Saturday, April 20, 2019

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

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 

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

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 ➤


  1. Details will be interesting on this one.


    1. I am thinking that if he wasn't working out in a gym and working his legs I can only imagine that as soon as the left engine failed then slammed the rudder all the way to the left, he just didn't have the strength to move that peddle or overcome those forces. I don't think many dentist do a lot of leg work to keep the muscles toned up.

    2. An engine failure at that point allows under three seconds for a pilot to respond. Once a wing is rising, rudder is of little help. The only solution is to yank back on the throttles -that is why multi-engine pilots are encouraged to keep a hand on the throttles during take-off. If you get lucky, they'll be time to ease power back in once the plane is under control, but usually speed has bled too low for successful flight.

  2. This person apparently has footage from security camera:

  3. "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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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!

    2. Which shows why one shouldn't be in a hurry to pull up the gear.

  5. ^^^^ 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.


    1. The aircraft would not have roll inverted if the power had been pulled to idle.

  6. ^^^ 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

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

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

  10. 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.

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

    2. Yes, get it wrong and Piston twins usually take you to the scene of the crash quicker than a single, like you said keep it on the ground till above VMC.

      Single pilot ops in complex aeroplanes can be a challenge at night. RIP

    3. Yes, and the aircraft seemed to be nose high. The whole situation is awful.

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

    1. It happened at the Reno Air Races so that is a distinct possibility.

  12. 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.

  13. Good engine take you right to the scene of the accident

  14. 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.

  15. 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.....

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

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

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

  21. 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...

    1. NTSB final will include whatever is learned about who, what, when on the engine story from logbooks and maintenance records. Presume you made your shop records from that initial evaluation of the first incident available to NTSB.

      Posting anonymously about that lawsuit and saying "not sure if the customer won that case" is unethical, seeing as the case reference you Googled up made it clear in the 2003 rendered judgement that Mr. Miller was not found to be at fault in the original trial or in the claimant's appeal.

      The Googled up lawsuit reference describes that activity as involving brokering partially disassembled used turbine engines "as is" to a person who intended to part them out, not engines that were overhauled or otherwise represented as serviceable.

      Thorough reading of the rendered opinion does not suggest moral or ethics deficiencies by Trim Aire. Why use it to smear them if the courts dismissed the claims?

  22. 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.

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

  24. 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.

  25. 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 25ยบ. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. that happens pretty fast....

  28. 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.

  29. Non-approved control lock.

  30. Martin,

    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.


  31. Looking at the one of the close-up security video, you could see that prior to the stall, the airplane yaws to the left and left wing slightly lowers; that is happening for some 3 long seconds.
    So it does not look as a stall, which happens very abruptly, when the airflow is ripped away from the top surface of the wing and does not give a reason for developing yaw effect. On the other hand, it is consistent with loss of left engine power and following vmc roll as discussed. The marks in the ground from a left engine mean the engine wasn't shut, but it doesn't mean it was producing sufficient power.

  32. I aggree with you. On the other hand I have this question: Why does he take of with only less than 70 knots? This ist total unnormal for a Beech Duke Takeoff?


    1. Martin, I'm not sure where the information about 70 kt (IAS?) comes from. The stall speed of the plane is 73 KIAS, so it wouldn't lift off the ground. Someone mentioned that NTSB noted it was lifting off at 80 kt (IAS?), but I didn't see any report yet. But just to be clear with terms, a stall itself is part of vmc roll, where unefectivness of control surfaces cause increasing correcting action, which causes higher drag, that turns into less effective control surfaces and it continues until stall of the wing with ineffective engine occurs. To recover developing vmc roll, one needs an energy to trade off for speed and that can be only achieved by lowering nose (mind how quickly it happens, pilots must train it, regardless single or multi engine). It can't be just corrected by rudder and airleons, it's part of the problem. But as people wrote here, that is why vmc is defined and why multi engine aircraft should not take off before achieving it.

  33. Dear unknown person,

    in the Information are 1.300 ft =396 m with full fuel of Groundroll and a speed of 80 mph = 69,5 knots described. This is the Information I was looking at, and I came to a not correct adjusted pilots chair.

    If you are airborn with 70 knots in a Duke, you need full ruder to the right to hold the aircraft strait. If you lose control, it would roll immediately to the left, as it shows in the (crash) video.

    with best regards


  34. Video angle at 1:19 to 1:23 in this clip shows a clockwise pirouette underway just before going out of sight behind the hangar. That motion at 1:21 to 1:22 suggests strong pull effect and torque from the starboard engine was in control. If that interpretation is correct, the port engine was not performing properly.

  35. Unrelated to the accident but I believe Bob Hoover said it best and demonstrated an airplane doesn't care how many engines you have or don't have, all it cares about is airspeed.

    1. Saw Bob Hoover's Rockwell Shrike Commander engine-out aerobatic show at Kissimmee in early 1970s where he did loops and 8 point rolls in glider mode. He showed how to trade airspeed for height, height for airspeed as energy management with engines feathered. Can still remember the ripping air sound of the gliding Shrike at the bottom of the loop as he began to pull up.

      Many people are unaware of the danger from light twin engine loss on takeoff, thinking only of whether an airplane can maintain flight level on one. The default belief is that two engines provide redundancy, but on takeoff having two wing mounted piston engines just doubles the likelihood of calamity at rotation and initial climb. Simple statistics math.

  36. how is skymaster on take off if say the front engine fails?

    1. Hard to see from the vid which is aimed at the RH side of the plane: I don't see any RH rudder. (Stopped vid several times)

  37. The airplane did NOT stall. The crash was a VMC roll event.