Saturday, November 17, 2018

Bell OH-58C, owned and operated by the Columbus Georgia Police Department, N510CP: Fatal accident occurred November 16, 2018 in Verbena, Chilton County, Alabama

David Hall
(Commercial pilot)
Retired Columbus Police Department officer David Hall was the pilot of the Columbus-based Metro Narcotics Task Force helicopter that crashed on November 16th, 2018 in the Coosa River, killing him and student pilot passenger Austin Jay Griswold.

Austin Jay Griswold 
(Student pilot passenger)

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Birmingham, Alabama
Bell Helicopter; Fort Worth, Texas
Rolls-Royce; Indianapolis, Indiana

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Clanton, AL

Accident Number: ERA19FA047
Date & Time: 11/16/2018, 1130 CST
Registration: N510CP
Aircraft: BELL OH 58C
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Positioning 

On November 16, 2018, about 1130 central standard time, a Bell OH-58C, N510CP, struck powerlines and came to rest in the Coosa River, near Clanton, Alabama. The helicopter was owned and operated by the Columbus Georgia Police Department. The commercial pilot and student pilot passenger were fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed. The positioning flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 and was destined for Chilton County Airport (02A), Clanton, Alabama. The flight departed Columbus Airport (CSG), Columbus, Georgia, about 1025 eastern standard time and stopped at Auburn University Regional Airport (AUO), Auburn, Alabama, to pick up the passenger before continuing to 02A.

According to witness statements, the helicopter approached the river from the east and flew north over the river. It was flying low, made a left turn and then flew south over the river. One witness observed the helicopter "catch" the powerlines, turn and impact the water. Another witness lost sight of the helicopter before hearing an explosion. Both witnesses saw the helicopter in the water and noted that the powerlines were no longer there.

At the accident site, the Coosa River was about 1,500 ft wide. The wreckage was located midway across the river, about 700 ft from shore, about 400 ft downstream from powerlines.

The four-seat helicopter was manufactured in 1970. It was powered by a Rolls-Royce/Allison M250, 250-horsepower turboshaft engine.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, instrument airplane, rotorcraft-helicopter, and remote pilot. The pilot applied for BasicMed privileges on August 9, 2017. At that time, he reported 765 total flight hours.

At 1135, the weather conditions reported at Merkel Field/Sylacauga Municipal Airport (SCD), about 20 miles north of the accident site included, wind from 290° at 6 knots; visibility 10 statute miles, sky clear, temperature 11° C, dew point 3° C; and an altimeter setting of 30.19 inches of mercury.

Examination of the wreckage was pending its recovery from the river.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: BELL

Registration: N510CP
Model/Series: OH 58C No Series
Aircraft Category: Helicopter
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Columbus Police Department
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions

Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KSCD, 569 ft msl
Observation Time: 1135 CST
Distance from Accident Site: 22 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 11°C / 3°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 290°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.19 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Auburn, AL (AUO)
Destination: Clanton, AL (02A)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal

Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  32.822222, -86.459167

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

Karen Griswold has a lot of stories she could tell about her younger son, Austin, the one who will be 22 forever.

Asked for one Monday morning, before his funeral that afternoon at Columbus’ Wynnbrook Baptist Church, she chose one his barber told her.

Austin always went to the same family barber in Phenix City, where he had a regular appointment. One day when he was there he met another Austin, a little boy around 4 or 5 years old.

When they first met, the elder Austin said something to this effect: “Your name’s Austin? Cool! My name is Austin, too!” They bumped fists and talked, and from then on, the barber scheduled the boy’s appointment right after the young man’s, so they could give each other the fist-bump and chat.

On Nov. 15, the barber finished big Austin’s hair before little Austin got there.

“I don’t have much daylight left,” he told her. “I’ve got to get home and wash my car.”

That’s a shame, she said: He’d miss seeing the child.

He paid for his haircut and got his change, and she walked to the back of the shop.

When she came back, he was still there. She thought he had left. Did he need something?

“I’m going to wait around a while, so I can see my little buddy,” he told her. When little Austin came in, they did the fist-bump, and talked, and then the elder Austin left.

It was a good thing he waited, because they never saw each other again.

Austin Jay Griswold was killed the next day when the Columbus’ Metro Narcotics Task Force helicopter piloted by reserve police officer David Hall hit a power line over the Coosa River, and crashed into Lake Mitchell. Hall also died in the crash.

The passenger was not supposed to be aboard the aircraft Hall was flying to Canton, Ala., for maintenance. Hall had picked Austin up in Auburn, Ala., to ride along. Though Hall was among those involved in Austin’s flight instruction – Austin had been obsessed with flying since he was a child, and never missed a chance to go – the ride-along was not for training.

“He was not taking flight lessons,” his mother said.

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

Funerals for the deceased are being held in Columbus this week. Hall’s is set for 2 p.m. Saturday at Wynnbrook Baptist Church, 500 River Knoll Way, with the Rev. Kevin Calhoun officiating. The family will receive friends at the church after the service, according to McMullen Funeral Home and Crematory, which also handled Austin’s service Monday.


Karen Griswold likes the barber shop story because it illustrates how her son treated people, and his sense of responsibility.

“He was a person who loved to please people, especially those who were closest to him,” the Rev. Grant Parker told more than 200 people gathered for Austin’s funeral.

Born July 20, 1996, Austin graduated from Northside High School in 2014, and from Columbus Technical College in 2017, with an HVAC certificate. He worked at Integrated Supply Company in Columbus as a warehouse manager and driver. He also was a student at FlightWays in Columbus, working toward a private pilot’s license.

“My son has been obsessed with flying since he was little,” his mother said Monday morning. Chris and Karen Griswold have an older son, Kyle, 26, and a younger daughter, Kristin, 18. Told to draw pictures when they were kids, Kyle drew a pet iguana; Kristin drew an abstract; Austin drew an airplane.

“He loved to fly,” his mother said. Some people find commercial airline flights stressful or tedious. Not Austin: “He could not wait to get on that plane.”

A cousin speaking at the funeral said he once asked why Austin liked it so much. “There’s no feeling like being in the air,” Austin replied.

Flying was not his only obsession: He loved the outdoors, particularly fishing, and he liked being tidy and organized.

His car and his boat were never soiled, as he washed them constantly: “Those were his babies. They didn’t get dirty,” his mother said.

Of Austin’s boat, the Rev. Parker told mourners: “He would dry it off after he took it out of the water…. He was fastidious about washing and details and all that.”

He would wash other people’s cars, too, for free, his mother said, and he would do it perfectly, too, because he was so meticulous.

“He was ahead on everything,” Karen Griswold said: He was seven months’ ahead on his car payments, and four months’ ahead on his boat.

Said the preacher: “He paid his relationships ahead as well.”

He started at Columbus Tech before he got a job at Integrated Systems, which supplies refrigeration pipes for grocery stores and other businesses. Deciding he liked the job and would stay on, he wanted to drop out of school. His mother talked him out of it, and later on he told her, “Mom, I know you were right.”

Because he loved Integrated Systems, he had made no other career plans. “He loved that place, and they loved him,” his mother said.

“He came into work every day with a smile on his face and a great attitude,” a coworker recalled at the funeral. “We come to work every day and bring up memories of him, followed by tears, followed by smiles and laughter.”

Smiles and laughter overcame tears at his funeral, at times, as when a friend remembered their building a backyard bonfire. The friend threw a box of fireworks into it, ignoring Austin’s warning, “That’s not a good idea.”

The friend thought the box was just burn. He was wrong: “We ended up running and running with hundreds of bottle rockets flying at us,” he said.

A music-backed montage of photos shown at the service often depicted Austin fishing, or holding fish he’d caught, or just sitting on his boat.

A cousin told of calling Austin on occasion to see if they could hang out together. “Only if you want to go sit on the boat,” Austin replied.

His ingenuity was remarkable: If he needed a tool he didn’t have or couldn’t get, he fashioned something that would do the job. “Austin might have hated school, but he was good with his hands,” the cousin said.

His mother didn’t think Austin ever planned to work as a pilot, but he did intend, one day, to buy his own plane. His favorite one to fly was a 1970s single-engine aircraft with the wings set over the cockpit.

He didn’t always tell her when he was going up, but before he first flew alone, he texted her: “I’m about to do my first solo. I love you.”

She asked that he text her back when it was over, and he did: “I’m alive,” he messaged.

“Thank God,” she replied.

The Sunday before he died, he flew two solo flights, taking off and landing. His parents watched. His performance looked perfect.

The following Thursday, he saw his little barber shop buddy for the last time, and the next Friday he was gone, the week before Thanksgiving. “It will never be the same for us,” his mother said of the holiday.

At the funeral, the Rev. Parker told everyone how Austin, the 22-year-old who had been in a hurry to go wash his car before dark, waited in the barber shop to see the little boy with the same name.

“You behave for your Daddy,” Austin told the child.

The bodies of two people from Columbus who died in a helicopter crash in Alabama’s Coosa River have been recovered, and the pilot’s identity has been released.

The Columbus-based Metro Narcotics Task Force helicopter crashed around midday Friday after striking a power line in the Lake Mitchell portion of the Coosa River, in central Alabama’s Chilton County.

“We are coming back from Alabama where the bodies have been removed from the helicopter after the crash on Friday. We’ve touched base with all family members now and this is the end of a long weekend,” Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren said Sunday afternoon during a brief news conference at the Columbus Airport.

Accompanying him at the airport were Muscogee County Sheriff Donna Tompkins, Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor and Harris County Sheriff Mike Jolley. All four law enforcement officials are board members of the Metro Narcotics Task Force, which used the downed helicopter in their anti-drug operations.

Boren identified the pilot of the aircraft as David Hall, 53, who retired in July after working 28 years with the Columbus Police Department. He was at the controls of the Bell OH-58 helicopter that went down in Lake Mitchell, just east of Interstate 65 and Clanton, Ala., and north of Montgomery, Ala.

“It went down with two occupants on board and this afternoon around lunch time divers were able to retrieve both bodies, which were still in the aircraft,” the police chief said. “Officer Hall has been positively identified by us. The second individual we’re waiting on identification from family members.”

Boren declined to say why the passenger was aboard the helicopter, which was being taken to a maintenance and repair company in Clanton and being swapped out with another Metro Narcotics Task Force aircraft that had already received maintenance. He said identification of the passenger will come later.

“Every so many hours you have to have maintenance done on an aircraft, and this was just the routine maintenance it has to have on it,” Jolley said at the news conference.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration, both agencies that were on the crash scene, will be investigating the accident and issuing findings in the future.

“We believe that it struck a (power line) wire that went across the river, a low-hanging wire that was not marked at the time, and as the helicopter was apparently ascending over there from some area, it hit this wire and the helicopter went down in the river,” Boren said.

Hall, a graduate of Jordan High School and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, began his career with the Columbus Police Department in 1990 and served for 28 years, which included a break for about two years in 2004. After retirement, he remained a pilot of the helicopter and other aircraft used by the Metro Narcotics Task Force. He also was a recruiter for the police department.

“It’s bad, especially for the law enforcement family in this area,” Boren said. “We had hired several officers that he had recruited from the area for the department. He was known to everybody on the metro board. He had done flight services for everybody on the metro board, and he’s going to be a loss to our department.”

Although the crash took place around midday Friday, the recovery operation that included the Chilton County Sheriff’s Department was not easy and extended into Saturday. It then was called off after dark Saturday due to treacherous conditions with the river’s current. The aircraft’s fuselage was located roughly 70 feet below the waterway’s surface.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, after receiving word from Boren of the bodies’ retrieval from the helicopter, expressed “great sorrow” on her Facebook page at the loss of Hall and the death of his passenger. She said they will be missed by those who knew them.

“Our hearts go out to those who are suffering with this loss,” she said. “The Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalms 147:3). May you find peace in the joy of the life you shared.”

CHILTON COUNTY, Ala. — UPDATE 6:59 PM: A day after a helicopter crashed in a Chilton County lake, dive teams are forced to wait another day to make recovery efforts underneath the water easier.

The biggest obstacle have been the water currents at Lake Mitchell, according to investigators.

Chief Deputy CCSO Shane Mayfield told ABC 33/40 water flow must be gradually slowed down above two nearby dams over a 6-8 hour process. Alabama Power is working recovery teams to help make this happen.

The wreckage of the helicopter is 70 feet below the surface of the water.

One man returned who lives on the lake says he returned home to the news from vacation.

"Actually I didn’t even know about it until we drove down the little road that leads to the house and we saw all the cars, and blue lights flashing," says Doctor Charles Russell.

Dr. Russell told ABC 33/40 he and his wife were in disbelief something like this could happen right beside their house.

"I just couldn’t imagine what was going on. So I stopped and talked to a lieutenant from the sheriff’s office about what was going on and he explained that there had been a helicopter crash.”

Dive teams will be back in the water at 8AM on Sunday.

UPDATE:  A police helicopter from Georgia crashed in Chilton County Friday. There are no known survivors.

Officials believe a power line was involved in the crash, which ended in Lake Mitchell near Cargile Creek.

The aircraft remained in the water Friday night as law enforcement officials briefed the media.

They confirmed the helicopter was part of a metro narcotics task force, which included 5 agencies in Georgia and Alabama. The flight was a routine maintenance flight from Columbus Georgia to Clanton.

The pilot is still believed to be in the water with the aircraft. He was a retired Columbus Georgia police officer who was brought back to the pilot.

There may have been a second person on board. It is still unclear whether the pilot stopped in Auburn and picked up a passenger.

Friday night, crews were able to locate the helicopter in the water, but they ran out of daylight. The diving team plans to go back into the water at 8:00 Saturday morning to continue recovery efforts.

The FAA is investigating, but the National Transportation Safety Board will rule the probable cause of the accident.

UPDATE: The helicopter has been located. Officials unsure how much can be done towards recovery before it's too dark.

Chilton County Sheriff's Office says there is no signs of survivors following a helicopter crash in Verbena Friday afternoon.

The helicopter, from Georgia, crashed in the area of Cargile Creek on Lake Mitchell. ALEA is assisting in the investigation.

The FAA says the helicopter, a Bell OH-58, crashed around 1:15 p.m.

Authorities ask for the public to stay away from County Roads 542 and 553 at this time.

Original article can be found here ➤

A helicopter belonging to the multi-agency Metro Narcotics Task Force based in Columbus crashed into the Coosa River in central Alabama after striking power lines Friday, authorities said.

“At about 12:30 today we received a call that the Metro Narcotics Task Force helicopter was flying to Clanton, Ala., and we believe hit a power line that stretched across the Coosa River between Coosa and Chilton counties,” officials said in a statement Friday evening from the Russell County Sheriff’s Office. “The helicopter was in route to Clanton, Ala., for routine maintenance and repair.”

The narcotics task force includes Columbus and Phenix City police, and Russell County and Muscogee County sheriff’s investigators.

Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren and other law enforcement leaders overseeing the task force were on the scene. Boren said search and recovery efforts were underway, with divers trying to reach the submerged aircraft.

According to Birmingham CBS affiliate WIAT, the crash occurred near Cargile Creek on Lake Mitchell outside Verbena, off Interstate 65 north of Montgomery.

The Chilton County Sheriff’s Office posted this statement to its Facebook page Friday afternoon:

“We are investigating a helicopter crash on the Coosa River near Cargile Creek. The crash involved a law enforcement aircraft from Georgia. There are no signs of survivors. Recovery efforts are ongoing. This is a massive team effort with many federal, state, and county agencies on scene and responding. Boaters are asked to avoid that area of the River. Motorists are asked to avoid County Roads 542 and 553 to allow recovery efforts to continue without delay!”

The Federal Aviation Administration issued this statement:

“A Bell OH-58 helicopter crashed into a river today about 12:15 p.m. (CST) near Clanton, Ala. The number of people on board is unknown at this time.... The FAA will investigate and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will determine the probable cause of the accident.”

Original article ➤

CHILTON COUNTY, AL (WSFA) - The wreckage of a Georgia law enforcement helicopter that crashed into the waters of Lake Mitchell in Verbena, located in Chilton County, was found Friday afternoon.

Chilton County Sheriff’s Assistant Chief Deputy Shane Mayfield said that rescue crews were able to locate the helicopter in the lake, but they have been unable to recover it.

The dive teams will resume their recovery efforts Saturday morning at 8 a.m.

The crash site is in the area of Cargile Creek, located on Lake Mitchell, according to the Chilton County Sheriff’s Office. That’s about 50 miles north of Montgomery and 50 miles south of Birmingham near the geographical center of the state.

The helicopter belonged to the Metro Narcotics Task force and was heading from Columbus, Georgia to Clanton, Alabama when the crash occurred.

Sheriff Donna Tompkins of Muscogee County, Georgia. said the helicopter belongs to a multi-jurisdictional drug task force that includes Muscogee, Harris and Russell counties, as well as Columbus and Phenix City police.

Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor said the pilot, whose name hasn’t been released, is a retired Columbus Police Department officer who works for the department part time. Taylor said no one has been able to reach the pilot since the crash, which leads them to believe that he wasn’t able to escape.

According to Taylor and Hayfield, there has been no sign of life since the crash.

“It doesn’t look good. At this point, we haven’t found him, and we haven’t been able to contact him, so we believe that he is still in the water at this point and we’re doing our best to bring him home," Taylor said.

The helicopter was flying from Columbus to Clanton for a routine maintenance check when it supposedly struck a power line and crashed into the water.

“There’s a (power) line that I think comes across the river here, and it’s down, so we’re thinking right now that’s what occurred," Taylor said.

Taylor said there could have been more than one person in the helicopter at the time of the crash. According to Taylor, the pilot left Columbus early Friday morning, and after that it’s believed he stopped in Auburn. It’s there that Taylor worries the pilot picked up another person.

“We’ve been told unofficially that he made a stop in Auburn. We’re trying to run that down and track that down and see if we can find out that whole side of it," Taylor said.

Original article can be found here ➤

The Innovator by Commuter Craft

A scale remote controlled model of “The Innovator”, which was used for testing. Richard Hogan is developing a new small airplane he plans to sell under the moniker “The Innovator.” Hogan, founder of Commuter Craft, plans for buyers of the $148,000 airplane to come to his facility and build the airframe themselves over a period of three weeks. He has gained attention in the kit airplane industry nationally, and says he plans to start production this fall.

Since Richard Hogan was a boy, watching military planes fly from the Air Force base not far from his home, he’s been drawing designs for new aircraft.

He dreamed of being a pilot.

But when he was 12 years old, his grandfather took him for ice cream and a frank talk.

“He said, ‘Richard, your eyes aren’t good enough’” to be a pilot. His grandfather suggested he consider airplane design, given all the sketches that occupied his time.

Hogan would go on to make a career in another field, while occasionally returning to his design hobby. Then seven years ago — when he was in his mid-50s — he decided to go all-in. He left a full-time job in facilities management to get Commuter Craft off the ground.

He’s now the man behind an unusual looking propeller plane called The Innovator, which utilizes a design that allows pilots to land at a slower, less-intimidating speed without stalling.

In a cavernous warehouse in an industrial area of Cartersville, Hogan employs about a dozen people.

“It actually began with a design I did in high school,” says Hogan, who grew up in the Fort Worth, Texas area. At the beginning, “we did a couple of radio-controlled models.”

His goal — once the airplane is fully developed and flight tested — is to sell the kit planes to pilots, who would build most of the carbon-fiber composite plane themselves at Commuter Craft’s facility over a three-week period. Then, he said, his professional aircraft builders will finish off the plane within three months.

“When he left, that was his dream, I guess, his goal. Aviation, — everything that surrounds it, and building his own airplanes and things like that,” says Ed Gee, founder and president of Duluth-based Ises Corp., where Hogan used to work. “He’s one of those unique guys that kind of grabs it by the seat of the pants and goes out and does it.”

Experimental aircraft

It’s a variation on the home-built airplane that falls under the Federal Aviation Administration’s experimental aircraft category.

If someone builds at least 51 percent of a plane, it can be registered as an amateur-built aircraft and licensed by the FAA as experimental.

There are more than 30,000 home-built planes registered in the United States, according to the Experimental Aircraft Association.

At the budget end of the airplane market, a small plane such as a used Piper Cub can be had for less than $50,000. A new Cessna 172 can cost close to half a million dollars, and a personal jet can cost millions.

The price tag for a kit plane can start even lower than a Piper Cub, but also can reach more than $1 million at the high end.

“It’s always fun to see the new designs come out,” said Dick Knapinski, a spokesman for the Experimental Aircraft Association.

Hogan plans to sell his new planes for around $150,000 for the basic model and about $210,000 for a premium edition. He says he has already taken 55 orders. While early orders placed were discounted, Hogan is now charging $2,500 to reserve a position for the plane once it’s in production.

Risky business

It’s not easy to develop a new airplane. Many such startups have failed, even after years of growth.

Hogan has thought hard about the potential pitfalls.

“At some point in life, you say, ‘This is who I am. I’ve got to do this,’” he says.

There are benefits to developing a kit plane versus a full-fledged factory-built plane. It costs less to develop, because the plane doesn’t have to meet the standards, testing and regulations to be “type certificated” by the Federal Aviation Administration.

But kit planes still must be registered with the FAA and inspected, and must receive an airworthiness certificate. A pilot must fly 25-40 hours of test flights before he or she can take up passengers in an amateur-built plane, which is also subject to condition inspections every year, according to the Experimental Aircraft Association.

Taking the kit plane route “was to reduce the risk” and cut the cost to bring it to market, Hogan says. But, he acknowledges, “It’s still risky. The economy could change.”

Steve Champness, who is senior associate publisher of aircraft buy-and-sell publication Trade-a-Plane and heads the Aero Club of Metropolitan Atlanta that Hogan is a member of, says Commuter Craft is fortunate to be preparing to enter the market with good timing.

“Any new company’s got the challenges of how to scale up operations,” Champness says. But “aircraft sales have rebounded dramatically in the last 12 months.”

With a strong economy, “there’s enough buyers that have financial resources that are needed to purchase an aircraft like this,” he said. Hogan has “an innovative design that is priced, I think, in a very buyer-friendly zone for new aircraft. … It has a lot of people that are very excited about it.”

Getting off the ground

It has been four years since Hogan first began traveling to aviation shows to unveil his vision for The Innovator, which has a futuristic look with an extra-wide fuselage, a high twin-boomed tail and canard wing at the nose.

“It being such a unique design, I wanted to see if anyone liked it,” he says.

In 2015, a prototype of the plane took its first flight with a test pilot in the cockpit.

The following year, Hogan was preparing to begin production, and general aviation publications wrote articles telling of the imminent debut of The Innovator.

Upon seeing a photo of the plane in a publication, “a friend of mine knew it had to be me, because it looked just like the planes I used to draw in high school,” Hogan says.

But the plans to begin production were ultimately put on hold, as the company worked on new features.

To continue, Hogan brought in an investment partner to help fund development.

The goal today: To produce about a dozen aircraft by the end of 2019, 40 in 2020, and 80 in 2021.

Folding wings

Hogan’s first customers will be what he calls “alpha builders” — experienced airplane builders who are helping to finalize the company’s builder’s guide.

So far, Commuter Craft has built two versions of The Innovator, improving on the design after the first model was built, with the second version aimed at being production compliant.

And the planes that will be sold to customers first are a bit different from what Hogan initially envisioned.

“When you come up to [The Innovator] you go, ‘Wow, this is like a Ferrari,’” Champness says. “It’s like the sports car of airplanes.”

In fact, The Innovator does look like a bit like a car with wings.

That’s no accident. In fact, Hogan originally wanted to design a “roadable” version of the aircraft — in other words, a flying car.

But many who have observed aviation over the decades — or watched a sci-fi movie or two — roll their eyes at the notion of a flying car gaining popularity.

Hogan put the flying car idea aside and says The Innovator he will launch first will actually be a traditional airplane.

The idea now is that future models could include a roadable version, including folding wings. Wings nearly 24-feet wide that can fold to just eight-feet wide also will be an option on the traditional plane, Hogan says. That makes it small enough to pull in a trailer.

“The aircraft was designed as a multi-vehicle platform,” he says. “We didn’t set out to build an airplane. We set out to build an airplane company.”

For the aviation world and for Hogan himself, apparently, “the flying car was one of the great undying dreams,” he says.

Knapinski said that’s partly because “everybody is looking for the answer how do we get more people involved in flying.”

“Something like the Commuter Craft design, “People look at it and say, ‘Wow, I can see myself in that aircraft,’” Knapinski says.

Depending on how you count it, less than 2/10 of 1 percent of the U.S. population that is certified as an airplane pilot.

Hogan thinks a plane that’s accessible to a broader swath of the population could help change that.

If 1 out of 700 people are pilots, Hogan says, “That means that the other 699 don’t know what they’re missing.”

Original article can be found here ➤

Van’s RV-12, N232VA: Fatal accident occurred November 17, 2018 near Ruckel Airport (FL17), Niceville, Okaloosa County, Florida

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Birmingham, Alabama

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: 

Location: Niceville, FL
Accident Number: ERA19FA048
Date & Time: 11/17/2018, 1243 CST
Registration: N232VA
Aircraft: Vans RV-12
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

On November 17, 2018, about 1243 central standard time, a Vans RV-12, N232VA, was substantially damaged when it impacted trees and terrain during initial climb from Ruckel Airport (FL17), Niceville, Florida. The flight instructor, who was also the owner of the airplane was fatally injured, and the student pilot sustained serious injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local instructional flight. The flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The accident airplane was one of two RV-12 airplanes that were operated by a flight school.

Another flight instructor reported that when he returned from an instructional flight earlier on the day of the accident, he was told by the owner, that the 100-hour inspection was completed on the accident airplane. The flight instructor subsequently departed in the accident airplane with another student pilot; however, during initial climb, at 400 ft, the engine rpm was lower than normal and at 500 ft, the engine momentary lost power. The flight instructor made a 180° turn and landed the airplane back at the airport. The owner and flight instructor then performed a visual inspection of the airplane and could not find any anomalies. The owner stated that the problem was likely "vapor lock," which the airplane had experienced in the past. The owner told the flight instructor to let the engine cool down and he would take the airplane for a flight later in the day with his own student pilot. Two hours later, the owner and another student pilot departed on the accident flight.

Several witnesses, who lived across the street from the runway, stated they watched the airplane takeoff and when it was just over the tree tops, the airplane made a sharp turn to the left like it was trying to turn around and land at the airport. They stated the airplane's wings leveled just before it hit the tree tops. They added the engine was running "very loud."

The wreckage was located about 150 ft from the left side of the departure end of runway 36. Tree branches were observed broken descending about a 15° angle and extending approximately 50 ft on a magnetic heading of 270° to the main wreckage. The main wreckage came to rest inverted. All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the scene. Control cable continuity was confirmed to the respective controls. Tree impressions were found along the leading edges of both wings, and about 3 ft of the right-wing tip was found about 150 ft to the east of the main wreckage One propeller blade was fractured from the hub. A Dynon SkyView avionics system was removed and forwarded to the National Transportation Safety Board vehicle recorders laboratory for data download.

The two seat, low-wing, tricycle gear airplane, was manufactured in 2013. It was powered by a Rotax 912ULS, 81-horsepower engine, equipped with a two-bladed Sensenich propeller. The most recent 100-hour inspection was completed on the morning of the accident by the owner, but the owner had not recorded any endorsements in the airplane's logbooks prior to the accident flight. The previous 100-hour inspection that was completed on September 14, 2018. At that time, the airframe and engine had 389 total hours of operation.

The flight instructor/owner held an air transport pilot certificate, with a rating for airplane multi-engine land. He held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and airplane single-engine sea. He also held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine, airplane multiengine, and instrument airplane. His most recent Federal Aviation Administration first class medical certificate was issued on August 23, 2018. He reported 2,348 total hours of flight experience at that time.

The wreckage was retained for further investigation.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Vans
Registration: N232VA
Model/Series: RV-12 No Series
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built:
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: Pilot School (141) 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KVPS, 87 ft msl
Observation Time: 1855 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 15°C / 1°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 25000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 10°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.18 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Niceville, FL (FL17)
Destination: Niceville, FL (FL17)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude:  30.528056, -86.438889 (est)

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 

Chris "Hook" Dupin

We lost Chris "Hook" Dupin on November 17th, 2018 doing what he loved, flying. It was a sudden and tragic loss that has been felt by many across the world. Chris is survived by his wife, mother, father, brother and two dogs. Funds donated with go toward memorial expenses and will assist Chris's wife April and his family in this extremely difficult transition.

Memorial Fund:

NICEVILLE — The person who died in the Saturday afternoon crash of a small airplane between Forest Road and Rocky Bayou Country Club has been identified as 38-year-old Christopher Dupin of Niceville, whom Federal Aviation Administration records identify as a co-owner of the downed aircraft.

Injured in the crash was 51-year-old Dr. Rafael Mollega, a local eye doctor, also of Niceville. Mollega was aboard the Van’s Aircraft RV-12, a two-seat, single-engine airplane available either in kit form or as a fully assembled aircraft from its Oregon manufacturer.

Dupin’s Facebook page lists him as manager of Gulf Coast Aero Adventures, a flight school based out of his Niceville home that uses nearby Ruckel Airfield as its base of operations. A message left at the business’s telephone number was not immediately returned Monday.

The Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office was called to the scene shortly before 1 p.m. Saturday, and first responders discovered the plane upside down in a roadway. Both men were alive at the scene and were taken to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center. Dupin died later Saturday afternoon, according to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.

Mollega was listed in stable condition at FWBMC on Monday, according to hospital spokeswoman Denise Kendust.

Early indications are that the plane had left Ruckel Airfield, a private airport east of Forest Road, just prior to the crash. On the basis of debris found in the roadway, authorities speculated Saturday that the plane hit some trees before striking the ground.

Gary Wood, a nearby resident, said he got a call from his neighbor “in hysterics” after she saw the crash. Wood ran to the scene with a fire extinguisher to help extinguish a smoking wing. A doctor playing golf nearby also ran to help.

One of the men aboard the aircraft reportedly was handed a knife to cut himself out of the seat belt to escape, Wood said.

Firefighters removed the plane’s battery to prevent further risk of fire from a minor fuel leak.

A Federal Aviation Administration crash scene investigator was summoned to the scene Saturday, but was delayed by investigation of a helicopter crash in Alabama.

Original article can be found here ➤

NICEVILLE, Fla. (WEAR) —  One person has died and another is undergoing treatment at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center after a small private aircraft crashed on Forest Road near Niceville Saturday afternoon.

The call of a two-seat airplane down between Jason Drive and Golf Course Drive came in just before 12:45 p.m.

According to the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office (OCS), two people were removed from the aircraft and taken to a hospital where one died shortly before 4 p.m.

OCSO said the plane is believed to have gone down shortly after taking off from nearby Ruckel Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤

One person has died and another is undergoing treatment at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center following the crash of a small private aircraft on Forest Road near Niceville this afternoon.

The call of a two seat airplane down between Jason Drive and
Golf Course Drive near Rocky Bayou came in around 12:43 p.m.

Two people were removed from the aircraft and taken to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center where one died just before four p.m.

The plane is believed to have gone down shortly after taking off from nearby Ruckel Airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the crash.

Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office

NICEVILLE, Fla. (WKRG) -  Okaloosa County Sheriff's Office deputies say, one person has died and another is undergoing treatment at Fort Walton Beach Medical Center following the crash of a small private aircraft on Forest Road near Niceville this afternoon. 

Deputies say, the call of a two-seat airplane down between Jason Drive and Golf Course Drive near Rocky Bayou came in around 12:43 p.m.

Two people were removed from the aircraft and taken to Fort Walton Beach Medical Center where one died shortly before four p.m. 

The plane is believed to have gone down shortly after taking off from nearby Ruckel Airport. 

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the cause of the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤

North American P-51D Mustang, registered to Pea Hochso LLC and operated by the pilot, N4132A: Fatal accident occurred November 17, 2018 near Gillespie County Airport (T82), Fredericksburg, Texas

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Antonio, Texas
Appareo Systems; Fargo, North Dakota 

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Fredericksburg, TX

Accident Number: CEN19FA028
Date & Time: 11/17/2018, 1515 CST
Registration: N4132A
Aircraft: North American P51
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On November 17, 2018, about 1515 central standard time, a North American P51 D airplane, N4132A, impacted an apartment parking lot near Fredericksburg, Texas, following maneuvers. The commercial pilot and the passengers sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was destroyed during the impact. The airplane was registered to Pea Hochso LLC and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area about the time of the accident, and the flight was not operated on a flight plan. The local flight originated about 1459 from the Gillespie County Airport(T82), near Fredericksburg, Texas.

According to a lineman at T82, the airplane arrived about 0915 for the first time that day. Five flights with passengers were scheduled. Once the first passenger arrived, the pilot took off and returned with no issues. After the airplane shut down, the pilot requested 50 gallons of 100 low lead aviation gasoline per side. The pilot then asked the lineman to assist loading the second passenger about 1050. The pilot then used a ladder to set up a camera on the tip of the airplane's tail. This flight returned without any incidents. Later in the day, the pilot requested further assistance with his third passenger. At 1442, the lineman met the pilot at the airplane where they then used the ladder again to set up his camera. About 1444 pm a passenger arrived at the airplane. They then repositioned the ladder, the passenger was loaded, and the airplane departed the airport. The lineman reported that during this service and the previous services that day, no mechanical issues or oil spots on the ground were noted with the airplane.

A witness in the parking lot stated that the airplane climbed and descended nose down. The airplane impacted terrain and the "back" of the airplane separated and came to rest on nearby parked vehicles. The witness stated that the airplane impacted "so hard" it had "blown up." However, there were no flames.

The 73-year-old pilot held a Federal Aviation Administration commercial pilot certificate with airplane single and multi-engine, and instrument ratings. He also held a FAA second-class airman medical certificate which was issued on December 5, 2017.

N4132A, a North American P51 D, Mustang, serial number 122-40985, was an all-metal, laminar flow, low-wing monoplane. The airplane's ailerons, elevators, and rudder were conventionally operated by a control stick and rudder pedals. The airplane was powered by a twelve-cylinder, overhead cam, liquid cooled, V-type, supercharged, Rolls Royce V-1650-7 engine, serial number V-331281. According to copies of the aircraft's logbook entries, an annual inspection was completed on March 8, 2018. The aircraft had accumulated 1812.9 hours of total time at the time of that annual inspection.

At 1515, the recorded weather at T82, was: Wind 190° at 11 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition broken clouds at 3,900 ft; temperature 20° C; dew point 10° C; altimeter 30.04 inches of mercury.

An on-scene investigation was conducted. The airplane wreckage came to rest in a parking lot about 2.5 miles and 70° from T82. Linear witness marks were found on the ground under the leading edges of the wings. The leading edge of both airplane wings exhibited rearward crushing. Red and green colored media consistent with glass was found near the wing's respective separated navigation light holders. The engine and its propeller were found impacted in terrain about five feet below grade. Three of the propeller blades were separated from the propeller hub. The three separated blades exhibited chordwise abrasion and nearby black top pavement exhibited a witness mark consistent with a propeller strike. One propeller blade exhibited leading edge gouges. The empennage was separated from the fuselage forward of the tailwheel. The empennage came to rest inverted on parked cars about 68 ft and 310° from the engine. The fuselage and cockpit were fragmented mostly in a debris path between the engine and empennage. Flight and engine control continuity was not able to be established. However, all observed separations exhibited features consistent with overload. The magneto switch was fragmented. However, its face plate exhibited it was in the both position. The fuel valve was found in the debris path. Some of the fuel lines were separated from the valve body. The fuel bladders were found breached. The rear section of the engine separated from its front section. The engine's compressor blades were intact. The propeller hub was not able to rotate when a its attached blade had a rotational force applied to it by hand.

A GoPro camera mount was found in a grass area north of the wreckage debris field. The mount did not contain a GoPro camera. Another GoPro mount and camera were found within the debris field. However, the camera's SD card was not present.

The Gillespie County Justice of the Peace was asked to arrange an autopsy on the pilot and to have toxicological samples taken.

A Stratus unit was found damaged in the wreckage and will be sent to the National Transportation Safety Board Vehicle Recorder Laboratory to see if it contains data in reference to the accident flight. Additionally, the recovery company subsequently recovered an SD card during wreckage recovery. The SD card will also be sent to the recorder laboratory to see if it contains data in reference to the accident flight.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: North American
Registration: N4132A
Model/Series: P51 D
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Pilot
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KT82, 1695 ft msl
Observation Time: 1515 CST
Distance from Accident Site: 2 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 20°C / 10°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 11 knots / , 190°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 3900 ft agl
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.04 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Fredericksburg, TX (T82)
Destination: Fredericksburg, TX (T82)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  30.275278, -98.900000 (est)

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

Cowden Ward Jr. was killed November 17th when the North American P-51D Mustang crashed into an apartment complex parking lot in Fredericksburg, Texas.

Vince Losada, left, was identified as one of the victims in a plane crash in Fredericksburg on Saturday afternoon that killed two. Losada was a World War II veteran.

World War II veteran Vincent Losada suffered two grim experiences in airplanes: in the first, during the war, he lost his arm; in the second, Saturday, he lost his life.

The 93-year-old San Antonio man was one of two people killed in a plane crash in Fredericksburg. The other, pilot Cowden Clark Ward, Jr., was a 73-year-old Burnet man known for offering free flights to veterans in his vintage, modified Mustang P-51D.

That's the plane the two were in when they crashed into the parking lot of the Creekside Apartment complex located at 707 South Creek Street in Fredericksburg. The collision occurred around 3:15 Saturday, more than 73 years after Losada lost his arm in a mission over Germany.

He had joined the Army Air Corps immediately after finishing high school in Cleveland and became a 1st lieutenant and bombardier on a B-17 Flying Fortress within a few years, according to a brief biography on D. Clarke Evans Photographer’s website. They called his plane “Big Drip Jr.”

On March 15, 1945, he and his group were targeting Oranienburg, Germany. It was Losado's 25th — and as it turned out, his last — mission, according to the website. It was right after they had dropped their bombs that an anti-aircraft round burst near the nose of Losada's bomber, and a piece of shrapnel severed his right arm.

The crew gave him all the morphine they had and applied a tourniquet to his arm. Though he almost bled to death, he said on the photographer's website, he never lost consciousness on the 3½-hour flight back to England. He was then sent back to the U.S. in a ½ body cast. He was treated and recovered in Temple.

Though the mission cost him his arm, he didn't feel bad about it, he wrote.

"I am most proud that I served," he wrote on the website. "The worst day was my last mission, when I was hit, I knew it was serious. I never regretted being in the service, and I never felt bad about my injury. I was just glad I got back alive."

Upon his return, he worked in the budget and fiscal office until his retirement from the Army in 1947, the website said. He worked in insurance after that, first in Cleveland, then, when he decided it was too cold, in San Antonio, until 1969.

He also joined the “Possibilities Unlimited Club” — an exclusive amputee group — in 1948, where he had the opportunity to participate in unique football and baseball leagues, according to a 2015 post on World War II veterans’ memories Facebook page.

In 2017, he got a chance to ride in a B-17 again, a short flight from San Marcos to San Antonio that was part of the national Wings of Freedom tour organized by the Collings Foundation in Stow, Massachusetts.

Waiting for the plane to takeoff, Losada recalled his World War II days.

“The memories are real — just remembering them,” he told the Express-News at the time.

The P-51 he was in when he died was often used to escort B-17 bombers. The National Transportation Safety Board is investing the crash.

Losada's wife, son and two grandsons all preceded him in death, obituary records show.

FREDERICKSBURG, Texas (AP) — The 93-year-old passenger who was killed when a World War II-era fighter aircraft crashed in South Texas had been a WWII pilot, according to group that arranges fighter plane rides for veterans.

The P-51D Mustang had just participated in a flyby Saturday when it crashed in Fredericksburg, about 70 miles (110 kilometers) north of San Antonio. The pilot was also killed.

Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Orlando Moreno on Monday identified the pilot as 73-year-old Cowden Ward Jr. of Burnet and his passenger as Vincent Losada, 93, of San Antonio.

Freedom Flyers posted on Facebook that Ward was flying an "honored passenger, a WWII B17 pilot" when he crashed. Ward was the founder of Freedom Flyers and often flew veterans in his plane, which was deployed in World War II and the Korean War, the group said.

"Cowden was a civilian, but he had the highest respect for our nation's servicemen and women, more than anyone else I have ever known," his friend, Kayla Segerstrom, told the San Antonio Express-News.

Ward's plane, named Pecos Bill, was taking part in ceremonies Saturday organized by the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg. The day included a battle re-enactment showcasing WWII equipment and weapons.

Chris Arntz, an Army veteran who attended the program with his wife and daughter, told the Express-News that Ward's plane had just flown over the crowd when it appeared to nose dive beyond a tree line.

"I told my wife, 'I'm pretty sure that plane just crashed,'" said Arntz, explaining that there was no loud explosion or any other indication of a crash as the program continued uninterrupted. He learned later upon returning home that his suspicion was correct.

The plane crashed into the parking lot of a nearby apartment complex, damaging vehicles. No one on the ground was hurt.

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

The pilot from the deadly plane crash in Fredericksburg on Saturday has been identified.

Two people, including a WWII veteran, were killed when a vintage airplane crashed into the parking lot of an apartment complex during a World War II re-enactment show.

Cowden Ward Jr. was flying the North American Aviation P-51 Mustang during the re-enactment event put on by the National Museum of the Pacific War when it crashed around 3:15 p.m.

Cowden Ward Jr. is from Burnet and was the pilot and owner of Pecos Bill, the North American P-51D that crashed. According to the Freedom Flyers, Bowden honored over 130 WWII Veterans and Purple Heart Recipients veterans with flights in his P51 - completely free of charge - to thank them for their service to our country. He also did fly-over tributes at WWII Veterans' funerals & events.

Cowden Ward Jr. was also involved with the Highland Lakes Squadron CAF.

The pilot's identity was confirmed in a Facebook post by Cal Pacific Airmotive Inc.

It is with a sad heart we share the news of the P-51D Pecos Bill accident that claimed the life of pilot Cowden Ward Jr. and his passenger, a WWII B17 veteran. Our condolences to Cowden's family, the family of his passenger and to the crew at Freedom Flyers. Their mission is to honor those who have served, and they have honored many. Our hearts go out to you at this time.

Oshkosh Warbirds Squadron #32, a chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association’s Warbirds of America division, released the following statement to FOX 7 Austin following the crash.

Cowden Ward was well known in the warbirds (restored vintage military aircraft) community as a person who was truly passionate about honoring veterans.  As the owner and pilot of the restored WWII-era North American Aviation P-51 Mustang affectionately known as “Pecos Bill”, Cowden gave countless free rides to veterans in his airplane.  He was extremely generous with his time and airplane in doing this for veterans, particularly WWII vets.  It was his way to give back for their service to our country.  There are hundreds of people all over the country with stories about Cowden Ward’s generosity and passion for honoring veterans.  Cowden Ward was the kind of person that others in the warbird community looked up to.  He set the bar high as an example of how to honor veterans.  His loss is felt very deeply by all of us that own, fly, maintain, or admire vintage military aircraft.

Freedom Flyers released the following statement regarding the passing of Bowden:

"Bowden founded Freedom Flyers it was his mission to honor our nations veterans. He felt honored to be able to own and fly the plane and he wanted to share that with those who served our Nation. Cowden was a civilian but he had the highest respect for our nations service men and women, more than anyone else I have ever known. He was also a member of ICAS, the international council of airshows. He participated in airshows and events across the state and many other states. He would always honor a veteran or two with flights in the 51 at those events. Often times the Veterans he flew were people he had met while showing the plane on static display at these airshows. He could see their love for the plane and he knew how much it would mean to them to get to fly in one. The P51 is considered the Holy Grail of Warbirds and Vintage Aircraft, a flight in one is a once in a lifetime experience for most, and he loved sharing those flights more than anything else"

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash.

The identity of the WWII veteran is also unknown at this time.

Original article can be found here ➤