Saturday, May 11, 2019

Piper PA-30-160 Twin Comanche, N7650Y: Fatal accident occurred May 11, 2019 near Naples Airport (KAPF), Collier County, Florida

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Miramar, Florida
Piper Aircraft; Vero Beach, Florida

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Naples, FL
Accident Number: ERA19FA170
Date & Time: 05/11/2019, 1530 EDT
Registration: N7650Y
Aircraft: Piper PA 30
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On May 11, 2019, about 1530 eastern daylight time, a Piper PA-30, N7650Y, was destroyed when it impacted the ground while on approach to Naples Municipal Airport (APF), Naples, Florida. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was being operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and an instrument flight rules (IFR) flight plan was filed for the flight that originated from Key West International Airport (EYW), Key West, Florida, about 1445.

According to preliminary air traffic control information obtained from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the flight progressed toward APF uneventfully. While in contact with the Southwest Florida International Airport air traffic control tower (ATCT), the pilot was told to expect the RNAV Runway 23 Approach to APF. The pilot informed the controller that APF was in sight, requested a visual approach, and was vectored to fly heading 050° to the downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern. He was further instructed to follow traffic that was ahead, was cleared for a visual approach to runway 23, and then instructed to contact the APF ATCT. The pilot was advised that he was "number two" and was cleared to land on runway 23. The controller then observed the airplane turn off the final approach course and questioned the pilot as to his intentions, but there was no reply.

A witness, a Collier County Sheriff's Office deputy who was about 1/4 mile east-southeast of the accident site reported hearing a loud sound then a "thud." He looked up and saw something like "Christmas tinsel" floating. He never saw the airplane.

The airplane came to rest in a residential area about 5 miles northeast of APF. It was fragmented as a result of tree and ground impacts immediately adjacent to a house. Feathers and a dead bird were found in separate areas among the wreckage. Parts associated with the airplane including two small window pieces, the headrest from a rear seat, and three inflatable life vests were found several hundred feet from the main wreckage. The feathers, bird, and specimen samples from some of the outlying airplane debris, as well as from several areas of the airplane interior were retained for testing at The Feather Identification Lab, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

The wreckage was subsequently recovered for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N7650Y
Model/Series: PA 30 No Series
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: APF, 8 ft msl
Observation Time: 1532 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 31°C / 22°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 14 knots / , 200°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.92 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Key West, FL (EYW)
Destination: Naples, FL (APF)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 26.202500, -81.707222

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 

William Reeves Gaston, Sr.
Naples, Florida 

It is with great sadness that the family of William "Bill" Reeves Gaston, Sr announces his unexpected passing on May 11, 2019, while doing what he most enjoyed, flying his airplane. 

Bill was born on July 10, 1947, in Bryn Mawr, PA, the son of the late Benjamin M. Gaston, Jr and Margareta Gaston (Sloan). He was the youngest of four children who predeceased him; Benjamin M. Gaston III, Maurice S. Gaston, and Margaretta A. Carr.

Bill attended St. Andrews College where he graduated in 1970 with a degree in Business Administration. Upon graduation, Bill built and established the very successful radio stations of WIOZ and WDLV in Southern Pines, NC. 

Bill was married to Susan Elizabeth Gaston (Gentry) for 34 years and later to Katherine Elizabeth Gaston (Packlick) for 4 years. Katherine predeceased Bill in 2017. 

Bill and Susan moved to Marco Island, Florida in 1983 and made Marco their new home. After one year of retirement, Bill grew bored walking the beach and collecting shells. He decided to form a telecommunications company called The Telephone Connection and later, Florida Communications, Inc. Eventually, the first cable company on Marco Island, Marco Island Cable, Inc. was born in 1992. Bill was personally involved with all of his businesses and with the Marco Island Community until the cable company was sold to Summit Broadband, Inc. in 2013. Since 2013, he has enjoyed flying, boating, traveling, and spending time with his family.

Bill is survived by many children and step-children: Kristina Pruyn (Richard), Tracy Hartman (AJ), Bill Gaston, Jr, Amber Kunce, Phoenix Jones (Kenny), Kolbe Jones, and Sarah Jones. He was also the beloved "Papa" to many grandchildren: Zachary and Kelsey Halaschak, Lauren, Jacob, Ethan, Kiley, Alexis, April and Samantha Hartman, Trey, Lily, and Alex Gaston, Liam and Bryson Kunce, and Emerson and Avery Jones.

Bill will be dearly missed by his family and many friends. There will be a Celebration of Life on Saturday, May 18, 2019, at 3:00 pm at the United Church of Marco Island, 320 N. Barfield Drive, Marco Island, FL. A reception will follow.

Instead of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to Angel Flight SE, an organization that Bill was passionate about. The website for this organization is Bill also enjoyed seeing young students learn to fly and was very supportive of the Lely High School Aviation Program. Donations can be made to the James C. Ray Flight Training Scholarship Fund in Bill's name by mailing a check to the Community Foundation of Collier County, 1110 Pine Ridge Road, Suite 200, Naples, FL 34108 with "Ray Scholarship in Memory of William R. Gaston" in the memo line.

William Gaston Sr.

The pilot killed in the small-airplane crash Saturday in East Naples was a Marco Island resident.

Bill Gaston Sr., 71, died piloting a Piper PA-30-160 Twin Comanche from Key West. He was on his way to the Naples Airport. The scheduled hour-long flight ended just 5 miles from the airport, when the airplane crashed near a home in the 4900 block of Hawthorn Woods Way.

The plane was following the planned flight path until the final runway approach, according to flight-tracking website

His son, Bill Gaston Jr., said his father had plenty of flight experience.

“He’s been a pilot since he was 16,” Gaston Jr. said. “He’s got plenty of flight hours.”

The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the crash investigation and had not released any information from it by mid-afternoon Sunday. However, Gaston Jr. said a medical crisis could have caused the crash.

“As another pilot, I would say it was health-related, based on how it crashed,” he said.

Gaston Jr. said his father was in good health and had regular checkups.

The Piper PA-30-160 Twin Comanche, passed its annual inspection, Gaston Jr. said.

Gaston Jr. said his father was in communication with air traffic controllers throughout the flight. No distress call was made, Gaston Jr. said. The airplane went down in a wooded area just east of Santa Barbara Boulevard and just south of Pine Ridge Road.

The plane was severely damaged in the crash, said Jamie Mosbach, a spokeswoman for the Collier County Sheriff’s Office.

No agency has stated whether another passenger was aboard, but Gaston Jr. does not think anyone else was on the flight.

His father regularly took friends and relatives on trips to Key West and the Bahamas.

After selling his business, Marco Island Cable, to Summit Broadband in 2013, Gaston Sr. spent much of his time boating and flying. He flew for 45 years.

“He was doing what he loved,” Gaston Jr. said.

Gaston Sr. had lived on Marco Island since 1984.

Original article can be found here ➤

William Gaston Sr.

The son of pilot William Gaston Sr., 71, confirmed his father died in a plane crash on Hawthorn Woods Way Saturday just north of Golden Gate Estates in Collier County.

William Gaston Jr., who is also a pilot, spoke to us about Gaston Sr. Sunday. Gaston Jr. said his father had been flying airplanes since he was 16 years old.

“He was a very well-like, well-respected Marco resident since 1983,” Gaston Jr. said. “Very outgoing, he could talk to anybody. He talked to everybody.”

According to Flightradar24, Gaston Sr. was returning from Key West Saturday. He left in his plane from the Keys around 2:46 p.m. and was heading to Naples Airport. Gaston Sr. was flying in his Piper PA-30-160 Twin Comanche when the plane crashed in a Collier neighborhood.

Collier County Sheriff’s Office, Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board responded to the scene of the crash Saturday, and it remains under investigation by National Transportation Safety Board.

Gaston Sr. owned Marco Island Cable until he sold the business to Summit Broadband in 2013 and retired.

“And has been flying to the Bahamas and the Keys quite frequently,” Gaston Jr said.

Original article can be found here ➤

NAPLES, Florida  - A pilot was killed after a small plane crashed Saturday afternoon in Naples.

Deputies said the crash happened in the 4900 block of Hawthorn Woods Way around 3:30 p.m.

The pilot was identified Sunday afternoon as 71-year-old William Gaston Sr. He was the only person in the plane when it crashed.

According to Gaston's son, William Gaston Jr., his dad owned two planes and had been flying since he was 16 years old.

The Collier County Sheriff's Office said deputies and an aviation team were called to the scene and witnesses said that Greater Naples Fire Rescue, North Collier Fire Rescue and Collier County EMS crews were also called in to assist.

Witnesses said Naples Tower had reported Gaston's plane missing three minutes before 911 calls started coming in that it had crashed. Deputies said the plane did not hit any homes.

Gaston was flying from Key West to Naples, according to Greater Naples Fire Rescue.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. Looked to be a very nice "classic" aircraft. A sad ending to the plane and it's pilot.

  2. Bill was a very nice man and a great pilot. He flew us from Marco Island to Key west and back for breakfast about 4 years ago. Very safe pilot and tons of fun to hang out with. Thank you Bill for the memories! Prayers for Bill and his family.

  3. At least he went out on his own terms doing what brought him joy. Surely better than dying a lonely death in a nursing home. I can only hope to go out like Bill. RIP fellow aviator.

  4. Losing control on approach is hardly “ going out on his own terms”. Looks like a classic approach stall.

  5. Let's wait and see what the NTSB come up with. Could have been a base to final stall, could have been a medical issue, could have been the loss of a engine. Even the pilot's own son said that his dad loved being in the air more than anything. Just glad that no one on the ground was injured or killed. Another legacy aircraft gone forever.

  6. Look at flightaware data before you post a comment suggesting an approach stall or base to final stall. A stall is probably what happened, but 3-4 minutes of odd activity that is not normal on a typical landing approach with no distress call means there must be more to this story. I know this pilot and I know this plane. Top notch pilot, and very well maintained plane.

  7. "Losing control on approach is hardly “ going out on his own terms”. Looks like a classic approach stall."

    actually reading the text one may discover bird parts and plastic window parts found in various locations, Im betting he took a bird in the face through the windshield....

  8. Agree with the bird strike. My initial thought was a medical problem but then I got to the narrative about bird parts.

    I read these reports as a way to learn what not to do but in this case I think we will find that sometimes there will be things that happen that are out of our control. That's very sobering but it's the reality of life.

    Condolences and prayers for the friends and family of the pilot

  9. Flying is a high risk adventure. As Ernie titled his book ... Fate is the Hunter.

    You can have the best maintained plane, go through the best training, maintain the highest level of proficiency, and do everything by the book and as safely as possible. Then, have something totally out of your control happen. Just like this.

    Flying is a high risk adventure.

    May he RIP.

  10. Christmas tinsel floating = Pelican birds :(


  11. Those big birds are not only causing airplane and car accidents and millions of dollars in damages but also killing chickens and songbirds all over. They are pest, and like wolves or big rats, they have to be hunted down. We must do a petition to ask to us to hunt them and cut the herd and the destruction those pest do. Lets start a petition to legislators to waive the bird laws for a while..

  12. Any big bird colliding with a small aircraft can be deadly, just as the ever popular drones are.

    A bulletproof windshield would have saved lives, but sadly very few private aircraft has one.

  13. Great guy and pilot. We will miss him.
    FRANK EWING and family