Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Wittman W-10 Tailwind, N251WT: Fatal accident occurred January 24, 2018 near Sauk Centre Municipal Airport (D39), Stearns County, Minnesota

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Minneapolis, Minnesota 
Lycoming; Denver, Colorado

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Sauk Centre, MN
Accident Number: CEN18FA083
Date & Time: 01/23/2018, 1530 CST
Registration: N251WT
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On January 23, 2018, about 1530 central standard time, a Whitman Tailwind experimental homebuilt airplane, N251WT, registered to the pilot, was substantially damaged after impacting terrain about 2.7 miles south of the Sauk Centre Municipal Airport (D39), Sauk Centre, Minnesota. The pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed throughout the area and no flight plan was filed. The local personal flight was being operated under the provisions of Federal Code of Regulations Part 91. The flight originated from D39 about 1200.

After an ALNOT was issued, the airplane was located about 0820 on January 24, 2018. The ground search was assisted by the Air Force Forensic Cellular Team. The wreckage was located at grid coordinates North 45.659722 West 94.930278, about 2.7 miles south of the Sauk Centre airport.

On January 25, 2018, The NTSB arrived at the accident site and examined the wreckage. The site was a large plowed field with no obstructions. Signatures at the site showed that the airplane impacted the ground approximately 45-degrees nose down. The cockpit and front structure of the cabin were mostly destroyed by impact forces. Both wings' leading edges were destroyed. The empennage was bent slightly forward and crumpled along its longitudinal length. There were no signs of rolling at impact and it appeared that the wings were level at the time of impact. One propeller blade was visible and was relatively undamaged. The second propeller blade was found shattered underneath the engine. The right elevator was found disconnected to the elevator control system and moved freely. The left elevator was locked in the full down position and was not able to be moved. The right elevator damaged portions were removed at the site and preserved for further examination.

The left side of the cabin structure had been moved by first responders for retrieval of the pilot. There was no evidence of a post-crash fire and the smell of fuel was not present. There was no evidence in the surrounding area of impact with any obstructions prior to ground impact.

The wreckage was recovered late on January 25th and transported to a secure facility in Lakeville, Minnesota, for more detailed examinations of the airframe and engine.

On January 26, 2018, the NTSB IIC examined the aircraft at Wentworth Aviation in Lakeville, Minnesota. Access panels and fabric were removed to facilitate a detailed flight control examination. Flight control continuity was established from the cockpit to all control surfaces, except the connection to the right elevator control horn. The control horn was found fractured at the accident site. The fracture was adjacent to a weld joint. The left elevator was connected and appeared undamaged. Also, the right elevator shows damage at the upper and lower hinge points. The left elevator did not show damage to the hinge points.

No other anomalies were found during the airframe and engine examinations. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: SKWIRA MATTHEW J
Registration: N251WT
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
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: D39, 1242 ft msl
Observation Time: 1535 CST
Distance from Accident Site: 3 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: -3°C / -9°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots, 350°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.09 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Sauk Centre, MN (D39)
Destination:  Sauk Centre, MN (D39) 

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:  45.659722, 94.930278

Matthew James Skwira

Services celebrating the life of Matthew James Skwira, age 50 of Rice, will be 11:00 AM, Monday at the Community Church in Holdingford, burial will be in the Minnesota State Veterans Cemetery. Little Falls. Matt died from injuries in a plane accident on Tuesday. There will be a visitation from 2:00-6:00 PM, Sunday, and again after 10:00 AM Monday, at the church in Holdingford. Arrangements are being made by the Miller-Carlin Funeral Homes.

Matt was born October 2, 1967 in St. Cloud to James and Alice (Brinkmann) Skwira. He lived his entire life in the Holdingford area, with the exception of his time in the U.S. Marine Corps. He married Charlotte "Char" Spiczka on April 26, 1997 in Sauk Rapids. The couple owned Duckwood Prefinishing and Painting in Rice and Matt worked for Talon Innovations in Sauk Rapids. He was a man of many hobbies and talents. He was a man of great patriotism. Matt took much pride in our country and was a man who stood up for what he believed was fair and honest; he would not be swayed. He loved to debate and spent many hours studying his interests. He loved the outdoors, whether he was picking mushrooms, hunting, or fishing. He enjoyed his time on the school board where he fought for what was right for the kids, even if it wasn't popular He had an avid love of flying and he even built his own plane from scratch. He was an experienced pilot with over 10 years of flying. Matt was a member of the Stearns County Community Corrections Advisory Board, and the Bowlus Legion. He served on the Holdingford School Board for over 8 years and he is an alumni of the Holdingford FFA.

Matt is survived by his wife, Char, Rice; his children, Haley (fiancé Matthew Friese) Skwira, Phoenix, AZ and Gerald Skwira, Rice. He is also survived by his mother, Alice Skwira, Holdingford; his brother, Peter (Catherine) Skwira, Gilman and his sister, Donna (Tom) Check, Wisilla, AK, and his flying buddy, Ryan Eiden, Albany.

He is preceded in death by his father, and Char's parents, Rosemary and Paul Spiczka.

SAUK CENTRE, Minn. -- A 50-year-old pilot was found dead after his single-engine experimental aircraft was discovered Wednesday morning, Jan. 24, after the plane was reported missing on Tuesday, the Stearns County Sheriff’s Office said.

Authorities later Wednesday identified the pilot as  Matthew James Skwira, of Rice.  

Authorities were notified about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday that the aircraft hadn’t returned to the Sauk Centre Airport, where the pilot was to practice take-offs and landings, the sheriff’s office said. The plane was last seen around 3:30 p.m.

The sheriff’s office and Sauk Centre police began a search of the area with the assistance of the Federal Aviation Administration and cellular telephone carriers to try to pinpoint the aircraft’s location. Poor weather deterred an aerial search of the area, the sheriff’s office said.

With information from the FAA, Sauk Centre firefighters assisted in a ground search and located the aircraft around 8:25 a.m. Wednesday.

The FAA is conducting a crash investigation.

Sauk Centre is about 25 miles southeast of Alexandria along Interstate 94.

Original article ➤

The pilot of an experimental plane was killed when the aircraft he was flying went down sometime Tuesday afternoon near Sauk Centre.

According to a release from the Stearns County Sheriff's Office, the single-engine plane was located Wednesday morning after a ground search. The pilot has been identified as 50-year-old Matthew James Skwira, of Rice.

The sheriff's office says authorities were notified about 9:30 p.m. Tuesday that the Skwira had not returned after spending time at the Sauk Centre Airport during the afternoon. The release says he had planned to practice takeoffs and landings.

After attempts to reach the pilot were unsuccessful, Sauk Centre police and the sheriff's office began a search of the area, with help from the Federal Aviation Administration and cellular carriers, in an attempt to pinpoint the aircraft. 

It said poor weather Tuesday night prevented an aerial search. 

A ground search resumed Wednesday morning based on information from the FAA, and the plane's wreckage was found about 8:25 a.m. by Sauk Centre fire personnel about six miles south of the airport.

The FAA is investigating. The plane is expected to stay in the field until investigators wrap up their work at the site.

Those who know Skwira say he spent months practicing takeoffs and landings in an experimental plane he built himself.

Story and video ➤

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