumped more than $1.5 million into the airport over the years, including on restaurant fixtures, kiosks, and water and electrical lines. He says the airport owes him $815,000.

But the airport’s attorney, James S. McNider III, has said in court hearings that New Dominion is owed little or nothing at all.

McNider says the company hasn’t provided adequate justification — such as tax returns, invoices and canceled checks — to back his $815,000 claim. The attorney also contends the company didn’t follow accounting rules on depreciation.

McDermott, for his part, said the airport threw away “boxes and boxes” of his business files — including documents needed for his claim — in September 2016.

A trial is scheduled for February.

McDermott said he was willing to settle, but that McNider has deliberately dragged out the case with “frivolous” motions, and that the Airport Commission has not tried to push for a resolution.

McNider declined to comment on McDermott’s statements. The airport’s executive director, Mike Giardino, declined to comment, with spokeswoman Jessica Wharton saying the airport “will not discuss pending litigation.”

Airport Commission chairwoman Sharon Scott said the board has encouraged McNider to settle the case. But Scott said McNider has blamed McDermott and his attorney for the delays.

Mugler, Hampton’s commissioner of the revenue, said Crabtown owed meal taxes for April through September, with October later being added to the bill.

Restaurant diners in Hampton pay a 13 percent tax on every meal, with 7.5 percent going to the city and the rest to the state.

Mugler said the city treasurer, Molly Ward, is working with McDermott to collect the rest of the taxes he owes.

“He did a nice job renovating the restaurant,” Mugler said. “The food was good, and he had a great menu. It’s very disappointing to see the turn it has taken, because we don’t like to shut down a business.”

But Mugler said meal taxes — which are supposed to be turned over to the city monthly — don’t belong to a restaurant owner.

“You can’t use taxpayer money for your legal bills,” he said.

McDermott said the balance will be paid off in a matter of days. Still, he’s strongly considering moving out of Hampton Roads because of everything that’s happened.

“I am going to need to recharge my batteries,” he said. “This has just been brutal.”

Original article can be found here ➤

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TSMOH: 77.2 **  
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