Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Rans S-6S Coyote II Super Six, N661PF: Fatal accident occurred June 26, 2019 in Fletcher, Henderson County, North Carolina

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Charlotte, North Carolina

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Fletcher, NC
Accident Number: ERA19FA200
Date & Time: 06/26/2019, 1030 EDT
Registration: N661PF
Aircraft: RANS S6
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

On June 26, 2019, about 1030 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Rans S-6S, N661PF, was destroyed when it impacted terrain near the Six Oaks Airport (NC67), Fletcher, North Carolina. The commercial pilot and flight instructor were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to and operated by PF Flyers Inc. under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an instructional flight. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight.

According to the owner of the airplane, the commercial pilot had asked to use the accident airplane for the purpose of a flight review. The owner reported that the commercial pilot had flown the airplane the day prior to the accident about the same time of day and he did not report any issues with the airplane. The owner reported that the airplane was topped off with non-ethanol automobile gas the day prior to the accident.

According to a witness, who was also a private pilot, he reported that he was in his truck and observed the accident airplane flying "erratic." He pulled his truck over at a gas station, which was about 1/2-mile from the accident site, and subsequently observed the airplane enter two "cascading [aerodynamic] stalls" and then enter a "classic spin." The airplane completed one and a half turns in the spin, before it descended out of his view. He further reported he could not hear the engine, as the windows in his truck were closed.

A Garmin 496 GPS device was found at the accident site. Preliminary data from the accident flight containing flight track, GPS altitude, time, heading, and groundspeed information were extracted from the unit. The recorded data began at 0955:25 and at 1004, groundspeed and GPS altitude data consistent with a takeoff from runway 6 at NC67 was recorded. The flight track then showed the airplane flying about 7 miles northeast of NC67, where the airplane performed a variety of maneuvers and then navigated back to NC67. At 1022, the flight track showed the airplane complete a series of spiral descending turns, enter the left downwind leg of the traffic pattern, and land on runway 24 about 1025.

At 1026:08, data consistent with another takeoff on runway 6 was recorded. The data continued and revealed that the airplane gained about 500 ft in altitude, climbing northeast, about 57-65 knots groundspeed. At 1027:57, the groundspeed decreased to 49 knots, then 7 seconds later a groundspeed of 10 knots was recorded, and subsequently the GPS altitude decreased rapidly. The last data point recorded was at 10:28:38 and the location was about 10 ft from the main wreckage site.

The initial impact point was located in a flat open cow pasture about 65 ft from the main wreckage and the wreckage path was oriented on a 070° heading. Fragments of propeller and engine cowling were co-located with the initial impact point. The airplane sustained extensive impact damage and came to rest upright on a heading of 245°, partially laying on its right side, with a portion of the left wing elevated above the fuselage. There was no evidence of fire.

All major components of the airplane were accounted for at the accident site, and flight control continuity was established from all flight control surfaces to the cockpit area. The left flap was found retracted, and the right flap was found partially extended. The left wing fuel tank was found empty, the tank was not breached, and the left fuel cap remained installed tight. When low pressure air was blown through the forward and aft fuel ports, air flowed freely. The right-wing fuel tank was full and the fuel cap was found installed tight. When the forward and aft right tank fuel ports were cut by recovery personnel, fuel flowed freely. A sample of fuel from the right tank appeared unremarkable with no debris observed and it tested negative for water when water finding paste was submerged in the fuel sample.

The cockpit section sustained significant impact damage. The two seats remained attached to the airframe. The seatbelts and shoulder harnesses had been cut by first responders. The flap handle was found in the "first notch" (first position from retracted). The airspeed indicator read 0 knots. The g-meter instrument had three indicator needles. The first needle indicated 3/4 positive G's. The second needle indicated negative 2.5 G's, and the third needle indicated negative 4 G's.

The throttle lever was found full forward. The engine choke lever was stowed. All circuit breakers were found in. The trim indicator needle was found in the takeoff position. The ignition switches were both found in the on position by the first responders and were moved to off during their activities. The on/off fuel shut off valve (SOV) was found on and was moved to off by the first responders. Low pressure air was blown through the fuel SOV with the valve open, and air flowed freely.

The engine remained attached to the firewall and sustained impact damage. During an engine examination, the crankshaft was rotated by hand and valve train continuity was established. All cylinders remained attached to the crankcase and thumb compression and suction was attained on all cylinders. All spark plugs were removed and displayed normal operating and combustion signatures. The left and right carburetors remained intact. When both were opened, fuel was observed inside the bowls and no debris was found. The propeller hub contained fragment splinters of the propeller blades, and the majority of the blades had separated from the hub.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airmen records, the pilot receiving the flight review held a commercial pilot certificate with rating for airplane single and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. He was issued an FAA second-class medical certificate on February 27, 2018. At that time, the pilot reported civil flight experience that included 13,560 total hours.

Review of his most recent logbook revealed that he accumulated 18 hours of flight time in the past 30 days, 37 hours in the past 90 days, and 72 hours in the past 6 months. In the past two years, the logbook contained 3.3 hours of flight time in the accident airplane. His most recent flight review was completed in June 2018 with a different flight instructor than he was flying with for the accident flight review.

According to FAA airmen records, the flight instructor providing the flight review held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. He also held a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single and multi-engine land, and instrument airplane. The pilot completed the Basic Medical certification on September 4, 2018. He was issued an FAA special issuance third-class medical certificate on September 28, 2017. At that time, the pilot reported civil flight experience that included 8,500 total hours.

Review of his most recent logbook revealed that he accumulated 8.7 hours of flight experience in the past 30 days, 25 hours in the past 90 days, and 56 hours in the past 6 months. His most recent flight review was completed in July 2018. Review of the pilot's logbooks dating back to the accident airplane's manufacturer date of 2007 revealed the pilot had not logged any flights in the airplane. The owner of the airplane also reported he was unaware of any flight time that the flight instructor proving the flight review had in the accident airplane.

The single-engine high-wing airplane was powered by a Rotax 912 UL four-cylinder engine, that drove a Warp Drive fixed pitch propeller. According to airplane maintenance records, a condition inspection was completed on June 10, 2019. At the time of inspection, the Hobbs meter indicated 158.8 hours. The Hobbs meter read 161.4 when viewed at the accident site.

The 1054 the weather conditions reported at Asheville Regional Airport (AVL), Asheville, North Carolina, about 5 miles southwest of the accident site, included visibility 10 miles, clear skies, wind 350° at 10 knots, temperature 25°C, dew point 16°C, barometric pressure 30.26 inches of mercury.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: RANS
Registration: N661PF
Model/Series: S6 S
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator: PF Flyers Inc.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KAVL, 2162 ft msl
Observation Time: 1054 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 25°C / 16°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots / , 350°
Lowest Ceiling:None 
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.26 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Fletcher, NC (NC67)
Destination: Fletcher, NC (NC67)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 35.475278, -82.435833

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

Malachy Dady Beckham Jr.
November 16, 1942 ~ June 26, 2019
Born November 16, 1942 to Malachy Beckham Sr. and Rosemary Beckham in Gary Indiana, Malachy “Mal” Beckham passed away on June 26, 2019.

Mal was a lifelong pilot, mechanic and flight instructor. He amassed over 13,000 hours of pilot in command time and an additional 8,100 hours of instructional time during his career which began in 1962 at age 19. Mal began flying in a Piper J-3 Cub and went on to log flying time in 34 different aircraft types including private jets. He held operating licenses and certifications for single engine, multi engine, turbo prop and jet engines. He was also a certified ground instructor, flight instructor and commercial pilot.

Mal served in the U.S. Army where he worked as a Pershing Missile Specialist at Fort Still, Oklahoma. He took great pride in being able to wear his Army uniform on special occasions as recently as last year.

An avid workout and health enthusiast, Mal swam, biked, jogged, hiked and lifted weights right up to his death.

Mal’s enthusiasm for flying was passed to his many students over his 30 year career as a flight instructor in Florida and North Carolina. Mal instructed over 100 students in his career, many which became professional pilots. His attention to detail and knowledge of the rules of flight operations was a pride point recalled by his students.

Mal was a member of the Western NC Pilot’s Association and generously contributed annually to the WNCPA Education Fund with the following statement: “God has greatly blessed me, and by providing these scholarships I intend to thank and honor Him. The Trustee shall notify each scholarship recipient that his or her gift was inspired by God.”

Friends of Mal are saddened by Mal’s unexpected passing. His absence will be felt in the WNC aviation community as well as in his community of faith at Biltmore Church and Hendersonville Seventh Day Adventist church. His friends are confident that Mal’s faith was sincere and that he now rests in the glory of Heaven where his wings are permanent and his soul now soars.

Mal is survived by his sister, Rosemary Ofsaiof of Northbrook IL and a son, David Beckham of Asheville, NC.

A memorial service will be held at the hangar located at 184 Lower Brush Creek Road, Fletcher, NC from 6:00-8:00pm on Saturday, July 13th.  Please send memorial contributions to Camp Cedarcliff Endowment Fund c/o The Western NC Community Foundation or the Western NC Pilots Association Education Fund c/o WNCPA, 21 Aviation Way Fletcher, NC 28732.  Groce Funeral Home at Lake Julian is assisting the family.

John Thomas Gaitskill
August 6, 1946 - June 26, 2019

John Thomas Gaitskill, 72, of Hendersonville, died Wednesday, June 26, 2019.  A native of Mt. Sterling, KY, he was the son of the late David Robinson Gaitskill and Frances Jones Gaitskill and brother to the late Saranne Gaitskill Booth.  John served in the U.S. Airforce; and graduated the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering.  He retired from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Chicago, IL. 

John and his wife lived in Park Forest, IL before moving to Hendersonville 12 years ago.  He was a member of the Western North Carolina Pilot’s Association, FAAS Team, and the AV-SIG.  John enjoyed flying and traveling. 

He is survived by his loving wife of 51 years, Pam Gaitskill; a son, Clay Gaitskill and his wife Laurie of Hendersonville; three sisters, Mary Dean Brown and her husband Richard of Berea, KY, Rebecca Brothers and her husband Gary of Lexington, KY, Jeannette Gaitskill and her husband Tony Moore of Owosso, MI; a brother-in-law, Fred Booth of Springfield, VA; a granddaughter, Sarah Gaitskill of Hendersonville, NC; and a host of nieces and nephews. 

A Celebration of Life will be held from 5:00 to 7:00 P.M. on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at the Western North Carolina Aviation Museum, 1340 E. Gilbert Street, Hendersonville, NC 28793.  In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in John’s memory to:  Western North Carolina Pilot’s Association Education Fund, PO Box 1165, Fletcher, NC 28732 or Historic Johnson Farm, 3346 Haywood Road, Hendersonville, NC 28791.

Adam Gerhardt, Air Safety Investigator 
National Transportation Safety Board
ASHEVILLE — Two Henderson County residents were killed in a single-engine plane crash this week in a cornfield off Lower Brush Creek Road near Fairview. 

North Carolina Highway Patrol troopers say 76-year-old Malachy Dady Beckham Jr., of Fletcher, and 72-year-old John Thomas Gaitskill, of Hendersonville, were killed in the crash that occurred at approximately 10:42 a.m. June 26. The plane, a Rans S-6 Coyote II light sport aircraft, was located about a mile northeast of Six Oaks Airport off Lower Brush Creek Road in Fairview.

Both Beckham Jr. and Gaitskill are listed as licensed commercial pilots and certified flight instructors, Federal Aviation Administration records show.

The primary investigating agency for the incident is the National Transportation Safety Board. Officials initially did not identify the two crash victims but noted there were just two people aboard the aircraft.

Adam Gerhardt, an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board, told members of the news media June 27th the purpose of its investigation is to determine what happened to the aircraft and why. Gerhardt said the flight was local, departing from Six Oaks, and it is believed to have been returning there at a later time. 

The airplane was "destroyed" as a result of the crash, he said.  Parts of the heavily damaged aircraft were being collected from a field off Lower Brush Creek Road and loaded onto a truck to haul away at about 3 p.m.

One witness told investigators they saw the plane descend from the sky into the terrain.

"That will be part of our process of looking at exactly how it came down," Gerhardt said.

The aircraft is scheduled to be held locally overnight and is expected to be transported June 28 to a facility in Springfield, Tennessee, for further investigation by authorities. A preliminary report is expected to be released by the agency within the next 10 days.

Per FAA records, the aircraft is listed as a fixed wing, single-engine plane that was manufactured in 2007 by Peter Fontaine. It is registered to PF Flyers Inc., which directs to an address in Asheville. Its certification was issued in May 2014 and did not expire until May 2020. 

Justin Aiken, manager of the small, privately held Cane Creek Airport, not far from the crash location, said he and Beckham previously worked together in different capacities at Asheville Regional Airport. He called Beckham "a good pilot," describing him as "a big, tall guy who always had a smile on his face."

"You go to airshows and you see old military aircraft that fly around? He used to fly those," Aiken said. "He was a very experienced pilot. I don’t know what went wrong."

Six Oaks is registered to Fontaine and Fletcher resident Matthew Burril. Attempts to reach both men have been unsuccessful.

Much of Lower Brush Creek Road near the Upper Brush Creek intersection was closed to traffic well into the afternoon June 26 as investigators were on the scene attempting to determine the probable cause of the crash. 

Neighbor David Stepp didn't see it come down. But that didn't keep his 2-year-old daughter from alerting him to its presence once it did, barely a stone's throw from his front deck.

She called out to him, "Daddy, daddy," he said, and he soon saw what was left of the wreckage.

"It's kind of scary, you know?" Stepp said. "Another hundred feet and when a plane falls, it's not going to drop straight down. You never know. I don't know if he was trying to land or if was having problems."

Story and video ➤

Adam Gerhardt, Air Safety Investigator 
National Transportation Safety Board

FLETCHER, North Carolina — Officials Thursday released the names of the two people killed Wednesday morning in a plane crash in Buncombe County.

The victims were identified as Malachy Dady Beckham Jr., 76, of Fletcher, North Carolina, and John Thomas Gaitskill, 72, of Hendersonville, North Carolina. 

Federal Aviation Administration records show both were licensed flight instructors.

The Rans S-6S Coyote II Super Six crashed about 10:45 a.m. in a cornfield one mile northeast of Six Oaks Airport in Asheville, said Kathleen Bergen, manager of FAA communications. 

During a Thursday afternoon news conference at the crash site,  National Transportation Safety Board officials said the plane was classified as an amateur-built plane and was a two-seater, personal aircraft.

It took off from and was set to head back to the airport when the crash happened, officials said.

Investigators are still trying to figure out why the crash happened, looking at what they call perishable evidence. That is evidence that might go away with time, including gas levels and whether there was water in the fuel, according to National Transportation Safety Board Air Safety Investigator Adam Gerhardt.

"Everything is on the table of looking at the airplane, the crew and what they would have been facing for the flight and also the weather conditions," Gerhardt said.

The plane was destroyed in the crash, Gerhardt said.

The wreckage was towed away from the crash site Thursday, heading to Springfield, Tennessee for further examination, Gerhardt said.

National Transportation Safety Board officials told WYFF News 4 that investigators are asking witnesses to the crash to come forward by calling 911 and tell them what they saw.

Gerhardt said investigators have interviewed one witness who described seeing the plane descend to the ground, but no other information from the eye-witness was released.

Officials said it will take a week to 10 days for their initial report to be released.

Story and video ➤

ASHEVILLE, North Carolina  (FOX Carolina) – Buncombe County Emergency Management said one person has died after a a small plane crashed into a field Wednesday morning in the Cane Creek area.

Deputies said a 911 call came in around 10:45 a.m. that a plane had crashed.

First responders then located the downed single-engine plane in an area off Lower Brush Creek Road.

Lower Brush Creek Road was closed to traffic.

The Federal Aviation Administration said two people were on board the Rans S-6 Coyote II light sport aircraft. It crashed in a cornfield one mile northeast of Six Oaks Airport in Asheville.

Emergency Management Director Jerry VeHaun confirmed one fatality in the crash. He did not know the condition of the other person aboard.

No other details were immediately available.

The FAA will investigate and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will determine the probable cause of the accident. 

Story and video ➤

BUNCOMBE COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA) – Buncombe County Sheriff’s Office officials confirmed that a plane crashed in Fairview, NC.

According to Aaron Sarver with the sheriff’s office, they received a 911 call about a single-engine plane down in a field in the Cane Creek area at around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday.

North Carolina State Highway Patrol officials said the plane crashed near the 300 block of Lower Brush Creek Road in the county.

Sarver said the sheriff’s office, the FAA and the North Carolina Highway Patrol is investigating at this time.

Highway Patrol Master Trooper Murico Stephens said the National Transportation Safety Board has also been contacted about the crash and will be the primary agency in charge of the investigation.

The FAA issued the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

“A Rans S-6 Coyote II light sport aircraft crashed in a cornfield one mile northeast of Six Oaks Airport in Asheville, N.C. at 10:42 a.m. Two people were on board. Contact local authorities for names and medical conditions. The FAA will investigate and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) will determine the probable cause of the accident.”

Story and video ➤

FAIRVIEW, North Carolina (WLOS) — One person is dead following a plane crash near Fairview Wednesday morning.

It happened around 10:40 a.m. off of Lower Brush Creek Road, near a small airfield.

Lower Brush Creek Road was closed in both directions near the scene of the crash, near Cane Creek Road. At 1 p.m., it was back open.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there were two people aboard. News 13 does not yet have any information on the plane's second occupant.

The FAA says that a Rans S-6 Coyote II light sport aircraft crashed in a cornfield 1 mile northeast of Six Oaks Airport in Asheville at 10:42 a.m.

Our crews on scene reported multiple Buncombe County sheriff's deputies and emergency vehicles in the Lower Brush Creek Road area, between Fletcher and Fairview. 

Our crew saw an ambulance leave the area.

A small plane lies mangled in a field, surrounded by caution tape and emergency responders.

Kayla Stanley lives a short distance from where the plane went down. She told News 13 she sees planes fly out of here all the time, but this time was different

"We saw the plane coming in for a landing and he was pretty wobbly," Stanley said. "Kind of going side-to-side, and he did land but it was rough. He kind of, almost went sideways."

Kayla says she was on her way to the store around 10:25 a.m. when she saw that plane come in.

"We saw him go to turn around, so I’m assuming that he just went back up in the air, and that’s when things went downhill."

Stanley says the photos she saw of the crashed aircraft were of the plane she saw making a rough landing. She says something might have been wrong with the plane.

"It was just kind of, you know, almost like a stabilizer was off, maybe, cause I’ve been on a plane when a stabilizer broke, and it’s not fun, and that’s what happens, you go in like this."

Upon hearing the news that one person died, Stanley said it’s like losing a member of the community

It’s shocking. We’re a really tight-knit community, so it kind of hits home, especially when it’s something you had just seen somebody flying a few minutes before."

The FAA has been on scene investigating the incident, but the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)is in charge of the investigation.

We’re still waiting to hear the identity of the person who was killed, and what the plane was doing at the time of the crash.

The FAA says it will investigate and the NTSB will determine the probable cause of the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤

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