Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Cessna 340, N247AT, registered to Aviation Transportation LLC and operated by the pilot: Fatal accident occurred December 24, 2017 at Bartow Municipal Airport (KBOW), Polk County, Florida

John Shannon (left) with his plane.

John Shannon, Olivia Anne Shannon, Krista Clayton, Victoria Shannon Worthington and Peter Worthington, Jr.

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
RAM Aircraft L.P.; Waco, Texas

Aviation Accident Factual Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Bartow, FL
Accident Number: CEN18FA061
Date & Time: 12/24/2017, 0717 EST
Registration: N247AT
Aircraft: CESSNA 340
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 5 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On December 24, 2017, at 0717 eastern standard time, a Cessna 340 airplane, N247AT, impacted terrain after departure from Bartow Municipal Airport (BOW), Bartow, Florida. The private pilot and four passengers were fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to Aviation Transportation LLC and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident with a planned destination of Key West International Airport (EYW), Key West, Florida.

The pilot filed an IFR flight plan on a Garmin GPS device and received an IFR clearance from the Tampa air traffic control tower. The BOW air traffic control tower was closed at the time of the accident.

According to two fixed base operator (FBO) employees at BOW, the pilot requested that the airplane be towed from the hangar to the ramp. The pilot stated that he wanted a tow so that he did not have to taxi next to the other hangars because of reduced visibility and dense fog. About 0645, the five occupants boarded the airplane and the FBO employees towed it to the ramp.

The FBO employees stated that the pilot started the engines and that they watched as the airplane very slowly taxied toward the end of runway 9L. The fog limited their visibility to about 400 ft. They could no longer see the airplane in the dense fog, so they moved to an area on the ramp closer to the runway. The pilot contacted Tampa Approach at 0710 for his IFR clearance. The FBO employees heard an increase in engine noise consistent with an engine run-up, and about 0715, they heard the airplane take off but they could not see the airplane because of the dense fog. The engines "sounded strong and [were] operating at full power" during the takeoff. They heard two tire "chirps" on the runway, then the sound of the airplane was consistent with a climb. They then heard an explosion on the east side of the airport and drove toward the explosion to find the airplane on fire. One of the FBO employees recorded a video of the airplane taxiing on the ramp toward the runway and another video of the takeoff.

The video captured by the FBO employee was 46 seconds long. While recording the video, the employee was located near the middle of the ramp and about 1/2 mile from the end of runway 9L. The accident airplane is not visible due to the dense fog. The sound of the engines is audible. The video pans from right to left and appears to follow the sounds of the airplane during the takeoff roll. At 26 and 28 seconds, two distinct chirps are heard. The video ends while the engines are still audible.

A helicopter pilot based at BOW observed the airplane taxiing on the ramp toward the runway. He recorded a video of the airplane taxiing on the ramp in the dense fog. He heard the airplane take off about 12 minutes later. During the takeoff, he heard a 'pop' similar to an engine backfire and about 3 seconds later, heard the explosion near the end of runway 9L. He and a colleague drove to the accident site, where they found the airplane engulfed in flames and saw the FBO employees nearby. He estimated that the runway visual range at the time was 600 to 800 ft due to the fog.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 70, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Multi-engine Land; Single-engine Land; Single-engine Sea
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 08/31/2016
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: (Estimated) 1600 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

The pilot's logbooks were not located, and the pilot's instrument currency or proficiency could not be determined.

The mechanic who maintained the airplane stated that the pilot always flew with his feet flat on the floor and not on the rudder pedals. He also stated that the pilot never flew dangerously or recklessly. He added that the pilot's personal logbooks were always kept on the back shelf in the airplane.

The pilot's personal assistant stated that he always flew the airplane a couple of days before a flight with passengers. She stated that everyone she talked to described him as a good pilot and diligent with his pilot duties.

An acquaintance of the pilot, who also was the pilot's flight instructor in 2002, recounted flying the accident airplane with the pilot. He stated that the pilot mentioned an in-flight engine failure he experienced in the accident airplane. The pilot told him that he continued to his destination rather than making a precautionary single-engine landing because the logistics of diverting were too difficult. The acquaintance also stated that he and the pilot were supposed to fly the accident airplane together in early 2017. On the morning of the planned flight, he checked the weather conditions, which were about 1/4 mile visibility and 100 ft ceilings with dense fog. He told the pilot that they could not complete the flight because of the weather, and the pilot responded that, legally, they were allowed to fly under Part 91. The acquaintance had not talked to the accident pilot since that canceled flight.

A local airplane mechanic, who was a business acquaintance of the pilot, stated that he flew with the pilot one time and then refused to fly with him again. The acquaintance stated that he was not a safe pilot and took unnecessary risks.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Registration: N247AT
Model/Series: 340
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1973
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: 3400214
Landing Gear Type: Tricycle
Seats: 6
Date/Type of Last Inspection: 01/02/2017, Annual
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 6390 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 2 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 1607.5 Hours as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Continental Motors
ELT: Installed, not activated
Engine Model/Series: TSIO-520-NcNB
Rated Power: 335 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

The mechanic who maintained the airplane stated that, 2 days before the accident, at the request of the pilot, he moved the co-pilot seat aft and adjusted the rear seats forward. He also stated that the accident airplane had a known autopilot issue; if the autopilot was engaged on the ground, it would command the elevator trim full nose-down. He understood this issue was a result of the autopilot's gyros not being level on the ground, which caused the autopilot to sense and attempt to compensate for a high pitch attitude. He stated that the accident pilot was aware of this autopilot issue.

The airplane logbooks did not reveal any past maintenance discrepancies or write-ups related to the autopilot or elevator trim.

One of the aforementioned BOW FBO employees reported that, on December 22, 2017, he received a fuel order from the pilot. He filled the airplane's tip tanks and auxiliary tanks with 100LL fuel; the nacelle tanks were already full. Later that day, he removed the airplane from the hangar; the pilot flew the airplane for about 30 minutes, then the employee towed the airplane back to the hangar.

A review of the left and right engine maintenance logbooks revealed entries for annual inspections that included an oil change and oil filter inspection and replacement on January 2, 2017, at 1,582.9 hours tachometer time. The previous two entries, dated December 20, 2015, and November 17, 2014, at 1,558.4 hours and 1,543 hours, respectively, noted an annual inspection was completed with oil and oil filter changes.

The oil filter found on the left engine at the accident site was marked with 1,543 hours tachometer time and dated January 6, 2014. When questioned about the discrepancy, the mechanic stated that the oil was actually not changed on either engine during the two previous inspections as noted in the logbooks and that the entries were not accurate. The mechanic stated that he planned to change the oil and replace the filters during the next annual inspection, which was due in January 2018.

The logbooks also revealed that the most recent IFR certification for the transponder and pitot static system was completed on June 20, 2014. To fly in IFR conditions the system must be inspected and certified every 24 calendar months.

Visibility just after 7 a.m. Sunday, December 24, 2017 at the Bartow Airport at the time of a plane crash was less than a quarter-mile because of fog. 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KBOW, 125 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0715 EST
Direction from Accident Site: 295°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility (RVR): 600 ft
Wind Speed/Gusts: Calm /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: / Unknown
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 30.18 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: 12°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: Heavy - Fog
Departure Point: Bartow, FL (BOW)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Destination: KEY WEST, FL (EYW)
Type of Clearance: IFR
Departure Time: 0716 EST
Type of Airspace: Class E 

The automated weather observation station at BOW reported consistent weather conditions from 0635 to 0715, which included visibility less than 1/4 mile, fog, an overcast cloud layer at 300 ft, temperature 56°F, and an altimeter setting of 30.18 inches of mercury.

An area forecast discussion was issued for the region by the National Weather Service (NWS) that identified widespread shallow fog. An NWS dense fog advisory was in effect for Polk County, Florida. A center weather advisory was in effect for the accident area and advised of ceilings below 500 ft agl and visibilities below 1 mile in fog and mist. An AIRMET for IFR conditions was in effect for the accident area.

There was no evidence that the pilot obtained a preflight weather briefing from a recorded source. 

Airport Information

Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 124 ft
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 09L
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 5000 ft / 150 ft
VFR Approach/Landing: None 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 4 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: On-Ground
Total Injuries: 5 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 27.946389, -81.773889 (est) 

The accident site was located on airport property about 190 yards east-northeast of the departure end of runway 9L and 10 ft south of taxiway delta (figure 1).

Figure 1 – Aerial View of Accident Site

The debris path was about 230 ft long and oriented northeast. The beginning of the debris path was defined by several ground impact craters in a line perpendicular to the debris path and the main wreckage. The middle impact crater contained pieces of the airplane's nose cowling and baggage door. Immediately to the right was the left engine's propeller. To the left of the middle crater was the right engine's propeller. A portion of the left wing tip fuel tank was found on the far right side of the initial impact area, and a portion of the right wing tip fuel tank was found on the far left side of the initial impact area. The main wreckage came to rest upright and oriented southeast about 30 ft from the initial impact craters. The fuselage was mostly consumed by fire and the empennage remained mostly intact with significant thermal damage. Both engines separated from the airplane and came to rest near the main wreckage. Airplane debris was found on the taxiway northeast of the main wreckage. The nose landing gear was separated from the airplane and found about 200 ft northeast of the main wreckage.

The flight controls exhibited impact and thermal damage but did not reveal any preimpact anomalies. The wing flap position could not be determined due to the extensive damage. The elevator trim tab was found beyond its full up limit. The elevator trim cable exhibited tension overload separations near the actuator and the other side of the cable was intact in the aft fuselage area. The elevator trim actuator was found at 2 ¼ inches, which was beyond the full length of travel (1.9 inches). The round hole in the trim tab surrounding the actuator rod was damaged and pushed aft by the rod end and bearing. The damage on the rod end matched the damage to the hole. The trim cable and chain on the top side of the actuator sprocket was pulled during the examination to test its functionality. When the cable was pulled, the actuator retracted and the trim tab lowered from its full-up position.

The landing gear actuator and the left and right main landing gear were all retracted.

Two attitude indicator gyros and one directional gyro were disassembled and examined. All three gyros exhibited rotational scoring inside the housings and along the circumference of the gyros. An electric turn-and-bank indicator gyro was disassembled and examined; it also exhibited rotational scoring.

The two vacuum pumps were separated from the engines and sustained significant impact damage. The right engine vacuum pump drive remained attached to the right engine and was melted by the postimpact fire. The left engine vacuum pump was separated from the engine, and the pump body and drive were intact. A portion of the vacuum manifold, which consisted of one of the end caps but no flapper valves, was found in the wreckage.

The left engine was separated from the airframe and was identified based on the data plate and maintenance records. The crankshaft was completely fractured at the nose oil seal and the propeller flange remained attached to the propeller hub. The crankshaft fracture surface displayed tearing, shear lips, and discoloration consistent with an overstress separation on impact. The top sparkplugs displayed a normal worn appearance with no signs of lead or carbon fouling. The bottom sparkplugs were examined via a lighted borescope with no anomalies noted. The return line from the fuel pressure regulator to the fuel pump remained in place and, when removed, residual fuel poured from the pressure regulator. The pump was disassembled, and the pump vanes were intact with no anomalies noted with the internal components.

The fuel manifold valve remained secured to the top of the engine and the fuel lines remained attached to the housing. The fuel lines remained secured to their nozzles and the upper deck reference line remained secured to the nozzles. The nozzles were free of obstructions. The fuel manifold screen was clear of contaminants and residual fuel was observed in the housing. The No. 2 intake inner valve spring was fractured. Residual oil was observed in each rocker cover. The cylinders were inspected and documented utilizing a lighted borescope. The No. 3 exhaust valve displayed two areas of green discoloration; otherwise, the pistons, valves, and valve seats were unremarkable. Manual rotation of the crankshaft was not possible due to impingements on the crankshaft and camshaft at the front of the crankcase and the oil sump, respectively. Sand and dirt from the accident site were embedded in the right exhaust slip joint area. The exhaust riser system on the aft end of the engine was crushed forward.

The left propeller hub remained intact and the piston was compressed aft. All three blades remained attached to the hub, but they were free to rotate in the hub, indicative of pitch change link fractures. The blades were labeled 1, 2, and 3 according to their hub location and for identification purposes only. Blade 1 was missing its counterweight, was bent aft slightly, and exhibited overstress signatures. The leading edge exhibited some light gouging and the cambered side exhibited chordwise scrapes and paint erosion. Blade 2 exhibited a small twist toward low pitch, paint erosion on the cambered side and leading edge gouges. The counterweight remained attached to the blade shank. Blade 3 was missing its counterweight, showed signs of overstress, and exhibited light chordwise paint erosion aft of the deice boot but was otherwise unremarkable.

The right engine was separated from the airframe and was identified based on the data plate and the maintenance records. The crankshaft was fractured at the nose oil seal and the propeller flange remained attached to the propeller hub. The crankshaft fracture surface displayed tearing, shear lips, and discoloration consistent with an overstress separation on impact. The engine sustained thermal damage.

The left magneto was separated from the engine and the ignition leads were separated from the harness cap. The right magneto remained in place and did not rotate with manual manipulation of the housing. The ignition harness remained secured to the right magneto and each terminal remained secured to their respective sparkplugs. The left magneto harness cap was removed and replaced with the right ignition harness cap from the left engine. Rotation of the drive shaft resulted in a spark from each lead in firing order during the audible snap of the impulse coupling. The right magneto was removed and the thermally damaged leads were cut near the harness cap. The magneto produced a spark from each of its leads in firing order when the drive shaft was manually rotated and the impulse coupling snapped.

The top sparkplugs were removed from the cylinders and all displayed a normal worn condition with no signs of lead or carbon fouling. The bottom sparkplugs were examined via a lighted borescope with no preimpact anomalies noted. The engine-driven fuel pump was separated from the engine; the mounting flange and drive coupling were displaced to one side and the metal was smeared in the same direction. The fuel manifold valve screen was free of obstructions and residual fuel was observed in the housing.

The cylinders remained attached to the crankcase with no external signs of operational distress. The cylinder rocker covers were removed and all of the valve springs remained intact. The cylinders were inspected and documented utilizing a lighted borescope. The pistons, valves, and valve seats were unremarkable. A tool was fitted to the backside of the crankshaft and partial crankshaft rotation was achieved, with continuity confirmed to the front of the engine and to the connecting rods. Impingements on the crankshaft and camshaft were noted at the front of the crankcase and the oil sump, respectively, which prevented full crankshaft rotation. The exhaust riser system was deformed forward on the aft end of the engine.

The right propeller hub remained intact and the spinner dome was crushed aft over the hub. All three blades remained attached to the hub, but they were free to rotate in the hub, indicative of pitch change link fractures. The blades were labeled 1, 2, and 3 according to their hub location and for identification purposes only. Blade 1 was missing its counterweight, was bent aft slightly, and exhibited overstress signatures. The leading edge exhibited gouging and the cambered and face sides displayed chordwise scrapes and paint erosion. Blade 2 exhibited a small twist toward low pitch, paint erosion on the cambered side, and light leading edge gouges. Blade 3 was missing its counterweight and exhibited overstress signatures. The blade exhibited light chordwise paint erosion aft of the deice boot, but was otherwise unremarkable. 

Medical And Pathological Information

The Office of the District Medical Examiner, 10th Judicial Circuit of Florida, Winter Haven, Florida, completed an autopsy on the pilot, which attributed the cause of death to blunt impact. The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, conducted toxicology testing, which revealed 20 mg/dL of ethanol in muscle, ibuprofen in the muscle, and no ethanol detected in the kidney. The toxicology samples exhibited putrefaction.

Ibuprofen is in a class of medications called non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug and are not considered impairing.

After absorption, ethanol is uniformly distributed throughout all tissues and body fluids; therefore, the finding in one tissue but not another is most consistent with post-mortem production.

Tests And Research

Weight and balance

The airplane's maximum gross takeoff weight was 6,390 lbs. The weight at the time of the accident takeoff was about 6,495 lbs, about 105 lbs over the maximum takeoff weight (figure 2). Due to the excessive weight, the airplane was outside of its center of gravity moment envelope (figure 3).

Figure 2 – Calculated Weight and Balance

Figure 3 – Center of Gravity Moment Envelope 

Additional Information

Spatial Disorientation

According to FAA Safety Team literature, pilots flying under both instrument and visual flight rules are subject to spatial disorientation and optical illusions that may cause a loss of aircraft control. Sight, supported by other senses, allows a pilot to maintain orientation while flying. However, when visibility is restricted (i.e., no visual reference to the horizon or surface detected) the body's supporting senses can conflict with what is seen. When this spatial disorientation occurs, sensory conflicts and optical illusions often make it difficult for a pilot to tell which way is up.

Contributing to these phenomena are the various types of sensory stimuli: visual, vestibular (organs of equilibrium located in the inner ear), and proprioceptive (receptors located in the skin, muscles, tendons and joints). Changes in linear acceleration, angular acceleration, and gravity are detected by the vestibular system and the proprioceptive receptors, and then compared in the brain with visual information.

In a flight environment, these stimuli can vary in magnitude, direction, and frequency, resulting in a sensory mismatch that can produce illusions and lead to spatial disorientation.

Richard Branson’s Space-Tourism Company Rockets Out of Atmosphere for First Time: Virgin Galactic test flight reaches edge of space safely (without passengers)

The Wall Street Journal
By Andy Pasztor
Updated Dec. 13, 2018 6:24 p.m. ET

Virgin Galactic LLC, Richard Branson’s space-tourism venture, reached the edge of space in a test flight Thursday, four years after a fatal accident set back the project, in a feat expected to accelerate commercial efforts to send tourists and small satellites aloft using low-cost rockets.

The space plane called SpaceShip Two, with its two pilots, was launched from a carrier aircraft flying high above Southern California’s Mojave Desert. For around $250,000 a seat, Virgin Galactic seeks to offer thrill rides featuring majestic views of the Earth capped by a few minutes of weightlessness.

After the flight, the closely held company said SpaceShip Two had climbed above 271,000 feet, or about 51.4 miles, reaching a maximum speed of 2.9 times the speed of sound.

The U.S. Air Force and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration consider 50 miles up to be the edge of space, though some scientists, space buffs and international record-keeping authorities say space starts even higher.

Virgin Galactic years ago led the way in sparking interest in blasting tourists and small satellites into space using cheap rockets and various other unconventional launch systems. Experts consider it the fastest-growing segment in commercial space. But a December 2014 accident caused Virgin Galactic to assume a significantly lower profile.

Now, the company has bounced back from the crash that killed a co-pilot and prompted federal criticism of design principles and what investigators determined was inadequate consideration of potential human error in pilot training.

Thursday’s flight could put Virgin Galactic in a strong position to compete with Blue Origin, a rival space-tourism startup run by Inc. founder Jeff Bezos. The ventures are vying to be first to carry paying passengers outside the atmosphere in a U.S.-built spacecraft. Both companies have indicated commercial operations are likely to start sometime next year, but schedules are fluid and the outcome of future test flights could alter those plans. Mr. Branson’s ambitions also include launching small satellites using a rocket released from a modified Boeing Co. 747.

Over the years, Mr. Branson has sought more than $1.4 billion in funding from Middle Eastern investors for his space-plane venture, but much of that support is now uncertain due to Virgin Galactic’s decision to sever financial ties with Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Branson and his team originally rolled out an early version of the rocket-powered craft nine years ago and initially hoped to begin regular flights several years later.

During the intervening years, Virgin Galactic brought manufacturing and testing of its winged spacecraft in-house while revamping safety and quality-control safeguards. The 2014 flight was touted as a record-setting event before the accident. Since then, Mr. Branson has refused to predict test flight schedules.

Virgin Galactic on Wednesday posted a message on Twitter seemingly aimed at tamping down expectations, suggesting the rocket motor perhaps wouldn’t be ignited for the full duration needed to travel out of the atmosphere.

But after the flight, the company posted a flurry of tweets on the altitude and speed of SpaceShip Two.

Virgin Galactic’s milestone also amounts to vindication for the billionaire entrepreneur known for his marketing savvy and personal commitment to space exploration. In the past, Mr. Branson has said he and some family members expect to be on the first one of his space planes carrying passengers.

Mr. Branson released a statement saying “it was an indescribable feeling: joy, relief, exhilaration and anticipation for what is yet to come.”

While flying in clear skies Thursday in California with SpaceShip Two tucked under its wings, the four-engine carrier plane dubbed White Knight Two released the mostly white spacecraft at around 8 a.m. local time. The rocket motor fired as expected for 60 seconds, blasting the test vehicle into a suborbital trajectory. It deployed a movable tail to slow down during the descent and glided back toward its base, landing like a conventional aircraft about 45 minutes after takeoff.

Thursday was the fourth time the spacecraft, also called VSS Unity, has flown under its own power, with the rocket motor firing longer than in previous flights. The company said Wednesday that the test was intended to obtain data on supersonic-handling qualities and thermal dynamics. That ground controllers gave the green light for full-duration thrust indicates the vehicle didn’t exhibit any unexpected problems or handling difficulties.

The flight marked the first time since the retirement of NASA’s space shuttle fleet in 2011 that a U.S.-built vehicle carried people into space. American astronauts travel to and from the international space station aboard Russian-built rockets and capsules.

Boeing Co. and Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp. next year plan to start transporting astronauts into orbit on separate, domestically produced rockets and capsules. Both companies have longer-term plans for carrying tourists into space.

Following Thursday’s landing, a jubilant Mr. Branson shed tears of joy as he hugged bystanders, reflected on 14 years of effort and ruminated about the future. No other private spacecraft specifically designed to carry paying passengers has ever flown to the boundary to space.

George Whitesides, the company’s chief executive and a former senior NASA official, said reaching the elusive goal amounted to “more compelling evidence that commercial space is set to become one of the 21st century’s defining industries.”

The test mission, which carried several experiments on behalf of NASA, allowed Virgin Galactic to say it marked the first commercial revenue from a company flight.

Virgin Galactic is building additional space planes. But industry experts have said ramping up production, hiring the necessary expertise and maintaining robust launch rates pose huge challenges for Virgin Galactic, which so far has focused on low-volume, boutique production practices.

Original article can be found here ➤

Cannabis Chocolate Bars Landed This Pilot in Trouble. He's Now in the District of Columbia Circuit: Lancair Evolution, registered to and operated by Aero Smart Solutions Inc, N38DM, accident occurred October 01, 2016 near Allen County Airport (K88), Iola, Kansas

“It wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t deliberate. And it wasn’t reckless,” the pilot's lawyer says. “Suspension is the appropriate sanction." A panel of D.C. Circuit judges Wednesday will hear the case.

DC Circuit Judge Gregory Katsas is on the panel that will hear Siegel’s case. 

Shortly after takeoff October 1st 2016, Jeff Siegel encountered a problem in the skies over Kansas: His airplane’s engine failed, forcing the pilot to make an emergency landing on a road near the small town of Iola.

The Lancair Evolution single-engine plane suffered heavy damage, but neither Siegel nor his passenger were seriously hurt. The Kansas State Highway Patrol, called to the scene, found a briefcase onboard that would ultimately put Siegel on the radar of federal officials.

Inside were three chocolate bars labeled “Lab tested to 100 mg of THC,” a reference to tetrahydrocannabinol—the psychoactive chemical in cannabis.

Siegel soon received a notice from the Federal Aviation Administration saying his private pilot certificate would be revoked.  Months later, the Federal Aviation Administration acting administrator issued an emergency order formally revoking Siegel’s private pilot certificate. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Siegel had not demonstrated the “degree of care, judgment, and responsibility required of the holder of an airman certificate.”

Siegel was not alleged to have been under the influence of cannabis, and his passenger—now his wife—later claimed she had packed the chocolate bars without his knowledge. He faced a drug possession charge in Kansas that was later dropped.

His challenge to the  Federal Aviation Administration penalty is set to come before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit on Wednesday morning, in a case that muddles transportation safety rules with the tension between states and the federal government over the lawfulness of marijuana.

Siegel’s lawyer, Greg Winton of the Annapolis-based Aviation Law Firm, said the case is the first he’s aware of involving the revocation of a pilot certificate over “simple possession” of cannabis, as opposed to trafficking. Winton is set to argue in the D.C. Circuit before a panel of three judges: Sri Srinivasan, Gregory Katsas and David Sentelle.

In court papers, Winton has argued that the Federal Aviation Administration ignored mitigating factors—such as the fact that the chocolate bars were purchased legally, “apparently in Colorado”—and went against agency policy with such a stiff punishment. A suspension, Siegel has argued, would better fit the offense.

Winton has also argued that Siegel inadvertently took flight with the cannabis-infused chocolate bars.

“It wasn’t intentional. It wasn’t deliberate. And it wasn’t reckless,” Winton said in an interview. “Suspension is the appropriate sanction, I think, in that circumstance.”

A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman declined to comment on the case but said the agency “has been consistent in its position that marijuana is a ‘significantly impairing’ drug with respect to operating an aircraft.”

Even with the revocation of his certificate, Siegel, a Utah resident who runs his own health and nutrition company, will be allowed to reapply for one early next year. He is pressing his case to avoid having the revocation on his record and go through a full recertification process.

The Justice Department, representing the Federal Aviation Administration, has argued that the agency’s administrator and National Transportation Safety Board  have broad authority to revoke certificates when pilots are found to have flown with marijuana or narcotic drugs onboard. The government’s lawyers have noted that, while the chocolate bars might have been purchased in Colorado, federal law continues to prohibit possession of cannabis regardless of where it is bought or consumed.

The National Transportation Safety Board “rightly found it immaterial that the drugs might have been procured in Colorado: regardless of any state’s law, ‘it remains illegal under Federal law to possess this controlled substance and transport it on an aircraft within the national air space,’” Justice Department attorneys wrote in a D.C. Circuit brief, adding that Siegel’s punishment was consistent with the board’s precedent.

Under the Trump administration, the Justice Department has adopted a toughened stance—at least on paper—toward state-legalized marijuana. In January, then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew guidance issued under the Obama administration that called for a hands-off approach to marijuana that was legal under state law.

At the National Transportation Safety Board, Siegel found one official who agreed that a lighter punishment was warranted.

In his appeal of the administrator’s emergency license revocation, Siegel went to an in-house judge at the National Transportation Safety Board, where his wife testified that she placed the chocolate bars in the briefcase without Siegel’s knowledge.

The judge lowered Siegel’s penalty to a 90-day suspension of his private pilot certificate, drawing a distinction between his case and a case two years earlier involving 200 pounds of marijuana that were found on an airplane.

“Guess what the sanction was? Revocation,” the administrative law judge said, referring to the earlier case. “How is that consistent with what we’ve got here today?”

“This was a simple possession of a substance that was purchased legally, apparently in Colorado,” the in-house National Transportation Safety Board judge said. “There wasn’t any use involved. There wasn’t any transporting for commercial purposes involved.”

Siegel and the Federal Aviation Administration acting administrator both appealed to the full National Transportation Safety Board, which reinstated the revocation of the certificate.

Original article can be found here ➤

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Wichita, Kansas

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Iola, KS
Accident Number: CEN17LA009
Date & Time: 10/01/2016, 1735 CDT
Registration: N38DM
Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On October 1, 2016, about 1735 central daylight time (CDT), a Lancair Evolution, N38DM, experienced a total loss of engine power during cruise flight. The pilot made a forced landing onto a roadway near Iola, Kansas. The airplane sustained substantial damage to the left and right wings, and tail section during the landing sequence. The private pilot was not injured and the passenger suffered minor injuries. The airplane was registered to, and operated by, Aero Smart Solutions, Inc. under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight, and an instrument flight rules flight plan was filed.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Registration: N38DM
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: K88
Observation Time: 2235 UTC
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 9°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling:
Visibility: 10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.05 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: IOLA, KS (K88)
Destination: OGDEN, UT (OGD)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 None
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Minor, 1 None
Latitude, Longitude:

Piper PA-28-140 Cherokee, N5800U: Accident occurred December 12, 2018 at Chino Airport (KCNO), San Bernardino County, California

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Riverside, California

DuBois Aviation Inc

NTSB Identification: GAA19CA095
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Wednesday, December 12, 2018 in Chino, CA
Aircraft: Piper PA28, registration: N5800U

NTSB investigators will use data provided by various entities, including, but not limited to, the Federal Aviation Administration and/or the operator, and will not travel in support of this investigation to prepare this aircraft accident report.

Veered off the runway, struck airport signage and inverted.

Date: 12-DEC-18
Time: 18:45:00Z
Regis#: N5800U
Aircraft Make: PIPER
Aircraft Model: PA 28 140
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Operation: 91

A single-engine airplane piloted by a student skidded off a runway and overturned at Chino Airport on Wednesday, December 12th, resulting in a minor injury to the instructor, authorities said.

The Piper PA-28-140 was landing on runway 26R about 10:45 a.m. when it went off the left side of the runway and came to rest upside down in a ditch, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

The pilot, a 35-year-old man, was not injured, said Massiel Ladron De Guevara, a spokeswoman for the Chino Valley Fire District. The passenger, a 24-year-old instructor, suffered a minor injury but declined to be hospitalized.

The plane is registered to DuBois Aviation, which operates a flight school out of the airport, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. The plane was built in 1967.

The airport, which is run by San Bernardino County, has three runways. It was not immediately clear whether the accident affected operations.

Original article can be found here ➤

Aviation headsets, liquor, pink pistol, marijuana, and more

LAWTON (KFDX/KJTL) - An Altus couple is behind bars after police officers said they stole merchandise from Walmart and burglarized a home just west of Lawton.

Officers said they believe Rapheal Bagley, 27, and Sabrina Revilla, 19, broke into a home Sunday morning and stole a pink, .22 caliber handgun and a home computer.

Police officers then said Monday afternoon they received a call about a man at  Ridgecrest Apartments with that pink handgun.

Authorities said they later found Bagley hiding in a closet inside an apartment there.

While in custody, investigators said Bagley admitted to the home burglary and also confessed to stealing two televisions from Walmart while his girlfriend, Sabrina Revilla, waited in the car.

Police said they later recovered the stolen .22 caliber handgun, a bottle of liquor and aviation headphones taken in the burglary.

Altus police said they also found 6 ounces of marijuana.

Story and video ➤

Residents suggest uses for Trinca Airport (13N), Andover, Sussex County, New Jersey

GREEN -- Trinca Airport's past, present and future continue to stir area residents into response or silence as the township's deadline for the Request for Expressions of Interest or REOI for Trinca approaches on December 14th.

Jack and Kathleen Townsend are township residents who believe if Trinca Airport should remain an airport, the costs of maintaining what is mainly a recreationally-used airstrip should not fall on the backs of township taxpayers. They are two of many residents who reportedly disagree with the viewpoints two pilots expressed at a Green Township Committee meeting on Nov. 5 in favor of keeping Trinca a municipal airport. While a number of stakeholders have sided with the Townsends' insights, they have declined to comment to the New Jersey Herald about the topic.

The township's REOI was first posted for the 1,924-foot municipally-owned turf strip on the township's website Oct. 3. The REOI states the township is "looking to either bolster the airport as a destination with amenities and attraction for visitors, or in the alternative, improve the site for another use."

John Trinca founded the public use airport in the 1940s, selling it to Alex and Fran Davidson in 1986. Residents became divided in the 1990s when Trinca was considered for a light freight aircraft and corporate jet facility. The township purchased the airport around 2003. While the strip now lacks facilities, it has become a site for touchdown practices and model airplane events. In an interview with the New Jersey Herald in October, Green Township Clerk/Administrator Mark Zschack described the 105.8 acres comprising Trinca and its adjacent farmland-preserved properties as "underutilized."

At the November meeting, resident Laura Bugay said she favored Trinca remain a "very low-key" airport, though she did not embrace the transformation of Trinca's surrounding acreage to parklands after a fatal crash at the airport in 2017.

Eric Schlueter, a United States Powered Paragliding Association certified instructor, also appeared before the Township Committee that night suggesting parks for the preserved lands; and that he could relocate to Green from Wantage to help run and maintain the airport.

Joshua Weinstein -- a pilot, flight instructor and Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association volunteer -- additionally asked the committee to consider keeping Trinca as a municipal airport and recreational tract; and asserted Trinca could be preserved with grant monies. Weinstein described Trinca in a "state of disrepair" and said the flight school where he teaches no longer permits students and instructors to fly there. Weinstein has been publicly outspoken about dwindling municipal airports, commenting in a 2013 New Jersey Herald article against the sale of Newton Airport to PSE&G for its Susquehanna-Roseland Transmission Line Project.

In response to the New Jersey Herald article about the Nov. 5 meeting, Jack Townsend commented as a retired commercial pilot, still employed as a consultant in the aviation industry. While commending Schlueter's work as an ultralight instructor, Townsend called ultralights "radically different" from traditional aircraft. Kathleen Townsend called ultralights "essentially strapped on lawn mower engines with a propeller." Jack Townsend called Weinstein's remarks "scare tactics" about his flight school not using Trinca.

"There are plenty of airports," he said. "Trinca wouldn't be used for touch and goes if it was deemed unsafe."

Jack Townsend coined Weinstein's suggestion about significant grant monies available for Trinca as "pie in the sky stuff;" and said grant requirements come with a tight leash. Kathleen Townsend said she doubted an investor with the millions needed to upgrade Trinca to a first-rate airport would come forward; and residents would not be open to pilots leasing space at Trinca "for next to nothing." The Townsends said those with interests in the airport like Schlueter and Weinstein should make a viable offer to the township "once and for all."

Kathleen Townsend said Trinca's main use comes from non-residents who do not pay a fee to take-off or practice. In its current state, she called Trinca "obsolete and redundant;" and said nearby airports like Andover-Aeroflex and Sussex have full facilities that can service practices and take-offs.

"We cannot afford to make any more investments with no revenue," said Jack Townsend. "The township is running out of money and we need a stable source of ratable revenue. That's over 100 acres not being taxed."

The Townsends said they believe the space should be transformed into a destination to sustain economic vitality; and developed into something "pleasant and meaningful to the community that brings ratables, but not an airport with our tax dollars -- those days are over."

In an interview with the New Jersey Herald on Tuesday, Zschack said the township has not yet received any official REOI submissions. Zschack said he has had conversations with multiple parties about the property and received a letter from a resident about Trinca. He said "any information or ideas are going on the table."

Submissions are not binding, do not signify a project has been awarded and will be explored in public meetings, Zschack said. If the Township Committee and public embrace a submitted idea, Zschack said the potential party would be asked to engage in a formal bidding process and submit a Request for Proposal. 

Original article can be found here ➤

Famous plane lands at Integra Optics in Colonie, New York

Integra Optics CEO David Prescott stands on the wing of a Japanese Zero replica in his hangar at the Albany International Airport.

COLONIE — While he was growing up in Minnesota, Integra Optics founder and CEO David Prescott watched the plane get shot down countless times in movies like “Tora! Tora! Tora!,” “Midway” and “Baa Baa Black Sheep.”

The 1952 Harvard Mk. IV, better known as TORA I, was built by the Canadian military and transformed into a replica of the Japanese Zero by 20th Century Fox. It was filmed for the big screen fighting American planes during WWII, and was more often than not on the losing end of those Hollywood battles. It is also, more specifically, a replica of a Japanese plane that flew in the second wave of attack on Pearl Harbor. More than 2,400 Americans died at the Hawaiian naval base on Dec. 7, 1941.

“As a kid, I grew up watching the Black Sheep Squadron and I watched this plane get shot down every week,” Prescott said of the late 1970s television series featuring a group of misfit fighter pilots under the command of Major Greg “Pappy” Boyington.

The meticulously kept plane was owned by Douglas Jackson, of Jackson and Associates, and for 22 years he flew it in airshows across the country. Jackson also encouraged people to get a close up look at plane to get a bit of its story, and by extension learn a little about our country’s entry into WWII — one of the most significant events in our history.

Prescott, a licensed pilot, a historic aviation enthusiast and U.S. Navy vet, now houses the plane at the Integra Optics hangar at Albany International Airport and plans to use it in much the same fashion as Jackson, who recently died of an aggressive form of cancer.

“I’ve always been into historic aviation and people reached out to me from the estate knowing that I would likely keep the plane going,” he said while sitting in an Integra Optical conference room next to the hangar and the company’s manufacturing plant. “My reasoning for keeping the plane going is it serves as an ability for us to reenact major battles and major events in American history. This aircraft is a replica of a plane used in the surprise attack of Pearl Harbor and that is a significant event we don’t want to forget.”

The plane is currently getting a new 600-horsepower Pratt & Whitney motor and should be airborne again by next spring. The motor will, of course, have a shiny 2018 penny wired it. It is more for tradition today, when information is readily available online, than the original purpose served decades ago of telling mechanics at remote airfields when the engine was installed.

But the plane is all about tradition. This summer it will be on the airshow circuit reenacting the storied dogfights between American and Japanese pilots that have captured imaginations for decades.

“To have Tora 101 in the air and available to the public is what Doug would have wanted,” said Sherry Henderson, Jackson’s widow. “Flying was his passion and his life, he would be so pleased and honored to have the Tora 101 legacy continued. My hope is that her story will be told for generations to come.”

When he owned the plane, Jackson corresponded with descendants of Japanese fighter pilots who flew the real Toras in WWII. He passed on that research to Prescott to help tell the story of the plane, and educate the next generation on the lessons of WWII.

While other pilots will fly the airshows, they won’t fly all of them. Prescott, will have some fun too.

“It’s a light, aerobatic plane and it’s fun to fly,” he said.

Asked how it compares to newer, sleeker models he said with a shrug: “An airplane is an airplane.”

But, the former Navy nuclear engineer last based at the Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit in Ballston Spa, said owning the plane is not all fun and games. It also serves significant practical and symbolic purposes.

“Integra Optics is a veteran owned company and a large percentage of our employees — up to 25 percent — are veterans and this plane is a tribute to all our veterans and the sacrifices they made to protect our country,” he said. “To me, it’s about history. It’s about keeping alive the history of our nation.”

When not flying in airshows, it will sometimes be on display at the Empire State Aerosciences Museum in Glenville so people can get a close up look at it and learn a bit about its history.

It fits in nicely there, Prescott said, and it’s by coincidence. The Japanese Zero this airplane is modeled after flew off the storied aircraft carrier Akagi to bomb Pearl Harbor. The museum has a 33-foot model of that ship on display, so with the plane there, visitors will see a plane with the same markings of the ship it flew off on the day we got pulled into WWII.

Basically, Integra Optics, a company Prescott founded in 2007, “helps network engineers, designers and managers around the world build out new fiber optic networks, extend the value of their existing networks and maintain uptime with the most reliable transceivers and fiber optic components available,” according to its website.

More basically, it provides the ability of fiber optic technology to bring usable data to televisions, phones and computers around the globe with reliable, fast hookups to the internet.

So, what does a high-tech company working with fiber optics have to do with old airplanes.

At the beginning of WWII, the U.S. did not have an aircraft that could compete with the likes of the Japanese Zero, so U.S. aviation engineers had to work double time to produce an aircraft that could outmaneuver and outperform the Zeros.

“Integra Optics is all about attention to detail, so our tie to aviation is a natural fit,” Prescott said. “We expect quality and reliability when we are flying, and it is the same our customers receive when they buy a product from us.”

Story and photo gallery ➤