Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Nelson Gomez: Former flight instructor charged with giving illegal lessons, officials say

A flight instructor who lost his credentials after ditching a plane in a fatal accident in Setauket Harbor 2-1/2 years ago was charged in Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday with illegally continuing to give flight lessons out of Republic Airport in East Farmingdale. 

Nelson Gomez, 39, of Howard Beach, was accompanying a student pilot and two friends on a round-trip flight to Massachusetts from Republic Airport on Feb. 20, 2016, when he emergency landed in freezing waters just offshore, about 1.5 miles from Port Jefferson.

Gomez and two of the men were rescued, but Gershon Salmon-Negron, 23, also of Queens, drowned. His body was recovered two months later. The National Transportation Safety Board later concluded that the small plane ran out of gas, and blamed Gomez for miscalculating.

Despite surrendering his instructor’s license after the tragedy, prosecutors alleged Wednesday, Gomez continued to give flight lessons to at least two students in 2016 and 2017 — flying with one 12 times and the other 18 times out of Republic — until a fellow instructor tipped off officials.

After his arrest Wednesday morning, Gomez was released on a $200,000 bond after a brief hearing before U.S. Magistrate Steven Gold, who ordered him to stay grounded as a condition of getting out.

“It seems to me he should not be piloting or commanding any aircraft, period,” Gold said.

Gomez faces up to 5 years in prison. His LinkedIn profile identifies him as an employee of the Department of the Interior, and his lawyer said he was a law enforcement officer with the park police. A spokesman for the U.S. Park Police in Washington did not return a call for comment.

After the hearing, Gomez bolted from the courthouse, sprinting along Cadman Plaza with photographers in pursuit into a subway station. He did not comment.

The NTSB after the 2016 crash said the Piper PA28 four-seater’s fuel tanks were completely empty. Its report blamed “inadequate preflight fuel planning” and a “total loss of engine power due to fuel exhaustion” for the crash.

They faulted Gomez for inadequately accounting for winds and flight time on the round-trip to Fitchburg, Massachusetts. “Examination of aircraft rental and fueling records revealed that the airplane had been operated for 5.1 hours since it was last refueled,” the NTSB wrote.

“The flight instructor did not conduct adequate preflight fuel planning; had they done so and had they accounted for the wind, they would have recognized there was insufficient fuel to complete the flight and maintain the required 45 minutes of reserve fuel,” the agency added.

The student pilot twice asked Gomez if they should take on fuel, the NTSB reported, but “he stated the fuel looked good.” Later, over Connecticut, he decided to try to divert to MacArthur Airport, which was closer, to save fuel.

When Gomez realized the engines were dying over the North Shore of Long Island, the report said, he decided to try to land on the beach, but couldn’t make out where it was at night and as a result decided to put the plane down near the shore.

Gomez, the student pilot and one passenger were rescued by Suffolk County police, who had a helicopter on the scene. The body of Salmon-Negron washed up on the beach on April 11.

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

PORT JEFFERSON, Long Island (WABC) -- The flight instructor of a plane that crashed in Long Island Sound in 2016, killing one of his students, has been arrested, accused of continuing to teach flying even though he lost his license.

Authorities say 39-year-old Nelson Gomez was charged with serving as a flight instructor without a certificate, a felony.

Gomez, of Howard Beach, Queens, was instructing several students on a single-engine, four-seat Piper Archer when the plane splashed down in Setauket Harbor in February 2016.

One of the students was at the controls at the time.

All four occupants were able to exit the plane into the water, but only three of them -- Gomez, Austricio Ramirez and Wady Perez -- were rescued by Suffolk County police officers. Another student, 23-year-old Gerson Salmon-Negron, died in the crash.

Gomez surrendered his certification to the FAA in May 2016 and was barred from giving lessons the following month.

Federal authorities recently learned Gomez has been giving flying lessons to students at Republic Airport in East Farmingdale. According to court documents, one student told authorities he flew with Gomez 18 times in 2017, while another said he flew with Gomez 12 times between 2016 and 2017.

Gomez was released on $200,000 bond, and as part of the bond conditions, he is not allowed to fly or command any flight.

Story and video ➤ https://abc7ny.com


Piper PA-28-181 Archer II,  owned and operated by Positive Rate Gear Up LLC,   N29099:   Fatal accident occurred February 20, 2016 in   Setauket Harbor,  Suffolk County, New York


Missing was Gerson Salmon-Negron, 23, of Queens, New York. About 2 months later, on April 11, 2016, his body was discovered on a beach in Setauket Harbor, New York. The student pilot, Austrico Ramirez, 25, of the Bronx; his flight instructor, Nelson Gomez, 36, of Queens; and Salmon-Negron’s friend Wady Perez, 25, of Queens were rescued by Suffolk police officers, taken to Stony Brook University Hospital, treated and released. 


The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Farmingdale, New York
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida 
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania 

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

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.gov/N29099 


An Instagram picture believed to be taken shortly before the plane went down.

Location: Port Jefferson, NY
Accident Number: ERA16LA109
Date & Time: 02/20/2016, 2305 EST
Registration: N29099
Aircraft: PIPER PA28
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Fuel exhaustion
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 3 Minor
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

On February 20, 2016, at 2305 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-181, N29099, was substantially damaged during a ditching in Setauket Harbor about 1.5 nautical miles northwest of Port Jefferson, New York. The flight instructor, student, and one passenger received minor injuries, and one passenger was fatally injured. The airplane was owned and operated by Positive Rate Gear Up, LLC, as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 instructional flight. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight departed Fitchburg Municipal Airport (FIT), Fitchburg, Massachusetts, about 2040 and was destined for Republic Airport (FRG), Farmingdale, New York.

According to the flight instructor, the first leg of the instructional flight departed FRG about 1430; he believed that about 40 gallons of fuel was onboard before departing from FRG. According to the student pilot, the pilot of the previous flight told him that the left-wing fuel tank was full, and the right-wing fuel tank was half full (about 36 gallons total). The student stated that he asked the flight instructor if he wanted to refuel, and the flight instructor advised him that they had plenty of fuel. After takeoff from FRG, they flew to FIT at 2,000 to 2,500 feet above mean sea level (msl). The airplane encountered a strong tailwind and arrived in about 45 minutes. They spent some time in the Fitchburg area, then returned to FIT for the return flight.

After takeoff, they departed the airport traffic area to the southwest on a direct heading for FRG and climbed to 4,500 ft msl because of turbulence at lower levels. The flight instructor estimated that the airplane had a headwind of 30-40 knots, and the airplane's groundspeed was about 81 knots during the cruise portion of the flight. He stated that there was no indication of any malfunction of the airplane. During this time, the student pilot asked the flight instructor about the fuel quantity, stating "does the fuel look good to you?" The flight instructor replied "yes." Just before passing Bridgeport, Connecticut, the flight instructor advised the student pilot that they should change their destination to Long Island MacArthur Airport (ISP) to refuel. As the airplane passed over the Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport, Bridgeport, Connecticut, they turned the airplane southbound, started a slow descent, and crossed Long Island Sound. Upon reaching the area of Port Jefferson, New York, they leveled the airplane about 2,000 ft msl; the engine then "sputtered." The flight instructor immediately turned on the electric fuel pump and instructed the student to switch the fuel selector to the left fuel tank. Once the fuel selector had been selected to the left fuel tank, the engine stopped sputtering.

The flight instructor informed air traffic control that he wanted to divert ISP, which, at the time, was 10 nautical miles south of their location. About 2-3 minutes later, the engine sputtered again and then lost power. The instructor then took control of the airplane from the student pilot and advised the tower controller at ISP that he was declaring an emergency and was going to attempt to land on the north shore of Long Island. The tower controller immediately notified emergency responders. A Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) helicopter was airborne at the time and immediately proceeded toward the last known location of airplane.

The instructor then made a 180° turn to the right and headed for the shoreline since he believed this was the most suitable place for landing and knew from experience that the area along the shore was normally clear of obstacles and houses. As the airplane descended, the instructor was unable to see the shoreline due to the darkness and decided to ditch the airplane as close as he could to the shoreline, judging his distance from the shore by using the lights from the houses. He then held the airplane off the water for as long as possible to keep from touching down on the water with excessive airspeed and risk nosing over (the airplane was equipped with fixed landing gear).

Upon touchdown, the flight instructor opened the cabin door and instructed everyone to exit the airplane, grab the life vest that was in the baggage compartment of the airplane, and hold on to him. The student pilot then handed the instructor the life vest. One of the passengers then jumped into the water and started swimming for shore. The second passenger also jumped into the water. The student pilot was the last to egress from the airplane. Neither the student pilot nor the passengers were wearing life vests.

About 3 minutes later, the airplane was located by the SCPD helicopter. Patrol officers from SCPD also responded to the shoreline and, after locating several kayaks behind a residence, made their way onto the water. They heard screams for help, paddled out toward the spotlight from the helicopter, rescued one of the passengers, and then, with the assistance of an SCPD marine patrol boat, the flight instructor. The student pilot was rescued by a patrol officer who entered the water on foot and threw a life ring to him and then pulled him to shore.

A search by SCPD and the US Coast Guard for the missing passenger was conducted but he was not found. About 2 months later, on April 11, 2016, his body was discovered on a beach in Setauket Harbor, New York. 




Flight Instructor Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 36, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine; Instrument Airplane
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 11/12/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 07/20/2015
Flight Time:  2800 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1400 hours (Total, this make and model), 2500 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 120 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 40 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft)

Student Pilot Information

Certificate: None
Age: 25, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification:  None
Last FAA Medical Exam:
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time:   20 hours (Total, all aircraft), 19 hours (Total, this make and model), 10 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 6 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft) 

The flight instructor held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single- and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine and instrument airplane. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first-class medical certificate was issued November 12, 2015. He reported 2,800 total hours of flight experience, of which 1,400 hours were in the accident airplane make and model.

The student pilot reported that he had accrued 20 total hours of flight experience, 19 of which were in the accident airplane make and model.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: PIPER
Registration: N29099
Model/Series: PA28 181
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture:
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 28-7990437
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 01/12/2016, 100 Hour
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2550 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection: 83 Hours
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 5173.97 Hours at time of accident
Engine Manufacturer: LYCOMING
ELT: C91  installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-360-A4M
Registered Owner: POSITIVE RATE GEAR UP LLC
Rated Power: 180 hp
Operator: POSITIVE RATE GEAR UP LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

The accident airplane was a four-seat, low-wing monoplane of conventional metal construction. It was equipped with fixed tricycle-type landing gear and was powered by a four-cylinder, direct-drive, horizontally opposed engine rated at 180 horsepower at 2700 rpm.

The basic airframe, except for a tubular steel engine mount, steel landing gear struts, and other miscellaneous steel parts, was of aluminum alloy construction. The wing tips, engine cowling, and tail surfaces were of fiberglass or ABS thermoplastic.

According to FAA and maintenance records, the airplane was manufactured in 1979. The airplane's most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on January 12, 2016, at 5,091 total hours. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated 5,173.97 total hours of flight time.

Fuel Information

The airplane's fuel was stored in two 25-gallon tanks (24-gallons usable). According to the Piper PA-28-181 Pilot's Operating Handbook (POH), during the preflight inspection, the fuel quantity gauges were to be checked, the fuel tank sumps and fuel strainer were to be drained, and the fuel quantity was to be visually checked by opening the fuel tank caps and looking inside each of the fuel tanks. An aftermarket checklist was found in the airplane. Although the checklist was not specified for use in a Piper PA-28-181, it was similar to the published POH's preflight inspection regarding fuel.

Review of the POH also indicated that:

- At a power setting of 75%, the engine would consume fuel at a rate of 10.5 gallons per hour (gph).

- At a power setting of 65%, the engine would consume fuel at a rate of 9.0 gph.

- At a power setting of 55%, the engine would consume fuel at a rate of 7.8 gph.

At a 65% power setting, with full fuel tanks, endurance would be about 5.3 hours, and at a 65% power setting, with 40 gallons of fuel, endurance would be about 4.4 hours. Examination of aircraft rental and fueling records revealed that the airplane had been operated for 5.1 hours since it was last refueled.

When asked if they had leaned the mixture during the flight, the student pilot advised that he had only seen the flight instructor lean the mixture during taxi on the ground at FRG and FIT. 



Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KISP, 84 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1056 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 185°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 10 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 220°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.82 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 7°C / 3°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Fitchburg, MA (FIT)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Farmingdale, NY (FRG)
Type of Clearance: Traffic Advisory
Departure Time: 2040 EST
Type of Airspace: Class C 

About 9 minutes before the accident (2256), the recorded weather at ISP, which was 11 miles from the accident site, included: wind 220° at 10 knots, 10 miles visibility, sky clear, temperature 7°C, dew point 3°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.82 inches of mercury.

The National Weather Service (NWS) Surface Analysis Chart for 2200 EST depicted surface winds from the south-southwest at 10 to 20 knots, with no significant weather reported in the vicinity of the accident site.

The Upton (OKX) Long Island 1900 sounding depicted a surface-based temperature inversion with a top near 2,000 feet. As a result of light surface winds and an increasing wind component with altitude, a moderate risk of low-level wind shear existed in the lowest 1,000 ft, and predominately light-to-moderate turbulence was predicted below 3,000 ft, and light turbulence through 10,000 ft.

An airplane descending into Providence, Rhode Island, at 2344 provided an in-situ measurement of the low-level winds. The airplane's track into the airport was from the southwest, parallel to Long Island Sound, and along the accident airplane's general route of flight. The airplane detected a surface-based temperature inversion to about 2,500 ft with westerly winds of 58 knots at that level. Another limited report from an airplane descending into LaGuardia reported a low-level wind maximum of 52 knots at 1,800 feet.

The winds aloft forecast current at the time of departure for stations near the route of flight indicated:

General Edward Lawrence Logan International Airport (BOS), Boston, Massachusetts:

- 3,000 ft: 270° at 34 kts
- 6,000 ft: 260° at 38 kts

Bradley International Airport (BDL), Windsor Locks, Connecticut:

- 3,000 ft: 280° at 26 kts
- 6,000 ft: 270° at 36 kts

John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), New York, New York:

- 3,000 ft: 270° at 40 kts
- 6,000 ft: 280° at 40 kts

According to the United States Naval Observatory, sunset occurred at 1732 and the end of civil twilight occurred at 1800. At the time of the accident, the moon was located at an azimuth of 187° and an altitude of 62° above the horizon, and the phase of the moon a waxing gibbous with 97% of the visible disk illuminated.

A query to Lockheed Martin Flight Services (LMFS) found that there was no record that the pilot or instructor obtained a weather briefing either through the Direct User Access Terminal Service or LMFS. 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 3 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 40.961111, -73.084444 (est) 

After the ditching, the airplane remained afloat for about 5 minutes before it sank nose first to the bottom of the bay and came to rest on its landing gear, about 100 ft northwest of Buoy S8. Charted water depth in the area was between 1 ft and 3.5 ft; however, the airplane ditched just after high tide so an additional 5 ft of water was present. Only 1 ft of the vertical stabilizer was visible above the water's surface after the airplane sank.

Airplane Examination

Examination of the airplane after recovery revealed substantial damage due to salt water immersion, a broken engine mount, damage to the right wing inboard leading edge, damage to the bottom of the inboard right wing, and damage to the aft fuselage structure just forward of the stabilator.

The pitot tube was clear, and the stall vane moved freely. Flight control continuity was established from the flight controls in the cockpit to the ailerons, stabilator, and rudder. The stabilator trim was neutral. The wing flaps were in the fully extended (40°) position. Both wing flaps exhibited impact damage, and the right wing flap actuating linkage was fractured.

Visual examination of the fuel tanks through the filler ports revealed that only a small amount of liquid with the odor of seawater was visible in the fuel tanks. About 4 gallons of a semi-opaque liquid was drained from both fuel tanks. When the liquid was tested with water-finding paste, the paste turned pink indicating the presence of water. The outlet screens from each tank were free of blockages.

The throttle was full forward, the mixture was full rich, the carburetor heat control was in the "OFF" position, and the primer was in and locked. The fuel selector was in the left fuel tank position.

The master switch, fuel pump switch, landing light switch, navigation lights switch, anti-collision lights switch, and radio master switch were all in the "ON" position.

All the seats were in place and secure, and the seatbelts were in place, unbuckled, and secure at their attachment points. Both front shoulder straps were hanging loose and were not attached to the lap belts.

Propeller and Engine Examination

The propeller was a one-piece alloy forging and remained attached to the front of the engine crankshaft; it displayed light leading-edge erosion and no evidence of S-bending.

Drive train continuity was established from the front to the back of the engine, and thumb compression was present on all four cylinders. Internal examination of the cylinders using a borescope did not reveal any anomalies of the cylinders, piston heads, or valves.

Both magnetos were found secure to their respective mounts. The magnetos were removed and disassembled. Internal examination of the magnetos revealed no evidence of any preimpact anomalies; corrosion consistent with salt water immersion was present on the internal case and gear region.

The spark plugs and ignition harness were removed and examined. The massive electrode plugs indicated a worn-out service life. The fine wire plugs indicated a normal service life when compared to the Champion Aviation Check-A-Plug Card (AV-27). The ignition harness exhibited some damage to the outer overbraid near the magneto caps and near the spark plug leads.

The starter, alternator, and vacuum pump remained attached to their mounting locations.

The engine oil system was intact. The engine contained oil in the galleries and rocker box covers. The oil suction screen was removed and a liquid consistent with diesel fuel (which had been added after recovery to help stop corrosion due to the salt water), oil, and salt water drained from the oil sump. The oil suction screen contained a piece of material that was consistent with a disposable paper rag. It was lodged within the suction screen and covered about 25% of the length of the screen. The oil filter was removed and drained, and no metal was found. The oil cooler was impact-broken from its mount; however, it had not been breached and all attached hoses remained secure to the inlet and outlet ports of the oil cooler.

The engine's fuel system remained intact. The fuel strainer was devoid of fuel. The carburetor was found secure on its mount. The carburetor float bowl was drained through the drain plug into a container, and the liquid was primarily water with a faint odor consistent with 100LL aviation fuel. The engine-driven diaphragm pump provided suction and compression at the inlet and outlet ports of the pump. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Suffolk County Office of the Medical Examiner, Suffolk County, New York, performed an autopsy and toxicological testing of the deceased passenger. The autopsy listed the cause of death as drowning; the toxicological specimens were negative for any drugs of abuse. 

Organizational And Management Information

Positive Rate Gear Up, LLC, was a flying club based at FRG. The club's primary goal was to provide its members with basic general aviation airplanes. The club's airplanes were available for both training and leisure purposes. The fleet consisted of several Piper PA-28 models, a PA-34-200, and two Cessna 172s. The club offered discovery flights, primary flight training, and advanced flight training, including private pilot, instrument pilot, commercial pilot, flight instructor, instrument ratings, and multi-engine ratings.

Additional Information

Fuel Requirements in Visual Flight Rules (VFR) Conditions

According to 14 CFR 91.151, no person may begin a flight in an airplane under VFR conditions unless (considering wind and forecast weather conditions) there is enough fuel to fly to the first point of intended landing and, assuming normal cruising speed, to fly an additional 30 minutes during the day and an additional 45 minutes at night.

NTSB Identification: ERA16LA109 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Saturday, February 20, 2016 in Port Jefferson, NY
Aircraft: PIPER PA28, registration: N29099
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 3 Minor.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On February 20, 2016, at 2305 eastern standard time, a Piper PA-28-181; N29099, owned and operated by Positive Rate Gear Up LLC, was substantially damaged during a ditching in the Setauket Harbor about 1.5 nautical miles northwest of Port Jefferson, New York. The flight instructor, student, and one passenger, received minor injuries, and one passenger is missing and presumed to be fatally injured. Night visual meteorological conditions prevailed and no flight plan was filed for the instructional flight conducted under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, which departed from the Fitchburg Municipal Airport (FIT), Fitchburg, Massachusetts, destined for Republic Airport (FRG), Farmingdale, New York.

According to the flight instructor, this was the second leg of an instructional flight that had departed FRG about 1430 for FIT. After spending some time in the Fitchburg area at a university, a restaurant, and a local Walmart, they returned to the airport and departed at approximately 2040 for FRG.

After takeoff, they departed the airport traffic area to the southwest and climbed to 4,500 feet above mean sea level (msl) on a direct heading for FRG. The flight instructor estimated that he had a headwind of 30-40 knots, and his groundspeed was approximately 81 knots during the cruise portion of the flight. He stated that there was no indication of any malfunction of the airplane. As the airplane passed over the Igor I. Sikorsky Memorial Airport (BDR), Bridgeport, Connecticut, they turned southbound and crossed Long Island Sound at that point as there was less water to fly over in this location. They started a slow descent also as they passed over BDR, and upon reaching the area of Port Jefferson, New York, leveled off around 2,000 feet msl. the engine then "sputtered." The flight instructor immediately turned on the electric fuel pump and instructed his student to switch the fuel selector to the left fuel tank and to maintain 2,000 feet msl. Once the fuel selector had been selected to the left fuel tank, the engine stopped sputtering.

The pilot informed air traffic control that he they wanted to divert to ISP, which at the time was only 10 nautical miles south of them. They continued to fly for another 2-3 minutes when the engine sputtered again and then lost power. He then took control of the airplane from the student pilot and advised the tower controller at ISP that he was declaring an emergency. The flight instructor then made a 180 degree turn to the right, and headed for the shoreline since he believed this was the best suitable place for landing, and knew from experience that the area along the shore was normally clear of obstacles and houses. As they descended, he was unable to see the shoreline due to the darkness and decided to ditch the airplane as close as he could to the shoreline, judging his distance from the shore by using the lights from the houses. He then held the airplane off the water for as long as possible to keep from touching down on the water with excessive airspeed and risk nosing over as the airplane was equipped with fixed landing gear.

Upon touching down, the flight instructor opened the cabin door and instructed everyone to exit the airplane, and to grab the life vest that was located in the baggage compartment of the airplane and to hold on to him. The student pilot then handed him the life vest. One of the passengers then jumped into the water and started swimming for shore. The second passenger then also jumped into the water. The student pilot was the last to egress from the airplane. Neither the student pilot nor the passengers were wearing life vests.

After the pilot reported the engine failure to ISP and that they were going to attempt to land on the north shore of Long Island, the tower controller immediately notified emergency responders. A Suffolk County Police Department (SCPD) Helicopter was airborne at the time, and was provided with radar vectors, and immediately proceeded toward the last known location of airplane. Approximately 3 minutes later, the airplane was located by the SCPD helicopter.

Patrol Officers from SCPD also responded to the shoreline and after locating several kayaks behind a residence, made their way onto the water and after hearing screams for help, paddled out towards the spotlight from the helicopter, rescued one of the passengers, and then with the assistance of an SCPD Marine Patrol boat, the flight instructor. The student pilot was also rescued by a Patrol Officer who entered the water on foot and threw a life ring to him and then pulled him to shore. A search by SCPD, and the United States Coast Guard for the missing passenger was also initiated, and at the time of this preliminary report, the missing passenger has not been located.

After the ditching, the airplane remained afloat for about 5 minutes before it sank nose first to the bottom of the bay, and came to rest on its landing gear, about 100 feet northwest of Buoy S8. Charted water depth in the area was between 1 and 3.5 feet however, the airplane ditched just after high tide so there was an additional 5 feet of water. Only 1 foot of the vertical stabilizer was visible above the water's surface at the time.

Examination of the airplane after recovery revealed that, it was substantially damaged due to salt water immersion, a broken engine mount, and damage to the aft fuselage structure just forward of the stabilator. Flight control continuity was able to be established from the flight controls in the cockpit to the ailerons, stabilator, and rudder. The stabilator trim was neutral. The wing flaps were in the fully extended (40-degree) position. Both wing flaps also exhibited impact damage, and the right wing flap's actuating linkage was fractured. The throttle was full forward, the mixture was full rich, the carburetor heat control was in the "OFF" position, and the primer was in and locked. The fuel selector was in the left fuel tank position.

Examination of the engine revealed that, it contained oil in the galleries and rocker box covers. Drive train continuity was also able to be established, and thumb compression was present for all four cylinders. Internal examination of the cylinders also did not reveal any anomalies of the cylinders, piston heads, or valves. Internal examination of the magnetos also did not reveal any preimpact anomalies.

Examination of the fuel system did not reveal evidence of fuel in either the left or right fuel tanks, nor in the fuel strainer, or carburetor float bowl. Examination of aircraft rental and fueling records also revealed that the airplane had been operated for 5.1 hours since it was last refueled.

The flight instructor held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine, and instrument airplane. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) first-class medical certificate was issued November 12, 2015. He reported 2,800 total hours of flight time, of which 1,400 were in the accident airplane make and model.

The student pilot reported that he had accrued 20 total hours of flight time, 19 of which were in the accident airplane make and model.

According to FAA and maintenance records, the airplane was manufactured in 1979. The airplane's most recent 100 hour inspection was completed on January 12, 2016. At the time of the accident, the airplane had accumulated 5,173.97 total hours of flight time.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

He had the hours & the ratings but not the maturity needed to be a pilot at the ripe old age of 25. Reckless attitude that gives GA another black eye.

Jim B said...

Rules? What rules. I’m such a big shot that the rules and physics of fuel consumption do not apply to me.

You Roges keep this up and the rest of us will be paying a uniformed officer for the privledge of using an airport.

Anonymous said...

The Laws of Physics have a certain disregard for those used to breaking the rules and bribing their way to certificates.