Saturday, April 20, 2019

Beechcraft B60 Duke, N65MY: Fatal accident occurred April 18, 2019 at Fullerton Municipal Airport (KFUL), Orange County, California

Robert Kenner Ellis, 48, appears in an undated photo posted to his dentistry practice Luminous Family Dental’s website. 

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Long Beach, California
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Fullerton, CA
Accident Number: WPR19FA115
Date & Time: 04/18/2019, 1953 PDT
Registration: N65MY
Aircraft: Beech 60
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On April 18, 2019, at 1953 Pacific daylight time a Beech B60, N65MY, collided with the ground after takeoff from Fullerton Municipal Airport (FUL), Fullerton, California. The private pilot sustained fatal injuries and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to KMA Technology Solutions LLC., and operated as a personal flight by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. The flight had a planned destination of Heber City Municipal Airport - Russ McDonald Field (HCR), Heber, Utah. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan had been filed.

According to relatives of the pilot, he had moved with his family from Southern California to Utah at the end of 2018. He continued to maintain a business in California, and would work there during the week, and return to Utah at the weekends. His typical routine would be to depart Heber City for Fullerton on Monday morning and then return Thursday night. He would use the accident airplane to make the trip, unless weather was bad, in which case he would fly via commercial airline.

The accident sequence was captured by a series of surveillance video cameras located at multiple vantage points within the airport. Preliminary review of the video data revealed that the pilot boarded the airplane at his hangar at 1930. He started the engines, and taxied to the runway 24 runup were the airplane remained for the next 11 1/2 minutes. During that time, he was provided his IFR clearance by the tower controller. The airplane then taxied to the hold short line on taxiway A at the approach end of runway 24, and after the pilot was given the takeoff clearance, the airplane began the takeoff roll. The airplane was airborne after traveling about 1,300 ft down the runway, and about 2 seconds after rotation it began to roll to the left. Three seconds later, the airplane had reached an altitude of about 80 ft above ground level (agl), and was in a 90° left bank. The nose then dropped as the airplane rolled inverted, and struck taxiway E in a right-wing-low, nose down attitude. (See Figure 1).

The first identified point of impact was located on the centerline of taxiway E, about 100 ft south of the runway centerline. The impact was composed of a set of four gouges, oriented diagonally across the centerline, and spaced about 8 inches apart. The gouges matched the approximate dimension of the right propeller blades, and a similar set of gouges were present on the tarmac, about 18 ft to the southwest. Fragmented sections of the outboard right wing were distributed around the impact point and on the adjacent runway surface.

The main wreckage came to rest on taxiway A, about 100 ft beyond the second set of gouges. The main wreckage was composed of the pressurized section of the cabin, both engines, the left wing and tail section, all of which sustained extensive thermal damage. The entire tail structure aft of the pressure bulkhead was consumed, with only ash remnants of the vertical and horizontal stabilizer and flight control surfaces remaining. Examination of video footage indicated that the landing gear was in the extended position at the time of impact, and the flaps appeared to be partially extended as the airplane taxied onto the runway.

Airframe and engine logbooks indicated that the most recent maintenance was for an annual inspection, and was completed on December 26, 2018.

Figure 1 – Accident Sequence Viewed Midfield to the South 
(timestamp inaccurate)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Beech
Registration: N65MY
Model/Series: 60 B
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: KSLI, 36 ft msl
Observation Time: 0353 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 6 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 20°C / 10°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.01 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Fullerton, CA (FUL)
Destination: Heber, UT (HCR) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: On-Ground
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 33.871389, -117.981389

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 

The 48-year-old pilot killed in a fiery plane crash in Fullerton was a Southern California native and dentist who recently moved to Utah and commuted back and forth between the two states, his mother said Friday.

Robert Ellis was taking off at around 7:50 p.m. at the Fullerton Municipal Airport, at 4011 W. Commonwealth Ave., when his Beechcraft B60 Duke crashed near Runway 24 and burst into flames, according to Fullerton police.

He was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.

Ellis is survived by his wife of more than 25 years and their four sons — the oldest a 20-year-old and the youngest still in junior high, the victim’s mother, Sandra Ellis, said.

Sandra said the family is doing “OK,” largely because of their strong Mormon faith.

“We have a strong feeling about life and death in the Mormon church; it’s not as devastating as you think it might be,” she told KTLA. “I’ve always had the feeling that people never really are gone, they’re just always in another place. It’s not like you’ve lost them forever.”

The death will likely be hardest on Robert’s wife, his mother said, because he “never stopped dating her.” They loved going to concerts, Disneyland and the beach, where they roller-skated and rode bikes.

The family had only moved to Heber City, Utah, in January after living in Southern California their whole lives. Before that, they lived on Blue Jay Avenue in Orange in that house that Robert grew up in, which he bought from his parents in 2001, Sandra said.

Even after the move, Robert kept his dental practice in Tustin and flew between Utah and California about twice a week. He also flew from Orange County to Riverside about once a week, his mother said.

Loved ones said he was flying back home after work when he crashed.

Sandra described her son as an “energetic soul” who was smart, loving and talented man who showed an interest in mechanics from an early age. She said she wasn’t sure how he got into aviation, but “somehow or other, he thought he had to fly.”

“All I can say is, he died doing what he liked to do, and you can’t knock him for that,” Sandra said. “I told his little kids that this kind of thing can happen in a car, or falling down stairs. Life just has to go on.”

The small plane had just been gassed up and was traveling about 15 feet above ground at about 80 mph when it suddenly veered to the left and plowed into the pavement, according to Fullerton fire officials.

"The aircraft rolled to the left and caught fire," Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Ian Gregor said.

It’s still unclear what led to the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

Story and video ➤

The pilot who died when the Beechcraft B60 Duke he was in crashed and caught fire after barely taking off from Fullerton Municipal Airport has been identified as a 48-year-old Utah man.

Robert Kenner Ellis was pronounced dead shortly after the Beechcraft B60 Duke crashed at about 7:50 p.m. while departing from Runway 24 at the airport.

Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board officials were going to be at the airport Friday, April 19, to investigate the remnants of the charred plane and what could have led to the crash.

Ellis had set a flight plan from Fullerton to Heber City Municipal Airport in Heber, Utah, according to the FAA.

Kathy Schaefer, Fullerton Fire Department division chief, said on Friday that the pilot often flew from Orange County, where his parents live, back to Utah where he and his family recently moved.

The plane had been traveling 80 mph and was about 50 feet off of the ground when it veered left and crashed, Schaefer said. It soon was engulfed in flames on the taxiway.

Firefighters extinguished the blaze, which destroyed the back half of the aircraft.

Authorities said he had a full tank of gas when he took off, which led to the aircraft bursting into flames upon impact.

Original article can be found here ➤


Anonymous said...

Details will be interesting on this one.


Thomas Johnson said...

This person apparently has footage from security camera:

Anonymous said...

"While the Duke shares the delightful handling of the Beech line, should pilots have the joy of single-engine operation, they will be up against the highest rudder-force of any piston twin – 150 pounds at Vmc – which happens to be the maximum the FAA allows. "

Therein might be a good possibility.

Cruzinchris said...

Piston twin take off procedure:

Hands on the throttles. If a power loss occurs before 500', immediately pull the power back and land straight ahead. Plane will be totaled, but passengers may live.

Anonymous said...

^^^^ considering where the wreckage ended up he may have done just that ... Aborted. I agree that everyone might walk away ... If there is no fire.

I attended both the factory pilot school and mechanic school in the 80s and then decided I didn't want to fly the plane.


Anonymous said...

^^^ adding to my post above ... What I learned about the Duke is that it can be a handful ... And leg full ... With the loss of an engine. If the engine failure happened right after lift off you would be hard pressed to keep the plane on the center line during an abort ... Maybe in a perfect world wearing rose colored glasses.

The nature of flying is such that a pilot can do every thing right and still die.

Stackthepilot said...

That just sickens me. Prayers for his family and friends.

Regarding the video, does anyone else think it looks hand shot through a office window? I guess it could be a security cam and just panned in on.

I bet that Helicopter Pilot feels lucky as heck.

davisflyer said...

That's exactly what I did when the left engine on the Apache I was flying quit at 50'. Killed both throttles, lowered flaps and banked toward remaining runway. Fortunately I was able to land and get stopped on the remaining runway!

Anonymous said...

The video shows a steep climb angle after liftoff then a hard roll ... speculation here but is it possible his seat slid back after rotation ? Not sure of the seat latch systems on the Beech but Cessna has their share of issues.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that happened fast. Godspeed to the pilot and my condolences to his family. Piston-twins scare me.

av8rdav said...

Piston twins are not any more dangerous than singles. You just have to stay above VMC. Most multi engine aircraft will takeoff and fly well below vmc. You just have to keep it on the ground until you reach VMC. I think this accident was due to takeoff below VMC and then the left engine failed at just the wrong time.
The Mosquito has a takeoff speed of about 40 MPH below VMC. Of course only one is flying right now but the pilot has to keep the nose down and get to VMC which happens pretty quick according to Kermit Weeks.

Hasan said...

Yes and he was adding rudder too but they were not active due to speed

Anonymous said...

Did his seat slide back perhaps? Prayers for his family.

Anonymous said...

At ~3100ft, the Fullerton runway is what I would consider short for a Duke. The steep climbout was probably because the pilot knew the runway was short and didn't want to keep it low to accelerate above blue line speed. With only the pilot onboard the plane was nowhere near its maximum weight. Nevertheless, it takes a few seconds to secure a dead engine and the advice above to chop and drop is probably the safer option. But with not much left of that 3100 ft, it's going to crossing a road into a construction lot.

Kell490 said...

Good engine take you right to the scene of the accident

Anonymous said...

Wow. No multi engine takeoff is ever routine. You have to be ready to chop and drop until gear are up. Some people suggest you say and think "stop ...stop...stop..." until the wheels are in the wells. Now I know why my instructor forced high sped takeoff aborts before we ever actually went airborne. Below VMC you are a dead man. RIP. I just hope we learn from peoples' misfortune.

Anonymous said...

No more details needed. VMC roll. Dead man's grip on both throttles. So sad. RIP.

PS. My DPE warned me that anyone can fly a twin on both engines.....

Anonymous said...

Question here, could it have been caused by the heli vortex?? It seems to roll very fast for an engine loss..

Anonymous said...

No ones mentioned the gear was fully retracted before he even started to roll so guessing he had just reached over to flip the gear switch and had an engine failure at approx. the same time.

As someone mentioned the Duke has the highest rudder pressure of any twins to maintain straight flight with an engine out.

With 380 HP on each side at full power suddenly losing an engine coupled with a relatively "short" distance from the engines to the rudder, while low and slow, combined with dusk lighting conditions, and the odds were stacked against a successful outcome.

So sorry for him and his family.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering about the helicopter as well. I have seen video of a Cirrus landing just after a large military chopper departed. Just as the Cirrus was about to flare, he was flipped over and landing inverted due to the wake turbulence from the large rotor on the chopper. Not sure if a smaller chopper like the one seen here could do that especially since he is still on the ground not producing lift. Interesting theory though.

Anonymous said...

Watching the accident video, it happened so fast that I doubt that 99% of pilots in that exact scenario would have been able to "save" it. Worst possible time to lose an engine along with a short runway sealed his fate. It was just his time. RIP

Anonymous said...

Take off a twin below VMC.
Flip it upside down faster than you can say "ah".

Anonymous said...

This is the second time that N65MY has had an incident in the past 12 months or so. About 8 months ago one of the cylinders on the left engine blew out and Robert had to make an emergency landing on runway 24. Trim Aire Aviation out of Texas had recently conducted engine overhauls on both right and left engines. Boyd 'Buddy' Miller is the owner of Trim Aire, and came down to conduct the left engine replacement. We speculate that during takeoff the left engine failed or lost power, causing the left wing to pull back which led to the aircraft rolling over and slamming into the ground. My personal experience with 65MY and Boyd Miller: I got the feeling that he was shady because he provided direction to conduct testing on the engine that would have resulted in further damage and liability to my company. As such we refused to work on the aircraft when the left engine failed the first time (approximately 8 months prior to the incident that resulted in Robert's death). On 4/19 I was leaving the airport around 7:40 PM. Saw 65MY in the run up area. About 10 minutes later I was notified of the crash and already knew who it was was before the aircraft's identity was made public. I revisited Trim Aire Aviation via google and identified that Buddy Miller was sued for selling a guy 6 engines that were not up to par. Not sure if the customer won that case or not but kinda goes to show that Buddy Miller has had opportunity with morals and ethics in the past. So, left engine fails twice in 8 months, pilot survives the first incident, but not the second. Same guy is responsible for the overhauled engine that failed, and the replacement engine that failed...

Anonymous said...

Missed resetting the trim? Eager dirt sniffer?

Not sure a good stunt pilot could get a Duke off the ground in 1300' ... Safely that is.

Anonymous said...

Possibly split flaps, happened on the same type of aircraft a few years ago. Single pilot.

Anonymous said...

I suspect he rotated early, immediately moved his hand from throttles to gear switch and retracted gear, and upon moving his hand back to throttles accidently pulled left throttle back with the heel of his hand.

Anonymous said...

The surveillance photos show high angle of attack as soon as he lifted off at 1300 into the TO roll. The specs recite a TO roll of just over 2,000 at gross. He rotated at 1,300 but probably under gross. The NTSB initial recites ground speed of 80. Power off stall dirty is 67. Just eyeballing the TO roll photos, it appears his AOA is immediately high on rotation, maybe 25º. If true, then his stall speed is much higher than 67. Aircraft is just airborne when you can see that left wing begin to drop because it is stalled. Appears to be less than one second. Then he does the wing over spin. You can step through the video below. The pilot's seat and control positions should be recoverable so the theory of slippage, throttle positions, etc can be investigated as well as the engine out theories. I'm thinking it's more classic departure stall. The airplane was launched into a high AOA,and then fell. It was never really flying. Seems improbably that he would loose the seat, throttle, and/or the engine at the same time.

Maybe some higher resolution photos or video will surface so we can see the control surface positions. I could not tell if he had rudder in or was trying to bank into the good engine if he had engine out. He had no time to react really. There is a video of a Queen Air that lost left engine and is trying to maneuver low and slow to return to the field following tower instructions to make a left turn (mistake). It stalls and spins in. Happens in an instant with that high wing loading.
Unless you have several thousand feet of air to play with, it will be the end game.

Condolences to the friends and family. Hopefully, he died on impact so no suffering in the fire.

Anonymous said...

The photos seem to show that the aircraft traveled approximately 7 plane lengths from rotation to crash- about 250-300 feet. Just as the nose passes the striped pole, it's about 15% nose up. Then, less than 2 lengths more, it has pitched up to about 30%, right in front of the tower, which seems dramatic. Thinking here that it has stalled on TO and he's pulling the yoke back instead of pushing it forward. These aircraft do not have any recent history of seat problems I could find. Possibly another pilot was flying the same aircraft and it was not latched properly? Should be a pre-flight item. Anyway, at that point it stops flying, altitude does not increase past that AOA change point because it has entered a deep stall and spins over. Total forward travel after wing drop is about 3 lengths. His forward momentum has become circular momentum that is added to gravity and plane departs the flight path to the left. TO roll begin to crash is about 2,000 feet. Initial NTSB above indicates both engines creating power at impact as evidenced by two sets of prop witness marks about 15 feet from each other. The NTSB should be able to figure out the cause. RIP.

Anonymous said...

that happens pretty fast....

Anonymous said...

Looks like it stalled as soon as he left ground effect. He's pretty much at high AOA at lift-off in ground effect. Aircraft jumps off runway and he's thinking good to go and nudges the AOA even higher. AS soon as he loses the ground effect, it is totally stalled.

Anonymous said...

Non-approved control lock.

DukeFO said...

The seat latch system is similar to Cessna. There’s three rails with the center one with the holes the pin sets in.

Unknown said...


I was rearly shocke when I saw that Crash video. I operated the Dukes since 1990 with more than 3.000 hours. In my opinion it looks like that the pilot seat was not correctly adjusted. I had this three times with the Duke P-581 and P-341 and in P-274. I am 1,80 m high, so that the seat in the full back position allows me to handle the Throttles. If the pilot is smaller and has both hands on the Control wheel instead of his right hand on the Throttle, he could be so shocked and keeps his hand convulsive on the Control wheel so pulled the plain into the stole.

If you pull the Duke extra and conscious from the runway with only 69 knots, you could not believe how strong you have to pull the elevator. I cannot believe that this was done by the Pilot.

It seems to be much more logical, that the pilot seat went into the full back position while the pilot had both hands on the control wheel.

I am very sorry about that crash. The Duke flies always so well and safe.