Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Cessna 182P Skylane, N52388: Fatal accident occurred December 29, 2016 in Dabob, Washington

9-year-old Logan and 5-year-old Mackenzie Echevarria of Bellingham, Washington.

Pilot Jon R. Bernhoft (age 63), his fiancee Carla Parke (age 61), her grandson Logan Echevarria (age 9) and granddaughter Mackenzie Echevarria (age 5) died in a plane crash on December 29th, 2016.

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

Additional Participating Entities: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Renton, Washington 
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Continental Motors Group; Mobile, Alabama 

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

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


Location: Dabob, WA
Accident Number: WPR17FA044
Date & Time: 12/29/2016, 1844 PST
Registration: N52388
Aircraft: CESSNA 182
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 4 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On December 29, 2016, about 1844 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 182P, N52388, collided with terrain near Dabob, Washington. The non-instrument-rated private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to the pilot who was operating it under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Night meteorological conditions prevailed in the vicinity of the accident site, and no flight plan was filed for the personal cross-country flight. The visual flight rules (VFR) flight departed at 1816 from Boeing Field International Airport (BFI), Seattle, Washington, and was enroute to William R. Fairchild International Airport (CLM), Port Angeles, Washington.

According to a family member, the pilot, his wife, and two grandchildren flew from CLM to BFI in the morning, spent the day in the Seattle area, and were returning to CLM when the accident occurred. According to air traffic control communications, at 1833, the pilot was transferred from the BFI tower controller to the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Approach Control West (APW) controller.

A review of the airplane's radar track (see Figure 1) showed that the airplane departed the BFI area on a northwest heading climbing to about 2,800 ft mean sea level (msl) before descending with altitudes varying between 2,500 ft msl and 2,000 ft msl.

At 1833:30, the airplane traveled west into the northern side of restricted airspace P-51. At 1834:04, the APW controller asked the pilot if he was reversing course, and the pilot replied that he was just trying to stay out of the restricted airspace. At this point, the airplane started a 270° left turn at 1,850 ft msl. Halfway through the turn, the airplane descended to 1,025 ft msl or about 600 ft above ground level (agl). The airplane exited P-51 traveling northwest about 1834:44.

At 1837:26, the APW controller asked the pilot for his intentions, and the pilot replied that he was trying to stay out of the clouds. The airplane completed a 270° turn at 1,400 ft msl and headed northeast. At 1837:58, the pilot asked for vectors to Port Townsend. The APW controller recommended a 050° heading to get the airplane east of an area where the minimum vectoring altitude was 8,800 ft msl before turning the airplane north toward Port Townsend.

At 1839:15, the APW controller instructed the pilot to maintain VFR flight and indicated that Port Townsend was at a heading of 340°; the pilot confirmed that he was turning to 340°. Over the next 5 minutes, the airplane performed two left 360° turns, while its altitude varied between 1,100 ft msl and 2,475 ft msl. At 1840:41, the controller told the pilot he would be unable to fly on that 340° heading to maintain VFR and recommended that he head east. The pilot replied and stated he was heading east. About a minute later, the airplane turned north and the controller asked the pilot his intentions. The pilot stated he was going to turn west to CLM, and the controller informed the pilot he would not be able to maintain radar contact with him. The controller again offered assistance and the pilot responded by stating he was heading towards CLM and thought he may have been out of the clouds. At 1843:30, as the airplane completed the last 360° turn and headed northwest, the controller asked if he was heading towards CLM now, and the pilot responded with "affirmative."

At 1844:43, APW lost radar contact with N52388 about 14 miles south of Jefferson County International Airport, Port Townsend, Washington, and about a half mile northwest of the accident site.

Figure 1-Radar Track

A witness located at his residence, about 800 ft to the southwest of the accident site, reported that he heard an airplane flying southeast then east and that the engine was loud.

After radio and radar contact were lost, the FAA issued an alert notice. A search was conducted by the US Navy and a Washington State search and rescue team. The airplane was located on the morning of December 30, 2016, about 1.5 miles south of Dabob, in steep, heavily wooded terrain. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 63, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used:
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 04/03/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 700 hours (Total, all aircraft)

The pilot, age 63, held a private pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. His most recent third-class FAA medical certificate was issued on April 3, 2015, with limitations that he must wear corrective lenses. The pilot reported on the medical certificate application that he had accumulated 700 total hours of flight experience of which 54 hours were in the last 6 months. The pilot's logbook was examined during the investigation, and the entries did not appear to have been updated recently. The last entry in the logbook was dated September 18, 2015.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Registration: N52388
Model/Series: 182 P
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1973
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 18262571
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 06/11/2016, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2348 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2554 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Continental
ELT: C91  installed, activated, aided in locating accident
Engine Model/Series: O-470-R-25A
Registered Owner: Gerald E. Lematta and Jon R. Bernhoft
Rated Power: 235 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

A review of the airplane's logbooks revealed that the airplane, serial number 18262571, had a total airframe time of 2,554 hours at the last annual inspection dated August 11, 2016. The engine was a Continental Motors O-470-R-25A, serial number 451850. Total time recorded on the engine at the last annual inspection was 2,554 hours, and time since major overhaul was 517.2 hours.

Refueling records provided by Diamond Service at BFI, revealed that the pilot purchased 10.2 gallons of 100 low lead aviation grade gasoline on the day of the accident.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night/Dark
Observation Facility, Elevation: KPWT, 444 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 20 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0235 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 177°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 600 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Calm /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.15 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 5°C / 4°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: SEATTLE, WA (BFI)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: PORT ANGELES, WA (CLM)
Type of Clearance: VFR Flight Following
Departure Time: 1816 PST
Type of Airspace: Class G

At 1753, the reported weather at BFI included variable wind at 6 knots, visibility 10 miles, light rain, broken ceiling at 1,800 ft agl, overcast skies at 3,000 ft agl, temperature 8°C, dew point 6°C, and altimeter setting 30.13 inches of mercury.

At 1835, Bremerton National Airport (PWT), Bremerton, Washington, located about 20 miles south of the accident site, reported, in part, wind calm, visibility 10 miles, overcast ceiling at 600 ft agl, temperature 5°C, dew point 4°C, and altimeter setting 30.15 inches of mercury.

Review of infrared satellite imagery from 1845 and 1900 indicated abundant clouds over the accident site at the accident time. The clouds were moving from west to east, and there was a band of clouds oriented west to east over the accident site around the accident time. Based on the brightness temperatures above the accident site and the vertical temperature profile provided by upper air data, the cloud-top heights over the accident site were about 20,000 ft at 1845. Based on the upper air data, infrared satellite imagery, and surface observation data, the flight likely encountered precipitation, lowering ceilings, and instrument meteorological conditions shortly after passing northwestward across Puget Sound.

Astronomical data obtained from the United States Naval Observatory for the accident site on the day of the accident indicated that sunset was at 1627, the end of civil twilight was at 1703, and moonset was at 1721.

A search of official weather briefing sources, such as Lockheed Martin Flight Service and Direct User Access Terminal Service, indicated that the pilot did not receive an official weather briefing from those sources. A search of ForeFlight weather information revealed that the pilot did not request a weather briefing using ForeFlight Mobile before the flight. It is unknown if the pilot checked or received any other weather information before or during the accident flight.

For more information see the Weather Study in the public docket for this accident. 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 3 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 4 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 47.823611, -122.790000 (est) 

The on-site examination of the wreckage revealed that the airplane came to rest at the base of a draw between two hills that gradually sloped down in a northeast to southwest direction. The debris field from the initial impact to the last piece of wreckage was about 160 ft long and on a magnetic heading of 225°. The first identified point of contact (FIPC) was with three trees at about 30 ft above the ground. The left aileron outboard wing section was found near the base of the trees.

The main wreckage consisting of the fuselage, engine, propeller, empennage, and sections from the left and right wings, was located near the end of the debris path. The fuselage was orientated on about a 100° magnetic heading. The forward fuselage and cabin were fragmented and mostly separated.

The engine had separated from the airframe and was located near the main wreckage.

The propeller had separated from the engine and was found buried in the dirt near the main wreckage. The propeller hub assembly was heavily fragmented and both blades had separated from the hub. Rotational scoring was observed on one of the propeller shanks. Both blades displayed S-bending and about 2 inches of the tip had separated from one blade.

The aft fuselage and empennage separated from the main wreckage near the aft cabin area. The separated rudder and vertical stabilizer fragments were located 160 ft northeast of the main wreckage and displayed circular tree strike indentions.

The attitude indicator had separated from the instrument panel and was located near the main wreckage. The outer case of the instrument was fragmented. Its gyro was extracted, and rotational scoring was noted. 

Medical And Pathological Information

Pacific Northwest Forensic Pathologists, Tacoma, Washington, conducted an autopsy on the pilot. The forensic pathologist determined that the cause of death was severe multiple blunt force injuries to the body.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on available tissue specimens from the pilot and identified 7-amino-clonazepam, bupropion, and trazodone in muscle. Bupropion and trazodone were also identified in lung.

The drug 7-amino-clonazepam is an inactive metabolite of clonazepam, which is a sedating benzodiazepine prescription medication used to treat anxiety and often marketed with the name Klonopin. Clonazepam carries this warning, "Since clonazepam produces [central nervous system] CNS depression, patients receiving this drug should be cautioned against engaging in hazardous occupations requiring mental alertness, such as operating machinery or driving a motor vehicle. They should also be warned about the concomitant use of alcohol or other CNS-depressant drugs during clonazepam therapy."

Bupropion is an antidepressant. Trazodone is a sedating antidepressant that may be used to treat insomnia. Trazodone carries this warning, "Antidepressants may impair the mental and/or physical ability required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks, such as operating an automobile or machinery; the patient should be cautioned accordingly. Trazodone hydrochloride may enhance the response to alcohol, barbiturates, and other CNS depressants."

Additional Information

Spatial Disorientation

According to the FAA Airplane Flying Handbook (FAA-H-8083-3), "night flying is very different from day flying and demands more attention of the pilot. The most noticeable difference is the limited availability of outside visual references. Therefore, flight instruments should be used to a greater degree.… Generally, at night it is difficult to see clouds and restrictions to visibility, particularly on dark nights or under overcast. The pilot flying under [visual flight rules] VFR must exercise caution to avoid flying into clouds or a layer of fog." The handbook described some hazards associated with flying in airplanes under VFR when visual references, such as the ground or horizon, are obscured. The handbook states that, "the vestibular sense (motion sensing by the inner ear) in particular tends to confuse the pilot. Because of inertia, the sensory areas of the inner ear cannot detect slight changes in the attitude of the airplane, nor can they accurately sense attitude changes that occur at a uniform rate over a period of time. On the other hand, false sensations are often generated; leading the pilot to believe the attitude of the airplane has changed when in fact, it has not. These false sensations result in the pilot experiencing spatial disorientation."

NTSB Identification: WPR17FA044
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, December 29, 2016 in Dabob, WA
Aircraft: CESSNA 182, registration: N52388
Injuries: 4 Fatal.

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 either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On December 29, 2016, about 1844 Pacific standard time, a Cessna 182P, N52388, collided with terrain near Dabob, Washington. The private pilot and three passengers were fatally injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a personal flight under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual and instrument meteorological conditions prevailed in the vicinity of the accident site during dark nighttime. A flight plan was not filed for the cross-country flight. The flight originated from Boeing Field International Airport (BFI), Seattle, Washington at 1816 with a planned destination of William R. Fairchild International Airport (CLM), Port Angeles, Washington.

After losing radio and radar contact with Whidbey Island Naval Air Station Approach Control the accident airplane became the subject of an Alert Notice (ALNOT) issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). A search was conducted by the U.S Navy and a Washington State search and rescue team. The airplane was subsequently located the morning of December 30, 2016. The wreckage was located about 1.5 miles south of Dabob, WA in steep, heavily wooded terrain. 

A witness located at his residence, about 800 feet to the southwest of the accident site, reported that he heard the airplane flying southeast then east and that the engine was loud.

Review of radar data provided by the FAA revealed a primary target, consistent with the accident airplane, was traveling on a northwest heading climbing to about 2,800 feet mean sea level (msl) before descending and oscillating between 2,500 feet msl and 2,000 feet msl. The radar target then depicted three left 360-degree turns to a northerly heading, while continuing to oscillate between 1,700 feet msl and 1,100 feet msl before descending to its last radar target. The last radar target was about a half mile northwest of the accident site at an altitude of 1,675 feet msl.

The on-site examination of the wreckage revealed that the airplane collided with trees in steep rising terrain and came to rest at the base of a draw between two hills. The left outboard wing section separated during the initial impact sequence and semicircular impact damage was noted to the leading edge of the wing. 

The closest weather reporting station was located at Bremerton National Airport (PWT), Bremerton, Washington, located about 20 miles to the south of the accident site. A review of the weather revealed that conditions deteriorated after 1615 with an overcast ceiling of 800 feet above the ground level (agl). A further review revealed that at 1835, 9 minutes prior to the accident, the station disseminated an automated observation, that reported, in part, wind calm, 10 miles visibility, overcast ceiling at 600 feet, temperature 5° C, dew point 4° C, altimeter 30.15 inches of mercury. 

According to the Astronomical Applications Department at the United States Naval Observatory, the official sunset was at 1626, the official end of civil twilight was at 1702, and the official moonrise was 1404. 

The wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure facility for further examination.


  1. These airplanes do not belong flying in MVMC/IMC conditions period.

    A word of advice, if the weather forcast isn't all that great, stay on the ground.

    It is so sad to see so many young, innocent passengers being killed by these VFR pilots.

    Been in this flying business for a very long period of time.

  2. For "Anonymous" nothing wrong with the aircraft being in MVMC/IMC conditions. It's the pilot who should not have been there. Night flight over sparsely populated areas, probably no discernable horizon, not instrument rated and with at least two disqualifying drugs in his body. You do the math. I'm not sure what you mean by "these airplanes", but the accident would have happened even if the aircraft had four engines.

  3. 3 passengers killed by the pilot...

  4. The FAA should mandate Private Pilots possess an Instrument rating.

  5. Are CFI's teaching just flying techniques and "pass the FAA exam" skills or are they teaching judgment, discipline, and survival skills to these low time pilots?

  6. It is not the CFI's fault. How about the DPE's granting them their certification. That is what the ACS is suppose to do. You can't teach judgement and discipline. Humans are either born with it, or they just don't have it. You can't fix stupid.

    I have fired students that can't get it. I cannot be responsible for their actions.


  7. It was not the airplane manufacturer's fault or shortcoming.

    It was not the CFI or DPE's fault.

    It was the PIC busting rules about drugs and not taking the initiative about flight planning.

    A sad old story retold many times, over and over.

    All dead and that's it.

  8. "...busting rules about drugs..."
    Mr. Bernhoft was a longtime Registered Pharmacist (RPh) and for 20 years he owned a pharmacy store in Sequim, Washington.
    The drug abuse rate among pharmacists is three times that of general society. Just sayin'...

    1. I'd like to know where you get your statistics from.

  9. I wanna bet $100 the families will sue the government (cheap target... and the money comes from the taxpayer in case of settlement i.e me and you!) for some lame concocted argument ATC should have contacted him and warned him about the terrain even if the NTSB report squarely puts the blame on the pilot, his lack of skills, his poor planning and even his anti authority attitude (like exactly what happened in another case).

    Sick and tired of this society that lacks the ability to accept the damn blame. Some people are stupid. They make mistakes. They kill themselves and others making mistakes.

    STOP blaming someone else for their ineptitude!!!!