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

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

Additional Participating Entities:

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Spokane, Washington
Lycoming Engines
Piper Aircraft Inc

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Ellensburg, WA
Accident Number: WPR19LA066
Date & Time: 01/17/2019, 1645 PST
Registration: N14372
Aircraft: Piper PA23
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On January 17, 2019, about 1645 Pacific standard time, a Piper PA23-250 airplane, N14372, impacted the ground near Ellensburg, Washington. The commercial pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the accident site about the time of the accident, and no flight plan had been filed. The flight originated from Bowers Field Airport (ELN), Ellensburg, Washington about 1631 and was destined for McAllister Field Airport (YKM), Yakima, Washington.

One witness who was about 2,300 ft northwest of the accident site reported that, he heard a low flying airplane which caused him to look up. He observed the airplane about 200-300 ft above the ground, "diving down sideways." He heard a loud bang and drove towards the wreckage.

Another witness located about 200 ft southeast of the accident site reported seeing the airplane about 300 ft above the ground and heard the engines "gunning." He observed the airplane impact the ground about 45° angle, right wing low.

The airplane impacted flat terrain. The wreckage debris path was orientated on a magnetic heading about 213° and was about 350 ft from the first piece of identified wreckage to the last piece of identified wreckage.

The wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure facility for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N14372
Model/Series: PA23 250
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Dusk
Observation Facility, Elevation: KELN
Observation Time: 0053 UTC
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 2°C / 0°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 140°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 1500 ft agl
Visibility:  4 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.71 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Ellensburg, WA (KELN)
Destination: Yakima, WA (YKM)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  46.947222, -120.512778 (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

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:

  1. 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!