Thursday, September 13, 2018

‘Airplane of opportunity’? Richard Russell raised pilot’s suspicions a year before Seattle-Tacoma International Airport plane heist

Richard Russell, a Horizon ground-crew worker, stole an airplane from Sea-Tac Airport last month and eventually crashed on Ketron Island in Puget Sound. 

Newly released emergency-dispatch recordings reveal details that could shed light on how Horizon Air employee Richard Russell was able to steal an airplane from Sea-Tac Airport before crashing and killing himself. 


A commercial airline pilot says he encountered Richard Russell — the Horizon Air baggage handler who stole a passenger plane from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and took it for a wild 75-minute flight before crashing last month — at the helm of an unoccupied aircraft a year earlier, according to interviews and emergency-dispatch audio recordings obtained by The Seattle Times.

Joel Monteith, a pilot for SkyWest Airlines, told an emergency dispatcher in August that after he saw Russell and a second man “pointing and flipping switches” inside the empty SkyWest jet at the airport last year, “I went over and confronted them, and I said, ‘Hey, what are you guys doing in here?’ ”

The men told Monteith they were training to use the plane’s auxiliary-power unit so they’d know how to tow it as part of their jobs, he said, “but they kind of … started to get up and then leave the airplane when I confronted them. So, that was kind of suspicious.”

Monteith’s conversation with the dispatcher about his previous encounters with Russell is among dozens of audio recordings of emergency-dispatch communications recently obtained by The Times under a state Public Records Act request that provide more insight into the Horizon incident from the time it was unfolding and during its immediate aftermath.

Monteith also reported to the dispatcher that he recalled Russell had been “inside my cockpit” of an Embraer 175 jet airliner on at least one other occasion, “asking questions (and) wanting to do my flows, which is the preflight preparation I do for takeoff.”

“I don’t think the thing with this guy is like a plot that this dude just came up with like overnight,” Monteith added. “I think that maybe this guy had been thinking about doing this for a long time and then maybe the Q400 that he took was just an airplane of opportunity.”

During an interview Tuesday, Monteith, a 55-year-old Tacoma resident with 30 years of piloting experience, confirmed making the report, but he said no investigator has since followed up with him.

“I’m actually kind of surprised about it,” Monteith said. “I haven’t heard back from Pierce County, and the FBI hasn’t contacted me, either.”

An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment about the pilot’s report, citing in an email Tuesday an “ongoing investigation.” A spokeswoman for Alaska Airlines and Horizon Air did not respond to The Times’ request for comment.

Monteith reported the encounters to an emergency dispatcher in Pierce County the day after Russell’s solo flight in the Air Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 that he’d commandeered from an airport cargo area, taxied onto a runway and lifted off on the evening of Aug. 10.

Russell, a married 29-year-old Alaska transplant who lived in Sumner, pulled off several aerobatic stunts during the unauthorized flight before the plane crashed into the woods on sparsely populated Ketron Island in South Puget Sound.

During a rambling, recorded conversation with ground control, Russell described himself as a “man in crisis,” but also calmly chatted about such observations as Mount Rainier’s beauty and how to find an orca that for days had garnered national attention while carrying its dead calf in Puget Sound.

The unauthorized flight shut down Sea-Tac Airport traffic, prompted two F-15 fighter jets in Portland to break the sound barrier while scrambling to the scene and drew dozens of awe-struck witnesses to call 911.

It also left pilots and other aviation experts speculating as to how Russell, a low-paid ground-services employee with no apparent pilot experience, knew how to fly the 76-seat passenger turboprop plane and pull off the jaw-dropping aerial maneuvers.

The chaotic joy ride also exposed a serious breach at one of America’s busiest airports that could have nationwide ramifications on airport-security procedures.

“I think this episode speaks to a bigger security problem for the industry as a whole,” Monteith said Tuesday. “What’s to keep a terrorist from gaining a security clearance under the veil of airline employment and hijacking an airplane? That’s a bigger concern for the FAA and NTSB.”

The FBI and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) continue to investigate exactly what happened, but so far have revealed few details publicly.

Other recordings obtained by The Times include a firefighter’s radio transmissions from the crash site, informing dispatch that at least one of the airplane’s flight recorders appeared to be destroyed or missing, and another report made by a former co-worker to inform authorities about Russell’s prior training in moving the airplane.

A spokeswoman for the FBI’s Seattle office noted Tuesday the agency previously released a statement that the aircraft’s flight-data recorder and “components of the cockpit voice recorder” were recovered from the crash site and have since been taken to the NTSB’s laboratory in Washington, D.C., for processing. Investigators have been able retrieve information from both devices, an FBI spokeswoman said.

During the recording of the call from Russell’s former co-worker, he told a dispatcher that Russell was “not a maintenance guy, he’s just a ramper.”

But the man added Russell recently had been trained for the Tow Team, which would’ve taught him “how to turn the airplane on and work some of the systems so that you can get it towed from one gate to the other.

“That’s how he knew how to turn on the airplane and start the engines and all that,” the man said.

In a phone interview Tuesday, the 27-year-old man, who asked not to be named for fear it might harm his aviation career, said he called authorities to “set the record straight” on misinformation in early media reports that described Russell as a maintenance worker, and to further explain how Russell knew how to move aircraft.

“I was expecting somebody to call me back,” the man said. “But nah, no one ever did.”

Monteith also provided further details Tuesday about his encounters with Russell, saying he immediately recognized Russell’s photo during news reports of the Horizon flight incident.

During the first encounter, Monteith said Russell “seemed unusually friendly and chatty” when he followed Monteith to the aircraft he was piloting about a year before he stole the airplane.

“So then he asks, ‘Do you mind if I watch your flows?’ And at that point, I got a little hair or hackle up on my back and thought, ‘You know, there’s no reason why he would need to know how to set up this aircraft,’ ” Monteith recalled.

The pilot said he began stalling on other tasks until other members of the flight crew showed up and Russell finally left.

On a later occasion last year, Monteith said he saw Russell in the captain’s seat of another SkyWest jet joined by a fellow Horizon ramp agent, prompting him to confront them.

“To see anybody in the cockpit of one of our airplanes without a SkyWest representative present is highly unusual,” he said. “So I kind of just went over and said, ‘Hey, what are you guys doing in here?’ ”

After they told him they were training to tug the aircraft, Monteith said he told them: “You look like you’re doing more than that and don’t need to be there.”

Monteith said he didn’t report the incident at the time because “it’s kind of a delicate issue.”

“We don’t have a specific security mandate saying those with clearance can’t be in a plane’s cockpit,” he said. “And if these really were legitimate guys and they’re authorized to be there, I would potentially be creating an abrasive situation.”

After reporting his encounters with Russell to authorities last month, Monteith said he also relayed them to his employer and believes SkyWest is reviewing the reports.

Story and audio ➤ https://www.seattletimes.com

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee, N7223J: Accident occurred September 13, 2018 at Spanish Fork Airport (KSPK) Utah County, Utah

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Salt Lake City, Utah

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


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


Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf 
 
https://registry.faa.gov/N7223J


Location: Spanish Fork, UT
Accident Number: GAA18CA553
Date & Time: 09/13/2018, 0830 MDT
Registration: N7223J
Aircraft: Piper PA28
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Defining Event: Loss of control on ground
Injuries: 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

Analysis 

The flight instructor reported that, during takeoff, as the airplane reached rotation speed, the student took his feet off the rudder pedals. The airplane drifted left of the runway centerline, and the student then quickly placed his feet back on the pedals and pushed the right brake, which caused the airplane to veer right. The instructor, who did not have brakes on his side, applied left rudder, but the airplane departed the right side of the runway. He added that, during the runway excursion, he heard the tail dragging along the ground or striking bushes. Subsequently, the airplane aligned with the runway, but fearing damage to the tail, the instructor aborted the takeoff and landed the airplane on the side of the runway, and it struck large mounds of dirt and a ditch.

The airplane sustained substantial damage to both wings and the fuselage.

The flight instructor reported that there were no preaccident mechanical failures or malfunctions with the airplane that would have precluded normal operation.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The student pilot's failure to maintain the runway heading during takeoff and the flight instructor's decision to conduct primary flight instruction in an airplane without dual controls.

Findings

Aircraft
Heading/course - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Student pilot (Cause)
Decision making/judgment - Instructor/check pilot (Cause)

Environmental issues
Sloped/uneven terrain - Contributed to outcome

Factual Information

History of Flight

Takeoff
Loss of control on ground (Defining event)
Attempted remediation/recovery
Runway excursion
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

Flight Instructor Information

Certificate: Flight Instructor; Commercial
Age: 28, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Right
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane Single-engine
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 1 Without Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 02/21/2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 04/19/2017
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 888 hours (Total, all aircraft), 198 hours (Total, this make and model), 856 hours (Pilot In Command, all aircraft), 47 hours (Last 90 days, all aircraft), 10 hours (Last 30 days, all aircraft), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Student Pilot Information

Certificate: None
Age: 35, Male
Airplane Rating(s): None
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Lap Only
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: Yes
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/30/2018
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Estimated)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information


Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N7223J
Model/Series: PA28 140
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1968
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 28-24559
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 4
Date/Type of Last Inspection:  Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2150 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: O-320-E3D
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 150 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan


Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Dawn
Observation Facility, Elevation: KPVU, 4497 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1456 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 330°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Light and Variable /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: Variable
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.95 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 22°C / -2°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Spanish Fork, UT (SPK)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: Spanish Fork, UT (SPK)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 0830 MDT
Type of Airspace: Class G

Airport Information


Airport: SPANISH FORK ARPT SPRINGVILLE- (SPK)
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 4529 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 30
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 6500 ft / 100 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None

Wreckage and Impact Information


Crew Injuries: 2 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Minor
Latitude, Longitude:  40.145000, -111.666667 (est)



SPANISH FORK, Utah, Sept. 13, 2018 (Gephardt Daily) — An instructor and student pilot suffered non-life-threatening injuries Thursday morning when their small craft, being flown by the licenced pilot, crashed on the side of the Spanish Fork Airport runway.

The incident happened at about 8:30 a.m. Thursday, according to information from the Lt. Brandon Anderson, Spanish Fork Police Department.

“Police, Fire and EMS were dispatched to the Spanish Fork Airport on a report of a Piper Cherokee PA 28 that had crashed just off the runway on takeoff,” a statement from Anderson says.

“The plane was being flown by an instructor with a student pilot as a passenger.

During the process of taking off the plane became airborne and for an unknown reason veered to its right. The pilot attempted to right the plane but was
unsuccessful and the plane crashed off the side of the runway coming to a rest in a ditch.”

The pilot and student were able to exit the plane. Their injuries consisted mostly of cuts and bruises, Anderson’s statement says.

“The names of the pilot and student pilot are not being released at this time. The pilot is a 28-year-old male and the student pilot is a 35-year-old male.

“The FAA and NTSB were contacted and are investigating the cause of the crash.”

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


A flight instructor and student pilot walked away with only minor cuts and bruises after their plane crashed on a runway Thursday morning in Spanish Fork.

The Spanish Fork Police Department reported that the two men had barely taken off from the Spanish Fork airport at 8:30 a.m. when the plane unexpectedly veered to the right.

"The pilot attempted to right the plane but was unsuccessful and the plane crashed off the side of the runway, coming to a rest in a ditch," a press release stated.

The 28-year-old pilot and 35-year-old student were able to escape the blue Piper PA-28 Cherokee plane on their own, officials reported. They suffered minor injuries including cuts and bruises.

The plane was being flown by the instructor and the student was riding as the passenger during the time of the crash.

Both men were transported to a local hospital. Officials are not releasing the names of the student or pilot at this time.

The FAA and NTSB are investigating the cause of the crash.

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







SPANISH FORK — Two men were cut and bruised Thursday after crashing a small plane during takeoff at the Spanish Fork Airport, police said.

According to a news release from Spanish Fork Police Department, the pilot, 28, and his student, 35, had just become airborne around 8:30 a.m. when their Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee veered to the right "for an unknown reason."

"The pilot attempted to right the plane but was unsuccessful and the plane crashed off the side of the runway coming to a rest in a ditch," the release stated.

The men, whose names were not released, were able to get out of the plane on their own and were taken to a local hospital to be treated for their injuries.

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

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

Varying oxygen levels in cockpit sickened pilots, Air Force says



The Air Force training command said Thursday that a problem with varying levels of oxygen concentrations in the cockpit was identified as the major factor in unexplained physiological events that have sickened dozens of T-6 Texan II pilots this year.

The San Antonio-based command, which has investigated malfunctions in its onboard oxygen generation system since it grounded the T-6 in February, also revealed how it plans to fix the problem.

“So far, technical efforts to date and analysis of data collected have determined that pilots have been exposed to significantly changing levels of oxygen concentration,” Lt. Gen. Steve Kwast, head of the training command, said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

He said the system sometimes was producing more oxygen than a pilot needs, which caused problems for some aviators.

Problems with the onboard oxygen generation system, or OBOGS, on the training plane had prompted as many as 11 pilots with the 12th Flying Training Wing to refuse to fly the aircraft. They took the action after aviators had suffered unexplained physiological episodes — called UPEs by the Air Force — that can incapacitate pilots and even lead to their deaths.

Gen. David Goldfein, the Air Force chief of staff, recently told the San Antonio Express-News that investigators had found the root cause of the problem and would begin making fixes.

Kwast said symptoms experienced by some of the pilots were similar to a lack of oxygen, lack of carbon dioxide or other related conditions.

The Air Force Materiel Command created an independent review team to investigate the problems. Investigators learned that the OBOGS filter and drain valves failed at a much higher than anticipated rate. These parts were repaired or replaced.

The Air Force has said that the OBOGS shutoff valve, which funnels air from the engine into the system, failed at a much higher rate than expected. Inspections showed that 85 percent of the shutoff valves inspected failed in the open position, allowing unrestricted air flow. Investigators also found that the same percentage of inlet filters had evidence of moisture but with no significant effect to airflow.

Given that some oxygen system components failed at higher than expected rates, the T-6 Program Office on Tinker AFB, Oklahoma, directed inspections on a more aggressive timeline. Maj. Gen. Patrick Doherty, commander of the 19th Air Force, said that purging excess moisture from the system appears to keep the OBOGS operating more efficiently over time.

Texan II pilots, meanwhile, have been given extra training and procedures to help them respond to possible oxygen system malfunctions. The training command will add study materials for T-6 aviaiors that will focus on identifying symptoms, responses and corrective procedures for all types of events, not just hypoxia.

More fixes are on the way as well. The Air Force has started a redesign of the T-6 OBOGS system to stabilize the variation in oxygen levels pilots breathe — a process likely to take from two to four years. Experts also are working with the plane’s manufacturer to adjust the OBOGS software algorithm to stabilize oxygen concentrations.

The Air Force said those measures should reduce physiological events, but more will be done, including a broader redesign. New maintenance procedures drawn from several different Air Force and Navy T-6 bases also will be introduced.

Brig. Gen. Edward L. Vaughan, who leads the Air Force Physiological Episodes Action Team, will collaborate with Air Force officials and other military branches to determine if the OBOGS measures planned for the T-6 will be applicable across other aircraft that use the oxygen system.

The OBOGS failures resulted in at least 61 reported unexplained physiological episodes during the first six months of this year. The Texan II resumed flight in March as the Air Force announced a more frequent cleaning, testing and maintenance schedule for the oxygen system while the search for a root cause ensued.

The Navy grounded its T-45 Goshawk, a jet trainer, after pilots suffered similar physiological episodes. Hypoxia, a lack of oxygen that is potentially fatal, was suspected when an instructor pilot and student bailed out of a T-45 from Naval Air Station Kingsville that crashed Aug. 14, 2016.

Other possible causes of UPEs involve hypocapnia, a state of reduced carbon dioxide in the blood, and hypercapnia, excessive carbon dioxide in the blood, usually caused by inadequate respiration.

The T-6A grounding came after 22 physiological episodes were recorded in January, the most ever seen in the single-engine, two-seat turboprop since it was introduced in 2000. The training command declared it safe.

Pilots harbored doubts and complained that months of investigation by the Air Force, Navy and NASA had yet to explain why the system failed or how it would be fixed. Some argued that they were not told about the severity of reported physiological episodes.

The Air Force, though, has said it is keeping pilots in the loop.

“Since our T-6 operational pause, we have made every effort to communicate with every instructor and every student exactly what we’ve found,” Doherty, the 19th Air Force commander, said in the statement Thursday. “Transparency remains of utmost importance to use as we all work together to ensure that our pilots are safe and know the way ahead.”

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

Loss of Control in Flight: Tapanee Pegazair-100, N129LZ; fatal accident occurred December 02, 2016 in Mount Vernon, Posey County, Indiana


Duane Alan Daws, 64, of Mt. Vernon, Indiana 


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


Additional Participating Entity:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Indianapolis, Indiana

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


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


Aviation Accident Data Summary - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

http://registry.faa.gov/N129LZ 

Location: Mt Vernon, IN
Accident Number: CEN17FA046
Date & Time: 12/02/2016, 1237 CST
Registration: N129LZ
Aircraft: Gordon PEGAZAIR P 100
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

Analysis 

The 64-year-old pilot, who was the airplane owner, departed on a local personal flight in the airplane about 45 minutes before the accident. Witnesses saw the airplane at 400-500 ft above ground level when it entered a descent, pitched up, rolled right, and then pitched nose down impacting the ground. Ground scarring surrounding the airplane was consistent with a near-vertical nose-down impact attitude, which resulted in the engine separating and coming to rest about 20 ft from the airframe. Postaccident examination of the airplane revealed no evidence of any mechanical anomalies that would have precluded normal operation of the airplane.

According to his pilot logbook, the pilot had not completed a flight review since 2012, and the pilot's last Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman medical certificate was issued in 2012. At the time of the accident, he was operating an airplane that required a medical certificate, but his certification was no longer valid.

The pilot's personal medical records showed a history of a chronic progressive neurodegenerative disease beginning in 2011 with intermittent worsening of symptoms. The disease and its symptoms likely impaired his ability to safely operate the airplane. Toxicology testing of samples from the pilot detected ethanol at 0.070 gm/dl in vitreous and 0.038 g/dl in blood. Although blood levels of ethanol can change after death, the vitreous from an intact eye is not subject to significant postmortem changes. Therefore, it is likely the ethanol detected in blood and vitreous was from ingestion. The vitreous blood level was well above the FAA prohibited level of 0.04 gm/dl, and mild impairment has been shown at blood levels as low as 0.020 gm/dl. It is likely that the pilot was experiencing some level of impairment from alcohol ingestion and that the combination of the pilot's progressive degenerative neurologic condition and his use of alcohol impaired his ability to safely operate the airplane and contributed to the accident. 

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The pilot's failure to maintain airplane control, which resulted in a collision with terrain. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's impairment resulting from the combination of his progressive degenerative neurologic condition and his use of alcohol. 

Findings

Aircraft
Performance/control parameters - Not attained/maintained (Cause)

Personnel issues
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)
Neurological - Pilot (Factor)
Alcohol - Pilot (Factor)
Qualification/certification - Pilot

Factual Information

History of Flight

Enroute
Loss of control in flight (Defining event)

Uncontrolled descent
Collision with terr/obj (non-CFIT)

On December 2, 2017, about 1237 central standard time, an experimental amateur-built Pegazair P 100 airplane, N129LZ, impacted a field near Mt Vernon, Indiana. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Carmi Municipal Airport (CUL), Carmi, Illinois, about 1150.

A witness stated that the airplane was flying overhead at about 400 - 500 feet above ground level, westbound, when he heard the engine quit running. The airplane then initiated a descending right turn, north bound, and then the engine started running again. The airplane maintained a northerly heading, for about ¼-1/2 mile, and then the engine quit a second time, started a decent, pitched up, rolled right, and then pitched nose down impacting the ground. The witness said that he went the accident site and there was a strong odor of gasoline and immediately called 911.

A second witness stated that he saw a similar flight path for the airplane but that the engine was running on impact. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 64, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
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: 03/21/2012
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/12/2012
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 2000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 118 hours (Total, this make and model) 

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. He reported a total flight experience of 2,500 hours, with 0 hours in last 6 months, at the time of his last airman medical exam on March 21, 2012, when he was issued a third-class medical certificate that expired on March 31, 2014.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot did not hold an airframe and powerplant mechanic certificate nor did he hold a repairman certificate for the airplane. The pilot had no FAA record of previous accidents, incidents, or enforcement actions.

The first and last entries in the pilot's logbook were dated December 2, 1978, and June 29, 2014, respectively. The logbook indicated that he received a private pilot check ride on June 22, 1980. The first logbook entry for flight in the accident airplane was dated March 18, 2012, and indicated that it was 25-minute local flight from CUL with two landings. The remarks section for this entry stated, "High speed taxi + lift (no pattern)." All the subsequent flight entries were for flights in the accident airplane.

The memoranda section of the pilot's logbook included an endorsement, dated May 12, 2012, by a flight instructor, stating that the pilot received a flight review. The only flight entry dated May 12, 2012, was for a 45-minute local flight from CUL in the accident airplane. The remarks section of this entry contained an individual's name and did not cite that a flight review was performed. There were no subsequent flight review endorsements in the pilot's logbook. Title 14 CFR 61.56 requires pilots to obtain a flight review every 2 years to act as pilot-in-command and flight reviews must include a minimum of 1 hour of flight training and 1 hour of ground training.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Gordon
Registration: N129LZ
Model/Series: PEGAZAIR P 100
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 9908108
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/15/2013, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1320 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 194.65 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Corvair
ELT:
Engine Model/Series: 190
Registered Owner: Deregistered
Rated Power: 120 hp
Operator: Pilot
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

The airplane was a Gordon Pegazair P 100 model, which was manufactured in 2007 and was equipped with a Corvair 190 automotive engine.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration website, FAA Registry, Aircraft Inquiry, the airplane was originally registered to the previous aircraft owner, who was also the builder of the airplane. That registration expired May 14, 2013. The pilot, who was the owner of the airplane, had not reregistered the airplane after he had purchased it, and no subsequent application was made for registration.

Aircraft records obtained during the investigation had a special airworthiness certificate issued July 14, 2007 to the aircraft builder/previous owner. There was no current airworthiness certificate or an application for an updated airworthiness certificate in the aircraft records or in the FAA aircraft records database.

The last two logbook entries of the airframe logbook were dated April 2, 2012, at a tachometer time of 26.2 hours for a "completed annual conditional inspection" and July 15, 2013, tachometer time 194.65 hours for a "completed annual inspection." There were no subsequent maintenance entries in the logbook. Both entries were signed by the same the A&P who held an inspection authorization (IA).

The engine logbook had the last two entries for an "annual inspection" by the A&P IA, dated July 15, 2013, at a tachometer time of 194.65 hours. There were no subsequent inspections entered in the engine logbook that were signed by an A&P, but there were 10 later entries dated from July 15, 2013 to November 24, 2015, that cited maintenance work involving engine oil and filter changes, engine compression check, spark plug changes, the replacement of ignition points, and engine timing checks. The last entry dated November 24, 2015 had a tachometer time entry of 489.23 hours.

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: CUL, 388 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 7 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1235 CST
Direction from Accident Site: 345°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 4 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 270°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.27 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 7°C / 0°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Carmi, IL (CUL)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination:
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1150 CST
Type of Airspace: Class G

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 37.955000, -87.892778 (est) 

The accident site was located in a flat dirt field about 17 nautical miles southeast of CUL. The power lines and trees adjacent to the field were undamaged.

The engine was separated from the airframe and was about 20 ft south of the airframe. A ground scar consistent in shape and length to the wing's leading edge was oriented lengthwise north/south on each side of the separated engine. [SG1] The fuselage was upright, and the tail-to-nose orientation of the airplane was approximately north/northwest. There was no evidence of fire or soot on the engine or airframe.

Examination of the flight control system revealed that the wing flaps and both leading edge wing slats were in the retracted positions. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the control surfaces to the cockpit controls.

The left- and right-wing fuel tanks were empty, and the fuel lines from the tanks to the fuel selector and from the fuel selector to the engine were broken open. The fuel selector panel was damaged by impact forces, and the fuel selector was positioned between the "LEFT" and "BOTH" positions. Both fuel tanks exhibited outward expansion consistent with hydraulic forces. There was an odor consistent with fuel present at the accident site.

The engine did not exhibit any evidence of mechanical failure. Engine control continuity to the cockpit was confirmed through overstress separations of the controls. The cockpit engine control positions could not be determined due to impact damage. Both propeller blades were broken off at the blade roots and displayed features consistent with overstress.

The airplane was equipped with an MGL Avionics EFIS display that contained an SD memory card. The display and memory card were sent to the National Transportation Safety Board Vehicle Recorder Division for download. No data pertinent to the event were recovered due to the extent of the damage to the SD card. 

Medical And Pathological Information

On his most recent medical certificate application, the 64-year-old pilot reported a history of a neurology evaluation in September 2011 for memory issues, but no records of the evaluation were contained in the FAA records. On that application, he denied any other medical concerns or the use of medications.

The pilot's personal medical records documented a history of a progressive neurodegenerative disease beginning in 2011. His symptoms included significant visual-spatial and language dysfunction, and he was diagnosed with alterations of consciousness and encephalopathy. In August 2015, he was prescribed the Alzheimer's treatment medication donepezil. His most recent record of altered consciousness was April 2016 when the pilot reported transient episodes of altered mental status, loss of balance, slurred speech, and weakness. At that time, he was no longer using any medications. No records of a detailed neurologic evaluation after April 2016 were located.

The Posey County Coroner's Office, Mt Vernon, Indiana, performed an autopsy of the pilot and determined that his cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. No natural disease was identified.


The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing and detected ethanol at 0.070 gm/dl in vitreous and 0.038 g/dl in blood. No carbon monoxide or tested-for-drugs were detected. Ethanol is the intoxicant commonly found in beer, wine, and liquor. It acts as a central nervous system depressant. After ingestion, at low doses, it impairs judgment, psychomotor functioning, and vigilance; at higher doses it can cause coma and death. Title 14 CFR 91.17(a) prohibits any person from acting or attempting to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft while having 0.040 gm/dl or more ethanol in the blood. Because ingested alcohol is distributed throughout the body, levels from different postmortem tissues are usually similar. Ethanol may also be produced in body tissues by microbial activity after death. However, vitreous humor from an intact eye and urine do not suffer from such production to any significant extent in relation to blood.


Location: Mt Vernon, IN
Accident Number: CEN17FA046
Date & Time: 12/02/2016, 1237 CST
Registration: N129LZ
Aircraft: Gordon PEGAZAIR P 100
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On December 2, 2017, about 1237 central standard time, an experimental amateur-built Pegazair P 100 airplane, N129LZ, impacted a field near Mt Vernon, Indiana. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 91 as a personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The flight originated from Carmi Municipal Airport (CUL), Carmi, Illinois, about 1150.

A witness stated that the airplane was flying overhead at about 400 - 500 feet above ground level, westbound, when he heard the engine quit running. The airplane then initiated a descending right turn, north bound, and then the engine started running again. The airplane maintained a northerly heading, for about ¼-1/2 mile, and then the engine quit a second time, started a decent, pitched up, rolled right, and then pitched nose down impacting the ground. The witness said that he went the accident site and there was a strong odor of gasoline and immediately called 911.

A second witness stated that he saw a similar flight path for the airplane but that the engine was running on impact. 

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial
Age: 64, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 3-point
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: 03/21/2012
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent: 05/12/2012
Flight Time:  (Estimated) 2000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 118 hours (Total, this make and model) 

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with an airplane single-engine land rating. He reported a total flight experience of 2,500 hours, with 0 hours in last 6 months, at the time of his last airman medical exam on March 21, 2012, when he was issued a third-class medical certificate that expired on March 31, 2014.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot did not hold an airframe and powerplant mechanic certificate nor did he hold a repairman certificate for the airplane. The pilot had no FAA record of previous accidents, incidents, or enforcement actions.

The first and last entries in the pilot's logbook were dated December 2, 1978, and June 29, 2014, respectively. The logbook indicated that he received a private pilot check ride on June 22, 1980. The first logbook entry for flight in the accident airplane was dated March 18, 2012, and indicated that it was 25-minute local flight from CUL with two landings. The remarks section for this entry stated, "High speed taxi + lift (no pattern)." All the subsequent flight entries were for flights in the accident airplane.

The memoranda section of the pilot's logbook included an endorsement, dated May 12, 2012, by a flight instructor, stating that the pilot received a flight review. The only flight entry dated May 12, 2012, was for a 45-minute local flight from CUL in the accident airplane. The remarks section of this entry contained an individual's name and did not cite that a flight review was performed. There were no subsequent flight review endorsements in the pilot's logbook. Title 14 CFR 61.56 requires pilots to obtain a flight review every 2 years to act as pilot-in-command and flight reviews must include a minimum of 1 hour of flight training and 1 hour of ground training.



Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Gordon
Registration: N129LZ
Model/Series: PEGAZAIR P 100
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Amateur Built: Yes
Airworthiness Certificate: Experimental
Serial Number: 9908108
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 07/15/2013, Condition
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 1320 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 194.65 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Corvair
ELT:
Engine Model/Series: 190
Registered Owner: Deregistered
Rated Power: 120 hp
Operator: Pilot
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

The airplane was a Gordon Pegazair P 100 model, which was manufactured in 2007 and was equipped with a Corvair 190 automotive engine.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration website, FAA Registry, Aircraft Inquiry, the airplane was originally registered to the previous aircraft owner, who was also the builder of the airplane. That registration expired May 14, 2013. The pilot, who was the owner of the airplane, had not reregistered the airplane after he had purchased it, and no subsequent application was made for registration.

Aircraft records obtained during the investigation had a special airworthiness certificate issued July 14, 2007 to the aircraft builder/previous owner. There was no current airworthiness certificate or an application for an updated airworthiness certificate in the aircraft records or in the FAA aircraft records database.

The last two logbook entries of the airframe logbook were dated April 2, 2012, at a tachometer time of 26.2 hours for a "completed annual conditional inspection" and July 15, 2013, tachometer time 194.65 hours for a "completed annual inspection." There were no subsequent maintenance entries in the logbook. Both entries were signed by the same the A&P who held an inspection authorization (IA).

The engine logbook had the last two entries for an "annual inspection" by the A&P IA, dated July 15, 2013, at a tachometer time of 194.65 hours. There were no subsequent inspections entered in the engine logbook that were signed by an A&P, but there were 10 later entries dated from July 15, 2013 to November 24, 2015, that cited maintenance work involving engine oil and filter changes, engine compression check, spark plug changes, the replacement of ignition points, and engine timing checks. The last entry dated November 24, 2015 had a tachometer time entry of 489.23 hours. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: CUL, 388 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 7 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 1235 CST
Direction from Accident Site: 345°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility:  10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 4 knots /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / None
Wind Direction: 270°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 30.27 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 7°C / 0°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: Carmi, IL (CUL)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination:
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 1150 CST
Type of Airspace:  Class G



Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  37.933333, 167.772500 (est)

The accident site was located in a flat dirt field about 17 nautical miles southeast of CUL. The power lines and trees adjacent to the field were undamaged.

The engine was separated from the airframe and was about 20 ft south of the airframe. A ground scar consistent in shape and length to the wing's leading edge was oriented lengthwise north/south on each side of the separated engine. [SG1] The fuselage was upright, and the tail-to-nose orientation of the airplane was approximately north/northwest. There was no evidence of fire or soot on the engine or airframe.

Examination of the flight control system revealed that the wing flaps and both leading edge wing slats were in the retracted positions. Flight control continuity was confirmed from the control surfaces to the cockpit controls.

The left- and right-wing fuel tanks were empty, and the fuel lines from the tanks to the fuel selector and from the fuel selector to the engine were broken open. The fuel selector panel was damaged by impact forces, and the fuel selector was positioned between the "LEFT" and "BOTH" positions. Both fuel tanks exhibited outward expansion consistent with hydraulic forces. There was an odor consistent with fuel present at the accident site.

The engine did not exhibit any evidence of mechanical failure. Engine control continuity to the cockpit was confirmed through overstress separations of the controls. The cockpit engine control positions could not be determined due to impact damage. Both propeller blades were broken off at the blade roots and displayed features consistent with overstress.

The airplane was equipped with an MGL Avionics EFIS display that contained an SD memory card. The display and memory card were sent to the National Transportation Safety Board Vehicle Recorder Division for download. No data pertinent to the event were recovered due to the extent of the damage to the SD card. 

Medical And Pathological Information

On his most recent medical certificate application, the 64-year-old pilot reported a history of a neurology evaluation in September 2011 for memory issues, but no records of the evaluation were contained in the FAA records. On that application, he denied any other medical concerns or the use of medications.

The pilot's personal medical records documented a history of a progressive neurodegenerative disease beginning in 2011. His symptoms included significant visual-spatial and language dysfunction, and he was diagnosed with alterations of consciousness and encephalopathy. In August 2015, he was prescribed the Alzheimer's treatment medication donepezil. His most recent record of altered consciousness was April 2016 when the pilot reported transient episodes of altered mental status, loss of balance, slurred speech, and weakness. At that time, he was no longer using any medications. No records of a detailed neurologic evaluation after April 2016 were located.

The Posey County Coroner's Office, Mt Vernon, Indiana, performed an autopsy of the pilot and determined that his cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. No natural disease was identified.

The FAA Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing and detected ethanol at 0.070 gm/dl in vitreous and 0.038 g/dl in blood. No carbon monoxide or tested-for-drugs were detected. Ethanol is the intoxicant commonly found in beer, wine, and liquor. It acts as a central nervous system depressant. After ingestion, at low doses, it impairs judgment, psychomotor functioning, and vigilance; at higher doses it can cause coma and death. Title 14 CFR 91.17(a) prohibits any person from acting or attempting to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft while having 0.040 gm/dl or more ethanol in the blood. Because ingested alcohol is distributed throughout the body, levels from different postmortem tissues are usually similar. Ethanol may also be produced in body tissues by microbial activity after death. However, vitreous humor from an intact eye and urine do not suffer from such production to any significant extent in relation to blood.



NTSB Identification: CEN17FA046
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, December 02, 2016 in Mt Vernon, IN
Aircraft: Gordon PEGAZAIR P 100, registration: N129LZ
Injuries: 1 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 2, 2016, about 1237 central standard time, a Gordon Pegazair P 100, N129LZ (deregistered N-number), impacted a field near Mt Vernon, Indiana. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces. The commercial pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was owned and operated by the pilot under 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight that was not operating on a flight plan. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident. The flight originated from Carmi Municipal Airport (CUL), Carmi, Illinois about 1150.