Sunday, May 27, 2018

Beechcraft D17S Staggerwing, N79091, registered to and operated by Mid Continent Instrument Company Inc: Fatal accident occurred May 25, 2018 in San Miguel County, New Mexico

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Albuquerque, New Mexico
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: Santa Fe, NM
Accident Number: CEN18FA192
Date & Time: 05/25/2018, 1342 MDT
Registration: N79091
Aircraft: BEECH D17S
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Business 

On May 25, 2018, about 1342 mountain daylight time (all times referenced as mountain daylight time), a Beech D17S single-engine airplane, N79091, impacted terrain near Santa Fe, New Mexico. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated by Mid Continent Instrument Company, Inc., under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the business flight that departed Perryton/Ochiltree County Airport (PYX) about 1150 with the intended destination of Albuquerque International Sunport Airport (ABQ), Albuquerque, New Mexico.

The operator reported that the pilot had departed Wichita, Kansas, earlier in the day and that he made a fuel stop at PYX before continuing to ABQ for a planned overnight stop. Fueling documentation established that the pilot purchased 39.32 gallons of 100 low-lead aviation fuel at 1035 after landing at PYX. According to preliminary aircraft radar track data, the airplane appeared on radar at 1152:23 about 1.5 nautical miles (nm) southwest of PYX and proceeded to climb to a cruise altitude of 10,500 ft mean sea level (msl) while on a direct track toward ABQ. The only communication the pilot had with air traffic control was when he requested visual flight rules (VFR) flight following with Albuquerque Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC). The airplane continued toward ABQ at 10,500 ft msl until 1340:11 when it entered a descent. The final radar track return was recorded at 1342:48 at 7,900 ft msl (650 feet above the ground). The final radar return was about 1.25 nm east-northeast of the accident site. An alert notice (ALNOT) was issued by air traffic control and a United States Air Force search-and-rescue helicopter crew located the wreckage about midnight.

An onsite investigation was completed by inspectors with the FAA Albuquerque Flight Standards District Office. The FAA inspectors reported that the airplane impacted several pinon trees before coming to rest in a nose down attitude. The debris path was on a 233° magnetic heading. The airplane's recording hour meter indicated 1,351.1 hours. Both upper and lower wings sustained impact damage during the accident sequence. The left wing was heavily fragmented, and the right wing remained partially attached to the fuselage. The fuselage remained intact with relatively minor damage to the cabin and cockpit. The odor of 100 low-lead aviation fuel was observed at the accident site. The airplane's fuel tanks were ruptured during impact; however, there was residual fuel observed in the tanks. The carburetor accelerator pump discharged fuel when the throttle arm was moved. The engine oil supply tank ruptured during impact and there was oil covering the firewall, aft side of the engine, and portions of the windscreen.

The wreckage was recovered from the accident site to facilitate a more detailed examination. A follow-up examination was completed by investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the airframe manufacturer. Flight control cable continuity was established from the individual control surfaces to the cockpit controls through several cable overload separations and cuts made during wreckage recovery. The flap actuator positions were consistent with the wing flaps being up at impact. The landing gear was in the fully retracted position. The cockpit fuel selector was positioned to draw fuel from the upper right fuel tank. There were no anomalies noted with the fuel selector valve during a functional test using compressed air. The outflow fuel line from the fuel selector valve contained residual fuel. The engine driven fuel pump rotated by hand and discharged a fluid that had an odor consistent with 100 low-lead aviation fuel. The engine crankshaft was rotated by applying electrical power to the starter motor. Internal engine and valve train continuity were confirmed as the engine crankshaft was rotated. Apart from engine cylinders no. 5 and 6, compression and suction were noted on all cylinders as the crankshaft was rotated. The no. 5 cylinder exhibited impact related damage to the valve push rods that precluded normal valve movement. The entire no. 6 cylinder head had separated from the cylinder barrel. Several pieces of the no. 6 cylinder head, including the exhaust valve, were recovered along the wreckage debris path at the accident site; however, the No. 6 cylinder intake valve was not recovered during the investigation. The spark plugs were removed and exhibited features consistent with normal engine operation. The No. 6 cylinder was removed to examine the internal engine components. There was ample engine oil throughout the engine and no evidence of oil starvation on the drivetrain components. Both magnetos provided spark while the engine crankshaft was rotated. The two-bladed propeller exhibited chordwise scratches and leading-edge damage on both blades. One propeller blade exhibited a S-shape bend and the other propeller was bent aft midspan.

According to FAA records, the 53-year-old pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with single-engine land airplane and instrument airplane ratings. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on August 24, 2017, with a limitation for corrective lenses. The pilot's flight history was established using his logbook. The final logbook entry was dated April 22, 2018, at which time he had 4,541 hours total flight time, all in single-engine airplanes. He had logged 4,503.7 hours as pilot-in-command, 236.1 hours at night, 34.1 hours in actual instrument meteorological conditions, and 62.3 hours in simulated instrument conditions. According to the airplane utilization log, the pilot flew an additional 50.9 hours since his final pilot logbook entry. The pilot had accumulated 1,316.7 hours in Beech D17S airplanes. The pilot's most recent flight review, as required by 14 CFR 61.56, was completed on March 6, 2018, in a Cessna 172.

The 1941-model-year airplane, serial number 1020, was a biplane of fabric-covered steel tube and wood construction. The airplane was powered by a 450-horsepower, 9-cylinder, Pratt & Whitney R-985-AN-14B reciprocating radial engine, serial number JP-215473. The engine provided thrust through a constant-speed, two-blade, Hamilton Standard 2D30-6167A-15 propeller, serial number B3881. The four-seat airplane was equipped with a retractable conventional landing gear, wing flaps, and had a maximum allowable takeoff weight of 4,250 pounds. According to maintenance documentation, the last annual inspection was completed on December 31, 2017, at 4,828.7 total airframe hours. The airplane had accumulated 131.4 hours since the last annual inspection. The airframe and engine had accumulated a total service time of 4,960.1 hours when the accident occurred. The engine had accumulated 851.1 hours since being overhauled on April 24, 2014. A postaccident review of the maintenance records found no history of unresolved airworthiness issues.

A postaccident review of available meteorological data established that day visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site. The nearest aviation weather reporting station was located at Moriarty Airport (0E0) about 28 miles southwest of the accident site. At 1335, about 7 minutes before the accident, the 0E0 automated surface observing system reported: wind 310° at 4 knots, 10 miles surface visibility, a clear sky, temperature 31°C, dew point -4°C, and an altimeter setting 30.18 inches of mercury. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: BEECH
Registration: N79091
Model/Series: D17S D17S
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Mid Continent Instrument Company, Inc.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: 0E0, 6204 ft msl
Observation Time: 1335 MDT
Distance from Accident Site: 28 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / -4°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots, 310°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.18 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Departure Point: Perryton, TX (PYX)
Destination: Albuquerque, NM (ABQ)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 35.293611, -105.581944 (est)

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

Pat Napolitano, a Clovis pilot, works on his Beechcraft Staggerwing airplane, "Queenie." Napolitano's friends say Napolitano was piloting Queenie when it crashed near Sante Fe, New Mexico, on May 25, 2018. According to local reports, the pilot was killed.

In Memoriam: Patrick Napolitano

Johnette Napolitano   
May 28, 2018  

I received the news last night that my little brother Patrick went down in a vintage plane in New Mexico from Kansas on the way back to Fresno sometime between Friday night and Saturday, I guess. He was a very experienced pilot, a freak of a mechanical maintenance man, and more than anything else, just loved being up there all by himself.

“You know that song, “Sailing?” he’d said, back when he was working for MGM Grand airlines counting and measuring and checking and re-checking every bolt and screw. I remember how proud I was on the tarmac when we’d boarded the plane and he’d walked us out. That’s my brother, I’d said, and if he checked this plane, it’s definitely ok.

“That’s how I feel up there.”

“Whenever you get on a plane” he’d said to me sternly, “You need to ask for the 90 hour Stem-to-Stern Certificate. They have to check that plane stem to stern every 90 flying hours, or they can’t take off. With commercial schedules these days there’s no way they can do that. They have to show you that certificate.” I nodded, imagining the scene:

…a planeload of pissed-off New Yorkers. “Sorry, we can’t leave..” the annoyed pilot says over the P.A, “The bitch in 32B needs to see our ‘stem to stern‘ inspection certificate. Guess we’ll aaaaaallllll just have to wait a little looooonger!”

Patrick was a unique, eccentric kid. I mean, he lived in his own world. In our family at that point the sooner you found your own world to live in the better.

When he was really little, he became completely fascinated and obsessed by the trash truck. He’d stand by the window, eyes wide, and watch them ride in on the huge gray beast like warriors on a tank, the truck beeping and backing up and the huge jaw-like apparatus lowering and picking up the cans, the trash man supervising and assisting the whole operation masterfully from the ‘stern’, leaping from bumper to curb like a dancer, waving, beep beep beep until the mighty tank rumbled away.

Little Patrick must have been about 3 or 4 when he morphed into a trash truck. Purposefully striding around the house on his new little legs, his little right hand was on an imaginary stickshift as his little left hand confidently maneuvered an imaginary steering wheel. He’d ‘drive’ around the coffee table, stop, and carefully check his imaginary rear-view mirror before sounding a little ‘beep beep beep‘, back up, change course and head to the kitchen.

I remember him in being in this mode most of the time.

As soon as he could he started hanging out at the Van Nuys Airport before he was old enough to drive, riding with the Civil Air Patrol and working on finding a missing plane that had gone down decades earlier.

He found it.

If my brother were that hyper, mysterious little kid today, he’d be doped up within an inch of a walking coma.

We just knew there was something going on we didn’t understand but it was obviously very clear to him, so we just watched him go…marvelled at him, really.

I’m so moved to read today what I’m reading about him, seems that a lot of other people feel the same way I do.

Mad respect, baby boy.

Pat Napolitano (far left) stands with World War II Col. Bud Anderson (middle) and Kelley Kreeger (right), Anderson's assistant in front of Chandler Executive Airport Terminal on April 10, 2018.

As a kid, Pat Napolitano of Clovis had always dreamed of flying a Beechcraft Staggerwing aircraft. At 53, he had lived most of his life doing exactly that.

"Queenie," as his Beechcraft Model D aircraft was known, was his to fly.

Napolitano was flying Queenie home from Kansas on Friday when the plane suddenly vanished from air-traffic control radar over New Mexico.

According to Flight Aware, a website that tracks airplane paths in the United States, Napolitano's aircraft went down near Las Vegas, New Mexico, at 1:42 p.m. The last recorded takeoff had been from Perrytown, Texas, at 12:56 p.m., according to the tracking website.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reported Sunday that an aircraft went down Friday near Ribera, a small town west of Santa Fe, killing the pilot. He had not yet been identified. But Napolitano's friends said Monday they know it was him.

Napolitano was on his way to Chandler Executive Airport from Wichita, Kansas, where the plane that crashed was registered to a business. Morris Garcia, president of the Central Valley Aviation Association, said Queenie was owned by Mid-Continent Instruments and Avionics in Wichita. Napolitano was a sales manager for the company, according to Garcia, and flew the airplane for the business to meet with customers. Calls to Mid-Continent's office Monday were not returned due to the Memorial Day holiday.

Garcia said Napolitano had a wife and a daughter, who live in Clovis. Garcia had known Napolitano for five years. Garcia has been flying airplanes for 63 years while Napolitano spent 33 years as a pilot, Garcia said.

Queenie, the single-engine plane with space for five built in the early 1940s, was flown by Napolitano about 20 to 30 weeks per year, according to information provided by Garcia. He remembered Monday that Napolitano would often send him images from his flights, like sunsets, mountains and restaurants where he ate during his stops.

"He was just a great guy," Garcia recalled. "Pat was a bigger-than-life type of fellow who would go the extra mile to help anyone."

There are few clues as to how or why Napolitano's aircraft went down. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are believed to be investigating the accident.

Garcia said a review of the tracking data made it appear that Napolitano had a "controlled descent" from about 10,000 feet. Garcia said Napolitano was known for his cautious aviation habits and, as a board member of the aviation association in Fresno, he promoted those practices to local pilots.

Read more here:

June 2014 

Pat Napolitano, of Clovis, California, piloted in a 1941 Beechcraft Staggerwing owned by Todd Winter. It was the second year Napolitano attended the Round-Engine Round-Up held at Aero Mark. He is upgrading the “birdie” on the plane’s stabilizing wires. 

Vintage planes gather in Idaho Falls:

A search crew in northeastern New Mexico discovered the body of a man in the wreckage of downed aircraft Friday night, a state police spokeswoman said.

New Mexico State Police Lt. Elizabeth Armijo said the man’s body was transported to the Office of the Medical Investigator in Albuquerque, but did not have details of what may have led to the crash, and could not identify the victim. 

Lt. Elizabeth Armijo said the wreckage was spotted in the area near Rowe and Villanueva.

A tail number on the airplane was registered to a business in Wichita, Kansas. No aircraft owner was listed. According to the Federal Aviation Administration registry, the plane was a single-engine aircraft.

Armijo said state police was not in charge of the investigation. 

It was not immediately known if others were aboard the plane.

Original article ➤

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Authorities say yesterday a pilot was traveling from Dodge City, Kansas when they crashed about 30 miles south of Las Vegas, New Mexico, which is near Albuquerque.

The plane is described as a Beechcraft Model 17.

It is not known what caused it to go down. Officials say the pilot was the only one onboard the aircraft.

Story and video ➤


  1. Registration N79091
    Owned by Mid-Continent Instruments and Avionics
    Piot name Pat Napolitano, Employee of Mid-Continent Instruments and Avionics.
    1941 Beech Staggerwing.
    Plane was enroute to home base in Fresno, Ca

  2. a very sad loss for the family and the staggerwing family.

  3. I had gone flying with Pat in Queenie at the end of 2015. He was a meticulous pilot. He was also a very skilled and detailed mechanic. He was a savant with part numbers. I'm going to miss you Pat. We never got around to rewiring my 140. Fly high buddy.

  4. Very little information as to what might have caused this crash. Was it weather, mechanical, pilot? By now they usually release more details but they're keeping tight-lipped on this one. Will be watching for some answers.

    1. Still nothing new about this incident 10 months later. I'd venture to say pilot had a medical problem.

    2. No. I'm Pat's daughter. There was no medical issue on the coroner report. Nothing in his system and no indication of a medical emergency. No answers from the NTSB, and they SCRAPPED and SOLD Queenie. They also left his personal items out to rot. No answers and absolutely no accountability.

    3. Hi, my name is Dino Delci, I was a good friend of Pat, I knew him with Cathy, he spoke a lot about you very fondly and always held you with high regard..
      I miss him and am very sad about this, We worked together at MGM grand in the older days.. God bless and you can contact me anytime if you would like..
      Dino Delci