Sunday, November 11, 2018

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec, N8383C: Fatal accident occurred November 09, 2018 in Nassau, The Bahamas

Byron Ferguson

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; South Florida

Crashed due to unknown circumstances.

Global Aero Aircraft LLC 

Date: 09-NOV-18
Time: 02:00:00Z
Regis#: N8383C
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA 23 250
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: UNKNOWN
Flight Phase: TAKEOFF (TOF)
Operation: 91

On November 15th, volunteers organized by Gina Knowles took only forty (40) minutes to find parts of the Piper PA-23-250 Aztec that was being flown by missing pilot Byron Ferguson.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Commander Shone Pinder said yesterday that while search and recovery efforts are ongoing for a six-seater aircraft that crashed in waters off New Providence on November 8, those efforts were not being conducted at the same “pace that existed a few days ago”.

“Right now, we are continuing our search and recovery efforts, however, what we have done is we have pretty much allowed for our surface craft that are patrolling the area to maintain a lookout for anything that may be telltale signs that [could] assist the Air Accident Investigation [Department] as it relates to any debris or any other significant finds,” Pinder told Eyewitness News.

He confirmed that divers were not sent into the water yesterday, and he was unable to say when the next scheduled dive search would take place.

“I don’t know and I can’t say… for how long the actual [search] — this stage — will continue,” Pinder said. “The commander of the [Royal Bahamas] Defence Force will give his directives concerning that as it relates to ongoing efforts. Our search continues, but certainly not at the pace that existed a few days ago, but we are continuing to maintain our vigilant lookout for that craft.”

When asked whether the search has been scaled back, Pinder said, “Right; the only difference is that we did not conduct the dive operations today, but we still have two thirds of our assets, in terms of the modes of our search; in terms of the use of our mobile patrols along the shoreline — that continues — and of course the surface craft that continues to traverse the seas. The only thing missing really is the dive component and you know dives day-to-day are based on weather conditions and the light, but that didn’t happen today.”

Missing pilot Byron Ferguson and the U.S. registered Piper Aztec aircraft went down in waters two nautical miles from the airfield at Lynden Pindling International Airport.

Ferguson was en route from West Palm Beach, Florida.

He was expected to join his family to travel to Africa in celebration of his father’s birthday.

Yesterday, Pinder said until there is an order to suspend, search and recovery efforts will continue in earnest.

Bryon’s mother, Agnes Ferguson, a retired veteran ZNS news anchor, posted on Sunday, “Simply waiting for Captain Byron Quinn Ferguson’s return to tell his own story, and invoke real change in the country’s aviation industry.”

The Ferguson family and volunteers have continued to search for Byron and the aircraft.

Nearly two weeks ago, volunteers and civilian divers found parts of a wrecked plane believed to be from the crash.

A GoFundMe page in Bryon’s name was launched on November 17 to hire certified deep-sea divers, and specialized deep-sea dive equipment. To date, $25,000 has been raised.

According to the GoFundMe page, a certified diver who was recently flown in via private charter located more debris using specialized equipment and mixed gases in order to dive the edge of the ocean in the area where volunteers found the plane debris.

“Volunteer groups have pulled their resources to assist in the search, rescue and recovery of Byron’s aircraft and there is still hope of locating Byron,” read the post on the online fundraising site.

“Currently the plane is in over 600 feet of water. We are in need of specialized equipment and certified deep-sea divers who are able to assist with recovery. Some debris has been located in shallow areas, however the debris trail leads to the edge of the ocean. In order to dive or investigate at this depth special equipment needs to be brought in to assist with the efforts of locating the fuselage.”

In the days following the crash, there was widespread criticisms of the Defence Force’s search and rescue efforts.

Last week, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis said a full review of the protocols, procedures and agencies involved in the crash search and recovery efforts will be conducted.

Attorney General Carl Bethel.

Attorney General Carl Bethel criticised the response of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to the recent plane crash suggesting the tragedy may not have been “properly” investigated because of how quickly the initial search was called off.

His comments in the Senate came shortly before a group of Bahamians said yesterday that their own search team had found pieces of the plane piloted by Mr Ferguson.

Mr. Bethel said he would reach out to his colleagues to ensure that whatever “procedural missteps” occurred in this case and others would not happen again.

More must be done, he said, to ensure there is a sense of urgency and to drive home the principle of “no stone left unturned" when the country is faced with tragic plane crashes.

Mr. Bethel joined fellow Senators Fred Mitchell and Ranard Henfield to voice concerns over the handling of the search and investigation of Mr Ferguson’s plane crash.

“The great difficulty right now, particularly with anything that results in a marine landing of some sort, is that the Civil Aviation Department has to rely on the efforts of another agency, usually the Royal Bahamas Defence Force. So in the last crash that occurred off of Andros, as I understand it, the search was called off maybe 50 yards away or so because of inclement weather or something, or it had gone on too long and the fellas got tired,” Mr Bethel said yesterday.

“See the difficulty is, because it’s on the marine side, then an unmotivated entity, an entity that is not sensitised to that particular job – see it may be sensitised to catching smugglers, catching human traffickers, catching poachers (and) defence and so for this aspect of civil intervention into some crisis, perhaps there is a need for stronger sensitisation of the marine unit of the Royal Bahamas Defence Force to ensure that the sense of urgency that the family feels is also shared by those who are in the immediate vicinity and that the principle of no stone left unturned until we find this thing must prevail, because this is the second time now and I am only going based on what I heard.

“They saw a piece of wreckage. They say they left the site. It boggles the mind if that is so. It is unimaginable.”

He continued: “And so if I feel that way about something like this, if my colleagues opposite here who sit beside me and if we feel as a body like that about a circumstance like that, how much worse does the family feel?

“So we have to spend some time with our colleagues, and I don’t believe there is any ill will or any malice or whatever, but we have to work with our marines. We have to work with our Defence Force to get them to see that, yes even if it’s only in finding a crash site that is as important to the defence of the well-being of the Bahamian people, defending our well-being because how can we prevent such things happening unless we properly investigate each and every one? How can we show our true concern for the human beings involved if we call off the search on the slightest pretence? It cannot be the situation. It cannot happen.

“And so I certainly in my position will reach out as quickly as is possible to my colleagues to see that whatever the error, whatever the procedural missteps . . .what may have happened in the past, that this will never ever, ever, ever be repeated again because plainly the damage being done to families and to the psyche of this nation by these things is simply unacceptable.”


For his part, Senator Henfield questioned the country’s lack of rescue helicopters given the Bahamas’ makeup and the frequency of crashes in these waters.

He also regretted that there is no legislation to govern crowdfunding in instances where money is needed to support rescue efforts.

He said: “A mutual friend of Byron yesterday, who is still in shock, indicated to me that the wife with a 10-month-old child is still walking up and down that beach, and the beaches, not eating and just asking people to help me look in the bushes, look over there, check that sand and all of our hearts break. But you know it is unfortunate we live in a country in a day like today where we have mega resorts, but we don’t have our own rescue helicopters in this country.

“We live in a country where we don’t have legislation in place for crowd-funding. I would watch in other countries and incidents would happen, persons are able to donate in the millions to the search and rescue of persons rather than just sit and wait for the government’s response.”

Opposition Senator Fred Mitchell added there was a need to beef up communication efforts between search agencies and families affected.

“I know this young man very well, his wife, his family, his brothers, his father, his mother and they all live in the Fox Hill constituency, but quite apart from that, I want to join in the concerns about how this accident was dealt with,” Mr Mitchell said. “I said to a family when there is a homicide in this country the police have a designated person that’s assigned to coordinate with the family what the police are doing.

“So they give you a telephone number and they give you a name and they say if there is anything you want to know about that investigation you call that person and that person will tell you what is happening with the investigation. Now that does not seem to apply in this case. Civil Aviation is the body I believe that’s responsible for the investigation. The issue they were talking about is how do I get information and are the officials speaking with one voice. It must be heart wrenching.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Tellis Bethel speaks on November 16th.

The day after civilians discovered debris from missing pilot Byron Ferguson’s crashed plane, Royal Bahamas Defence Force Commodore Tellis Bethel vehemently defended his organization’s search and recovery efforts.

He maintained that marines have made every effort for the past nine days in which the search “pushed the envelope” but was careful not to compromise safety.

However, while Mr Bethel attempted to make a compelling case for these efforts since the incident last week Thursday, neither he nor other officials present could definitively tell reporters at what time the search was suspended in the hours following the crash in waters off Nirvana beach. Neither could they say when the search resumed.

They did, however, present a list of reasons from vessels not having sufficient gas to there being low visibility, needing to mobilise additional equipment for a more extensive search, and suggesting fatigue as to why the search had been called off Thursday night.

It was also contended that there had been no dive search efforts on Saturday and Sunday due to “inclement weather”.

The commodore further admitted that the RBDF could have done a better job in its communication with relatives and the media after it was revealed that marine divers had discovered oil containers, residue and other lightweight materials on the seabed Tuesday. Some pieces were also found Friday morning, although it is unclear what they were

It also seems there was not a command centre set up for communication purposes, by Mr Bethel’s own admission.

At several points in Friday’s press conference Mr Bethel seemed to be on the defensive saying at one point that people were taking an “I gotcha approach” in waiting for mistakes to be made, adding that some members of the press had withheld information to “whack somebody over the head with it”.

Asked how civilians were successful in locating portions of the plane within 40 minutes of entering the water, Lieutenant Commander Derrick Ferguson said this area had previously been cleared by marines.

“Search and rescue is a science. (It) is something that we do based on the weather pattern, based on what the weather is doing, based on the sea, state the tide flow. We now go ahead and we do what is a dive search area,” he said. “The dive search area that we initiated on that day was pretty much focusing around the search area where the last sighting of the tail of the plane as noted.”

Officials noted the tail of the small aircraft was spotted by RBDF vessel P115 and by several other persons and the spot marked. But they said Friday no efforts were made to retrieve it at the time because the priority then was to look for persons who could have been alive in the water. The concern, was further heightened, the commodore said, because of ambiguity about how many persons had been on board.

Commander Ferguson continued: “So we would have dived that area and we would have been confident in that one mile range of dive that we did that there was no other debris that we found in that area. So for that day we would have cleared that dive search area. With subsequent dives you know do a shifting of your dive search area. In which case you would have seen on Tuesday our dive search area shifted to the east and on Tuesday the 13th our divers were now finding debris that came from that plane wreckage.”

Despite an initial statement from officials on the scene of the crash last Thursday that the search had been called off hours after the search, Commander Shone Pinder disagreed.

He said: “The search never ceased. What we had was an ongoing effort to ensure initially the emphasis on discovering life and that effort continued. Recognising that we cannot predict when the call would go out for our vessels to respond the vessels that responded were not necessarily on full tanks.

“At some point after they would have exhausted four hours after into the search and had to continue to make preparations for divers to do more intensive search they had to return in and so our efforts continued in earnest and we had to return to replenish and to ensure that our fuel, our personnel (and) the divers were embarked, the right equipment was embarked and so there was always throughout the entire process search efforts going on.”

When it was presented to him that reporters had been told the search was being called off at 1 o’clock Friday morning, he said: “What happened was we had a suspension of search in terms of the surface search craft having to return to bring in additional divers to ensure that the right equipment was being brought in.”

Asked to reveal specific times he said personnel returned to the site to dive at “first light” which would have been shortly before 6am.

Pressed further on the time divers left and returned he said: “I’ll say this without getting specific with the time it was well after 0200 hours when our surface craft went in and of course we had to allow for our people an opportunity to get the right equipment to initiate a dive operation at first light.

“I want you to appreciate the environment under which that search was being conducted. There was ambiguity as to the number of persons on board, the plane and all response efforts was focused towards ensuring that life was preserved. If somebody was in the water we wanted to make sure we saturated the area to assure that we could rescue life. The emphasis was on rescuing life.”

Later he said specific times would eventually be documented for public knowledge, but as an investigation is ongoing the information could not be released.

Nonetheless, officials told reporters they did everything they could do in this situation, noting officials always first take into account a best-case scenario.

As the search continues for Mr Ferguson, the criticisms have not fallen on deaf ears.

Commodore Bethel said training is always ongoing at the force.

“Rome was not built in a day. Sometimes you compare us to military services that been around for 250 over 300 years. We only been around for 38 years and we are well ahead in comparison to where they were many centuries ago so training and development is a major thing for us. As a matter of fact it was just several weeks ago the defence force conducted an advanced dive programme for its members so we are always training staff,” he said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Minister of Tourism and Aviation, Dionisio D'Aguilar.

Aviation Minister Dionisio D’aguilar was unable to conclusively answer questions fielded by reporters Tuesday as to whether or not all airports in The Bahamas have functioning lights to accommodate regular, or emergency, night-time landings.

The questions came in the wake of public outrage following rumours which suggested that the fate of Captain Byron Ferguson and his Piper Aztec plane, which went down in waters off the tip of western New Providence November 9, could have possibly had different results if all Family Island airports had functioning 24/7 airstrip lights.

Unconfirmed reports have suggested that Ferguson passed three smaller airports while en route to Lynden Pindling International Airport (LPIA) last week Friday; the Chub Cay airport, Great Harbour Cay airport and the San Andros airport.

It has been suggested that he was unable to land his malfunctioning aircraft at any of these airports because the lights had already been turned off for the night.

Concern on social media eventually mushroomed from, “why are airport lights on Family Islands turned off at a certain hour?” to “what sort of emergency protocol is currently in place to accommodate emergency night-time landings on Family Islands?”

In addressing those concerns D’aguilar said, “I believe that Family Island airports are equipped with emergency lighting.”

“There are 28 airports [in the country] so forgive me if I don’t know if every single one of them has lights and if those lights are working.

“I remember being informed by my predecessor had emergency lighting. I think all of them have been equipped; whether they are all 100 per cent working, I will have to get a report on that.”

He revealed that in the event that there is an emergency where a distressed aircraft needs to land at a Family Island airport, pilots are supposed to contact Air Traffic Control (ATC) in New Providence.

“They contact ATC, and then ATC reaches out to that particular airport; and some airports there is obviously no one there so they have to call someone to get in their car to go down there and turn on the lights,” he revealed.

He was quick to note that the government has no plans to change this practice.

“Obviously, there are a lot of remote airports and to equip and staff these airports 24/7 is a significant cost,” he noted.

“I do not want to belittle this situation, but I am sure that this problem arises so infrequently that there is a cost that we need to take into consideration. There are many airports in The Bahamas and it’s a very expensive proposition so, right now we are going to maintain the status quo.”

Tuesday marked four days of search efforts to locate Ferguson and his plane.

Authorities provided no new details on their search and recovery efforts up to press time Wednesday.

Original article can be found here ➤

National Security Minister Marvin Dames (inset) and the scene at Nirvana Beach at the weekend.

The family of missing pilot, Byron Ferguson contends that he did file a flight plan, despite conflicting reports that he did not. 

Still hoping and while still carrying on searches of their own, young Ferguson’s brother, Bjorn Ferguson said his brother who has at least 20-years of experience flying did file a flight plan, something the family and Air Accident Investigation Department have been able to confirm with Civil Aviation. 

However, National Security Minister, Marvin Dames told reporters otherwise outside Cabinet Tuesday morning.

Mr. Dames told reporters that persons should be careful in their speculations concerning the incident Thursday night. 

“We  have to be careful in how we are reporting, because this is sensitive and as I speak to you,  the only thing I am thinking about  is the family and what they are going through, and me having to be very careful as to what I say as to not exacerbate a very, very sensitive situation. 

“So, our hearts go out to the family. I know a few of them and we will continue to do whatever we can to ensure that we work to bring some closure to this matter,” Mr. Dames said. 

As for failed attempts to secure the ill-fated aircraft once it was spotted shortly after crashing in waters off Nirvana Beach Thursday night, Minister Dames said there are a number of reasons this may not have happened.

“When they were approaching, a little piece of the aircraft could have been seen.  As they got close the aircraft disappeared. 

“So, we have to be extremely careful when we say aircraft;  we give the impression that here is this big aircraft that they saw lying on the water; that is not so. 

“We have to leave it up to the search team and the investigators to let them do their jobs and not muddle what they are doing,” said the Minister. 

The family says this contradicts what the person in charge of the search and rescue would have reported, that initially the plane was found. 

Mr. Dames  suggested that there could be a number of reasons divers were not sent into waters on last Thursday, procurement of life being one of them. 

“Those teams out there have been working tirelessly, and always remember in search and rescue, when teams are out there and they’re working their  first area of focus is the protection of life.

“You are trying to preserve or trying to protect the life of those who may have been involved in the incident; but we have to always be cognizant that we also have to ensure, that’s the first responders that is, and this is no different anywhere the world over, they  have to ensure that they too preserve their lives. 

“Often times they are going to a very, very risky and dangerous situation, where one bad decision could result in them losing their lives as well,” Mr. Dames said. 

The Ferguson’s family have gotten local and foreign pilots to assist with an aerial search of the Nirvana Beach and surrounding areas.

Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis.

As the search for missing pilot Byron Ferguson continues, National Security Minister Marvin Dames defended officials against criticism by saying that law enforcement has extended every effort to resolving this matter.

In an interview with The Tribune yesterday, Mr Dames said as soon as information about the crash was reported, law enforcement mobilised. He also said no flight plan was filed for the aircraft, as he appealed to the public not to make assumptions. Regarding the search, Mr Dames added there is still “hope” that officials can find Mr Ferguson.

Yesterday, Royal Bahamas Defence Force (RBDF) Commissioner Tellis Bethel reiterated to The Tribune that the perimeter of the crash has extended.

“The search was expanded yesterday (Sunday) to include waters and (coastlines) off of the east coast of North Andros, including the Joulter Cays and the south coast of the Berry Islands including Chub Cay and Whale Cay,” the commodore said.

“Prior to this, the northwest quadrant of New Providence was searched, which included the coastline, shallow and ocean areas using RBDF patrol craft, drone and divers, and a US Coast Guard fixed wing aircraft.”

Bahamas Air Accident Investigation Department Operations Investigator Kendal Dorsett Jr also said yesterday that with a lack of physical evidence, authorities are looking at “other avenues” that could have contributed to the incident.

“Because of that, we have requested a weather study from the National Transportation Safety Board in the United States and we will also be looking at the maintenance records of this aircraft and also the ATC related data in relation to this case,” Mr Dorsett said.

During a press conference held on Sunday, relatives of Mr Ferguson expressed dissatisfaction with the way officials have conducted search and rescue efforts in the wake of the plane crash in the waters off Nirvana Beach on Thursday night.

Mr Dames said he was “taken aback” by the criticism, given his knowledge of how quickly officials mobilised in response to the crash.

“When this matter was reported to the authorities on Thursday night…I was in communication with (Commodore Bethel) and the commissioner (of police),” Mr Dames said. “I was also in communication with the minister of tourism, who has responsibility for civil aviation.

“We take that (plane crashes) very seriously. And so immediately as that information came in, the authorities activated their machinery, almost immediately. The (RBDF) responded, the police responded, we got the assistance from the US who mobilised the helicopter almost immediately under the umbrella of (Operations Bahamas Turks and Caicos) OPBAT.

“Officers worked early into the morning, divers came in early that morning, went to work, along with a search party.”

When asked about the family’s critiques that no divers went into the waters on Thursday night, Mr Dames underscored preservation of life is paramount in these situations.

“The first order of business is the preservation of life,” Mr Dames said. “Now, I couldn’t say what the conditions were at the time, and what the officers were up against. We could all sit back and be Monday morning quarterbacks, but if you look at search and rescue, anywhere the world over, and you see how it is conducted— sometimes you have rough waters and you may want to go in and execute a search, but you can’t because the waters are rough.

“You don’t know what you’re up against…you have to make that call once you get to that scene. I can’t make that call for them. But what I would say: at the earliest opportunity that the officers were able to send divers down, that was done.”

Regarding the family’s criticisms that the plane was not marked or tracked before authorities left the scene, Mr Dames said he could not speak to that matter as the investigation is ongoing.

He also warned against the spreading of false information, noting that as far as officials are aware, no flight plan was filed for the ill-fated trip.

“As far as we are aware, we don’t have any, up to this day, anything stating that a flight plan has been filed…So I say this to say, we have to be careful when we make assertions.”

However, Mr Dames also said he is sympathetic to the family’s plight.

“Every family, I included, if I were faced with that situation, would want to ensure that the authorities are doing all that is humanely possible to return their loved one or loved one’s home,” Mr Dames said. “And so I am not faulting the family whatsoever.

“We continue to search and it is always our hope that we can find life,” he added, referring to the incident when Bahamian sailor Samuel Leroy Moss Jr was found alive after being adrift at sea for two weeks.

Byron Ferguson

Family members and loved ones of one of the pilots that went down in Thursday’s unfortunate plane crash were brought to tears yesterday as they expressed their extreme frustration with search and rescue attempts. 

Ashton Ferguson, brother of pilot Byron Ferguson told reporters that that though the men have yet to be found, they remain hopeful; but are bracing themselves with the harsh reality that their loved one may be gone forever. 

He said, “the information that we obtained indicated that my brother encountered difficulties about 40 miles off of the coast of  New Providence  with his door. He radioed air traffic control. I think that at about 15 miles, he contacted again with engine problems.”

Mr. Ferguson described his brother as an experienced pilot that flew internationally, and had clarity of mind when on the job. 

He added, “his friend that was supposed to collect him from the airport texted him a message letting him know that he needs to track the plane. So, he was aware that this plane  was  probably going to have some issues. His friend was also a pilot, so he would’ve known  what to do to track the plane.”

He also said that no one officially reached out to the family, and the Commodore of the Royal Bahamas Defense Force met with them yesterday indicating that they will be widening their perimeter of search.

However, this was after they would have made contact and agitated a Member of Parliament. 

Mr. Ferguson said,  “I also understand that he’s not the one in charge of this investigation. They have the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Deleveaux, who was in charge of this investigation; and he has never up to this day officially contacted us with any details or information to my mom and our family.” 

He added, “some of the facts that we have  not been relayed accurately to the media.”

Mr. Ferguson recalled that night, indicating that the search for his brother was called off before midnight with no divers entering the water, leaving the family with many unanswered questions.

He asked, “do you respond to a plane crash in the water without dive equipment?”

Another family member added, ”he   is an experienced pilot that would have taken all the necessary preparations that you would in  experiencing difficulties. My thing is, this isn’t the first time that there has been a plane crash or anything of this nature. The Defense Force said that they sent a unit with no divers onboard.” 

They added, “no divers responded until the very next morning. My thing is, if this was an American,  like American Airlines or Delta Airlines that would have gone  down, would they have gotten the same response where no divers were in the water with no equipment available? It sounds like incompetence to me.”

The family also indicating that the search and rescue team did not mark the plane’s exact location that night,  further delaying rescue efforts. 

The family said that they are due and deserve facts and professionalism from those responsible for conducting this search and investigation. 

They added that they will not stop until they reach a resolution.

Family members and close friends of those missing following a plane crash in waters off of Nirvana Beach on Thursday night, patiently wait for updated news from officials.

Had everything gone as planned, Byron Ferguson and his parents would have been flying to South Africa to celebrate his father’s birthday yesterday, but instead his family and authorities were still conducting a widespread search for him after his plane crashed off western New Providence on Thursday night.

While Ferguson’s family remains hopeful that he is still alive, authorities said it is unlikely that anyone survived the crash in waters about a mile north of Nirvana Beach.

“He was scheduled to return to work today in South Africa,” said Ferguson’s brother, Bjorn, who spoke to the media yesterday at Nirvana Beach, where dozens of their relatives and friends gathered.

“Today is my father’s birthday. He was taking my parents with him to South Africa today… and this is what we’re faced with.”

Police said shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday, Air Traffic Control (ATC) reported that a plane had disappeared from the radar near Nirvana Beach after the pilot reported that the door to the plane had flown open.

The six-seater Piper Aztec aircraft plunged into the sea two nautical miles from the airfield at Lynden Pindling International Airport.

Ferguson, 34, and one passenger were reportedly on the plane when it crashed, according to authorities.

However, conflicting reports from his family suggest he was the only one aboard, as the person who was supposed to fly with him never got on the plane.

“We are not giving up on my husband,” said Ferguson’s wife, Anya.

“He is an excellent pilot, and I’m sure he is out there.

“I’m not giving up on my husband and I don’t expect anyone out here to give up on him.

“He is going to be returned home to us alive and that’s my final everything; he is going to be here.”

Ferguson is a father of two, a nine-month-old son and an 11-year-old daughter. He is the son of former media personality Agnes Ferguson.

His family described him as an experienced pilot, who had been flying since he was 14.

He graduated from Florida Air Academy and had his license since 1999, according to his brother.

“We are confident in Byron’s ability and the actions he took, up until the plane landed,” Bjorn said.

“This was obviously a controlled landing… He was losing altitude. He knew he could not make it to LPIA. He told his friend to track him; he was going to ditch this plane there.

“Byron was flying from 14-years-old. He [flew] in the Middle East in the desert. He [flew] in Africa. Byron is a pilot, so I’m confident in his ability, and we’re just praying; we don’t want to lose hope.”

Commander Shone Pinder, the airway commanding officer for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, said on Friday there were no clear indications of bodies in the plane on Thursday during the original search when a portion of the aircraft was still above the water.

However, the plane was no longer at that location when divers returned to the scene on Friday morning.

Officials believe the plane may have shifted from its original position due to a change in tide.

As they gathered on Nirvana Beach yesterday, Ferguson’s family criticized authorities over the search and rescue efforts.

“As you can see, everyone's out here again, hopeful, wishing for the best, but bracing to accept reality,” said Ferguson’s brother,

“Speaking for the family, [we are] expressing our extreme frustration and our dissatisfaction with the search and rescue attempt for my brother.

The Ferguson family at Nirvana Beach yesterday as the search for pilot Byron Ferguson continued.

“The sequence of events as we understand them, as they unfolded, as they happened, we know there was room for intervention and a greater attempt at rescue that wasn’t satisfactorily done.”

Pointing to the alleged lack of communication with family members, the inability to secure the plane on Thursday night or send divers to search it, and the lack of visibility of officials searching the area in the days following the crash, Ferguson’s other brother, Anvon, called the entire operation incompetent.

“That’s just insane that this day, in 2018, in The Bahamas, a plane crashed and you have no divers available until the next morning, at light, when you have clear indication of where the plane is.

“Furthermore, you come back the next morning, you don’t know where the plane is, so from the time you discovered it, you didn’t mark it, you didn’t track it. The only thing you can say is the current may have carried it.”

Bjorn Ferguson added, “What makes it so egregious is the fact that for two or three consecutive days, you had family members standing up on this beach; obviously we don’t have time to waste, we’re here because we know something happened, and none of the authorities, in particular the lead agency, has sought to send a liaison person and get correct information.”

Relatives have been conducting their own private search for Ferguson since Friday, using personal planes, boats and jet skis.

They said their search will continue until they can get to a conclusion.

Original article can be found here ➤

The Royal Bahamas Defence Force is continuing the search for Byron Ferguson, the pilot of the small plane that crashed in waters off Nirvana Beach on Thursday night, and has widened the perimeter of the initial search boundary.

At a press conference on Nirvana Beach on Sunday, one of Mr. Ferguson’s brothers said the seasoned pilot experienced difficulties with the plane’s door during flight and contacted Air Traffic Control.

Sometime later he experienced engine problems.

Dr. Ashton Ferguson, Mr. Ferguson’s younger brother, said relatives are not satisfied with initial search and rescue attempts.

“The sequence of events as we understand them, as they unfolded, as they happened, we know there was room for intervention and rescue, or a greater attempt at rescue that wasn’t satisfactorily done.”

Dr. Ferguson said according to his brother’s flight plan, Mr. Ferguson left the West Palm Beach airport in Florida at approximately 7:26 pm on Thursday.

Relatives have said only the pilot was aboard the plane, contradicting previous police reports – two people were originally supposed to be on board.

“The information that we obtained, my brother, he encountered difficulties about 40 miles off of the coast with his door,” Dr. Ferguson said. “He radioed as such to the Air Traffic Control. I think about 15 miles, again, he contacted again with engine problems.

“He was an experienced pilot, he flew internationally,” Dr. Ferguson added. “He had clarity of mind and what he was doing.”

Relatives said Mr. Ferguson is a graduate of the Florida Air Academy who has been flying since he was 14-years-old. He obtained his pilot’s licence in 1999 and is currently working out of North Africa for a South-African headquartered company.

Original article can be found here ➤

It is unlikely that anyone survived a flight that crashed in waters about a mile north of Nirvana Beach on New Providence Thursday night, Assistant Commissioner of Police Leamond Deleveaux said yesterday.

“Well, I think we’re in the recovery stage now, it’s fair to say,” Delevaux said.

“You know, it’s been almost 24 hours, it’s highly unlikely that [at] this time you’ll find anyone if they’re in this plane alive because, obviously, the plane is submerged in water.”

A six-seater Piper Aztec aircraft plunged into the sea two nautical miles from the airfield at Lynden Pindling International Airport.

Police said shortly after 8 p.m. Thursday, Air Traffic Control (ATC) reported that a plane had disappeared from the radar near Nirvana Beach after the pilot had reported that the door to the plane had flown open.

The pilot, Byron Ferguson, 34, and one passenger were on the plane when it crashed, according to family members who were at the staging area for the search at Nirvana Beach yesterday.

Those family members did not wish to speak on the record.

Kendall Dorsett Jr., the operations investigator for the Air Accident Investigation Department (AAID), said after reports were received from ATC, standby emergency protocols were initiated.

“Search and rescue was subsequently launched by the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, Royal Bahamas Police Force, U.S. Coast Guard and BASRA,” said Dorsett in a statement.

Commander Shone Pinder, the airway commanding officer for the Royal Bahamas Defence Force, said there were no clear indications of bodies in the plane on Thursday during the original search.

“There were no visible persons at the time based on what I have been informed of,” Pinder said.

“Also, bear in mind it was late into the evening. It was very dark out here last night, little to no lighting, a lot of things going on, a lot of moving parts, a lot of coordinates attempting to be made but our units got here within 10 to 15 minutes of the call. We responded.”

He added: “Remember the initial response was intended to look more so for survivors and get on scene as soon as possible to render immediate assistance.

“They initially sighted the aircraft once they arrived in the general area and once they identified a portion of the aircraft that was still above the surface, they directed their efforts toward that. However, shortly thereafter, the aircraft would have sunk.”

Pinder said defence force officers were combing the shoreline from “the Compass Point area that’s intended to come to this area (Nirvana Beach) and pass it and go to the west” to see if any debris from the plane could be found.

Both Pinder and Deleveaux confirmed that the plane was not in its original position when divers returned to the scene on Friday morning.

Deleveaux told The Nassau Guardian that authorities believe the plane may have shifted from its original position.

“We still have teams of defence force and police officers in the Nirvana Beach area continuing the search,” he said.

“We’re told that the plane may have relocated from its original position that it was in last night and so we continue to search. We continue to search as long as necessary.

“We’ll go until sunset this evening, until dark fall and then tomorrow again we’ll resume search. We want to bring some sort of relief to the persons who were on that aircraft.

“As I indicated last night, we told you last night that the plane, parts of the plane have been located by the defence and police officers. They had the coordinates.

“My understanding is that they checked the coordinates that they had last night, they checked it this morning to discover that the plane was no longer in that position.”

Deleveaux said the change in tide led to plane moving.

“You know that the tides that come in and out will usually take anything that’s in its path out and so it may have been taken to a different area,” he said.

Original article can be found here ➤

PSA Airlines, Canadair CRJ-900: Incident occurred November 11, 2018 at Charlotte Douglas International Airport (KCLT), North Carolina

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- A flight going from Charlotte to Tallahassee, Florida had to return to Charlotte Douglas International Airport because of a mechanical issue.

Flight 5272, operated by PSA Airlines was carrying 66 passengers and 4 crew members. It was scheduled to take off from Charlotte at 8:55 a.m. and land in Tallahassee at 10:25 a.m., but it arrived two hours and 45 minutes late.

The return flight was to depart Tallahassee at 10:58 a.m. and land in Charlotte at 12:29 p.m., but it was two hours and 38 minutes late.

It landed safely without incident and passengers were put on another plane.

No word on what the mechanical issue was, but officials say there was an odor and pilots did were oxygen masks.

Original article can be found here ➤

Eurocopter EC 120B Colibri, N124ML: Fatal accident occurred November 22, 2018 in La Romana, Dominican Republic

Lifestyle Helicopter Leasing Inc

NTSB Identification: ERA19WA054
14 CFR Non-U.S., Commercial
Accident occurred Thursday, November 22, 2018 in La Romana, Dominican Republic
Aircraft: Eurocopter EC120, registration: N124ML
Injuries: 5 Fatal.
The foreign authority was the source of this information.

The government of Dominican Republic has notified the NTSB of an accident involving a Eurocopter EC120 helicopter that occurred on November 22, 2018. The NTSB has appointed a U.S. Accredited Representative to assist the government of Dominican Republic's investigation under the provisions of ICAO Annex 13.

All investigative information will be released by the government of Dominican Republic.

Four residents of the town of Lens in western Switzerland lost their lives in a helicopter accident in the Dominican Republic on November 22, 2018. 

The deceased include a well-known architect and his wife, as well as a French entrepreneur and his grandson. They were all residents of the town of Lens in the Swiss canton of Valais. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) said that the Swiss Embassy in Santo Domingo is in contact with the local authorities and that victim identification procedures are under way. 

According to the Associated Press, the helicopter had picked up the four guests at a hotel in Rio San Juan in the north on Thursday afternoon and was headed to La Romana in the south before it lost contact with air traffic controllers. According to local media reports, the remains of the chopper were found the next day at a village near La Romana. All five occupants, including the pilot, were found dead. 

The cause of the crash is not yet known.

JetBlue, Airbus A320-200, N563JB: Incident occurred October 16, 2019 in Santiago De Los Caballeros, Dominican Republic

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; South Florida

Aircraft struck a bird.

Date: 16-OCT-19
Time: 14:08:00Z
Regis#: JBU237
Aircraft Make: AIRBUS
Aircraft Model: A320
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Damage: MINOR
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
Operation: 121
State: NA

Kellen Kuhn: Motorcyclist killed in crash along with elderly couple was pilot, father of 2

Kellen David Kuhn, 63, of Lehigh Township, passed away suddenly on Thursday, November 8, 2018. He was the husband of Linda (Cooper) Kuhn for 33 years. Born in Teaneck, NJ on January 17, 1955, he was the son of Edith Jane (Altmannsberger) Kuhn of Virginia and the late Norvel Fred Kuhn. 

Kellen was employed as a pilot at Pan Am Airlines for 5 years and later at NetJets for 22 years. He proudly served our country in the US Air Force during the Vietnam Era. Kellen was an avid golfer and loved to garden, sketch and paint. He was a member of St. Nicholas Catholic Church, Walnutport.

Survivors: In addition to his wife and mother, Kellen is survived by his son, Kellen D. Kuhn, Jr. and wife Kate; daughter, Katie Harley and husband Sean; sisters, Deborah Meyer, Jean McCue, Stacey Nichols; several nieces, nephews and his loving grand puppies, Jack, Shake and Bake. 

Services: A funeral service will be held on Thursday, November 15th at 5:00 p.m. in St. Nicholas Catholic Church, 4412 Mountain View Dr., Walnutport. Family and friends may call on Thursday, from 4:00 p.m. until time of service in the church. Interment will be private. Arrangements are under the direction of the Reichel Funeral Home, Northampton. 

Contributions: In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Blue Star Mothers of the Lehigh Valley, Chapter 201, PO Box 90226, Allentown, PA  18109 or to the National Parks Foundation, 1110 Vermont Ave NW Ste 200, Washington, DC 20005 or to Best Friends Animal Society, 5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab, Utah 84741 in memory of Kellen.

Walnutport, Pennsylvania

Kellen Kuhn had just fueled up his Harley-Davidson and was riding to Keystone Harley-Davidson on Route 248 in the Parryville area, to have it winterized and stored for the winter.

He asked his wife, Linda Kuhn, to leave 15 minutes after him from their home in Lehigh Township and pick him up. 

Headed north Thursday on Route 145 in the township, Kellen Kuhn was hit head-on by a southbound silver Chevrolet Impala that swerved suddenly into opposing traffic, according to township police.

Kellen was taken to St. Luke's Hospital in Palmerton, where he was pronounced dead at 4:08 p.m. following the 2:45 p.m. crash.

The driver of the Chevrolet, 91-year-old John "Jack" Fisher, was driving with his wife, Joanne Fisher, 86, in the passenger seat. Both died of their injuries, as well, she at the scene and Jack Fisher on Friday at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Salisbury Township.

The three-vehicle, afternoon crash occurred on Route 145.

The Fishers' car also slammed head-on into a red Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by 53-year-old Gloria Fisher, of Aquashicola outside Palmerton. She wasn't wearing a seat belt and suffered a head injury from striking the windshield, police said.

Lehigh Township police did not immediately say what might have caused Jack Fisher to lose control of his car. The crash occurred in dry conditions, along a curve in the road near Birch Drive. 

Saturday afternoon, friends and family of the Kuhns gathered at their well-kept home off Almond Road, with its view of the Blue Mountain's Kittatinny Ridge. 

Linda Kuhn recalled that when her husband didn't show up at the Harley-Davidson dealership and she couldn't reach him, she headed home. Traffic was blocked on Route 145 at Long Lane Road, but no one could tell her what happened. Then she saw news reports online of the crash.

"When I saw two cars and a motorcycle, I knew right then," she said.

The Kuhn family lived in Lehigh Township since 1989. The couple's son, Kellen Kuhn Jr., and daughter, Katie, are late 2000s graduates of Northampton Area High School and are now off and married with families of their own. 

The helmet Kellen Kuhn was wearing Thursday didn't have a scratch on it, his son noted.

"He wouldn't have been on the bike if he didn't have the helmet," Linda said. "That was our rule."

Kellen Kuhn, who was 63, was a professional pilot for more than 33 years, starting out with Pan Am and continuing for the past two decades with NetJets Inc. 

He loved flying the Bombardier Global 5000 and 6000 and Cessna Citation X through the fractional ownership private jet company based in Columbus, Ohio, his family said. Kellen Kuhn flew out of Lehigh Valley International Airport. 

"He was thinking about working 'til 70," his son said.

Outside of work, Kellen Kuhn liked to golf and loved gardening and landscaping. He was also an artist, and an oil painting he'd done hangs just inside the front door of the Lehigh Township home.

"He just wished he had more time," Linda said of her husband's painting hobby.

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