Monday, January 14, 2019

Piper PA-28-181, N75191: Fatal accident occurred January 13, 2019 in Salem, McCook County, South Dakota

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Rapid City, South Dakota
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Salem, SD
Accident Number: CEN19LA053
Date & Time: 01/13/2019, 1425 CST
Registration: N75191
Aircraft: Piper PA28
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On January 13, 2019, about 1425 central standard time, a Piper PA28 181 airplane, N75191, impacted terrain about 6 miles south of Salem, South Dakota. The private pilot, the only person on board, was fatally injured and the airplane was substantially damaged. The airplane was owned 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 and no flight plan was filed for the cross-country flight that originated from the Mitchell Municipal Airport (MHE), Mitchell, South Dakota, and was destined for Mary Skie-Lincoln County Airport (Y14), Tea, South Dakota.

The pilot reported to Sioux Falls Approach Control that he was having chest pains and was blacking out. The controller tried to get the pilot to land anywhere. The controller lost radio contact with the airplane about 1425.

According to initial information from the McCook County Sheriff's Office, they were notified by a controller that a man in a small airplane was having a medical emergency and were given an approximate location of the airplane. Search and rescue personnel along with officers from the sheriff's office were dispatched. About 1430, they were notified that air traffic control had lost all communication with the airplane. About 1435, their dispatch received notification that the airplane had been located.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) records, the pilot held a private pilot certificate with airplane single-engine land and instrument ratings. The pilot held an FAA third class medical certificate, dated October 5, 2016. On the application for that medical certificate, he reported that he had accumulated 2,250 hours of total flight tine and had accumulated 50 hours of flight time in the six months before the application. That medical certificate was issued with the following limitation: Must wear corrective lenses.

N75191 was a 1976-model Piper PA28 181, four-place, single-engine, low-wing, fixed tricycle landing gear, semi-monocoque design airplane with serial number 28-7690310. According to maintenance records, the airplane was powered by a normally aspirated, direct drive, air-cooled, horizontally opposed, carburetor equipped, four cylinder, 180-horsepower Lycoming O-360 engine with serial number L-1039-36A, which drove a two-blade fixed pitch Sensenich propeller.

At 1422, the recorded weather and MHE was: Wind 200° at 13 knots; visibility 10 statute miles; sky condition overcast clouds at 1,500 ft; temperature 1° C; dew point -3° C; altimeter 30.30 inches of mercury.

According to initial information from the McCook County Sheriff's Office, the airplane wreckage was located in a harvested crop field about 30 nautical miles and 108° from MHE. The wreckage was subsequently photographically documented. Review of the sheriff's information and photographs revealed the cockpit of the airplane was crushed. All major components of the airplane can be accounted for in the photographs. The tail of the plane was facing north. A debris field and tracks in the field showed the airplane had made contact with the ground about 600 to 800 ft north of the airplane's resting spot. The total debris field was about 600 ft long 300 ft at the widest part and was cone shaped, getting wider to the south. About 100 ft southeast of the airplane the pilot was found. The airplane wreckage was removed from the scene and was placed in a secure building.

The McCook County Coroner was asked to arrange for an autopsy to be performed on the pilot and to have toxicological samples taken.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N75191
Model/Series: PA28 181
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: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KMHE, 1299 ft msl
Observation Time: 1422 CST
Distance from Accident Site: 30 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 1°C / -3°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 13 knots / , 200°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 1500 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.3 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Mitchell, SD (MHE)
Destination: Tea, SD (Y14)

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:  43.618611, -97.381111 (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

Comet Henry John Haraldson
February 11, 1949 - January 13, 2019

Comet Haraldson died Sunday, January 13th, near Salem, South Dakota, in an airplane accident. He was 69 years old. 

Comet was born on February 11, 1949, in Sharon, ND, the first son of Comet and Olive (Ruud) Haraldson.  He attended school in Harvey ND, Aberdeen SD, and graduated in 1967 from Pierre SD High School.  Comet was an accomplished football and basketball player, and participated in track and field.  He was also an excellent pitcher for the Pierre American Legion baseball team.  In 1967, the team won the State title.

Comet attended USD in Vermillion on a baseball scholarship.  He earned a BA and MA.  While living in Vermillion, he was a member of ‘the Villagers’, a folk singing group. They played around the area, not only earning them a little extra spending money, but occasionally guaranteeing king crab legs at Bogners on a Friday night.

Comet loved music, and was a self-taught guitar player.  He played in several bands, including the Great Wizard Band in San Jose CA.  After his little brother, Steve, graduated from high school, Comet formed his own band, ‘Dakota Morning’, which included Steve and Nick Schwebach.  Their first ‘gig’ was in Trent SD.  From there, they played several places around SD, then sang their way thru Colorado, Montana, and Wyoming, spending several months playing in Jackson Hole.  He also played in various bands around Sioux Falls, most notably Arlie’s All Stars, a group composed of Sioux Falls area professionals whose annual performances have raised more than $800,000 for charitable causes.

He began law school at USD in the fall of 1976 and graduated with a JD in 1979.  After graduation, he was employed as a law clerk for Judge Wollman in Pierre for one year.  He joined the law firm of Woods, Fuller, Shultz and Smith in 1980 and worked there until his death.

He married Tena Anderson in 1981, and they have 2 sons: Andrew and John.

Comet dearly loved his boys, and loved spending time with them.  They spent many summer weekends camping in Yankton, and riding the jet ski around Gavins Point.  In the winter, he would take them snow skiing to Great Bear; as they got older, to Copper Mountain and Keystone CO.  He was very proud and supportive of his boys.

Comet’s hobbies included singing, playing the guitar, reading, traveling, flying his own airplane, and touring on motorcycles.  He was a voracious reader.  He loved his annual ‘rituals’: attending the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh, the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, and the Sioux Falls Jazz Fest.

 Another ritual was his annual trip with the ‘Golf Guys’.  Every spring, he and his buddies would head to Florida, where they golfed many of their courses under the guidance of their fearless leader, Brad Grossenburg.  Their love of the sport eventually brought them to the birth place of golf - St Andrews, Scotland.  They also golfed many courses around Ireland.   

In 1997 he met Naomi Keiser.  Together they shared everything from their love of travel, friendship, music, movies, good food, reading…to the simple pleasures of a cup of coffee in the morning, and watching the sun set across the beautiful SD sky at night. 

Comet loved life!  Every morning he woke up happy and eager to start the day!  Coffee, a bowl of raisin bran, and he was ‘good to go’.  He rarely complained, and never took life for granted. He lived each day to the fullest.  He heartily embraced every adventure that crossed his path…and many folks he met along the way would ultimately become lifelong friends.  He will be sorely missed.  

Comet took his last flight Sunday, January 13th.  He was 69 years old.  He is preceded in death by his mother and father.  He is survived by his wife, Naomi, sons John and Andy, step daughters Sara and Kim, 3 grandchildren, sister Corrinne Berkland (David), brother Steve (April Rodgers), 3 nephews, and former spouse Tena.

A visitation will be held at Miller Funeral Home, 7400 South Minnesota Ave, Friday from 4-7 PM.  Funeral services will be held Saturday, at First Lutheran Church, 327 South Dakota Avenue, at 11 AM.

In lieu of flowers, the family is requesting donations be made to the South Dakota Airshow, Sioux Falls Jazz and Blues, and/or the South Dakota Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Comet served on the boards of these organizations.

BRIDGEWATER, South Dakota -- Federal Aviation Administration records indicate that the Sioux Falls attorney who died on January 13th, when his plane crashed in southern McCook County did not have the medical certificate he legally needed to fly.

Comet Haraldson, who was 69 at the time of his death, had flown from Tea to Mitchell earlier that day and was making the return trip when he crashed.

According to a Federal Aviation Administration website that keeps information on pilots’ certifications, Haraldson, who lived in Lincoln County, got a private pilot’s license in January 2007.

According to that same website, Haraldson last updated his medical certification in October 2016. That was a third-class certification which, under the Federal Code of Regulations, expires after 24 months of the date on the medical certificate because Haraldson was over the age of 40.

Pilots are not legally allowed to operate planes if they do not have an up-to-date medical certification or if they have not completed an alternative medical course.

Although some aircraft, such as balloons and gliders, do not require medical certification, operating as a private pilot does.

Representatives from the FAA’s Aerospace Medical Certification Division said they are unsure exactly how long it takes a pilot’s online information to update after a new medical certificate is obtained and refused to comment on the status of Haraldson’s certification. But if the October 2016 certification was Haraldson’s most recent, it would have expired in October 2018, making him unable to legally fly after that point.

An audio recording of air traffic control communication from before Haraldson’s plane crashed on Sunday indicated that he was having a medical issue while in the air. He contacted air traffic controllers at about 2:15 p.m. on Sunday.

In that recording, air traffic controllers can be heard repeatedly suggesting that Haraldson find a road or a field where he could land and they could send emergency personnel to help him.

“If you can safely put the aircraft down at this point in a field, on a road, that’s what we’d recommend, rather than losing consciousness at altitude there,” an air traffic controller said about eight minutes after first making contact with Haraldson.

Soon after that, the controllers lost contact with Haraldson, and the wreckage of his single-engine plane was found later that day.

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to investigate the crash, but the investigation has been slowed by furloughed workers.

Original article can be found here ➤

Comet Haraldson

The pilot killed in a single-engine plane crash in a field Sunday afternoon in McCook County has been identified.

Comet H. Haraldson, 69, of Sioux Falls, was the pilot and lone person on the plane when it crashed Sunday near Bridgewater. Haraldson was flying a plane registered in his name, McCook County Emergency Management Director Brad Stiefvater said Monday.

Haraldson, who was an attorney with nearly 40 years of experience at Woods Fuller Shultz and Smith law firm in Sioux Falls, flew the plane from Tea to Mitchell earlier Sunday, and was flying to return home to Sioux Falls at the time of the crash.

Stiefvater said Sunday that Haraldson had contacted air traffic controllers while in flight around 2:15 p.m. to say he was having health complications and was struggling to control his plane.

About 10 minutes later, air traffic control reported they had lost contact with the plane. The wreckage was later found in the area of 263rd Street and 440th Avenue in the southern part of McCook County, located 1 mile west of U.S. Highway 81.

Because of the partial federal government shutdown, the investigation into the crash will be slow, Stiefvater said. McCook County personnel received permission from the National Transportation Safety Board to preserve the wreckage from the crash site before the NTSB can further investigate. Stiefvater said there’s no timeline on when that investigation will occur because many NTSB employees are on furlough.

“I’m not sure when that will be because of the shutdown, so things are complicated right now,” Stiefvater said Monday.

Original article can be found here ➤


Authorities have identified the pilot that was killed in a plane crash over the weekend in southeast South Dakota.

McCook County Emergency Management Director Brad Stiefvater confirms Comet Haraldson of Sioux Falls died Sunday afternoon when his single-engine Piper Cherokee aircraft when down in a field between Canistota and Bridgewater.

Authorities said Haraldson had a medical issue prior to the crash.

The sheriff's department has cleared the wreckage, which is being stored in a secure county building due to the government shutdown.


Authorities say a medical condition is likely to blame for a deadly plane crash in southeast South Dakota.

A small single-engine aircraft crashed in a field between Canistota and Bridgewater around 2:15 p.m. Sunday.

McCook County emergency management officials tell KSFY the pilot reported having health issues mid-flight.

Air traffic control audio, recorded on the website, revealed a nearly half-hour struggle to help the pilot safely land the plane. Controllers advised the pilot to land in on a county road or a field, where first responders would be able to provide assistance.

The pilot ultimately was not able to land safely and crashed into a field.

Air traffic control coordinated a response on the ground with local law enforcement agencies.

"Today, our dispatch center got a call from the air traffic controllers out of Sioux Falls advising that they had a pilot that was calling in an emergency," McCook County Emergency Manager, Brad Stiefvater said.

Stiefvater said they were told the pilot was having health issues.

"He was having medical problems and having trouble controlling the plane as a result of those," Stiefvater

"We tried to reach this individual on the Unicom aircraft frequency from the ground to no avail and then 10 minutes later air traffic control advised that they had lost contact," Stiefvater said.

Shortly after losing contact with the pilot first responders found the crashed plane between Canistota and Bridgewater.

"The NTSB has been contacted and we'll be releasing no more information until the family is notified," Stiefvater said.

Authorities are not saying whether anyone else was on board the plane at the time of the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. Bad news ... RIP.

    Sounds like controllers giving 110% while taking home nothing. Good try.

  2. Within Medical? Or BasicMed? Just sayin'

  3. Condolences to family and friends affected. Inferring from what has been reported, perhaps they may obtain some comfort in believing their loved one's time may have arrived even had he not been a solo PIC at the time of this medical issue.

    As for the two-question post followed by the - so it seems to me, sardonic/sarcastic/inaccurately-judgmental 'Just sayin'...' trailing comment - surely the commenter doesn't believe presence of an airman's medical is a guarantee of good health in the period until the next medical. Health-related sudden incapacitations (and, yes, deaths) in major airlines' cockpits - not to mention common sense - belie that comforting notion. I would hope, should that commenter's own death eventually appear on 'some commentable news site' - his/her own friends are more accepting of life's natural uncertainties than what I infer seems to be the case in that unclear, 'drive-by', comment...

  4. It amazes me how many pilots both young and old refuse to follow the rules when it comes to piloting. Whether flying with expired or lacking credentials, drugs & alcohol in their system, flying an aircraft out of annual or with auto gas without an STC. The list goes on & on taking innocent lives with them sometimes. Not sure a current medical would have prevented this accident as the physical can only detect obvious conditions but it just looks bad for general aviation overall when you don't do what is required of you. RIP


  5. Since my 3rd medical is out since 1-Nov I have not flown as PIC.

    This is because it is a condition of our insurance to us, liability to my passengers and those on the ground both public and private.

    So if one wants to make a case of busting the rules because I/they know better I will politely suggest you/we do not have a legal leg to stand upon.

    One might say it is a private matter. Yes, go buy 1000 acres of land and fly over it. That way one can truly say they did not potentially hurt anyone else.

    It does not work that way in reality.

    However, I can (partially) understand why some flaunt the rules.

    I casually reported CPAP use for sleep apnea this last 3rd Class Medical on 4-Oct, a month ahead of expiration. The AME flipped out and said this had to go to Oklahoma for evaluation and acted as if I was deliberately hiding something.

    It took 30 days, 5-Nov to get a letter from OKC (dated 15-Oct) requesting one complete years's worth of CPAP data from the SD card on the unit I use. Fortunately, the unit does collect 364 days continuous samples with an overwrite on the 365th day. Some older CPAP units do not have that capability.

    So, being the responsible person I should I went back to the sleep specialist on 4-Nov and had a current diagnosis (letter of successful treatment) and an official download of data complete with charts for the folks at OKC.

    That information was sent off to OKC on 6-Nov. Right down the black hole of the FAA pipeline. it has now been ~80 days or so [and nothing].

    So, while I do actively criticize those that fly out of compliance at the same time the other problem is the FAA Medical Certification Branch in terms of performance in processing/making decisions.

    As a side note, checking the FAA site:

    does not list CPAP use (for sleep apnea) as a debilitating condition. Nor is CPAP use listed in the Guide to Aviation Medical Examiners (link) on the same page.

    Now, I have been out of work since 26-Dec and have a little time on my hands. I think I will do some inquiries today.

    RIP to the gentleman in the article.

  6. Another arrogant asshole begging to be killed.
    It may be slightly Un-PC to say so, but this clown had it coming.
    You anonymous ass-wipes can say what you want, but this crash was pure "karma."
    If you have a comment, at least have the guts to use your name, (pussies).


  7. Hi Michael,

    Everyone has "it" coming, it is just a matter of when.

    Sometimes one knows about "it" in advance, sometimes not.

    A friend renewed his 3rd class last year and a few days later had a massive heart attack while working in his front yard. Fortunately his neighbor who is a full time paramedic was outside and immediately saw what happened.

    The paramedic kept him alive and then the hospital took over. He was in a deep coma for several days.

    No-one knew this was coming.

    Fast forward 14 months. I saw my friend by chance on Sunday morning at the auto parts store. He is flying his bird again with the restriction of taking someone along who is qualified.

    He is thankful for every day he lives and says so every time.

    Perhaps I should do the same.

    i went back to work yesterday on 29-Jan. Nothing out of the FAA for 86 days now.

  8. After you get 3rd class back, you might want go basic medical in the future, if it works for you. I have a couple of friends who actually got their third class approved and sent in my ame only to have OC require sleep apnea test due to age, weight. Gave them 60 days or medical cancelled. Both never diagnosed with it or had symptoms. Ame very surprised. One got his doc to do report without extensive testing, while the other took complete test and cleared. They both now are going basic med due to cost, hassle factor. Not commercial pilots, just hobby flyers like me. FAA doesn’t like Basic Med based on my FAA contacts in QB.