Thursday, July 25, 2019

Beechcraft 95-B55 Baron, N8910U: Fatal accident occurred July 24, 2019 near Chadron Municipal Airport (KCDR), Dawes County, Nebraska

Damon Brown, Sarah Andrews Brown and their son Duncan Brown were killed when their Beechcraft 95-B55 Baron crashed near Chadron Municipal Airport in Nebraska.

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration; Lincoln, Nebraska
Federal Aviation Administration; Rapid City, South Dakota
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama
Textron Aviation; Wichita, Kansas

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Chadron, NE
Accident Number: CEN19FA236
Date & Time: 07/24/2019, 1420 MDT
Registration: N8910U
Aircraft: Beech 95B55
Injuries: 3 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On July 24, 2019, about 1420 mountain daylight time (MDT), a Beech 95-B55 (T42A) airplane, N8910U, impacted trees and terrain about 1/4 mile north of Chadron Municipal Airport (CDR), Chadron, Nebraska. The pilot, pilot-rated-passenger, and one passenger were fatally injured and the airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident and an instrument flight rules flight plan had been filed. The flight departed Fond du Lac County Airport (FLD), Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, about 1120 central daylight time, and was en route to CDR.

Preliminary flight track data revealed portions of the accident flight from FLD to CDR. The first point was recorded 1.25 miles northwest of FLD at 1,475 ft mean sea level (msl) and heading west. The track was associated with transponder code 7227. The track continued generally west at a cruise altitude about 8,000 ft msl, until 1348 MDT when the track stopped about 22 nm northwest of Valentine, Nebraska. At 1408 MDT the flight track resumed for less than 3 minutes during which time the altitude decreased from 8,125 ft msl to 7,3000 ft msl and ground speed 174 knots. At 1417 the track resumed about 12 nm northeast of CDR with a transponder code of 1200 at 6,050 ft msl and 158 knots ground speed.

A witness who was located near the main terminal at CDR on the south side of the airport stated that he observed the accident airplane in the traffic pattern on the east side of runway 21. The airplane appeared to be on the left base leg for runway 21 as it made a left turn. While in the left turn the nose suddenly dropped and the airplane descended behind the tree line.

Another witness, who was located 0.24 nm northeast of the accident site, stated the she heard the airplane overhead and the engine "sputtered" as if it lost power. She added that the sound from the airplane was a lot louder than the normal airplane traffic over her house. After she heard the airplane pass she looked outside but did not see the airplane.

The accident site was located 0.25 nm north-northeast of runway 21 in a harvested hay field next to a tree line. The wreckage debris path was scattered on a 270° heading and the airplane came to rest aligned on a 180° heading. Figure 1 shows an aerial view of the main wreckage as it came to rest upright in the field.

Figure 1 – Aerial view of accident site

An initial examination of the wreckage revealed that the fuel tanks were breached due to impact and there was no evidence of a fuel spill underneath the airplane. About 3 ounces of fuel was found in the right fuel strainer assembly. About one ounce of fuel was found in the left engine driven fuel pump supply line.

Seats 4, 5, and 6 had been removed from the airplane and the cabin and nose baggage compartment were both found packed with camping gear and other miscellaneous items. All items were removed from the cabin and nose baggage compartment and weighed for weight and balance calculations. The cargo in the cabin weighed 293.6 pounds. The cargo in the nose baggage area weighed 116 pounds.

The airplane has been retained for further examination. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Beech
Registration: N8910U
Model/Series: 95B55 T42A
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:
Observation Time: 1453 MDT
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 37°C / 14°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 13 knots / 20 knots, 190°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Altimeter Setting: 29.95 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: Fond Du Lac, WI (FLD)
Destination: Chadron, NE (CDR) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 2 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 3 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 42.850278, -103.085000

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 

Damon Brown
 (EBA Engineering)

Sarah Andrews worked as a geologist for two decades before becoming an author. She draws on her knowledge of geology for her novels, which feature a forensic geologist named Em Hansen.

Duncan Brown, back row, center, poses for a picture after the 2018 Leadership Academy hosted by the Redwood Empire chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Brown, 25, died Wednesday, July 24, 2019, after the plane carrying him and his parents, Damon and Sarah Brown, crashed near Chadron, Nebraska. 
(Courtesy of the Redwood Empire chapter of the American Institute of Architects)

A Nebraska plane crash claimed the lives of a Sonoma County family this week, tragically ending the Graton trio’s annual summer trip to a renowned aviation conference in Wisconsin and stunning friends and neighbors.

Damon and Sarah Brown and their adult son Duncan were killed Wednesday after their Beechcraft 95-B55 Baron went down just north of the Chadron, Nebraska, municipal airport about 2:30 p.m., according to the Dawes County Coroner and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Damon Brown, 61, worked at the EBA Engineering firm in Santa Rosa and had a background in geology, like his wife, Sarah, 68, who authored a series of novels featuring a geologist who solves mysteries. Their only child, Duncan, 25, a graduate of Sebastopol’s Analy High School, worked at a local architecture firm after returning from college in Southern California.

All three were pilots, though it appeared that Sarah had let her license expire, according to the FAA. A family friend said they were in the Midwest to attend the Experimental Aircraft Association’s AirVenture convention, one of the largest aviation gatherings in the country.

Family friend Nancy Saylor said that Sarah Brown recently told her over lunch that the three were especially looking forward to this year’s trip to Wisconsin.

“It was a big thing for them. They really had a fabulous time there every year, camping and sharing and bringing up memories,” said Saylor, a longtime teacher at Graton’s Oak Grove Elementary School who met the family when Duncan was a student.

It was not immediately clear what caused the crash. Weather in Chadron at the time was calm and clear, with light south winds between 5 to 10 mph, according to a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

The National Transportation Safety Board is leading the investigation of the crash and expects to report preliminary findings within two weeks, though final findings won’t be released for months or even over a year, according to Eric Weiss, an NTSB spokesman.

The three lived together in a home off Graton Road. On Friday, a collection of seashells was scattered near the front door, the path leading up to it lined by lavender bushes. A kayak sat under one of the trees and a giant purple star hung in the front window.

The Browns were strongly connected to the Graton community, where they’d lived most of Duncan’s life and where he’d attended Oak Grove Elementary School. Sarah Brown had volunteered at the school and at the nearby Hallberg historic butterfly garden. She also belonged to the Graton Community Club.

“They were very active in Graton,” Saylor said.

Under her maiden name, Sarah Andrews, Sarah Brown wrote a series of novels chronicling the adventures of a female forensic geologist, Em Hansen. Her tales did well enough to warrant more than 10 books, and positive testimonies from readers on Goodreads, a social media site dedicated to reading, indicate that her work hit home with people who loved finding a good murder mystery with rooted in-depth knowledge of the natural world.

“She weaves the mystery with lots of talk of geology, ecology, and evolution/ creationism,” a Goodreads reviewer wrote of “Rock Bottom,” a later book in the Em Hansen series. “Sometimes it was a lot of geology, but it was all interesting.”

Damon Brown was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association, host of the Wisconsin conference that a spokesman, Dick Knapinski, described as “aviation’s family reunion.” Over this week, it was expected to draw more than 10,000 airplanes and 500,000 people for hundreds of seminars and exhibits and daily afternoon air shows, Knapinski said.

“If it has flown, is flying or will fly, it probably will show up at Oshkosh sometime,” he said.

The Browns Beechcraft Baron 55 was built in 1965, according to FAA records. The twin- engine plane, with seating of up to five, is considered a higher-end private aircraft.

“That’s a very good airplane,” Knapinski said. “That one’s been around for a lot of years, and it’s got a great safety record.”

Damon Brown’s love for flying spanned decades and even showed up at his workplace in the form of spare parts ordered and stowed for the Beechcraft, according to longtime work partner, Nazar Eljumaily, whom Damon mentored as a pilot. Eljumaily also described his colleague as a “world-class marksman” who liked to hunt and an engaging conversationalist whom Eljumaily got to know over about 30 years.

“We kind of grew up working together,” Eljumaily said.

Randy Seelye, a former Press Democrat editor, said he and his wife bonded with the Browns to the point of occasionally celebrating Thanksgiving together. Seelye recalled skiing with Damon and Duncan in North Lake Tahoe and socializing over the years with Sarah and Damon.

“Both were quite gregarious, fun to be around,” Seelye said, adding that their son “seemed like he was hitting his stride” in recent years.

After graduating from Analy High, Duncan Brown studied biology and Spanish at Occidental College in Los Angeles. He interned for NASA’s Office of Planetary Protection “to protect the earth’s biosphere from extraterrestrial contamination,” according to a college publication. Back in Sonoma County, he had been working for a local architecture firm.

Duncan was a bright student for his third-grade teacher at Oak Grove Elementary, Peggy Heil. They stayed in touch over the years when he visited the school before the first bell of the year.

“Oak Grove was really a very special part of his life,” Heil said. “I fully expected to see him this summer as I get ready for the school year. He was that old student who came by the classroom to see if you needed help with anything.”

At Analy High, he often would head for the counselor’s office to visit with Peggy Heil’s husband, Joseph Heil, who for years was a counselor there.

“He was excited about going to Occidental and after he’d been there, he came by (and) said it was just the right place for him,” Joseph Heil said. “When he got his pilot’s license, he told me about that, and when he soloed, he was through the moon. He was just so happy.”

“He was a jovial, unique character, just a sweetheart of a guy,” Joseph Heil added. “I can’t believe they’re gone.”

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. Almost 800 miles ? Fuel exhaustion near destination ?

  2. That was exactly my initial thought. I worked in the tower at sts early 90’s , damon was a student pilot and had stopped by the tower a couple times. A member of our eaa chapter.
    Very tragic . Rip the brown family.

  3. Prelim report has them departing Fond du Lac. Direct to Chadron, it's 640nm. Four hours in the air, should have been as easy leg for a B55, figuring average groundspeed of 160kn. Sure hope they didn't run out of gas 10 seconds from home.

  4. NTSB preliminary suggests just that, unfortunately

  5. To slow and to close to the ground while in a turn. No rocket science here. Not flying the “blue line” or above is a recipe for disaster no matter where you are while low. I fly my twin Cessna 414 at blue line up until I’m square on final and can easily glide it in if needed. All else, it’s above the critical single engine airspeed.
    The scenario plays out like this ..

    You are at 800 feet in the pattern, 90 knots and turning downwind to base. You’ve cut it long and steepen your turn. The right engine sputters, dramatic loss of power. You are now well below blue line and slowing. Your lt wing drops, nose drops .. no recovery. It all happens in less than 10 seconds.

    I’ve instructed twins for 20 years, I preach this over and over.

    RIP victims, so sad.

  6. Nose recovery!
    Wow if you have taught multi flying for 20 years, I guess that’s not long enough, because magically there is a recovery-
    It’s called - pull the other engine back to idle and glide like you would in a single engine plane that just lost power on its only engine.

    Sent from an MEI who has been teaching 30 years.

  7. If you don't catch it right away, at 800 ft there is no altitude for recovery from a stall/spin is what he means. But yes, chopping the power on the good engine will then render the plane a polished man-hole cover but at least you'll have some control of what you're about to crash into. Proper initial training and lots of recurrent training can minimize these kinds of outcomes we've been seeing far too many of lately.

  8. Almost made it to their destination... almost


  9. As an ATP flying twin engine airliners, but with ZERO time flying light piston/turbine engine twins (because they scare the crap out of me...especially listening to you MEIs and your “stories”) I have to ask why anybody would push the fuel limits and allow laziness and NAFOD to rule over common sense. If the fuel remaining at destination is in ANY WAY a question mark, then land short and put some gas in the darn thing. It’s just not worth your life to save an hour of your time. Very sad.

  10. Nose recovery!
    Wow if you have taught multi flying for 20 years, I guess that’s not long enough, because magically there is a recovery-
    It’s called - pull the other engine back to idle and glide like you would in a single engine plane that just lost power on its only engine.

    Sent from an MEI who has been teaching 30 years.

    if you read the report a bit more you may notice there was NO EVIDENCE of fuel at the site...most likely fuel unported from both engines as it was empty, the nose dropping is indicative of the stall break, and its unlikely they would have had enough altitude at the base to final turn to recover...enjoy your next 30 years, and best to make your posts a positive supporting one after carefully reading, not a post to discredit others....Im glad with your attitude you werent my instructor at any stage