Monday, May 28, 2018

Van’s RV-6A, N4269Y: Fatal accident occurred May 27, 2018 near Petaluma Municipal Airport (O69), Sonoma County, California

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Oakland, California

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: Petaluma, CA
Accident Number: WPR18FA150
Date & Time: 05/27/2018, 1600 PDT
Registration: N4269Y
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On May 27, 2018, about 1600 Pacific daylight time, a Marvin E. Morrison experimental amateur-built RV-6A airplane, N4269Y, was destroyed following a loss of control and impact with terrain shortly after takeoff from Petaluma Municipal Airport (O69), Petaluma, California. The commercial pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight. The flight was originating at the time, and was destined for Lincoln Regional/Karl Harder Field (LHM), Lincoln, California.

According to a witness who observed the accident, shortly after taking off, and at an altitude of about 800 ft above ground level, the airplane's engine backfired and a drop in the engine rpm was heard; this was followed by smaller backfire sounds from the engine. The witness stated that it appeared that the pilot then made a turn to return to the airport. As the turn continued, the airplane's right wing entered a full stall, which was followed by the airplane entering a spin and impacting terrain.

The airplane was recovered to a secured facility for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Manufacturer: MORRISON MARVIN E JR
Registration: N4269Y
Model/Series: RV 6A A
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: O69, 90 ft msl
Observation Time: 1555 PDT
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 20°C / 12°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 9 knots, 270°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.82 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Petaluma, CA (O69)
Destination: Lincoln, CA (LHM) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 38.265278, -122.611667

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 

Richard Bristow, left, assists Adam Zimmerman’s 11-year-old son in working on his aircraft. Bristow and his wife, Sue, were identified by aviation enthusiasts as the two people killed in a plane crash that occurred Sunday afternoon in Petaluma.

Two people killed in a weekend plane crash near Petaluma Municipal Airport were identified as a married couple from Carmichael (Sacramento County), according to fellow aviation enthusiasts.

Richard and Sue Bristow, both 67, were killed Sunday afternoon after their RV-6 single-engine plane crashed a little more than half a mile east of the airport.

Adam Zimmerman, 43, said he met Richard Bristow about a month ago, when his 11-year-old son participated in a Young Eagles event, which connects children with pilots who donate their aircraft and time to do an orientation flight.

Richard Bristow “was the nicest, warmest guy anyone could hope to meet,” Zimmerman said, adding that the pilot was engaging and encouraging of his young son during his first flight.

“The impact he had on my son and I won’t be forgotten,” Zimmerman said. “We joined their (Experimental Aircraft Association) chapter in large part because of him.”

The cause of Sunday’s crash has not yet been determined and could take months, said Ian Gregor, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

The NorCal Flight Center, an aviation school in Lincoln (Placer County) where Richard Bristow spent time flying, posted a statement on Facebook about the couple.

“Our thoughts and prayers go to the family of our friend Richard Bristow and his wife. Unfortunately, their RV-6 lost power as they departed Petaluma. He was a huge contributor here at the airport, and he and his wife will be missed greatly,” the post said.

Officials for the aviation school and family members did not respond to a call for comment.

The crash occurred on East Washington Street near Old Adobe Road, about 1,000 yards east of the airport, said Allen Kenitzer, an FAA spokesman.

The RV-6 is a two-seater plane built from a kit by Van’s Aircraft. The aircraft was first introduced in 1986 and has a top speed of about 200 mph.

Ross Aimer, a retired United Airlines pilot and CEO of Aero Consulting Experts, an aviation consulting firm, said the RV-6 is “a high-performance airplane capable of aerobatics.”

Story and video ➤

Pilot Richard Bristow and his wife Susan Bristow

CARMICHAEL -- Loved ones say a Carmichael couple was killed Sunday when their plane struggled after takeoff from the Petaluma Municipal Airport.

Richard Bristow was a pillar of the Sacramento region's real estate scene for decades. His legacy loomed large, even past retirement seven years ago.

Now the passion friends say he funded with real estate has taken the Carmichael man from everything he loved.

"I was shocked. I mean, I didn't... I knew he liked to fly. I know that he had built his own planes and I know he had some issues with it a few years ago," said friend Greg Varozza. "But you never expect anybody to have that kind of a thing... I thought it was a joke at first."

Loved ones say Bristow and his wife, Sue, were killed Sunday when their single-engine Van's RV-6 struggled after takeoff from Petaluma Municipal Airport and appears to have crashed as Richard tried to return to the tarmac.

"Pilots train that if you have engine trouble after takeoff, you try to turn back. But you can easily stall the plane and I'm guessing that that may have been what happened," said the Bristows' friend Dean Rinker.

When Rinker was learning from him years ago, the men took to the skies in Richard Bristow's Mooney. Before Bristow shared his love of flying with Rinker, the successful real estate agent mentored him on the ground in his Keller-Willams office in Fair Oaks.

As a young agent, Varozza says Richard Bristow told him, "not to sit down and relax. To treat it like a business and work it." He told FOX40 he can't believe that dynamic spirit is gone.

At the Bristow home, a mat at the front door welcomes visitors with a joke: "A pilot and a normal person live here."

"It's sad to see somebody die, you never want to see that. It's a little bit better knowing that they died doing what they loved truly the most and that's flying," Varozza said. "But we're gonna miss him and Sacramento real estate, Sacramento in general, is not quite as good now because he's gone."

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating the crash.

Story and video ➤

Two people died Sunday after a small plane crashed on a road in Petaluma, according to the Petaluma Fire Department.

The single-engine plane, which went down about 4:05 p.m. on East Washington Street near Old Adobe Road, was trying to land at Petaluma Municipal Airport but came up short, according to an official with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Police said the plane had taken off from the airport moments earlier and was attempting to return.

The two people who died were the only occupants on the plane, and no one on the ground was injured, officials said.

The plane was registered to a Richard Bristow of Carmichael, California, near Sacramento. Bristow’s brother told NBC Bay Area it was Bristow flying the plane, and his wife was the passenger. But the two victims have not been officially identified by authorities.

Witnesses said they heard the plane make a popping sound, and then the engine sputtered before the plane went down.

Dominic Borgo and Micah Combs work at the golf course across the street from the airport. They said the plane was making strange noises right after takeoff.

"It was almost like it was choppy, like the engine was choppy and not fully running," Borgo said.

"We saw it as it was going up in the air, and we noticed that it was sputtering quite a bit," Combs added. "And then we saw it was quickly falling."

The crash occurred about a half-mile from the airport runway. 

Story and video ➤

Giorvi Alvarez was sitting Sunday in front of his house about 4 p.m. when he heard a single-engine plane sputter after taking off from the next door Petaluma Municipal Airport.

“The engine started failing,” Alvarez, 39, said. “It let out three or four ‘pop-pops.’ ”

The plane turned around and headed back toward the airport when it suddenly crashed about a thousand yards east of the airport on East Washington Street near Old Adobe Road, Alvarez said.

Both the pilot and passenger were killed.

“The engine stopped and it went nose down,” said Alvarez, who jumped into his car and raced a quarter-mile down Parkland Way to the crash site, joining several Rooster Run Golf Course employees who tried to render aid.

The engine landed on the north side of the street, while the rest of the aircraft slid across to the south side.

Petaluma police Lt. Brian Miller said multiple witnesses called 911 after seeing the plane come down.

“Our initial reports tell us that it took off from our airport and may have been attempting to return,” he said.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office and Petaluma police and firefighters responded to the crash.

Authorities have not released their identities.

Alvarez described the two people in the plane — a man and a woman — as being in their 50s or 60s.

According to Allen Kenitzer, a spokesman for the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane was a Van’s RV-6, a two-seat, single-engine, low-wing homebuilt airplane sold in kit form.

A witness, Sean O’Brien, described in an email that the plane took off from runway 29.

“As he (pilot) banked into the turn, his right wing went in to full stall and the RV-6 started to spin in to the ground,” O’Brien wrote. “The pilot almost recovered from the spin as he hit the golf course fence and plowed his Van's RV-6A into the road.”

The cause of the crash is unknown, Petaluma Fire Battalion Chief Mike Medeiros said in a statement.

Miller said officials from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were on the scene investigating. The National Transportation Safety Board could not be reached for more details Sunday night.

Petaluma police closed the area of East Washington from Adobe Road to Executive Drive for several hours to deal with the crash’s aftermath.

Story, video and photo gallery ➤

PETALUMA, California  -- Fire officials have confirmed that two people died after a plane crashed near the Petaluma Municipal Airport Sunday afternoon.

The crash happened in the area of E. Washington Street between Adobe Road and Executive Drive shortly after 4 p.m.

The airport is about 1,000 yards away from the scene scene. A Federal Aviation Administration official says the plane that crashed was a Van's RV-6A.

"You heard the plane take off and as soon as it got over the golf course, you could hear it sputtering. It didn't sound right. Then his engine caught on for maybe two or three seconds, started sputtering again and then he made a right turn going back towards the airport. And next thing you know, the plane went sideways and then went straight down and all you could hear was the loud thud into the concrete," witness Ed Anzore said.

There are still investigators on the scene. The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are looking into exactly what happened. It is unclear at this point in the investigation why the plane crashed.

All roads in the area of E. Washington Street between Adobe Road and Executive Drive are now open following the crash.

No further information is available about the victims' identities.

Story, video and photo gallery ➤


Anonymous said...

maintain thy airspeed, least the earth rise up and smite thee

Anonymous said...

Once again another pilot who appears to attempted The Impossible turn.
Killed his passenger

av8rdav said...

Not an impossible turn. I've done it from 500' agl. But you have to maintain control of the airplane. If you do crash, the odds of surviving go up exponentially if control is maintained. Obviously this pilot didn't maintain control.

Anonymous said...

The number of Van's crashes and deaths are astonishing. A simple search for Van's will blow your mind!

Anonymous said...

Practice the "returning turn" at altitude. See how much altitude you loose. If you ever face the actual situation someday, have at least the altitude you lost during practice + some for the anxiety factor.

500 ft minimum. He was over a golf course. Surely there was a place to set it down.


D Naumann said...

av8rdav: may I ask what type of aircraft you accomplished a 180 degree turn and lost less then 500 feet?

Anonymous said...

A 29 departure at O69 has about a mile and a half of open field up wind to land in if you don't try the turn back. Very sad that did not occur to be the better option for the pilot.

Anonymous said...

Van's RV series are one of the finest, well designed aircraft flying today. 10,000+ flying!

Jim B said...

Its an old story retold. Some commenters brag about their pilot talent and airplanes. It does not matter because people believe what they want while reality has the last word.

That couple could be me and my wife. That couple and we are about the same age.

The training and guidance say (without exception) fly straight ahead with small turns in a forced landing. Maintain control all the way to the ground. Do not debate time-proven wisdom.

Anonymous said...

Zero thrust (dead engine) is different than engine at idle but any engine out practice is better than none at all. Please pitch for best glide and land straight ahead if you lose your engine on takeoff. The 180 turn has proven to be fatal more often than not.