Friday, January 18, 2019

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec E, N14372: Fatal accident occurred January 17, 2019 near Bowers Field Airport (KELN), Ellensburg, Kittitas County, Washington

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

Dr. Frank Smith died Thursday when his Piper PA-23-250 Aztec E crashed shortly after takeoff from Ellensburg.

A pilot who died in a small plane crash two miles south of Ellensburg on Thursday was a surgeon at Kittitas Valley Healthcare who lived in the lower Yakima Valley.

Dr. Frank L. Smith, 75, of Wapato was the only person on board the Piper PA-23-250 Aztec E when it crashed.

Smith grew up in the San Fernando Valley in California and moved to Toppenish in 2001 to work at the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, and bought a home and orchard in Wapato, according to a biography on Kittitas Valley Healthcare website. He went to work at KVH in Ellensburg in 2010.

“Frank was a gifted surgeon, but moreover a gracious and gentle man,” Dr. Kevin Martin, KVH Chief Medical Officer, said in a statement. “Over and over I’ve heard people say that you always knew where you stood with Frank, and that he ended every conversation with ‘I love you.’ We all felt we stood in that warm heart. He leaves us better for that and we can only hope he knew he was just as loved.”

Smith was a graduate of Harvard Medical School and did his residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now Brigham and Women’s Hospital) in Boston. He was a civil rights activist in college, participated in the march from Selma and the March on Washington in 1963, and served in the U.S. Air Force, according to the biography.

Investigators believe Smith was on his way to Yakima when the plane crashed, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

A farmer reported the downed aircraft in his field at 5 p.m. Thursday. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The Sheriff’s Office said Smith appropriately communicated his take-off and direction from Bowers Field in Ellensburg a few minutes before the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

1972 PIPER PA-23-250, Fixed wing multi engine, (6 seats / 2 engines), Airworthiness Class Standard/Normal, Serial Number27-7304961, Engines LYCOMING TI0-540 (Reciprocating)
Weight Less than 12,500 lbs.

When operating these types of aircraft, one must know:

Thank you!