Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Piper PA-24 Comanche, N9456P, registered to N9456P LLC and operated by the pilots as a personal flight: Fatal accident occurred April 09, 2018 near Scottsdale Airport (KSDL), Maricopa County, Arizona

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

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

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


Elliott Simpson, an aviation accident investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report- National Transportation Safety Board

Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Accident Number: WPR18FA119
Date & Time: 04/09/2018, 2048 MST
Registration: N9456P
Aircraft: PIPER PA 24-260
Injuries: 6 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On April 9, 2018, about 2048 mountain standard time, a Piper PA-24-260 airplane, N9456P, was destroyed when it impacted terrain shortly after takeoff from Scottsdale Airport (SDL), Scottsdale, Arizona. The airline transport pilot, student pilot, and 4 passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to N9456P, LLC and operated by the pilots as a personal flight under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Night time visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and a flight plan was not filed. The flight was destined for North Las Vegas Airport (VGT), Las Vegas, Nevada.

Earlier that evening, the air transport pilot flew the airplane from VGT to SDL with the intention of picking up the passengers and flying them back to VGT. The inbound flight was his first flight in the airplane. Preliminary information indicated that the flight departed from VGT at 1842, and landed at SDL at 2018.

The airplane was equipped with 6 seats. A video surveillance camera at SDL, located on the ramp where the airplane was parked, captured the occupants begin to board the airplane about 2028. The footage revealed that two female passengers boarded the airplane first and were seated in the two aft seats. Next, a male passenger boarded the airplane and initially sat in the middle right seat but moved to the middle left seat when the third female passenger boarded; she then occupied the middle right seat. The student pilot then occupied the front left seat and the airline transport pilot occupied the front right seat. An onboard video posted to social media by the female passenger in the middle row incorrectly depicted the locations of each occupant, because the video was posted as a mirror image.

Additional video surveillance footage located midfield on the west side of the runway, captured the airplane departing from runway 03. The footage appeared to indicate that the airplane's wings were rocking during and shortly after rotation.

A traffic camera, located about 0.5 miles northwest of the end of the departure runway, recorded the airplane in a left bank executing a left turn. As the turn progressed, the bank angle increased, and the airplane started to descend. The wings became nearly vertical, and the view of the airplane was lost behind a berm. Seconds later, the camera caught a fireball when the airplane impacted terrain.

A witness located on the ramp observed the boarding process and watched as the airplane taxied towards the runway. She lost sight of it but was able to hear what sounded like a typical preflight engine run-up. She then observed the airplane accelerate down the runway, and about midway, the wings began to rock in a manner that she thought was excessive. She reported that the oscillations eventually diminished, and the airplane began to climb, reaching about level with the top of the adjacent airport buildings. It continued roughly at the same altitude, until it began a climbing left turn, which appeared similar, although lower, than most aircraft departing the traffic pattern. As the turn progressed, the airplane's attitude changed to pitch down, and the airplane disappeared out of her sight. A fireball ensued. The witness did not hear any unusual sounds, or see the airplane emitting smoke, fire, or vapors, and stated that the engine sounded typical compared to the airplanes she regularly observes.

The airplane came to rest in a golf course about ¼ mile north of the end of the departure runway. The main cabin was mostly consumed by fire. The outboard section of the right wing was separated, and in addition to thermal damage, exhibited substantial impact crush damage. The inboard section of the right wing remained attached to the fuselage, and the majority of the left wing was found separated from the fuselage. The wreckage was recovered to a secure facility for subsequent detailed examination.

SDL is equipped with a single paved runway, designated 03/21. The runway is 8,249 ft long, and the airport elevation is 1,510 ft.

The 1953 SDL automated weather observation included winds from 160o at 3 knots, visibility 10 miles, clear skies, temperature 28° C, dew point -5° C, and an altimeter setting of 29.94 inches of mercury. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N9456P
Model/Series: PA 24-260 260
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file 
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSDL, 1473 ft msl
Observation Time: 1953 MDT
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / -5°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 3 knots, 160°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.94 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Scottsdale, AZ (SDL)
Destination: LAS VEGAS, NV (VGT) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 4 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: On-Ground
Total Injuries: 6 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  33.635556, -111.897778 (est)

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 emailassistance@ntsb.gov


The official cause of the crash is under investigation. We showed traffic camera video of the crash to an aviation expert to get a better understanding of what went wrong. 

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - The fact that cameras are everywhere these days is helping crash investigators get a better understanding of what exactly could have gone wrong in the moments leading up to a deadly plane crash in Scottsdale.

Six young adults onboard a Piper Comanche lost their lives back on April 10 after the plane went down and exploded on a golf course north of the Scottsdale Airport.

Newly released traffic camera video shows the chilling moment the small plane went down.

Bill Waldock is a professor at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. He took a look at the video to analyze what may have caused the crash.

Waldock said it appears the plane may have been trying to go back to the airport at the time of the crash.

"The two tip lights, the strobe lights clearly show the airplane is rolled over to the left a little bit. He's probably trying to come back to the airport," Waldock said.

The plane bound for Las Vegas began to drop out of the sky above TPC Scottsdale.

"You can even see how he proceeds and starts to lose altitude. He's rolling over and over to the left, to the point where he stalled the airplane and it rolls in," Waldock said.

That means the wing of the plane wasn't producing enough lift to keep the plane flying.

Still, the pilot had time to use his radio, assuring the tower that they were fine seconds before the traffic camera caught the plane exploding in a ball of fire.

But based on the traffic camera video, Waldock says the pilot made the wrong decision to make that turn.

"That's what we try to teach pilots. If you have a problem, particularly if it's below 500 feet, don't try to turn back to the airport, as almost always, you'll lose control of the airplane and roll it in," he said.

There's also still the possibility the plane was overweight.

"If he indeed had six adults on that airplane, he's going to be, not only overweight, but probably tail-heavy," he said.

The six victims were from across the country and had been in the Valley for the Phoenix Lights Festival, an electronic dance music festival. Several of those killed in the crash also had massive social media followings.

The official cause of the crash is under investigation.

Story and video ➤ https://www.12news.com

Surveillance video from a traffic camera shows the moment a small aircraft crashed in Scottsdale, Ariz., killing six people, including a San Diego model.

The small plane can be seen traveling across the frame before its wings appear to go vertical and it disappears. Seconds later a flash of light appears over the horizon, followed by a ball of flames.

The video, provided by Scottsdale Police, mimicked an NTSB report released this month describing how the airplane "wings became nearly vertical, and the view of the airplane was lost behind a berm."

A cause of the crash has not been released. It was last reported the wreckage was being examined at a secure facility.

The plane was heading to Las Vegas, Nev., before it crashed in a golf course about a quarter mile away from Scottsdale Airport shortly after takeoff on April 9.

Two crew members and four passengers died: Erik Valente, 26; James Louis Pedroza, 28; Anand Anil Patel, 28; Helena Lagos, 22; Iris Carolina Rodriguez, 23; and San Diego-based Instagram model Mariah Sunshine Coogan, 23.

Coogan's father, Chris, says Mariah was the oldest of five siblings.

"We’re trying to be 'family strong.' That’s our new motto here," Chris Coogan, said. 

"It's been very hard," Stacey Coogan, her mother, said. "We miss our daughter so much."

Her family says in recent months, Mariah had recently moved to West Hollywood. They told 10News she was in Phoenix for a concert and she was flying to Las Vegas for work.

Story and video:  ➤ https://www.10news.com

Erik Kenneth Valente 
FEBRUARY 5, 1986 – APRIL 9, 2018

Erik Kenneth Valente and fiance, Ashley M. Cole

Erik Kenneth Valente, age 32, of Las Vegas, passed away April 9, 2018, doing what he loved, flying.

Erik was an avid pilot who was adventurous and had a loving, generous heart, with a strong faith in the Lord.

He finished Aviation Academy at Rancho High with his Private Pilot license. 

He graduated from the University of North Dakota with a BA in Aviation Management. 

Erik was certified as a Commercial Pilot, with Instrument and Multi Engine ratings, and a Flight Instructor. 

He flew corporate jets and private aircraft for many clients.

He was a member of Sigma Phi Epsilon and an Eagle Scout. 

He was preceded in death by his grandparents, Kenneth and Esther Ainsworth, and John and Josephine Valente; and cousin, Audrey Malone.

He is survived by his parents, John and Lynda; uncle and aunt, Denny and Barb Malone, cousin, Amanda Malone, her husband, Mark Crisman and their families, all of Denver, Colorado; cousin, Carmela Lombardo, and her son, George, of Pennsylvania; the love of his life and fiance, Ashley M. Cole, and her family of Louisiana; and Riley, their canine companion. Memorial will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at Green Valley Baptist Church, 270 N. Valle Verde Drive, Henderson. In lieu of flowers, donations in honor of Erik can be sent to Boy Scouts of America, Las Vegas area council or www.gofundme.com/qxjpvf-erik-valente

James Louis Pedroza

Mariah Coogan (l.), Anand Patel (c.) and James Pedroza

Absent the official narrative of why a small plane crashed on a Scottsdale golf course moments after takeoff, killing all six aboard, aviation experts agree the aircraft's weight likely had something to do with it.

Three factors — all related to loading — may have contributed to the small Piper PA-24 Comanche crashing less than a mile away from Scottsdale Airport on Monday night, according to Brent Bowen, professor and dean of the College of Aviation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott. 

Six adults, fuel and, likely, luggage could have skewed the center of gravity, Bowen told The Arizona Republic. Based on the details released so far, the loaded weight and balance of the aircraft appeared to have exceeded capacity. Additionally, a calculation — density altitude — to determine performance demands based on temperature and atmospheric conditions could have been incorrect, he said.

“A disaster could occur by miscalculating any of those components,” Bowen said, speaking generally about aircraft incidents and the ability of the Piper PA-24.

The National Transportation Safety Board has worked throughout the week to collect evidence and move the wreckage to a Phoenix site where it will be meticulously evaluated. 

A preliminary report is expected later this month, and a report outlining in greater details what occurred could take up to 18 months, as is typical in aviation crash investigations, said Eliott Simpson, an NTSB investigator.

But details available through public records and social-media profiles paint a clearer picture about what might have happened and where the focus of the investigation will likely narrow in weeks and months to come.

'Whoohoo 6 seats'

One of the victims — James Pedroza — posted photos and videos of the plane Feb. 7, not long after saying he bought a share in it last summer.

The video shows a second and third row of seats in the plane, suggesting it could have technically accommodated six people. 

"Can’t wait to take this bad boy up and around for some adventures Whoohoo 6 seats," he wrote

One of the primary questions investigators will seek to answer is when and how the Piper PA-24 Comanche was outfitted with its third row of seats.

The specific model of plane, and that serial number, suggests it came off the production line in 1970 equipped with four seats and a single engine. While there are some models that included six seats, it remains unclear whether this particular plane was built that way or modified later, Simpson told reporters Tuesday. 

Immediately accessible public records do not indicate when changes might have been made.

If it was modified, it's unclear whether the engine was updated to handle more horsepower — a change that would have to be made by a certified mechanic who revamped specs about the plane's center of gravity and recommended weight distribution. 

But there's a bigger problem that is widely known in the aviation world, Bowen said. 

"Most airplanes have two more seats than they can really use," he said.

A six-seater should really only be used to fly four people, plus luggage and and fuel, Bowen said. Perhaps small children could have fit in the third row without throwing off the distribution, but weight adds up fast, especially in a small plane like that, he said. 

Where it was going

Online flight records show the plane departed North Las Vegas Airport at 6:42 p.m. Monday. It flew over the western arm of Lake Mead National Recreation Area and climbed to a cruising altitude of 11,500 feet. 

At 8:16 p.m., 96 minutes after takeoff, the plane landed in Scottsdale, records show. 

Mariah Coogan had posted a photo of the plane, the words “Off to Vegas” across the bottom along with a check-in at Scottsdale Airport. Once in the cabin, she recorded a video showing the group together, smiling and enjoying the moment.

Online flight records do not show the plane's Scottsdale departure. It crashed at about 8:45 p.m., killing all six people aboard.

They were identified as Pedroza, 28; Coogan, 23; Erik Valente, 26; Anand Anil Patel, 28; Helena Lagos, 22; and Iris Carolina Rodriguez Garcia, 23.

Weight issues

Mathematically, the plane was almost certainly at, or over, its weight capacity.

The basic Piper PA-24-260 fixed-wing, single-engine airplane has an empty weight of 1,700 pounds, according to aircraft databases. Its gross weight is 2,900 pounds. That means the plane can carry about 1,200 pounds — fuel, cargo and people — before exceeding maximum capacity. 

Based on fuel-burn rates, the plane would have needed roughly 40 gallons of gas, including reserves, to make the 90-minute trip to Las Vegas. Assuming a 6-pound-per-gallon weight, that means 240 pounds would have been allocated for fuel. 

That leaves 960 pounds for cargo, passengers and other accessories. 

Assuming a conservative weight of 150 pounds per passenger — the FAA average for commercial flights is 170 — there could be no more than 60 pounds left over for luggage and other items.

This cautious scenario would leave a razor-thin margin for error that would make most pilots immediately think twice, Bowen said. 

Registration in question

The plane's registered owner prior to 2015 was Cecil Ice, a South Dakota pilot and flight instructor who trained World War II pilots before joining the Air Force, according to public records.

He was well-known in the region's aviation circles after starting a charter service in Pierre. Ice also sold airplanes and started a repair shop, working on the side as a crop-duster before his death in 2012 at age 89.  

Additional records about the plane, including its apparent ownership transfer in 2015, were not immediately available.

The plane's current registration was pending out of Las Vegas. But the official filing was not deemed fit because it was terminated or in question, possibly because of a paperwork or technical issue, according to FAA records.

Though no names are listed on the most recent publicly available documents, FAA records for the pending registration list a Las Vegas address.

That address is for a small home on the dusty, northwest outskirts of the city. 

No additional information about the property's owner is readily accessible. 

Focus of investigation

As family and friends mourn, NTSB investigators are working to figure out what caused the plane to go down. They will likely look for the flight logbook, assuming it wasn't on the plane, as well as the official weight and balance document required to be on board.

Bill Waldock is a professor of safety science and specializes in aircraft accident investigation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

He said there are two types of engines that could have been used in the plane that crashed on Monday. Depending on which was installed there could have been weight limitations, coupled with any number of other factors. 

The age of the 48-year-old plane could have been an issue, Waldock said, though not necessarily as much as people might think. 

"You can keep almost any aircraft airworthy," he said, adding the caveat that it takes more time and money as more time passes. 

There are several things in particular investigators will review, based on available evidence, to better understand what exactly happened, he said.

Investigators will likely use data about the plane's altitude profile, along with witness statements, to piece together what sort of climb the plane made as it departed the runway. They will also seek information about the engine and any unusual engine sounds witnesses heard about 8:45 p.m. that night.  

The type of crash scene might be most revealing, Waldock said. 

With a controlled crash, like one cause by engine failure or a mechanical issue, a plane will leave a lengthy impact slide as the pilot tries to east the aircraft to the ground.

That doesn't appear to be what happened Monday. 

The scene was contained to a relatively small area of TPC Scottsdale. Based on local television footage, the smoldering wreckage was contained, and the debris field was particularly small.

"It's less likely the airplane was under control at the time it hit the ground," Waldock said.

Mechanical questions aside, other significant questions remain.

Who was in the pilot's seat at the time of the crash?

And perhaps more importantly, what amount of consideration went into deciding whether the plane was overloaded and should have lifted off from Scottsdale Airport Runway 3 in the first place?

Original article can be found here ➤  https://www.azcentral.com

PHOENIX - We're learning new information about the likely cause of the plane crash that killed six people. Highly placed aviation sources with intimate knowledge of the investigation say the leading theory is that the aircraft was overweight and simply lost lift during takeoff.

23-year-old Mariah Coogan, one of the six people killed in the crash, posted a video moments before the plane took off. 

Sources tell FOX 10 that investigators believe the Piper PA-24 Comanche was likely overloaded, and with passengers and luggage in the back of the airplane, it also was out of balance with too much weight in the rear.

Sources say one of the telling signs was the takeoff. The plane seemed to rise just feet off the runway, not gaining any altitude. It alarmed the person in the tower to the point where she radioed the pilot, asking if there was trouble.

Tower: "Comanche 5 6 ... experiencing any difficulty?"

Pilot: "Ah, we're good.. we're just in training mode."

Moments later, the plane crashed. 

Too much weight in the rear of an airplane makes it easier to stall an aircraft, harder to recover and increases the chances it will go into a spin.

Sources say the pilot likely saw the 30-foot tall berm that lines the Central Arizona Project Canal just across Bell Road -- 300 yards or so from the end of the runway. The pilot likely pulled back on the stick to clear the berm, putting the airplane in a stall, where there isn't enough air flowing over the wings to keep it aloft.

Sources believe the plane maneuvered to the left, inverted and crashed nose first into the ground on the second hole of the TPC Champions Golf Course. The small, confined area of wreckage would confirm this.

Early examination of the propeller marks indicate it was turning on impact, meaning the engine was working properly at the time of the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤  http://www.fox10phoenix.com

"Can't wait for my wings" - James Louis Pedroza 
aka itsactuallyprettydope

Erik Kenneth Valente, age 32 

James Louis Pedroza, age 28

Helena Lagos,  age 22
Anand Anil Patel,  age 28

Iris Rodriguez,  age 23 

Mariah Sunshine Coogan, age 23

The six people who died when the Las Vegas-bound plane they were in crashed onto a Scottsdale golf course Monday and burst into flames ranged in age from 22 to 28, officials announced Wednesday.

The Scottsdale Police Department identified those killed as Erik Valente, 32; James Louis Pedroza, 28; Mariah Sunshine Coogan, 23; Anand Anil Patel, 28; Helena Lagos, 22; and Iris Carolina Rodriguez Garcia, 23.

Final medical examiner results are pending that will determine exactly how each died.

Additional details about the crash's cause have not yet been officially released. 

Valente was certified as an airline transport pilot, most recently on March 15, according to FAA records. He was also certified as a flight instructor.

He worked part time as an instructor for All in Aviation, a Cirrus flight school based in Las Vegas.

He was not working for the company at the time of the crash, Paul Sallach, president of All in Aviation, told The Arizona Republic on Wednesday.

Valente started flight training at age 16 and became a private pilot before graduating from high school. He attended the University of North Dakota, where he majored in aviation management and went on to manage a separate flight school in Las Vegas, according to an online profile.

He earned more certifications and accrued more than 4,500 hours of flight experience, including 2,500 hours of instruction in more than 40 different kinds of aircraft. Recently, he flew corporate jets around the world, and he wrote frequently about flying up and down the West Coast.

Sallach has known Valente for about 10 years and described him as a true professional, among the most respected pilots and flight instructors in the West.

Though the crash had nothing to do with Sallach’s business, he has wondered what possibly could have gone so wrong on the return trip to Las Vegas.

“This certainly wasn’t due to lack of experience,” Sallach told The Republic. “I’m scratching my head at what the hell happened.”

Like seemingly everyone aboard the plane Monday night, Valente lived an active lifestyle and enjoyed traveling.

Pedroza recently became interested in flying and in posted photos on social media of him with the plane that crashed Monday.

Authorities have not yet said who was piloting Piper PA-24 Comanche when it crashed Monday.

Lagos was a part-time Las Vegas fashion model who excelled in high school and college and had big plans for her future, longtime friend Katelyn Putman wrote Wednesday in comments to The Republic. 

She and Pedroza were dating, Putman said. 

Lagos participated in DECA, a not-for-profit group that teaches young people nationwide about business planning, marketing and finance. She went on to pursue entrepreneurship opportunities in college and recently started her own business, Rebel Fruits LLC, according to Nevada records. 

"She always had bright ideas and was confident in everything she did," Putman wrote. "She was going to do amazing things. ... She will be sorely missed, and the world is darker without her."

The Las Vegas Review-Journal newspaper featured her in a 2013 story that chronicled her journey from Honduras to a Las Vegas High School. 

Garcia, who apparently went by Iris Rodriguez according to social media posts, was slated to travel on Sunday to her home country, Honduras. She had spent six months with family in Virginia while attending graduate school, according to comments posted in an online fundraising effort started for the woman's family.

Joshua Alexander, a restaurant manager in Virginia, came to know the woman in recent months. 

“One of the most amazing people I’ve ever met,” he told The Republic on Wednesday night. “The world could have used a lot more of her.”

All six died after the small, private plane they were flying in crashed shortly after takeoff Monday night from Scottsdale Airport and burst into flames at TPC Scottsdale.

The Republic on Tuesday verified through family or friends the identities of three victims — Pedroza, Coogan and Patel.  

Patel was “an entrepreneur with lots of energy and lots of charisma,” his twin brother, Akash Patel, told The Republic. The two came to the United States from India in 2009 to attend college. 

“Anand” translates to “happiness.” So, Akash Patel said, his brother was widely known by the name “Happy.”

An Oklahoma resident, Happy co-founded a clothing line and worked as an event promoter, flying coast to coast with friends and clients on trips that often included stops in Scottsdale.

Cooga was a horse trainer who did equestrian sports and left high school in 2012 to pursue modeling opportunities, said Graham Rutherford, principal of Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa, California, who learned of the woman's death Tuesday.

"She was eager for adventure, and I always found her easy to speak with," Rutherford told The Republic. "She got on well with many students, too." 

Coogan, who continued pursuing modeling, was visiting the Valley for the Phoenix Lights Festival, according to a post Saturday on her Instagram profile. “Forgot my sunnies” she wrote in a caption for a photo of her wearing a new pair of aviators for her nearly 27,000 followers.

Also on board was James Pedroza, who worked as a VIP host at a gay nightclub at the Mirage in Las Vegas. He was an "ally to the LGBTQ community," his friend and co-worker, Garrett Pattiani, told The Republic. 

"I am sad that he is gone, but loved how he lived life to the fullest. He was wanting to see the world and travel. He will be missed," Pattiani said. "He never judged anyone and was always there to stand up for equal rights."

Pedroza described himself as an "avid traveler" and posted on Instagram that he was looking forward to visiting his 37th country. He recently traveled to Lake Tahoe and posed next to the plane that crashed Monday, a plane that he said he bought a share in last summer. Investigators, however, have not confirmed that he was piloting the aircraft when it crashed.

For reasons investigators have not yet determined, the plane crashed about three-fourths of a mile away, and 30 degrees to the left of the runway it took off from at Scottsdale Airport.

A preliminary report is expected in 10 to 14 days. A report outlining in detail what occurred could take up to 18 months, as is typical in aviation investigations. 

The National Transportation Safety Board is overseeing the investigation with help from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Original article can be found here ➤  https://www.azcentral.com

Investigators are working to determine whether a small airplane that crashed on a Scottsdale golf course, killing all six aboard, was equipped to carry that many people, including three whose identifies were confirmed by The Arizona Republic, officials said Tuesday afternoon.  

“Right now, it’s something we’re trying to find out,” said Eliott Simpson, an investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, during a news briefing near where the Piper PA-24 Comanche crashed Monday night shortly after takeoff from Scottsdale Airport. The NTSB is leading the investigation. 

The identities of those killed in the Monday night crash had not been officially released by investigators as of Tuesday evening, pending formal family notification, officials said. They did not have a timeline for when their names would be formally announced, Scottsdale police said in a statement. 

However, widespread accounts of some of the victims were circulating on social media.

Anand Patel was “an entrepreneur with lots of energy and lots of charisma,” his twin brother, Akash Patel, told The Republic. The two came to the U.S. from India in 2009 to attend college. 

“Anand” translates to “happiness.” So, Akash Patel said, his brother was widely known by the name “Happy.”

An Oklahoma resident, Happy co-founded a clothing line and worked as an event promoter, flying coast to coast with friends and clients on trips that often included stops in Scottsdale.

“My brother was taken away from us doing what he loved to do the most, which was spending time with his friends and flying,” Akash Patel said, adding that he lived a “celebrity life” as an "Instagram star."

Mariah Coogan, another person on the plane, was an equestrian and horse trainer who left high school in 2012 to pursue modeling opportunities, said Graham Rutherford, principal of Cardinal Newman High School in Santa Rosa, California, who learned of the woman's death Tuesday.

"She was eager for adventure, and I always found her easy to speak with," Rutherford told The Republic. "She got on well with many students, too." 

Coogan, who continued pursuing modeling, was visiting the Valley for the Phoenix Lights Festival, according to a post Saturday on her Instagram profile. “Forgot my sunnies” she wrote in a caption for a photo of her wearing a new pair of aviators for her nearly 27,000 followers.

Her mother, Stacey Coogan, told the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat in California she also learned of the crash Tuesday morning.

On Monday night, Mariah Coogan had posted a photo of the plane, the words “Off to Vegas” across the bottom along with a check-in at Scottsdale Airport. Once in the cabin, she recorded a video showing the group together, smiling and enjoying the moment, apparently minutes before the plane crashed into the golf course and burst into flames.

Also on board was James Pedroza, who worked as a VIP host at a gay nightclub at the Mirage in Las Vegas. He was an "ally to the LGBTQ community," his friend and co-worker, Garrett Pattiani, told The Republic. 

"I am sad that he is gone, but loved how he lived life to the fullest. He was wanting to see the world and travel. He will be missed," Pattiani said. "He never judged anyone and was always there to stand up for equal rights."

Pedroza described himself as an "avid traveler" and posted on Instagram that he was looking forward to visiting his 37th country. He recently traveled to Lake Tahoe and posed next to the plane that crashed Monday, a plane that he said he bought a share in last summer. Investigators, however, have not confirmed that he was piloting the aircraft when it crashed.

Information about the other three victims was not immediately available Tuesday. 

Simpson said Tuesday that investigators were working to determine everyone who was on the Las Vegas-bound plane when it departed from Runway 3 at about 8:45 p.m. on Monday. They are also looking into the pilot and his qualifications.

The aircraft was built in 1970, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. Though the plane was listed as a four-seater, Simpson said there were various iterations and modifications that could have been made that year, expanding its seating capacity. 

Even though the plane was registered in Las Vegas, the official registration was not deemed fit because it was terminated or in question, possibly because of a paperwork issue or technical issues, according to FAA records. 

For reasons investigators have not yet determined, the plane crashed about three-fourths of a mile away, and 30 degrees to the left of the runway it took off from at Scottsdale Airport.

It then burst into flames. Aerial footage taken Tuesday morning showed the charred remnants of the plane, which crash-landed in an area next to the green at the second hole on the Champions Golf Course at TPC Scottsdale just north of the airport.

“You could actually feel the ground kind of shake,” said Debbie Robinson, a Scottsdale resident who lives near the golf course. She said she saw the smoke after the crash and knew something major had happened. “… For the ground to shake and to feel it all the way up there, it was really unbelievable.”

Simpson said crews were working to collect perishable evidence from the scene Tuesday. The wreckage will then be transported to a site in Phoenix for further evaluation. 

A preliminary report is expected in 10 to 14 days. A report outlining in detail what occurred could take up to 18 months, as is typical in aviation investigations. 

The FAA also will assist in the investigation, according to Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman at the agency. 

The Champions course was closed Tuesday for the investigation, but the TPC Stadium Course, where the popular annual Waste Management Phoenix Open is held, was open for play, TPC administrator Taylor Farley said.

Monday's crash is the deadliest in recent Arizona history and among a half-dozen fatal aviation incidents since the start of 2017, according to NTSB records.

Five British tourists died after the Papillon Airways helicopter flight they were on approached a landing pad Feb. 10 in Grand Canyon West, spun twice and smashed to the ground, where it burst into flames.

The investigation into that crash is ongoing, though the company said it would retrofit helicopters with a fuel tank that is more resistant to fire. Three of the seven occupants died at the scene, and two others succumbed to their injuries days later in a Las Vegas hospital.

There were six fatal aviation incidents in 2017 that killed 13 people, according to NTSB records.

The deadliest involved a Scottsdale-based attorney whose New Year's ski trip to Colorado ended in tragedy. The small plane he was flying crashed on the south face of the Mogollon Rim, about 12 miles north of the Payson Airport, on Jan. 2, 2017, killing the pilot as well as his wife and two daughters.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.azcentral.com

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -  Friends and family are mourning the loss of six people who were killed in a fiery plane crash on a Scottsdale golf course.

The group was heading to Las Vegas on Monday night before crashing on the TPC Champions Golf Course.

A couple of videos were posted to social media minutes before the plane went down.

One of those on board was a young woman named Mariah Coogan.

"I saw that she was hopping on this plane, headed to Vegas," said close friend Ryan Beatty. "She's just a free spirit, fun loving person. She just didn't have a negative bone in her body, just the most positive girl I've ever met."

Another person on the plane and in an Instagram video was 26-year-old Anand Patel, whose nickname was Happy.

"He was taken away from us doing what he loved to do, what he liked to do the most, be with his friends and have a good time," said Akash Patel, Anand's twin brother.

Investigators with the NTSB were on the scene on Tuesday prowling the crash site, trying to pinpoint a cause. A preliminary report won't be released for another 10 to 14 days.

"Everybody on that plane was just getting their lives started, so much ahead of her, really bright future, really sad to see this happen," said Beatty.

A final National Transportation Safety Board report is not expected for at least 12 months

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

A 23-year-old Forestville woman has been identified as one of six victims in a fatal Monday night plane crash in Scottsdale.

Mariah Coogan, a model and former Cardinal Newman High School student, was on her way to Las Vegas Monday night from the Scottsdale Airport when the Piper PA-24 Comanche she boarded crashed into a nearby golf course shortly after takeoff.

Social media posts from Coogan and the plane’s five other passengers shortly before takeoff show the group boarding the plane and posing for pictures from the plane’s backseat as its engine whirs in the background.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

The plane took off around 8:45 p.m. for what should have been a 1½-hour flight to Las Vegas, said National Transportation Safety Board investigator Elliott Simpson in a news conference.

The plane, which can seat up to six people, crashed moments later on the TPC Scottsdale Champions Course, about ¾ mile from the departure end of the runway, Simpson said. No one on the ground was injured.

TPC Scottsdale is the annual site of the Waste Management Phoenix Open, which wrapped up Feb. 4.

Coogan was a member of the 2013 class of Cardinal Newman High School, but left school after fall semester her junior year to pursue a modeling career, said Principal Graham Rutherford.

News of Coogan’s death rippled through the school Tuesday, shocking the tightknit campus where many current students know Coogan and her family, Rutherford said.

“At this point, we’re just trying to digest it,” he said. “She wanted to have opportunities to do things that were exciting and fun, and that’s what she was doing. So it’s just very sad that she would die doing some of the stuff that she really wanted to do because she was open to life and open to the possible adventures that were out there.”

Rutherford remembered Coogan as a kind and popular girl, and a serious equestrian.

“We’ve got her family in thought and prayer,” Rutherford said. “It’s a very difficult time when that happens, and you know, the grief — everybody feels it because she touched people’s lives.”

The Scottsdale Police Department would not confirm any of the victims’ names, pending family notification.

But one of Coogan’s Instagram posts, shared to her 27,000 followers, identified the pilot as James Pedroza. His Instagram account was updated Tuesday afternoon with a photo of him and a caption that reads, “Last night the world took James Pedroza from us in a plane crash. There were also thought to be 5 other beautiful souls on board. James had a wide network of friends and loved ones. We are all in shock over this tragedy and have no words.”

National Transportation Safety Board investigators worked Tuesday to gather “perishable evidence” at the site of the crash, along with video and audio recordings from the airport. The agency planned to recover the plane Tuesday evening, before taking it to a storage facility in Phoenix for further inspection, Simpson said.

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

Mariah Coogan texted a selfie video to a friend on Monday night, minutes before her airplane crashed into the ground, killing all six people aboard. 

Victims in a horrific plane crash late Monday night in Scottsdale were planning to fly to Vegas to party with friends, social media accounts show.

Six people died when the Piper PA-24 Comanche plunged into the TPC Scottsdale Champions Golf Course and exploded into flame after taking off from Scottsdale Airport about 9 p.m. Nobody on the ground was hurt.

Scottsdale police spokesman Sergeant Ben Hoster could not confirm the victims' names, saying an investigation team from National Transportation Safety Board was scheduled to arrive in Scottsdale about noon.

Facebook and Twitter filled with sorrowful messages from the victims' friends on Tuesday. A Facebook friend of the victims posted videos and photos that appear to have been shot minutes before the crash.

"RIP Anand Happy Patel," Marcus Walls tweeted on Tuesday morning. "He was on his way to come party with us in vegas from Scottsdale and his plane crashed. Was my favorite guy to party with."

Walls included a link to the Facebook site of Jeremy Gail, who wrote on his site early Tuesday morning that the victims included Anand "Happy" Patel, Mariah Coogan, "Helena L.," and pilot James Pedroza. Gail wrote that he could not confirm the names of two others who were on board.

Gail wrote that Pedroza bought the Piper PA-24 Comanche four years ago. Gail didn't respond immediately to a request for comment.

"I can’t believe I’m reading this. My heart is completely broken," Facebook user Christina Sharp wrote on Gail's site, one of dozens of people who gave their condolences on the site.

"Just got the news and my heart is broken," wrote Natalie Dauer. "I'm in total shock. Can’t stop [bawling.] Can’t believe we were texting as he was getting on the plane. Can’t believe it."

Two videos posted by Gail show Coogan, a fashion model, boarding the plane, then filming a selfie as she sat in the plane's back seat. Two people can be seen seated behind her.

Akash Patel of Dallas mourned the loss of his twin brother on Twitter:

"I have never felt so empty," Patel tweeted. "I lost my only brother - my young and dynamic 26-year-old twin last night to a plane crash in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was a point of light who brought happiness to thousands around the world. RIP Anand Happy Patel ... I love you."

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

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -  Six people are dead after a small plane bound for Vegas crashed and caught fire on the TPC golf course in Scottsdale Monday night.

The National Transportation Safety Board says the Piper PA-24 Comanche took off from the Scottsdale Airport at around 8:45 p.m.

Minutes later, the plane went down less than a mile away, at the TPC Scottsdale Champions Golf Course.

The crash sparked a fire on the golf course.

Ofc. Kevin Watts with the Scottsdale Police Department said none of the six passengers aboard the aircraft survived.

Nobody on the ground was hit.

The  National Transportation Safety Board is not releasing any names or passenger information at this time.

At the time of the crash, the weather had clear skies with winds from the south only at 3 miles per hour with a temperature of 83 degrees.

The NTSB is not speculating on the cause of the crash.

Instead, crews were spending Tuesday gathering evidence from the scene.

"Today, we're going to be basically gathering perishable evidence and on-scene data; factual data gathering," said Eliott Simpson with the NTSB. We're going to be taking it to a remote storage facility and looking at it in a slightly more forensic environment."

Investigators are also working to obtain video from the airport, audio from the tower, and statements from witnesses

On Tuesday, Arizona governor Doug Ducey tweeted about the deadly plane crash. He said that he was "praying for those lost" and adding that "our hearts are with their families and loved ones." 

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


Jim Cates said...

The FAA registry indicates registration was pending on this aircraft, which may indicate the PIC had very few hours in type or was at least inexperienced in this particular aircraft. 6 on board also suggests a possible W&B issue.

Anonymous said...

How many people would you want to put in a Piper Comanche? Certainly not 6.

Jim Cates said...

Apparently there were Comanche's with 6 pax seats, which as we all know does not mean the aircraft can carry 6 pax under all conditions.

Anonymous said...

The 5th and 6th seats in a PA-24-260 are only suitable for children, not adults.

Anonymous said...

NTSB said airplane crash 30 degrees from center of runway. was unaware of the exact configuration of the aircraft

Anonymous said...

New Times already identified four of persons on board, including the pilot and a video minutes before take off, The six adults were heading to Vegas "to party". Its a 1970 PA 24 with a 310HP turbo charge engine. 6 adults and full fuel would put you over gross weight.

Av8tor said...

Most Piper Comanche's carry 4 people , except for model 260B that can carry 6 people

Anonymous said...

Some mis-information here in the comments.
-260B and 260C could be equipped with 6 seats, the 260C had a higher gross weight of 3200 lbs. Full fuel would not be needed to make the less than two hour flight it is reported they set out on.
-FAA registry shows this one equipped with a TIO-540 and built in 1970 which makes it a 260C Turbo or one upgraded to 260 Turbo specs, there were no "310 HP" turbo Comanches produced, with a field approval perhaps but not likely. If one wanted more than 260hp the 400 was the next step up.

Source: Comanche pilot and A&P/IA

Anonymous said...

Plane is based in KVGT (North Las Vegas). Accident happened Sunday night after the Light Festival which social media shows they attended. Pilots social media reveals he purchased the plane Feb 7, 2018.

Anonymous said...

Who is James Pedroza? https://mugshots.com/US-Counties/Nevada/Clark-County-NV/James-Pedroza.58986084.html

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

260C I flew had a 1400 lb useful load with no extravagant equipment.... Not sure what a 260B would have
Seems the last row was more for kids or one small person ... RIP

Anonymous said...

There's a James Pedroza from Fresno,CA listed on the FAA pilot database but he only has a student pilot license that was granted in 2008. Let's hope the pilot wasn't the same guy. Too sad.

Anonymous said...


Around Minute 15:50 air traffic control asks if aircraft is experiencing difficulties and pilot responded they are having a training lesson. (So co-pilot was flying?) 30 seconds later communication cuts mid sentence.

a said...

Audio recording of the tower departure frequency http://archive-server.liveatc.net/ksdl/KSDL2-Twr-Apr-10-2018-0330Z.mp3

eglide73 said...

Yeah, life's a "party". No need to worry about things like center of gravity and weight when flying an airplane! Party on!!

Anonymous said...

I've heard about party boats, but never a party plane. This takes the cake!

Anonymous said...

Sad but DUMB! Another black eye for GA.

Anonymous said...

With no fuel it would have been gross weight. Who goes to Vegas without overnight bags? 6 people 150 lbs each= 900 lbs, 6 bags, 10 lbs each = 60 lbs, 90 min flight plus vfr reserve figure high at 25 gal= 152lbs.... useful load is really only 900lbs in a comanche 260. 8:45 at night it would atleast been cooler. I’m surprised it made it a mile from the airport. Illegal, but probably doable. If the tanks were full main and aux, no way.

Anonymous said...

260c’s has the highest gross weight of the singles, useful load was more likely 1300-1400 range

Anonymous said...

The PA 24-260C typically has a 260 hp normally aspirated engine. The designation of TIO 540 is probably erroneous. My 260B and several others are listed as a turbocharged by FAA but are not. the 5th and 6th seats are located in what used to be the baggage compartment of earlier model PA24's. Anyone putting two adults back there (assuming they are limber enough to crawl in) is looking for trouble. The max weight for that station is 250lbs. It's hard to imagine that this aircraft wasn't well over the max allowable gross weight and probably balanced aft of the allowable center of gravity. NTSB will probably get this all figured out and published very soon.

Anonymous said...

As the above comments stated this is clearly a weight and balance miscalculation or no calculation at all. This is a big load for a piston single. Heck, that’s a big load for a TBM 850! Being over weight and out of CG is like signing up to be a test pilot. Those calculations are a guideline to pilots assuming that the aircraft is performing like it was when new. I always give myself some room with regards to weight and balance. No situation is that dire to push the limits. Another sad and unnecessary stall accident.

Anonymous said...

Maybe W/B wasn't the only factor. Let's be real - maybe the pilot was distracted blasting house music in the headsets while his passengers are tripping on Ecstasy and partying. Looks like a bunch of young and dumb rich kids who were more concerned with "likes" on their selfies than the safety of the flight. Still very tragic.

Anonymous said...

"Around Minute 15:50 air traffic control asks if aircraft is experiencing difficulties and pilot responded they are having a training lesson. (So co-pilot was flying?) 30 seconds later communication cuts mid sentence."

Or they just didn't want to admit there was a problem yet. I think a lot of pilots are hesitant to admit something is not quite right if they think they can get it under control and are more worried about being ramp checked or having a sit down with the FAA. I'm not saying that's the right thing to do,

Most people are speculating that they were over weight. It's very likely they were. What would the tower seen to prompt her to ask if they were experiencing trouble? A reasonable guess is that they weren't climbing. My guess (again, just a guess) is that once they got out of ground effect, they weren't able to climb. They were trying to see if they could maintain altitude while they planned a very gradual turn back around to the airport. They were starting to tell the tower they were changing their plan when the transmission cut out. "Were going to..." is heard on the radio. At that moment they probably stalled and desperately tried to recover. They may have been bleeding off airspeed as they tried to hold altitude and eventually airspeed ran out.

No matter what the NTSB discovers, it's not going to change the fact that these 6 people died tragically.

We should all strive to be diligent and always put safety above all else. God bless these people and give strength to their families.

Anonymous said...

When I fly with talkative passengers I put the radio in crew mode where I only hear the copilot and the passengers can all talk to themselves. Especially during takeoff and landings.

Anyone have a W/B that would apply to a 6 seat version of the model/year PA-24? Link?

Chris Kilgus said...

The pilot was more concerned about posting selfies and looking forward to a party than the #1 responsibility to insure a safe flight.

Anonymous said...

Aviation is self regulating, this guy wanna gonna kill someone eventually, party on dude, kewl phrases, dope, wtf, grow up and take responsibility for you actions. Many many more accidents to come and the FAA IS MIA, only to show after the fire is out,

Anonymous said...

I own a PA32R Piper Lance and I was unaware of any Piper planes that were "lower" on the totem pole that could realistically lift 6 people, bags, and fuel.

Praying for the families...this is a tough one.

Anonymous said...

Late model Cherokee Six would have been able to do it. Technically lower on the pole than a Lance. They looked like fairly fit people. Could've averaged all paxs at 200 pounds with an extra 50 for bags on top of that and still should've been able to carry bout 45 mins reserves. Still would've been getting a little to close for comfort at that though. Especially out west hot high and heavy. Trouble is this young dude got his six mixed up with a Comanche. You can technically put a small person in the back of a 150. I have never met anyone who would recommend that. I don't really even trust the idea of four grown men in a 172 or archer, though I know it can be done through careful planning. God Bless'em

Anonymous said...

Pilot started gambling before he got to Vegas. 6 people, bags and fuel would likely put this plane over the useful load limit. 99% sure the investigation will conclude that the pilot was just able to get the aircraft airborne and flying in ground affect. As soon as he started to turn that plane he lost any lift that was working for him. Very sad lesson to learn. Thoughts and condolences to the family and friends left behind.

Anonymous said...

So, the guy in the left seat was a CFI an commercially rated.
That makes it even worse in a way.
Erik Valente age 26
James Louis Pedroza age 28
Mariah Sunshine Coogan age 23
Anand Anil Patel age 28
Helena Lagos age 22
Iris Carolina Rodriguez Garcia age 23

Anonymous said...

James was left seat. Erik was right seat. The instagram video that makes it look like Erik is left seat was in selfie mode which reverses the image. You can see the G500 in front of James and note that the door is on the wrong side in the video.

Easy to overlook.

Anonymous said...

Both record in the airman registry under the Pilot's name are for a student pilot i.e James Pedroza.
He was never authorized to take passengers in.

Seems he was skirting the FARs by always having a "training" flight with a CFI (Erik Valente) but in practice he was just traveling around.

CFIs are supposedly trained to recognize "students" in for a Ferris wheel experience and no real intent to focus exclusively on learning and seems Erik failed to do that and ignored IMSAFE under peer pressure.

Someone once said no one under 30 shall be allowed to ride a sports bike. And likewise I would suggest no one under 35 shall be allowed to be a CFI and no one under 30 shall be allowed to be a private pilot, much less a commercial one.

Unless they pass a much harder tests and are subjected to greater hourly requirement.

Humans are already clumsy in the air and unable to grasp 3D per our physiology, especially inner ear systems and sensory perception.

It is also time to recognize that even in their 20s a human brain doesn't have the necessary maturity to properly fly a plane. Same as no one can be POTUS if under 42.

Anonymous said...

I would imagine SP/IP training flights, as self identified to ATC, do not allow passengers ?
Let alone more than the airplane is designed for.
What an unbelievable and totally avoidable tragedy ... RIP

Anonymous said...

"I would suggest no one under 35 shall be allowed to be a CFI and no one under 30 shall be allowed to be a private pilot, much less a commercial one."

So then, by time somoene could get their ratings and hours to get an airline job just in time to retire. That should help the pilot shortage.

Anonymous said...

Retirement age is 65 for airline pilots.
That Erik CFI seems to be a product of those puppy mills cranking ATPs and CFIs at an accelerated pace, and sadly quality seems to be sacrificed for quantity. No CFI in their right mind would allow a Student pilot to overload an aircraft under their watch and threaten with lethal consequences 4 more innocent bystanders.
I hope the FAA swoops on whoever graduated that CFI and investigates how such an "airman" was granted not only an ATP rating but also became a CFI... at 26!

Anonymous said...

And I am not ageist... one of my heroes (and a woman I would have loved to know) is Capt. Katie Leslie, age 25, who was able to steer away Flight 5481 from a crowded maintenance hanger in an heroic act of selflessness after her 1900D experienced an overloading due to antiquated W&B calculations which were company policy and a defective maintenance of the elevator shortly before her fateful flight.

But seems nowadays just like the bitcoin hype, a career in aviation is hyped as the next big thing due to some inflated shortages and crowds of people who are more interested in the adrenaline rush rather than professional minutiae are flooding some schools.

Anonymous said...

They got his age incorrect. Erik was 32.

Anonymous said...


"Valente started flight training at age 16 and became a private pilot before graduating from high school. He attended the University of North Dakota, where he majored in aviation management and went on to manage a separate flight school in Las Vegas, according to an online profile.

He earned more certifications and accrued more than 4,500 hours of flight experience, including 2,500 hours of instruction in more than 40 different kinds of aircraft."

Anonymous said...

So we are supposed to make more rules because of one CFI making bad decisions? Are we also going to prevent doctors from becoming pilots because they are involved in a lot of aviation related accidents? I’ve been instructing for 7 years with many candidates from private-CFI and I’m 32. Just like any other industry, there are skilled and qualified individuals that make great pilots every year. There are also poor instructors that slip through the cracks. I’ve met older flight instructors that probably shouldn’t have been teaching due to lack of knowledge and poor physical condition. Age doesn’t necessarily equal maturity and good decision making abilities.

Anonymous said...

83 degrees, over 8000ft runway whats to go wrong? Vegas Baby!......not. The blame lays directly to the 2 front guys from what I see the other 4 people were just innocent folks that didn't know anything other then Southwest planes take off no problem so why not. After chewing up about 5000 ft of runway pilots 1 and 2 should have known something was wrong and aborted right there, I know I'm arm chairing after the fact but anyone that has a supposed 4500 hrs should know what his plane can and can't do.

jbermo said...

Perhaps a mitigating factor for such a heavy takeoff was an approaching area of high pressure for the region. Many cities in the southwest broke heat records the following day.

Anonymous said...

So many questions.. Could be a engine failure? maybe a weight and balance error ? rotating too early without having enough lift? The 6 came from Vegas? or 2 more joined and the Music festival in the trip back? One pilot was a private and the other one an ATP and CFI rated. Human error? maybe..is so easy to make mistakes when we let ourselves go by impulses and you don't take care of business. The problem is innocent people get kill.

Anonymous said...

I wonder what the toxicology reports will show on the student pilot & CFII co-pilot? Hopefully it will just be a case of poor decision making and not "drug-induced" poor decision making. At the end of the day, I guess it doesn't really matter. Dead is dead.

Anonymous said...

From the pix of the pax, I'm guessing 120 for each of the two skinny gals, 140 for the other gal, 180 for each of the two guys and 200 for the no-pic guy. They were just at a music festival in PHX so maybe just 15lb baggage each? That's 1030. 1.5 hour flight back to LAS, so hopefully 2.5 hrs of fuel at 18/hr = another 270. 1300 total. Best case. The max weight for the back 2 seats is 250 - hopefully the 2 small gals were back there. With any 6 pax, a real CG risk regardless. And at full/over weight, holding the nose up + climb would have been difficult to say the least. Especially with a 45yo engine. Reminds me of the highly experienced young-ish ATP pilot who rented a 172 to give fun tour flights to fellow volunteers at the Oregon Country Fair 4 or 5 years ago. Hot day, all seats full, over weight, grass runway, flew everyone into a bunch of trees on takeoff climb and they all died in flames. Maybe something that happens when you fly airliners and W&B is always taken care of for you & you somehow forget the basics? Or gotta-get-there-itis? In this case, after 2500hrs as CFI, maybe he did do the math and 1300 was "safe" & CG was ok & the problem was mechanical. I'd maybe bet on the former, like most others seem to be doing. Regardless, tragic.

Anonymous said...

Without the actual weight and balance info we really don't know if it was overweight or not. Certainly was close but may be other factors. I thought the flap usage at gross weight was a good point. Pilot has only owned the plane for 2 months.

Flight aware shows the plane just landed in KSDL from KVGT about 25 minutes before the accident. 25 minutes later it was on it's way back. (haven't heard any mention of that info anywhere else) CFI flew it out? No record of that plane flying to KSDL before the festival.

Anonymous said...

From listening to the departure tape, it seems many minutes elapsed between the clearance for departure and the 2 transmissions, the last one cutoff. The controller most likely noticed a lack of climb when she asked if the plane had problems and the owner/operator replied it was a training mission as Erik told him to do so when queried as he had no business flying a plane with PAX.

I give it 99% that the plane took off in a shallow climb barely making it out of ground effect and pretty much this happened:


By the time they realized their mistake, or rather Erik did given his experience, and they said they wanted to come back which was probably the second and last cutoff transmission, the plane was stalled when banked. Their best bet like for that Stinson in the video above would have been to keep it straight and land anywhere ahead under control.

Its only takes this one mistake in Aviation, just this one time... to die.

Anonymous said...

The 6 seater version puts that back seats where the luggage compartment usually is. With all the seats filled there isn't much room for luggage. Hopefully the pilot knew it was going to be heavy and made them go light. The girl on IG boarding the plane is carrying an Urban Outfitters shopping back. That looks like all she brought. Happy has a leather bag in his lap. Pilot has no place to put anything. Girls in the back don't have much extra room either.

It did look like it was loaded the best it could be. 2 Guys up front. 3rd guy in the middle and the girls in the back are both on the small side. Helena looks tiny. I wouldn't be surprised if she was 105 range. Its possible CG was within spec. 3rd row seems like it was under 250 unless one of those girls has a huge suitcase sitting on her lap.

A lot of people trying to arm-chair investigate this. There are some good lessons to be learned from this even if they don't end up being the reason for the crash.

WB, CG, Density Altitude, Night flying with passengers, fly from an unfamiliar airport, IMSAFE, Get-there-itis, Willingness to make that unpopular No-Go decision. These are all things we as pilots need to consistently practice.

Almost every ATC crash recording I watch I think to myself how could this person be so stupid. I'm sure everyone one of them felt the same way until they made that series of bad decisions on the last day of their life. I've never met a pilot that hasn't made a bad decision. Most of the time we get to live through it. You only have to be wrong once.

Anonymous said...

Such a sad accident. Looks to be out of aft CG. The actual max weight where the aft seats (5 & 6) are located are 235 lbs. per the TCDS. For this serial number 24-4974 the following Note applies....

(m) On baggage compartment (For Model PA-24-260, S/N 24-4247, and 24-4300 through 24-5034).
"Maximum baggage and/or Passenger Weight 250 lb. in Baggage area, including seats. See Weight and Balance."

The seats weight 7.5 lbs. a piece X 2, so 250-15 = 235 lbs max.

Anonymous said...

Sad to see those young lives lost. passengers are usually the innocent and ignorant of the real risks. My family owned both a straight tail Lance and a 300HP six. The Cherokee Six had a useful around 1600lbs, and would have likely carried that load. The Lance was fun with 3 or 4, but a bit of a dog on a warm day.
The Comanche just wasn't built to be a six place load hauler, even with kids or women in the back. That is why Piper sold very few of the 260 HP Sixes.

I was a CFII at 23, many years ago, and made a few poor decisions, but was blessed with luck..

trying to do Cherokee six/C206/C210 trips with a Comanche 260 is asking for trouble. Im sure its a fine airplane with 3 aboard, so i dont want to offend any comanche owners. Its quite a nice airplane i am sure if flown the way Piper designed it.

The Comanche 400 would be a different story, it must be a beast! I have only seen two or two in my 38+ plus years flying.

Anonymous said...

The Type Certificate Data Sheet 1A15 for this serial (24-4974) shows that a placard must be installed at the baggage compartment where seats 5 and 6 are located. It should read the following....

(m) On baggage compartment (For Model PA-24-260, S/N 24-4247, and 24-4300 through 24-5034).
"Maximum baggage and/or Passenger Weight 250 lb. in Baggage area, including seats. See Weight and Balance."

These seats weight 7.5 lbs a piece, so the actual max weight of any passengers and bags cannot exceed 235 lbs.

Such a sad accident. They were really on the fence with the aft CG.

Anonymous said...

That plane can very easily turn into a tail dragger parked at the ramp. Not an uncommon sight in my experience. W/B and foolishness.

Anonymous said...

How in the world do you get type rates in over "40 different types of aircraft" by the age of 32, or any age for that matter. Am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

I knew the CFI. I've listened to the ATC recordings and timed them. 2 minutes from clearance for takeoff until tower asked if they were experiencing difficulty. They reported they we're fine and then 18 seconds until they contact the tower a started a report that sounds like they were going to return. Erik wouldn't have started to turn unless there was terrain in front of them (which there wasn't) He would have kept it straight and gained altitude first before starting a very gentle 360. I'd discussed the Cessna crash a KSNA with Erik. The twin that lost an engine and tried to turn back to the airport and crashed on the 405 just shy of the runway. He drilled into me that keeping the plane flying is more important then trying to rush back. Altitude and speed. Perhaps the were bleeding airspeed slowly trying to climb or hold level. Or and was mentioned above, James put up the flaps out of habit. WB is all based on performance when it rolled off the factory line. May have run the numbers and it looked within spec, but the performance didn't match the books.

Anonymous said...


Per this I entered 125 both the skinny model gals all the way in the back ie 250 for rear baggage compartment.
180 + 140 = 220 lb for rear passengers
180 + 200 for the pilot and CFI = 380 lb for "crew".
50 lb for luggage throughout the cabin.
1/2 tank of gas = 30 gals

I still get 94.5 in aft which exceeds max aft of 93!

Granted just a similar plane but a hell of a chance to take with that many pax and even rationing luggage to the minimum with everyone at their fashionably skinniest you since they were all instagram stars.

Add night flight, high density, unfamiliar airport... well dead is dead.

Anonymous said...

I calculated 860lbs using conservative estimates on the photos....
That's telling to the wb of this flight that was probably never calculated before take off.

What a waste and a huge loss of life!

Anonymous said...

That WB calc is for a PA-24 250 4 seater with a GW of 2900. It was mentioned above the 6 seater GW was likely 3200. Without the actual WB, pax, luggage and fuel weights we can only guess. It was certainly close.

Anonymous said...

Good, young, very experienced pilot gets talked into taking a flight with a new aircraft owner learning to fly. Just going to SDL to pick up a couple of friends and bring them back to VGT. No experience with this particular aircraft except on the 90 minute flight to SDL that day. Arrive to find not two but four friends ready to go to Vegas in a marginally performing 4 passenger aircraft with 2 baggage bay seats unfortunately installed for the extra 2 lightweight friends. Pilot is pressured by the student aircraft owner and soon to be passengers not to leave anyone behind. Turnaround time was not adequate for proper flight planning and doing a W&B spreadsheet, if there was one available in the aircraft at all. Good pilot succumbs to pressure from owner and no doubt beautiful young men and women to make the fateful trip. Good pilot violates his own innate safe practice knowledge and makes the decision to relent to pressure and risk the overgross and likely out of aft CG flight. If this scenario sounds even remotely familiar to other good pilots out there, please use this PIC's deadly decision to help guide your flight planning limits in the future. This is all speculation of course but is often how pilots defy the limitations of an aircraft type design by allowing those that do not understand such things into pressuring them into very bad flight planning decisions.

a said...

Lot of guessing going on I know it's difficult not to we what to rush to figure it out, but remember the family and friends of these people will also come here and read this stuff who know nothing be respectful of the pilots. The families want answers it will be long road before the NTSB reports they will be looking for answers here. We all know pilot error is always a factor we are all human not perfect calling them stupid, or other negative stuff isn't going to help only going to hurt their families.

Anonymous said...

Training flight with 4 pax...?
Good pilot...?
I don't buy that.

As a pilot you have to be able to say "no" from time to time when needed.

jbermo said...

SDL's runway 03 has a 0.7% uphill slope - an unmentioned, although small factor with regards to a relative heavyweight takeoff on a warm night.

Anonymous said...

Stupid. 100% avoidable.

Anonymous said...

The IA that signed that aircraft off is in big trouble, or was it signed off as airworthy?

Anonymous said...

Stupid way to die.....fly on a plane with a bunch of Insta "models" flown by an Insta 'dude' who probably wasn't rated for the plane.

What a waste.

Anonymous said...

Former USAF Herc and helo and airline pilot but I'll admit I have minimal light aircraft experience. Still, it just baffles me that the CFI wouldn't have said or done something when the takeoff roll was excessive and the airplane wasn't climbing. Just saw they were pretty much crop dusting off the end of the runway. Probably being flown by the left seat student pilot and I think I saw gear and flaps were both up when they crashed. Maybe if the CFI was flying it might have been a straight ahead belly landing that folks walked away from...just sad........

Anonymous said...

For those that have commented about the lack of FAA enforcement, you can thank Congress and the legal system for that impression.

jbermo said...

IF weight was a factor, it's easy to see the "human nature" side of these scenario possibilities (and variations)

Pedroza: Could we fly down to Scottsdale in my airplane after dark to pick up two very good friends who are attending a concert there? I owe them a favor. My girlfriend also wants to come along as it should be a great night to fly.

Valente: Sounds good, it will be a full flight back but you will get to log some good dual time for an out and back cross country, and you will also get some good night experience. We will make a lesson out of it. It should prove a beautiful starlit night with such clear weather.

After a successful KSDL arrival, they meet Pedroza's friend and girlfriend who were waiting for their return trip back.

Non-aviator friend to Pedroza: I'd like you to meet a cute girl that we had met at the concert. She also lives in Las Vegas and I thought that we could give her a quick lift back. She shouldn't be a problem as we have an extra seat.

Valente (who is a single young 32 yr old, has an eye for cute girls but is conflicted as something doesn't feel right in accepting his new situation - his student Pedroza is somewhat ambivalent as he has faith and respect for his instructor's experience and airmanship): "Well, its a nice night with clear weather, and she seems petite . . . with a little bit of luck, we'll make it work."

. . . and off they go, Valente, although supervising the flight, is calling for his best effort in airmanship, something that he has proven before. Being a single man, he may also be thinking of his luck in meeting such a lovely girl. The added fellowship possibilities may be endless when back in Vegas.

History dictates that most accidents are the result of a "daisy chain of events", but how does common human nature factor in such tragedies?


Gerry said...

Now we are having fantasies as to what happened too yet. I enjoy reading some of the comments as I do seem to learn something from a few of them however I prefer to reserve judgement until I see the final NTSB report. Just an opinion you understand, Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Piloting demands serious focus and attention. The video shows silly, juvenile behavior. Bad choice!

Anonymous said...

Some pilots are going to go even if they went to Vegas in a coffin.

The checks and balances by the FAA work fairly well, but like in any other form of transportation still is the small group that will do it their way and hopefully will not take someone with them when they die.

Gerry said...

I agree flying is very serious, June 2nd it will be 53 years I have been flying I remember at age 24 I took a lady in her 40's for a ride when we landed she commented you are so serious yes as much as I still enjoy flying and am exhilerated when I fly I still am seriuos about it. I could go on but this isn't the place or time to toot my horn.

Anonymous said...

A SERIOUS cautionary tale for the likes of Valente, and of experienced pilots who let a situation get ahead of them one small step at a time...

I remember my first x-country after picking my plane following a whole year of it having its engine rebuilt. I was eager to get back and at full throttle full mixture to break in the engine came to be 10 NM north of my destination with the needles on E and succumbed to the get-there-i-this. It was a small distance but the plane was a gas guzzler that whole way and I chastised myself after because of this. I realized I let emotions and irrationality take over as I was overflowing a field where I could have refuled then.

I wasn't even a commercial pilot then, and my plane had a good 10 gal left in the tanks... but I learned from this.

It was one of many such examples in my flying career.

Valente most likely let the non pilots ultimately decide of the flight. What was supposed to be a 4 person trip ended up with 6, and PAVE went out the window.

Human factors will be a big one on this accident.

Ultimately simple things save our lives... sticking to PERSONAL MINIMUMS and willing to ASSERT ourselves with them to non pilots, sticking the gas tanks no matter if we know we topped it off the night before, checking the oil, sumping the tanks, getting a briefing...

Aviation in itself is not inherently dangerous. But to an even greater degree than the sea, it is terribly unforgiving of any carelessness, incapacity or neglect.

a said...

Where was there a report that the plane was having issue getting off the runway was that when the tower asked if they were okay?

Anonymous said...

Follow along with the investigator in charge and local news media on the accident scene. Do your own legwork. >>>>> "Where was there a report that the plane was having issue getting off the runway"

jerry chmiel said...

You are so correct

Anonymous said...

I haven't read any comment regarding who's ultimately responsible for the safety of the flight, but it's always the CFI. We don't know the performance of this aircraft in this flight situation, but the CFI must make the final determination if the aircraft is safe to fly, not the student pilot. So many questions regarding weight, CG, air density, distractions in the cockpit, but why would an experienced CFI allow the student pilot attempt that takeoff. Do they know that the student pilot was attempting that takeoff by the communication with the tower? How many people flew from Vegas to Scottsdale? Was it just Erik or was it also James and his girlfriend?(someone suggested that's what occurred) That flight may have given the CFI some overconfidence regarding the aircraft's performance with a lighter load. Most of the facts suggest a WB/CG issue (human factor) leading to a stall and inverted dive into the ground that happened so rapidly. Such a sad time for all these families.

Anonymous said...

“The IA that signed that aircraft off is in big trouble, or was it signed off as airworthy?”
Really??? Why would you think that???��

Anonymous said...

The news has talked about all the victims except Iris Rodriguez.
Who is she affiliated with on the plane and what do we know about why she was there?

Anonymous said...

"Iris Carolina Rodriguez was set to return to her home country, Honduras, on Sunday after a six-month stay with family in Northern Virginia for graduate school."

Anonymous said...

The experts all agree... plane was way overloaded.
And yes all GA planes really have 2 seats less than their advertisement when you factor in full fuel and full luggage. My 172 can carry barely 3 naked with full fuel and assume 3 skinny adults their clothing and luggage.
Valente should have known that. And my private pilot checkride oral W&B for the 172 we were using yielded... drum roll... 50 miles of range with 8 gal of fuel possible if 2 adults were in the front and 2 lightweight adults were in the back.
My DPE said this was to show how careful one has to be assuming a 4 seater... is a 4 seater.
Now that the dust is settling and a flurries of lawsuit is probably expected we should be glad GARA exists. In the end it's the Pilot in Command... Valente here (as the only one qualified to fly a plane), that should have done his job and toned down the enthusiasm. That Jason dude isn't exactly the sharpest tool in the shed either, as by now and assuming some basic 101 flying knowledge he should have known the physics behind W&B, and why it can kill i.e Air Midwest Flight 5481. But I guess he was busier bragging on Instagram than taking the job of piloting seriously.

Anonymous said...

^^^^^ Kinda rude …… but mostly true.

Anonymous said...

There is video of the crash. I don’t know if it will be made public, unless some one FOIAs it from the city of Scottsdale. Hint. I’ve seen it. Plane was flying low, started a gentle left turn, either to come back or because they were trying to land on Frank Lloyd Wright Blvd. or maybe the golf course fairway. There is also airport video, which I didn’t see. Plane used most of the runway to take off. Which is what prompted atc to query. Individual who showed me the video also said that he didn’t think they were overweight. If they were, it was by very little. Back seat passengers were under 235 combined. Middle seat around 270. Cockpit around 340. None of the backseat pax were wearing seatbelts. Left wing stalled. Plane rolled over. Massive fireball.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully, all died instantly. No skid on the ground, so they hit with tremendous force. Maybe 5-20 seconds of absolute terror when it rolled over. Pilot just too careless and really stupid. Anyone can ignore or disbelieve physics and science until their beliefs are forced to give way to reality. We see this every day with politicians, but, in the end, Reality always trump beliefs. TO roll is just over 1,000 to 50 ft clear for this aircraft. Even doubling or tripling, pilot knew they were not climbing when they still had a mile of runway to put it down and abort. Darwin prize even for the innocents who thought the guy was actually a competent pilot. All that stupidity only realized as ("Oh no, it's really happening!") as pilot is seeing the ground, holding his breath one last instant, and all thought of partying stops as reality bites. The physics of the airfoil was always the constant reality looking over the shoulder of the pilot even as his beliefs loaded the box to over-full. Knew better but ignored science. Perhaps he did not realize how much science went into the design parameters? Or thought macho could re-write the specs for this flight? Both pilots should have been slapping each other before take off- "No way dude! It won't fly dude!"

Anonymous said...

According to weather stats, density altitude was about 5,000 at the airport when they tried to make their over-weight departure with a slight tail wind. Pilot had just legged an hour and a half at or above 10,000, so maybe a bit of brain fog clouded his judgment and slowed his reaction time to assess the failure to get airborne sooner on the take-off roll. Should have been keen on all those parameters and closed the throttle when the craft was mushing down the runway. He had plenty of time and room to abort. As usual, a list of little errors leading to one big tragedy.

Anonymous said...

Let's reflect on the facts that transpire and not some speculations and especially judgment based on assumptions.
Based on third party description of the video of the crash, it looks as if several elements combined to get all the holes in the cheese align perfectly to create this tragedy.

1) Macho and invulnerability hazardous attitudes from the Student pilot and CFI.
2) More or less overweight aircraft, even with skinny people onboard.
3) High density altitude.
4) Some kind of improper mixture/power/flaps management.

The behavior seems to be an attempt at the "impossible turn" with the resulting lethal consequences.

Anonymous said...

Based on the most recent eyewitness accounts of the accident, it sounds as though the aircraft was on the verge of an aerodynamic stall from the moment it rotated(wings rocking).The CFI & student pilot should have realized something wasn't right and aborted the takeoff and landed assuming they still had some runway in front of them (8,200' runway). Even if this same scenario would have happened in daylight the outcome might have been more favorable as they may have opted for a controlled forced landing on the golf course when they realized the plane wouldn't gain altitude. They could have cut the power and kept the wings level and choose to ditch in that pond on the golf course. The BEST option would have been to do a proper weight & balance and keep it within the design envelope. It was a good plane but they simply asked too much from it. A similar crash happened at Zelienople airport back in July 1976 involving a PA28-140 with 4 adults and skydiving gear on a hot day. The plane wouldn't climb and the pilot tried to turn back only to stall & spin in. There was one survivor only because of no post-crash fire. Both were totally avoidable accidents. Sad.

Anonymous said...

Once I witnessed a twin that almost stalled on takeoff and it rocked its wings heavily and it was because of aft overloading. I suspect the behavior is similar here... Lucky for that twin it had power to spare and somehow managed to climb. Something not readily available to a small single engine plane like here.

If aft overloaded beyond a reasonable limit and adding high density altitude (my E6B gives me 3800-4000' of density altitude for the conditions provided) it would have indeed been quite a dramatic situation between a rock and hard place once it lifted off and too far down the runway to put back down. I suspect Erik took over considering he is a CFI but instead of pushing the nose down at least slightly and gaining some airspeed some kind of startle effect took over which made him do exactly the wrong thing ie impossible turn.

Stephen Lauritano said...

I am just speculating but a reasonably accomplished pilot would most certainly understand that weight and balance would be a major concern. I believe that this pilot did understand and loaded the plane as best he could. I also believe that he made a decision to take 6 adults out of pure pressure. I would feel the pressure if 2 men were walking over to the plane with 3 very attractive women. Men do really stupid things when emotions are spiked unfortunately, in this situation, it did not work out. I absolutely hate hearing about completely avoidable accidents that occur due to a decision made prior to engine start.

Anonymous said...

I believe psychological anthropology mighty be an issue indeed. Human factors take into account stress, alcohol, insomnia, food intake, fatique but missing might be the sexual dynamic of attractive people or celebrities strong arming their way (The bieber smoking pot on a private jet to the point it clouded the whole cabin or the Aalyuah crash).

I would go with IMSSAFE i.e Insomnia, Medication, Stress, SOCIAL, Alcohol, Fatique and Eating.

Humans are not self contained, and social interaction is central as its own dynamic separate from the environment or "pressure", given it is hardwired in our brain with its own set of short circuits on the limbic system.

Anonymous said...

Sad... Sounds like another case of a pilot killing his passengers...Unless something else is found like a mechanical failure, simply Inexcusable

Anonymous said...

The footage of the crash is here as it was described by the NTSB preliminary report. Classic textbook case of the stall/spin at irrecoverable altitude. If they kept it straight without turning there would have been some hope but the loss of control is always fatal.


Anonymous said...

The takeway from such a high profile case would be an in depth analysis, sadly without the main actor being present, of how someone like Erik, and experienced pilot, dedicated, passionate since age 16, safety minded and enjoying his work every minute, committed an atrocious error or allowed it to happen. Something a fresh student with a few hours hours wouldn't do i.e overload then stall and spin a plane right on takeoff.

By extension there is a troubling trend of experienced pilots, some of them with 5 figures in hours flown, that commit the most egregious errors.

The Bedford, MA crash comes to mind where the most basic flight checks were not done on takeoff.

Is it "normalization of deviance"? Is it the overhwelming nature of routine that makes the mind numb and allow the one time fatal error through cracks?

Rules written in blood define a pretty safe framework and sticking by them will guarantee an aviation career devoid of accidents, violations and with full enjoyment and perks of what flying has to offer.

Yet time and time again those rules are egregiously violated with predictible results. Maybe some new failsafes beyond SRM and CRM and knowing the limitations of human psychology can be developed.

A sort of mind test akin to the stress test of Blade Runner 2049? Or some other indirect technique to expose the inner psyche to catch the cheese holes as they develop.

Anonymous said...

Cool selfies!

Anonymous said...

I have 4,000 hrs and 400 in Commanche B. "GET-THERE-ITIS", poorly loaded, and the laminar flow wing are a dangerous combination. A shame to have lost the gamble with life and death.

Jim B said...

I hope I have the resolve and wisdom to avoid being talked into something I know that after careful review and consideration should not be done.

Because of the large number of [daily] accidents we read on K.R. of the avoidable category in the first place I am thinking that my (own) personal standards are not good enough.

I would hope on at least one day that we, all of us, would open this blog and not read of death. Gloating at poor decision making is actually fun but when it comes to death it takes all the fun away.

I am getting ready for a bi-annual review. If my CFI chews my butt then I have no choice but to listen and improve. They have a job to evaluate. My job is not to second-guess or ignore.

Chew away. That is what I pay them to do.

It is not personal, it is business (and survival).

Stephen Lauritano said...

Jim, I don’t see it as gloating at all. This was a completely avoidable and senseless accident made by an experienced pilot who should have not put himself or others in that situation. I read about the tragic side of aviation to remind myself that mistakes happen and poor judgement can be made by even the most experienced pilot. I learn from other people’s mistakes and in trying to make sense from the senseless, a positive spin can be placed on such a horrific ordeal. Everyone has a different take on what exactly happened and everyone is right and everyone is wrong. Even the NTSB allows for a margin of error by referring to the final report results as probable cause. Why not take something good from something that is bad. It may prevent the bad from occurring again.

Anonymous said...

Blaming the pax for their lifestyle is in bad taste. All they needed to do is comply with the PIC and wear seatbelts as required during taxi and takeoff as well as not be intoxicated or interfere with the crew. Per FARs.

This is where the PAX's responsability ends and as far as we can see they didn't post selfies or any social media interaction during taxi or takeoff... and even then the noise and constrained environment of a small plane make for very little room to misbehave.

Now Erik and James is where the issue arises. The former for an inexplicable lapse in judgement and the later for concocting a "training mission" out of a x-country trip with 4 more people.

Anonymous said...

Pre flight planning is an important item, yet many fail to do so.
I see many pilots who don't do anything. Some only did the planning and a weight and balance when passing the pilots exam. Once they get the license, its just "get in and fly".

Adding another person or two, flying at night over water or rocky terrain, taking off from a sod strip, as we know all changes the parameters of the flight. Do you have any type of survival gear, a good set of flashlights, a decent VFR chart, a backup plan, an alternate airport, and enough fuel on board? etc..

Some pilots have never read their POH.

I get asked simple and basic questions all the time. MANY of the answers can be quickly found in the POH.

KNOW YOUR BIRD. Know what weight it can carry and a its limitations. Always have 1 hour or more fuel than needed.

Anonymous said...

Tragic! I started flying over 40 years ago. I always strive to learn from other people's mistakes. This was poor planning all the way! May their precious souls rest in peace. Commercial pilot with 2,000hrs+

Anonymous said...

Seems likely to be a weight and balance problem. Useful load of 1427, less 562 pounds of fuel would leave 865 for passengers and baggage, about 144 lbs per passenger assuming no baggage. Since it occurred so soon after takeoff, likely the aircraft had an aft center of gravity, the wing stalled and the pilot would not be able to overcome the problem. Adding baggage to the aft compartment would further move the center of gravity back causing the aircraft to stall shortly after takeoff.

Anonymous said...

Weight and Balance. Can't fly that airplane with six aboard and luggage.

Anonymous said...

2 Full Fuel Tanks + 6 People = WAY Overloaded = Pilot Error. It was way over capacity, period. Rookie pilot mistake that unfortunately led to lives lost.

Anonymous said...

Full fuel? I didn't read anywhere that they took on fuel in SDL, does anyone know?

Anonymous said...

Per FARs the highest rated pilot who has operational control is legally responsible. Either by supervising the student pilot or flying the plane himself and making the go/no go decision. That would be Erik...

Anonymous said...

Sad to see this loss of life. Outside of the aircraft W&B and human factors, I saw an image of the panel showing an MX20 front and center.
Airspeed and turn and bank are to the left of the MX20. The airspeed indicator most likely would have been difficult to see from the right seat. Add in the night take off with mountainous horizon and the MARICOPA ONE departure; Takeoff minimums: Rwy 3: Standard with minimum climb of 440' per NM to 4000, or 3100-3 for climb in visual conditions. vy 97kts = ~ 660FPM. Slight quartering tailwind. NOTE per Maricopa one, left turn out was indicated.

If the ATP Pilot took command, he was seriously handicapped by the nonstandard instrument placement, particularly if it was a case of first impression.

I wonder who approved the 337 for that install? I know it is not a part 23 aircraft, however best practices would dictate use of part 23 layout. This aircraft would have originally complied with part 23 layout, as most pipers from 1968 onward did.

(d) For each airplane, the flight instruments required by § 23.1303, and, as applicable, by the operating rules of this chapter, must be grouped on the instrument panel and centered as nearly as practicable about the vertical plane of each required pilot's forward vision. In addition:

(1) The instrument that most effectively indicates the attitude must be on the panel in the top center position;

(2) The instrument that most effectively indicates airspeed must be adjacent to and directly to the left of the instrument in the top center position;

(3) The instrument that most effectively indicates altitude must be adjacent to and directly to the right of the instrument in the top center position;

Anonymous said...

The more I think of this accident and cross reference It with many others, the more I believe a simple error, maybe following some kind of emergency, is at play. Maybe the engine ran rough, maybe the student pilot raised the flaps too soon. None of the witnesses report the flaps being down upon takeoff but I suspect Erik as PIC knew the plane was nearing its capacity and may have configured it for a short field takeoff and rotation at Vx, with flaps at 10.

Why he never aborted the takeoff once half the field was behind the plane is something to question for the ages, but let's hope the NTSB can bring closure to the victims.