Saturday, August 17, 2019

Loss of Control in Flight: Aerotek Pitts S-2B, N600DF; fatal accident occurred August 16, 2019 near Lakefront Airport (KNEW), Orleans Parish, Louisiana

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board

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

Additional Participating Entities: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Lycoming Engines; Williamsport, Pennsylvania

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: New Orleans, Louisiana 
Accident Number: CEN19FA270
Date and Time: August 16, 2019, 15:06 Local 
Registration: N600DF
Aircraft: Pitts S2 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General aviation - Personal


The passenger, a TV news anchor, was filming a documentary on the pilot, which included a local flight in the pilot's aerobatic airplane. The airplane departed and turned onto the downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern. The pilot requested to return to the airport but did not specify the reason for the return. A witness described the airplane as, “unstable” and “wiggling,” and said that the engine was sputtering before the airplane impacted the ground and burst into flames.

The airplane impacted terrain in an approximate 45° nose-down pitch attitude and was consumed by a post-impact fire. Examination of the flight controls and engine did not reveal any obvious pre-impact anomalies, although severe fire damage precluded complete examination. The wooden propeller blades were severely fractured and splintered, consistent with powered rotation at the time of impact. The reason for the loss of control and impact with terrain could not be determined based on the available information.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
A loss of control for undetermined reasons.


Not determined (general) - Unknown/Not determined

Factual Information

History of Flight

Approach-VFR pattern downwind Loss of control in flight (Defining event)

On August 16, 2019, about 1506 central daylight time, a Pitts S2B airplane, N600DF, was destroyed when it was involved in an accident near New Orleans, Louisiana. The commercial pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries. The airplane was operated as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight.

The passenger, who was a TV news anchor, was filming a documentary about the pilot, which included a local flight in the pilot's aerobatic airplane. The footage captured the accident takeoff and ended when the airplane was established in level flight on the left downwind leg of the airport traffic pattern for runway 36. Control tower personnel reported that the pilot requested to return to the airport shortly after takeoff but did not specify the reason for returning. The tower controller cleared the pilot to land on runway 36R.

A witness saw the airplane and described it as “unstable” and “wiggling,” and he said that the engine was sputtering. The airplane then impacted the ground. He ran over to the scene to try to help but the airplane burst into flames. Another witness was inside a trailer near the accident site. He saw the airplane through a window and saw a “red” streak go by the window and heard the crash.

First responders located the airplane wreckage about 0.8 mile south of the airport.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Commercial 
Age: 69, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine land; Multi-engine land
Seat Occupied: Rear
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: 5-point
Instrument Rating(s): Airplane 
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): Airplane single-engine 
Toxicology Performed: No
Medical Certification: Class 2 Without waivers/limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: October 19, 2018
Occupational Pilot: Yes 
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 20000 hours (Total, all aircraft), 1200 hours (Total, this make and model), 1 hours (Last 24 hours, all aircraft)

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Pitts
Registration: N600DF
Model/Series: S2 B
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1983
Amateur Built:
Airworthiness Certificate: Aerobatic; Normal
Serial Number: 5027
Landing Gear Type: Tailwheel 
Seats: 2
Date/Type of Last Inspection: September 2, 2018
Annual Certified Max Gross Wt.:
Time Since Last Inspection: 
Engines: 1 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time: 2731 Hrs as of last inspection
Engine Manufacturer: Lycoming
ELT: Not installed 
Engine Model/Series: AEIO-540
Registered Owner:
Rated Power: 300 Horsepower
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual (VMC)
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: NEW,10 ft msl 
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 14:53 Local
Direction from Accident Site: 0°
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Visibility: 10 miles
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: 6 knots / 
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: None / None
Wind Direction: 320°
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: N/A / N/A
Altimeter Setting: 29.95 inches Hg 
Temperature/Dew Point: 34°C / 24°C
Precipitation and Obscuration:
Departure Point: New Orleans, LA (NEW)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: New Orleans, LA (NEW) 
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time: 13:05 Local 
Type of Airspace: Class E

Airport Information

Airport: Lakefront NEW
Runway Surface Type: Asphalt
Airport Elevation: 10 ft msl 
Runway Surface Condition: Dry
Runway Used: 36R 
IFR Approach: None
Runway Length/Width: 3697 ft / 75 ft 
VFR Approach/Landing: Forced landing

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal 
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-ground
Ground Injuries: 
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 30.025554,-90.029998

The airplane impacted the ground about 45° nose-down on a heading about 355° magnetic. A steel fence, railroad tracks, and power lines were adjacent to the crash site. There were depressions in the ground under the nose and fuselage.

A post-impact fire consumed most of the airplane structure, cockpit, and the fabric-covered flight control surfaces. Only remnants of the tube structure remained discernable. The ground surrounding the airplane wreckage was scorched.

Flight control continuity was established from all flight control surface attach points to the cockpit control attach points.  Separations in the flight control tubes and disruptions in the flight control cables were consistent with overload and/or first responder actions. Some disruptions were caused by melting in the fire.

The engine sustained severe thermal damage from a post-crash fire. The engine crankshaft was rotated by hand and drivetrain continuity was confirmed. Accessory gear movement was inhibited by molten material. Thumb compression was established except for the #5 intake valve which was subject to severe thermal damage from the post-crash fire. All spark plugs were removed and examined. Nos. 2, 4, and 6 displayed normal wear. Nos. 1, 3, and 5 were slightly dark. Examination of the cylinders with a lighted borescope revealed no anomalies. All cylinders and pistons were removed and showed no anomalies.

The mixture and throttle controls were encased in molten material and could not be examined. The fuel injectors were clear of debris. The fuel flow divider was clear and the diaphragm was intact.

The propeller governor screen was found clear of debris. The wooden propeller blades were fractured and splintered, consisted with powered rotation at the time of impact. The fragments were dispersed around the accident area.

Medical and Pathological Information

The New Orleans Forensic Center, New Orleans, Louisiana, performed an autopsy on the pilot. The cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries.

The Federal Aviation Administration Forensic Sciences Laboratory performed toxicology testing on specimens from the pilot. The tests were negative for alcohol and other drugs. 


A post-crash fire consumed the airplane. There was no evidence of an on-board fire prior to impact.


Location: New Orleans, LA
Accident Number: CEN19FA270
Date & Time: 08/16/2019, 1506 CDT
Registration:  N600DF 
Aircraft: Pitts S2
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On August 16, 2019, about 1506 central daylight time, a Pitts S2B aerobatic airplane, N600DF, registered to Drug Fighter LLC, was destroyed following a forced landing shortly after takeoff from the New Orleans Lakefront Airport (NEW). The commercial pilot and one passenger sustained fatal injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91.

The passenger, who was a TV news anchor, was doing a documentary on the pilot. Part of the documentary was a local flight in the pilot's aerobatic airplane. The takeoff was filmed. The film shows the airplane's run up and takeoff from runway 36R at NEW. Initial review of the film shows the airplane lift off the runway and climb out, then turn to the left toward a downwind. Tower personnel at NEW reported that the pilot requested a return to the airport via radio shortly after takeoff. The pilot did not specify the reason for wanting to return. The tower acknowledged the pilot to return to the airport.

According to witnesses and tower personnel, the airplane was flying on what appeared to be a left downwind toward runway 36, heading south of the airport. The airplane continued flying south and did not return toward the airport. Witnesses observed the airplane in what appeared to be in a steep descent, before impact in an open field about .8 miles south of the airport.

Evidence at the accident site showed that the airplane impacted the ground about 45-degrees nose down. A post impact fire consumed most of the airframe. The accident site was documented and the wreckage was transported to a secure facility for detailed examinations of the airframe and engine. A review of the airplane's historical maintenance logs was conducted and no deficiencies were noted. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Pitts
Registration: N600DF
Model/Series: S2 B
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Drug Fighter LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: NEW, 10 ft msl
Observation Time: 1453 CDT
Distance from Accident Site: 0 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 34°C / 24°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 6 knots / , 320°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.95 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: New Orleans, LA (NEW)
Destination: New Orleans, LA (NEW)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 30.025556, -90.030000

Franklin J.P. Augustus departed this life on Friday, August 16, 2019 at the age of 69 years old. He was the father of Brandi (Walter) Ashley; Son of the late Annie Cooper Augustus and Henry Augustus; Brother of Henry A. Augustus, Eric (Ellen) Augustus, Ronald (Patrice) Simeon, Mari Feutado and Bernadine (Abe) Mackey; Nephew of Mabel Augustus; Grandfather of Amaya and Walter Ashley. Also survived by a dear friend, Lea Young, a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, other relatives and friends who will cherish his memory. Franklin J.P. Augustus, CFI, The DRUG FIGHTER, was a native of New Orleans, a licensed pilot since 1977 and the first African American civilian air-show aerobatic pilot. He logged in over 20,000 flight hours in his career.

Franklin served in the United States Army, Military Police, CID and Narcotics Officer. He was a longtime community activist who worked with young people in an effort to introduce aviation to them. The DRUG FIGHTER, is a superhero he created to combat drug abuse and deliver a message of hope to the youth. Franklin was the president of the Lake Charles Tuskegee Airmen Chapter Inc. and a reserve deputy with the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office. He received an award for his "Unselfish Acts" during Hurricane Katrina at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY). His accomplishments, affiliations and air show notables are many, but most of all he loved flying. Relatives, friends of the family are invited to attend The Celebration of Life for Franklin J.P. Augustus, The DRUG FIGHTER, Pilot, Aviator, Airman on Saturday, August 31, 2019 from 4:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. at The Lakefront Airport, 6001 Stars and Stripes Blvd., New Orleans, LA. Military Honors to follow. Rev. David M. Patin Sr. and Gwiena Magee Patin, Directors. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Franklin J. P. Augustus Aviation Scholarship Fund c/o Tuskegee Airmen, Lake Charles Chapter, P.O. Box 57041, NOLA 70157. Professional Service Entrusted to: LITTLEJOHN FUNERAL HOME, 2163 Aubry Street, Cal K. Johnson, Funeral Director/Manager, Info: (504) 940-0045.

Nancy Parker and Franklin J.P. Augustus

​WASHINGTON (Aug. 17, 2019) — The National Transportation Safety Board released the following factual information Saturday about the agency’s investigation of Friday’s fatal plane crash in New Orleans:

An NTSB senior air safety investigator from Denver arrived at the accident site Saturday to begin the on-scene phase of the investigation.

At about 3:06 p.m. CDT, Aug. 16, an Aerotek Pitts S-2B (registration N600DF) crashed shortly after taking off from New Orleans’ Lakefront Airport.  Both occupants, the commercial-rated pilot and the passenger, were fatally injured.

Shortly after take-off, the pilot radioed the controller in the Lakefront Airport tower and indicated that he was having problems, which were not specified.  The controller gave the pilot a clearance to return to the airport.

Witnesses reported observing the airplane appeared to have engine problems shortly after take-off.  According to witnesses the airplane then pitched down and struck the ground.

Much of the wreckage was consumed in a post-crash fire.

Activities planned for Saturday include:

Documenting the accident site.
Examination of fueling records and obtaining a fuel sample from the fueler, actions that are in keeping with standard investigative practices.
Interviewing witnesses and airport personnel.
Recovery of the wreckage, which will be transported to a secure location in Baton Rouge.

Future activities, which are all standard investigative practices for fatal aviation crashes, include:

A detailed examination of the wreckage and engine.
An examination of the airplane’s maintenance and repair history.
Interviews with family members and colleagues of the pilot to determine if there was anything in the 72 hours prior to the crash that could have affected the pilot’s ability to safety operate the airplane.
Examination of the pilot’s medical background, sleep and rest cycle, FAA pilot certificates and ratings and recency of flight experience.

The NTSB will publish a preliminary report within the next few weeks on its website ( detailing  the factual information developed at that early stage of the investigation.  The preliminary report will not contain any analysis or causal factors. A determination of probable cause will be issued at the conclusion of the investigation, which is expected to be completed in 12-24 months.

The Federal Aviation Administration and Lycoming Engines are parties to the NTSB’s investigation.

Witnesses to the crash or those with information relevant to the investigation are urged to contact the NTSB by email at

Contact: NTSB Media Relations
490 L'Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20594
Peter Knudson
(202) 314-6100

NEW ORLEANS — Two New Orleans community members, both dedicated to making the city a better place, lost their lives in a plane crash Friday afternoon.

WVUE FOX 8 announced Friday evening that Nancy Parker, their long-time news anchor and a fixture in New Orleans reporting, was one of the passengers who passed away in a crash south of the New Orleans Lakefront Airport around 3:05 p.m. Friday. 

Parker was the sole passenger. She was creating a special report to honor the career and work of the plane's pilot, 69-year-old Franklin Augustus, who also died in the crash. 

Besides being a stunt pilot and avid flyer, Augustus was a longtime community activist, a U.S. Army veteran (Military Police), the president of the Lake Charles Tuskegee Airmen Chapter and a New Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office reserve deputy. 

30 years ago, Augustus described himself the "world's only black civilian air-show acrobatic pilot" in a 1988 Times-Picayune article that touched on the color barrier in New Orleans. 

"I want to let the young people know that if I can make it, anybody can," he said in the article.

Though he was not a Tuskegee Airman himself, Augustus used his platform with the organization to encourage other young black children to become pilots, creating a youth aviation program in conjunction with the City of New Orleans, Youth Eagles program and Civil Air Patrol.

According to Tuskegee Airmen, Inc. officials, Augustus received an award for his "unselfish acts" at the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) during a major storm. 

Augustus also headed The Drug Fighter organization, which works to turn children away from crime and gang violence in New Orleans. As part of his work, Augustus dressed up as the superhero "The Drug Fighter" and gave inspirational talks to children in the city and exposed them to flying while helping develop their math and computer skills. 

He was a licensed pilot who had been flying since he was 19. 

"Franklin J.P. Augustus will be greatly missed by the National Office of Tuskegee Airmen Inc., the Lake Charles Chapter, and the City of New Orleans for his lasting contributions to our organization and his community," Tuskegee officials said in a statement. 

On Friday night, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell released a statement confirming both the deaths of both Parker and Augustus. 

Cantrell called Parker "an invaluable member of our community" and Augustus an accomplished pilot who "even dress[ed] as a costumed superhero of his own creation: ‘The Drug Fighter,' to deliver a message of hope, and to help combat substance abuse.”

Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman released a statement on his passing, saying he was a strong mentor for anyone interesting in flying. 

“The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office is deeply saddened to learn about the death of OPSO Special Reserve Deputy Franklin J.P.  Augustus and broadcast journalist Nancy Parker in yesterday’s plane crash.

“Mr. Augustus was an active member of the Special Reserve Deputy Unit.  He regularly accompanied the Sheriff on school visits, presenting himself in costume as The Drug Fighter.

“When he was not delivering his anti-drug message, Mr. Augustus was promoting his love of flying as well as mentoring anyone with an interest in aviation.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Augustus family as well as the Parker family. I’m sorry for your loss.”

A woman who identified herself as the niece of Augustus said her..."My uncle Frank was a devoted pilot, who love flying since I was born and before then. He will be missed for sure." 

Story and video ➤

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (WVUE) - A longtime air show pilot with decades of experience was at the controls of an stunt plane when it tragically crashed in New Orleans East Friday afternoon (Aug. 18), fatally injuring him and his passenger -- FOX 8′s Nancy Parker.

Nancy was working with Franklin Augustus to tell his impressive story.

“I’m a professional air show pilot,” Augustus told Nancy before the crash.

But the 69-year-old was more than just that, he was a ground-breaker and proud to be one of the few African Americans doing what he did.

“We have a shortage of minorities in the pilot seat,” he said.

Augustus fell in love with flying 50 years ago, when he was still in high school.

“I started right here at Lakefront Airport when I was a kid," Augustus recalled. “I snuck out to the airport because a guy came from Delta Airlines and told us about working for Delta, but he never told us about being a pilot.”

Augustus trained at a private flight school while in the military. Then, he returned to Lakefront to get his instructor rating and become an airshow pilot. The plane he was flying Friday was a Pitts B Series -- one that was certified as aerobatic.

“We can go upside down, loops and rows and we can tumble through the sky. We can do many things with this plane,” he said.

Augustus was taking Nancy for a ride, so she could help him write a message in the sky.

But, he didn’t just send messages in the sky. He frequently visited schools, church groups and hospitals.

“I created a superhero called drug fighter. He is the person who is the link between aviation and education and he gets those kids excited because list kids listen to superheroes. Me, I don’t matter much, but superheroes rock,” Augustus said.

Friends of the longtime pilot said he was kind, generous, helped others anyway he could and loved to fly. And, they said he was dedicated to spending his time bringing that love of flying to others, to help them in anyway he could.

Augustus was also a representative for Louisiana’s chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen, as well as an active member of the special reserve deputy unit for the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff Marlin Gusmin released the following statement regarding Augustus’ death:

“The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office is deeply saddened to learn about the death of OPSO Special Reserve Deputy Franklin J.P. Augustus and broadcast journalist Nancy Parker in yesterday’s plane crash.

Mr. Augustus was an active member of the Special Reserve Deputy Unit. He regularly accompanied the Sheriff on school visits, presenting himself in costume as The Drug Fighter. When he was not delivering his anti-drug message, Mr. Augustus was promoting his love of flying as well as mentoring anyone with an interest in aviation.

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Augustus family as well as the Parker family. I’m sorry for your loss.”

Mark Romig, president of the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation, also released a statement on Augustus, calling him “a trailblazing pilot.”

“Franklin dedicated his life to his craft and truly left a profound mark on our community. Our sincerest thoughts and prayers extend to his family. We are all better for Nancy and Franklin. They both will be deeply missed by all.”

As did Congressman Cedric Richmond:

“Today we mourn the tragic loss of two fixtures in our community,” Richmond’s statement read. “We also mourn the loss of Pilot Franklin J.P. Augustus, a member of the Young Eagles program and Civil Air Patrol, who educated our youth about the joys of flying. Our condolences go out to Nancy’s husband Glen, and the Parker and Augustus families. Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

Story and video ➤

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana  (WVUE) - Investigators say the plane involved in a fatal crash in New Orleans East appeared to have engine problems before it crashed Friday afternoon (Aug. 16), according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The investigation is still underway, but an NTSB news release reported the pilot -- Franklin J.P. Augustus -- radioed back to the controller at the Lake Front Airport, shortly after takeoff. Augustus said he was having “problems,” NTSB said, but did not go into details. The controller gave Augustus permission to return to the airport.

As the plane was turning back, a witnesses said it “pitched down" and crashed into the ground. According to the NTSB, witnesses said shortly after takeoff, the airplane appeared to have engine problems.

The plane caught fire when it crashed, and NTSB said much of the wreckage was consumed by the flames.

Neither Augustus or his passenger, FOX 8′s Nancy Parker, survived the crash.

A senior air safety investigator from Denver arrived in New Orleans Saturday to investigate the crash. NTSB said they will publish a preliminary report of their findings within the next few weeks, but do not anticipate having any analytical information or a determined cause. A probable cause report could take up to two years, NTSB said.

Original article can be found here ➤

Franklin Augustus, the veteran stunt pilot who died Friday in a plane crash along with FOX 8 anchor Nancy Parker, radioed the controller at Lakefront Airport shortly after takeoff to say he was having problems, the National Transportation Safety Board said in a statement Saturday.

According to NTSB — the federal agency responsible for investigating the crash — the controller gave Augustus a clearance to return to the airport, but at about 3:06 p.m., his Aerotek Pitts S-2B went down near the 7300 block of Jourdan Road in New Orleans East. Both Augustus and Parker died in the crash.

NTSB reported witnesses said the plane “appeared to have engine problems shortly after takeoff,” with the plane then pitching down and hitting the ground.

Exactly what problems Augustus had weren’t specified, according to NTSB, and a clearer picture as to why the small plane went down won’t come anytime soon.

That’s because Saturday was the first full day of an investigation that could take up to two years, NTSB said.

An air safety investigator from the agency arrived at the accident scene Saturday, as part of an investigative team that includes several technical experts and representatives from the FAA.

A preliminary report will go out in the next few weeks, NTSB said, though that report won’t identify the likely cause.

Original article can be found here ➤

Veteran New Orleans television anchorwoman Nancy Parker died in an airplane crash near Lakefront Airport Friday that also killed a veteran stunt pilot and flight instructor.

Parker, an award-winning journalist at WVUE Fox 8 who covered South Louisiana for more than two decades, was killed while working on a feature story about pilot Franklin J.P. Augustus, according to multiple sources. Augustus was an acrobatic air show pilot and New Orleans-based member of a group that honored the Tuskegee Airmen, and had taken Parker up in his aerobatic plane.

Fox 8 anchor Lee Zurik announced Parker’s death during a break in programming. Choking back tears, Zurik said his colleague was on the plane “doing what she loved, telling a story.”

The plane went down in an empty field in the 7300 block of Jourdan Road Friday afternoon and erupted in fire, according to Collin Arnold, the Director of New Orleans’ Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. First responders extinguished the blaze quickly, he said, but they were not able to rescue the two people on board.

Dozens of emergency officials were picking their way around the crash site and the remnants of the plane through the afternoon.

Police kept reporters at a distance. But it was evident that little recognizable from the aircraft remained except a bent and charred metal frame, which had come to rest along a chain link fence on the edge of a field by the Industrial Canal, less than a mile from the runways of the Lakefront Airport.

Parker was at the airport flying in Augustus’s propeller-driven airplane, which according to media reports he used as one of the world’s few African-American stunt pilots.

Gerald Herbert, a photographer with a hangar at the airport, spoke with Augustus earlier Friday. The pilot told Herbert he was being interviewed for Parker’s story and would be flying later that day, over the airport’s designated practice area.

As of Friday evening, officials were still piecing together the details of what led to the crash. Arnold said officials would be "protecting and securing" the area, per the request of the Federal Aviation Administration, which is sending investigators from its Baton Rouge office. An investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board is expected to arrive Saturday to begin an investigation.

Arnold could not confirm the status of the flight or what may have led to the crash.

"That will all be a part of the investigation," he said. "It's just a very tragic day."

Parker, 53, started as a television journalist at WTVM in Columbus, Georgia, before moving on to Montgomery, Alabama, Baton Rouge and finally New Orleans. She won multiple honors for her reporting, including five Emmy Awards.

FOX 8 Vice President and General Manager Tim Ingram called Parker “a joy to work with” who through thousands of stories made a difference in the lives the people she reported on.

“Today we lost a wonderful journalist and remarkable friend, the New Orleans television community lost a true treasure, but beyond that, her family lost a wife, a mother and daughter,” Ingram said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with them.”

Augustus, a veteran pilot, described himself several decades ago as “the world’s only black civilian air-show acrobatic pilot.”

According to news reports on his career, he began flying at 19, and was hooked on stunt flying after taking classes on advanced flight instruction in the late 1970s.

Augustus performed in air shows and also served as a flight instructor. He was president of the Lake Charles Chapter of the Tuskegee Airmen Inc., which honors the famous African-American pilots from World War II.

The crash is the second deadly incident involving a small plane in New Orleans in recent years.

In 2016, a small Cessna 172 with a pilot and two sightseeing passengers on board crashed into Lake Pontchartrain near Lakefront Airport. The pilot and one passenger aboard drowned as the airplane sank into the lake, but a passing boat rescued one passenger.

Original article can be found here ➤

The family of a New Orleans TV newscaster who was killed in a stunt plane crash a year ago has filed a $23 million lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration claiming the agency cleared the aircraft to fly despite allegedly knowing of its history of mechanical problems.

The husband of Nancy Parker, a veteran anchor for Fox affiliate station WVUE-TV, filed the wrongful death lawsuit in U.S. District Court in New Orleans on behalf of himself and their three children.

Parker, 53, and pilot Franklin J.P. Augustus, 69, were killed on Aug. 16, 2019, when the Aerotek Pitts S-2B aircraft, registered to Drug Fighter LLC, crashed shortly after taking off from New Orleans' Lakefront Airport. Parker and Augustus were the only two people aboard the biplane, which was scheduled to do skywriting stunts, officials said.

Parker's husband, Glen Boyd, claims in the lawsuit that FAA workers were aware of airplane's "lengthy and well-known history of substandard maintenance, mechanical problems and scant flight time" when they cleared the flight for takeoff, according to the lawsuit that was filed on Aug. 6.

Despite allegedly knowing of the maintenance and operational problems with the aircraft, "appropriate steps were not taken by FAA officials to ensure [the plane] was airworthy prior to clearing the aircraft for flight," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit did not specify the maintenance history of the aircraft or cite specific evidence proving the FAA was aware of any alleged history of mechanical problems.

A placard had been placed in the aircraft in November 1983 warning that its smoke skywriting system should only be used on solo flights, according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit also states the plane had been modified with a 14-gallon auxiliary fuel tank under the passenger seat in February 1992.

According to the lawsuit, Parker was not notified by the FAA or employees at the Lakefront Airport of the "foreseeable risk of harm to life and limb associated with flying in the aircraft" nor was she advised of the plane's history of mechanical problems prior to boarding the aircraft.

On the day of the crash, the flight was delayed from taking off for several hours because of "mechanical problems with the aircraft's engine which negatively impacted engine performance and safety of flight," the lawsuit reads.

Parker, who won multiple Emmy awards as a journalist, was filming a piece on the stunt plane with Augustus to honor the Tuskegee Airmen, a pioneering group of Black pilots who fought in World War II.

Shortly after takeoff, Augustus radioed the Lakefront Airport's air-traffic control tower requesting immediate clearance to return to the airport but did not specify why, according to a preliminary investigative report from the National Transportation Safety Board. As Augustus attempted to return to the airport the plane made a sharp descent and crashed into an open field bursting into flames, according to the NTSB report.

The cause of the crash remains under investigation by the NTSB. Shortly after the crash, the NTSB said the investigation could taken 12 to 24 months before a determination of probable cause for the crash is issued.

FAA officials declined to comment on the lawsuit.

An initial statement from the FAA said the stunt plane was manufactured in 1983 and "crashed under unknown circumstances" in an empty field about a half-mile south of the Lakefront Airport.

"The NTSB will lead the investigation, and the FAA's investigation will become part of the NTSB's series of reports," the statement reads.

The federal government has 60 days from the date the lawsuit filed to respond, according to court records.

In a Facebook tribute to his wife shortly after her death, Boyd, who works as a spokesman for the Jefferson Parish, Louisiana, Sheriff's Office, described her as an "an amazing human," an "awesome mother" and "a master of her craft."

"I loved her and she loved me," wrote Boyd, who was married to Parker for 26 years. "We were best friends."


  1. Once again an innocent soul climbs onboard an airplane with a “EXPERIENCED PILOT”, only to be killed, may have been some showing off, extra weight, hot,’d think a pilot would go out of his way to extra conservative with someone else onboard,

  2. Read the report for a second time but still don't see an explanation of the accident, not even witness statements. Could the above know it all please explain what information he has that the rest of the world does not have for him to place the blame solely on the pilot. Or are you so inexperienced yourself that you are unable to fathom that other factors may have been involved in this accident that were beyond the pilots control.

  3. There is something to be said for this poor woman blindly trusting the pilot. For all we know the engine could have been over TBO and waiting to fail. Also she did not know the qualifications of the pilot. A very risky situation all the way around. Not to mention the Pitts isn't the easiest to fly.
    Two possibilities:
    1. Pilot error-loss of control
    2. Showing off for film crew and loses control at high speed
    3. Engine failure

  4. To #1 & 3 Anonymous expewrts. You are both off and showing your ignorance. Sure it could have been those things, it also could have been a physical problem of the pilot. Nobody knows yet and whhe NTSB gets finished, we will all have a pretty good idea of why it crashed. Please keep your ignorance to yourself.

  5. The original poster could be spot on. An August afternoon in Louisiana is bound to hot (density alt) and the Pitts doesn't have a heck of a lot of useful load depending on fuel aboard, wanting to show off for the pretty reporter...yeah I could see how the accident chain got started too. Maybe the 2nd poster is the one who is too quick to judge.

  6. To be honest rarely is it a case of incapacitation if the pilot. I don't even remember when I read about an accident regarding incapacitation of the pilot. You are referring to a heart attack, etc. I do NOT believe this is case.

    This seems to be a case of pilot error, such as a recovery too low of a spin. Or it could be mechanical failure. Seems like you yourself are quick to pin blame on the pilot becoming incapacitated .....hmmmm. I am not ignorant so please don't call me that. Sounds like you are the ignorant one yourself, not willing to entertain all possibilities.

    Just so you know, this is a forum to entertain possibilities, not simply wait for the NTSB to release reports. If you don't like that, you don't belong on this forum.

  7. "one of the world’s few African-American ..."
    Soooooooooo tired of this type of designation. No wonder society can't heal from racism.
    May both of these HUMAN BEINGS rest in peace.

    1. Anonymous, it does matter, he was honoring the Tuskegee Airmen, similar to the way people have Confederate flags even though that side lost.

      No one mentioned racism until YOU did.

      I too agree that 2 very wonderful human beings were lost and I hope the findings can make the rest of us safer so these 2 don't die in vain.

  8. The problem with crashes such as this is there is very little left of the aircraft to find out much in the investigation ? for example say the flying controls were not right at the time there will be little evidence as the aircraft is so badly burnt.
    A tragic accident but we all know the risks of aerobatic flight demonstrations in such a small aeroplane.

  9. There are reports that the plane had engine troubles that the pilot called in.

  10. Statistically, the safe bet is pilot error, and with the scant info available at this time I don't see any reason to bend over backwards for any other scenario here. A preponderance of both age and experience doesn't always translate to performance that rises to the required level in a crisis situation- it's sad and tragic, but there you go.

  11. The S2B is a very specialized high performance aircraft optimized for maneuverability within a specific flight envelope, not ease of general operation. Reports are that the pilot stated that there was a need to return to the airport. On climb out, with a passenger, and a steep deck angle to impress said passenger, and a good sized fuel load that would allow for plenty of playing around to impress said passenger, combined with a hot day and lots of humidity, a sudden power loss will require an immediate response. Miss it by just a hair, and regardless of your skill level you can find yourself in a situation of having neither the power nor the altitude to prevent a very unfortunate outcome.

  12. This is a heartbreaking tragedy. It is too soon to speculate on the cause of the crash, particularly since we do not have access to the ATC tapes, eye witness reports, and any potential video of the accident. Because nearly every aircraft crash makes the headlines some people greatly overestimate the risk of flying. In 2017, 771 people died on Louisiana roads - more than double the number of people killed in aviation accidents nationwide (346.) Rather than placing blame without evidence we should be respectful of the two lives lost and the pain their families are going through.

  13. As usual anonymous posters want to speculate on what happened or be condescending. Maybe we should wait for the investigation before we speculate what happened. Most of you don't know the Pilot or the Reporter. This individual does and like someone else said earlier that it show your ignorance. Being an anonymous keyboard warrior makes you brave to post crap you know nothing about and definitely don't know the facts. Please let these people rest in peace and keep your uninformed opinions to yourself.

  14. Hey man, isn't that the purpose of this forum, to discuss aircraft accidents. And to discuss possible causes. If you don't like that, it sounds like you are the one who doesn't belong on the forum. There are other places to comment on aviation accidents if you don't agree. Instead, you just wasted all of our time. Sounds like you are the one being condescending and rude.

    And just so you know the initial report indicates engine failure. Look it up if you don't believe me. This is was I stated earlier and everybody disagreed with me.

  15. News Article: "Augustus was taking Nancy for a ride, so she could help him write a message in the sky."

    He was "sky writing." Nearly a lost art. It's also very technical and demanding flying. Is aerobatics. Lots of tight turns in order to fly in the shape of the various letters and so forth. Well beyond my own skill level.

    Two people in the Pitts would put them on the heavy side. Reducing the stall margin somewhat. Possibly too tight a turn led to a stall / spin. Again, this is very technical and demanding flying. It's easy to see how something could go wrong.

    Anyone with decades of experience flying the Pitts is a great pilot. Superb stick and rudder. You can be sure of that. Probably just a small and momentary mistake and it got out of hand in a hurry. A real shame.

  16. Pitts S2B:
    Empty weight: 1150
    Maximum Gross: 1700
    Sea level rate of climb, standard day: 2700 ft/min
    Conditions at New Orleans, mid day, last few days: temperature in mid 80's, wind south southwest 5-10 knots.
    Location of crash is only a short distance south of south end of runway. Location suggests a likely takeoff to the south and certainly raise the possibility of an intersection takeoff.
    Had the takeoff been to the south, using full length, 1000' AGL is easily possible.
    A power off 180 degree approach from downwind leg requires 1200" AGL with windmilling prop. If the prop is stopped the airplane glides much better. A successful turnback to the runway from a straight ahead climb would require more than 1200 AGL because the turn is more than 180 degrees.
    The long runway at Lakefront is 6900 feet long. Using all the runway a really good pilot could incur a total engine failure at 500' AGL and land straight ahead.
    The Pitts S2B on the ground in humid mid 80's conditions is very uncomfortable with the canopy closed. This leads to taking shortcuts-intersection takeoff, shorter runway etc.
    The environment near the crash is about as ugly as it gets in flat terrain. 1/4 to 1/2 mile further a 90 degree turn to a four lane street might have been possible.
    Back to a full runway length takeoff. 800' at departure end of runway is easily achieved. A few more seconds puts one at 1400' where a turnback to runway is possible.

  17. This reminds me another crash with an Extra 300 in San Diego a while ago. Also experienced pilot, ex fighter jet driver with a wife in the airlines and an entire life spent in Aviation. For Gravity and Physics this never matters.

    RIP. Didn't know those 2 here but sad day all around for those people touched by them and I disregard issues of race or how they were special because of that. Like MLK said it's the character of people who needs to be the gage by which they are measured.

    I won't speculate but even the best pilots under the best circumstances and without making any errors will die flying. Such is the nature of aviation.

    We take chances whenever we ride a train, drive a car, go swim and fly. Ultimately we have no control over some things.

    The safer bet would be just to stay at home in the basement in a room with pillows on the walls. But this wouldn't be living wouldn't it?

  18. Well said, couldn't agree more. When it's your time, it's your time.

  19. Runway 18L/36R at the airport is closed. It he used 18R/36L , thats only 3697 ft.

  20. To the in individual that is smarter then everyone else, that is so good at copy and pasting a/c stats, and using weather from the "LAST FEW DAYS" why don't you do JUST A LITTLE bit of research before speaking of things that you know ABSOLUTELY nothing about.
    Here is the ACTUAL weather from that day and time:
    KNEW 161853Z 34006KT 10SM CLR 33/24 A2996 RMK AO2 SLP140
    KNEW 161953Z 32006KT 10SM CLR 34/24 A2995 RMK AO2 SLP135
    KNEW 162053Z 31004KT 10SM CLR 34/22 A2993 RMK AO2 SLP130

    I flew 3 times that day, and they were using 36R all day. So why not keep your speculation and wisdom to yourself unless you have something of any value to post.

  21. NTSB has stated that the accident happened "shortly after takeoff". If the departure was on runway 36R, how did the airplane get to a point south of the airport???
    To those making insulting remarks-how much Pitts time do you have??

  22. Amusing to read the clueless speculations from armchair safety experts, lol!

  23. "Amusing to read the clueless speculations from armchair safety experts, lol!"

    You wise old owl. Go ahead and tell us what really happened.

  24. "Amusing to read the clueless speculations from armchair safety experts, lol!"

    Well then, Joe Expert - since you've taken the time to tell everyone how amusing all their comments are on the discussions regarding numerous incidents on this blog, perhaps you could enlighten the hoi polloi with some serious, intelligent and illuminating narrative of your own - and "I'll wait to see what the NTSB report says" doesn't count. If you're so clever as to have come to a conclusion as to what's ridiculous and amateurish and what isn't, then you should have no problem setting everyone straight, eh ?

  25. It will be informative to find out how many flights/hours the plane was flown in the weeks leading up to the accident, hope his log is found and entries are up to date. Perhaps it was not flown frequently or had few flights recently. His hangar buddies would know of his usage pattern - seems like he would have had the plane up and pushed it around to make sure it was ready before the filming day. Searched with interest toward finding memorable events/appearances that this man and his Pitts showed up at, but nothing found other than the current news article they had been generating right before the accident. One photo did show him as a younger man in his flight suit, but sadly in the world of internet his most active show piloting time occurred previously and is not documented. We have just a few VHS converted flight videos of prolific airshow regular Bob Hoover from the 1970's on YouTube, but nobody has converted old tape or still photos of Mr. Augustus to be enjoyed by his kinfolk or those who can appreciate what appears to be a genuinely fine man, gone too soon.

  26. For what it is worth

    "In an interview with The Times-Picayune, Franklin told that “I was falling all over the sky because I wasn’t used to it.” Later, he added “It’s fun. When I found out that aerobatic planes can take everything we give them and not fall apart, I wanted to do it every chance I got.”

  27. Preliminary report doesn't provide much.

    Will be interesting to see the outcome ... I would not rule out the onset of a medical issue.

    RIP to the two lost and prayers that those affected by this accident will find peace and closure.