Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six, N4153R, registered to IHAF Flying Mission LLC and operated by the private pilot: Fatal accident occurred May 02, 2018 near Greenwood Lake Airport (4N1), West Milford, Passaic County, New Jersey

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Teterboro, New Jersey
Lycoming; Dallas, Texas
Piper; Wichita, Kansas

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board

Location: West Milford, NJ
Accident Number: ERA18FA138
Date & Time: 05/02/2018, 1410 EDT
Registration: N4153R
Aircraft: PIPER PA32
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On May 2, 2018, about 1410 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-32-300, N4153R, was destroyed when it impacted terrain at the Greenwood Lake Airport (4N1), West Milford, New Jersey. The private pilot was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight to Orange County Airport (MGJ), Montgomery, New York. The airplane was registered to IHAF Flying Mission LLC and operated by the private pilot. The personal flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

A flight instructor located at 4N1, who was also a friend of the pilot stated that he talked with the pilot just before the accident. He stated that the pilot told him that he was having problems with the airplane's engine, and thought it was either the magnetos or the spark plugs. The pilot stated he was going to taxi to the end of the runway and perform an engine run-up. If the engine run-up was successful, he was going to take a short flight to MGJ and then return.

A witness, located 1 mile north of the airport, heard the airplane takeoff and then heard the airplane's engine sputter, then shut off. He then heard the sound of a crash and called 911.

The wreckage was consumed by a postcrash fire and located in a wooded area, about 1,100 ft to the left side of the departure end of runway 24. Tree branches were observed broken descending about a 12° angle and extending approximately 50 ft on a magnetic heading of 110° to the main wreckage. The main wreckage came to rest upright. The instrument panel was consumed by fire and no readable instruments were recovered. Both wings separated from the fuselage and were located about 30 ft behind the fuselage. The wings exhibited minor fire damage. 100LL aviation fuel was found in both wing tanks. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. Control cable continuity was confirmed through breaks, that were consistent with overload separations, to the respective controls.

The engine remained attached to the airframe. The accessories on the rear of the engine were consumed by fire. The propeller blades were both bent aft at mid-blade. Thumb compression was established on all cylinders and a lighted boroscope was used to examine all pistons and valves with no anomalies noted.

The six seat, low-wing, tricycle gear airplane, serial number 32-40468, was manufactured in 1968. It was powered by a Lycoming IO-540-K1A5, 300-horsepower engine, equipped with a two-bladed Hartzell propeller. Family members stated that the maintenance logbooks were carried on the airplane in the luggage compartment. The luggage compartment was consumed by fire and all documents were destroyed.

The pilot held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. He held a third-class medical certificate, issued April 27, 2016. At the time of the medical examination, the pilot reported 625 total hours of flight experience. The pilot's logbook was consumed by fire.

The recorded weather at Sussex Airport, located 13 miles northwest, at 1353, was: wind from 220° at 10 knots, gusting to 21 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; clear sky; temperature 30° C; dew point 6° C; altimeter 30.02 inches of mercury.

The airframe and engine were retained for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: PIPER
Registration: N4153R
Model/Series: PA32 300
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: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KFWN, 421 ft msl
Observation Time: 1753 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 13 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 30°C / 6°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots/ 21 knots, 220°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.02 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: West Milford, NJ (4N1)
Destination: MONTGOMERY, NY (MGJ)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 41.121389, -74.350833 (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

The Rev. Andrew Topp is seen with his Piper PA-32-300 Cherokee Six. He was killed when the plane crashed  May 2, 2018 in West Milford. 

A pilot killed when his plane went down in West Milford was remembered Thursday as a minister, husband, father of six and humanitarian.

The Rev. Andrew Topp, 59, who was a pastor for more than 20 years at the First Reformed Church of Boonton, had hopped into his single-engine Piper PA-32 to take it for a test run to the Oranges in preparation for a May 13 trip to Haiti to do missionary work, according to Topp's daughter, Erica Fischer-Kaslander, who lives in Haledon.

Topp, who always had a passion for flying and had spoken about it since his father was in the Air Force, obtained his pilot's license about 15 to 18 years ago, Fischer-Kaslander said. His desire to get the license was motivated by the humanitarian work he did with his non-profit, International Humanitarian Aid Foundation Inc., which he founded in 2007.

His missionary work brought him to almost every country in the world, his daughter said, and he found that having a small plane to deliver supplies quicker was a benefit.

"He was able to reach these remote areas with his plane that larger non-profits couldn't," she said.

Although he had owned different planes over the years, the plane he was flying was the only one he owned currently. On the National Transportation Safety Board aircraft identification system, the tail number on Topp's plane, which is shown in a photo his daughter shared with the New Jersey Herald, was registered to his non-profit.

Fischer-Kaslander said her father had replaced the engine on his plane about three months ago.

Nick Stefano, of Wantage, was friends with Topp when the two were teenagers living across the street from one another in North Haledon.

"He was part of my childhood. It's so hard to think he's not there anymore that I can't talk to him," Stefano said.

The two eventually graduated from high school and went their separate ways, but they always stayed in touch.

"We were talking just a couple weeks ago, and he told me to stop by his church (in Boonton)," Stefano said, adding that Topp shoveled Stefano's mother's driveway in North Haledon a little while back.

Stefano was planning on taking Topp up on his offer and wanted to get into missionary work and animal rescue with him.

Topp was a self-proclaimed animal lover, according to Stefano, and often worked to help rescue animals from high-kill shelters and from natural disasters.

Topp worked closely with Home for Good Dog Rescue, a non-profit in Berkeley Heights, and helped fly supplies to Texas and returned with dozens of dogs after the state was slammed by Hurricane Harvey.

"If your dog arrived in New Jersey by rescue flight, chances are he or she was flown by Andy, as he had spent two years flying more than 300 Home for Good dogs safely home," the group said in a Facebook post Thursday.

Upset that he wasn't able to see his friend one last time, Stefano only had positive memories to share of his childhood friend.

"He was a great man. It's devastating," Stefano said, adding that the world has "certainly lost a great person."

Officials said that Topp's plane went down around 2:38 p.m. Wednesday in a wooded area near the former Jungle Habitat property, which is administered by Ringwood State Park.

The Federal Aviation Administration indicated the airplane crashed shortly after takeoff from runway 24 at the Greenwood Lake Airport.

The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Just a few years ago, tragedy struck the Topp family when Topp's brother, Bob, died in a motorcycle accident in Kentucky at the age of 60.

Topp, who stored his plane at Greenwood Lake Airport, also organized trips to help aid victims of natural disasters, built orphanages, was a member of Gift of Life and Rotary International District 7490.

"We organized a trip for him to fly to the U.S. Virgin Islands to help assist during Hurricane Maria (in 2017)," Fischer-Kaslander said, adding that she recalls he had to wait out the storm in Florida and ended up flying around the hurricane to reach his destination.

She never flew with him, but would often help him on the ground with organizing supplies.

"We were a great team. I served as his right hand, and my experience working with him actually led me into a career in social work," Fischer-Kaslander admitted.

"My passion, I owe it all to my father," she said. "He was an inspiration."

Although the reality of the crash and the loss of her father was still very raw on Thursday, Fischer-Kaslander said that she intends to carry on her father's legacy and continue with his work.

For more details on Topp's International Humanitarian Aid Foundation, visit

Home for Good Dog Rescue co-founder Richard Errico with the Rev. Andrew Topp.

WEST MILFORD — A plane crash near Greenwood Lake Airport on Wednesday afternoon killed the pilot and set a portion of state parkland at the former Jungle Habitat theme park ablaze, police said.

The plane, a single-engine Piper PA-32, crashed in the nearby woods at about 2:30 p.m. after taking off from Greenwood Lake Airport, said a statement from the Federal Aviation Administration. A statement from the state Department of Environmental Protection said the pilot, the lone occupant, died during the crash. His name was not released.

The entrance to the thickly forested former safari theme park was blocked off by local authorities at about 3 p.m. A helicopter was also seen in the area dropping water in an attempt to douse the spreading fire.

Eyewitness reports of smoke to the east of Morsetown Road dovetail with reports from the FAA that the pilot took off in a southwesterly direction before crashing in the state parkland adjacent to the airport.

Steve Woodward, a local flight instructor, said he has been flying out of the airport for five years. At 3,471 feet, the runway would probably seem small to someone who has flown only out of Morristown Airport. However, compared with many local airports, such as Lincoln Park and Andover, it is relatively roomy, he said.

“It’s high in elevation and it’s a little windy, but I’ve been flying for close to 35 years and I’ve been into much trickier airports than Greenwood Lake,” Woodward said. “When it’s windy it can be a little tricky, but I would never call it dangerous.”

Tim Wagner, the manager of Greenwood Lake Airport and a township councilman, had no comment. The airport was closed Wednesday afternoon. Strong wind gusts were reported.

Michael Donovan, a spokesman for Orange and Rockland Utilities, said that when the plane came down it apparently took some power lines along with it. The company subsequently cut power to the circuit, putting roughly 950 customers out of power, the company's outage map showed.

Power was restored by 5 p.m. except for the lights at a nearby ballfield, Donovan said. At that time the FAA closed off the area to the utility employees, so they will return Thursday to finish repairs, Donovan said. 

Mike Venezia, a 30-year resident, said he knew something was wrong when the power went off.

“The power went down and I knew something was going down. It’s really sad. It really is,” he said of the fatal crash.

West Milford police Lt. James DeVore said local officers responded to the crash but turned over the investigation to the State Park Police.

State DEP officials said the New Jersey State Park Police, Bureau of Emergency Response and New Jersey Forest Fire Service responded and remained on the scene, assisted by local police and fire personnel. The FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will be leading the investigation into the crash, officials said.

Original article can be found here ➤

WEST MILFORD, New Jersey (WABC) --  Authorities say one person was killed in a small plane crash in Passaic County on Wednesday afternoon.

The single-engine private plane took off from Greenwood Lake Airport in West Milford before it went down in a wooded area around 3 p.m.

The victim has not yet been identified.

The crash caused a small brush fire that the Forest Fire Service was working to get under control.

The cause of the crash is not yet known. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will lead the investigation.

Original article can be found here ➤

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