Friday, August 09, 2019

Wheeler Express Series 2000, N43FD: Fatal accident occurred August 07, 2019 near Camarillo Airport (KCMA), Ventura County, California

John Brent Wells and Tara Wells 

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

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Van Nuys, California
Continental Motors; Mobile, Alabama

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Camarillo, CA
Accident Number: WPR19FA212
Date & Time: 08/07/2019, 1329 PDT
Registration: N43FD
Aircraft: Wheeler EXPRESS SERIES 2000
Injuries: 2 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On August 7, 2019, about 1329 Pacific daylight time, an experimental Wheeler Express 2000 airplane, N43FD, was substantially damaged when it impacted the ground near Camarillo Airport (CMA), Camarillo, California. The private pilot and passenger were fatally injured. The airplane was registered to N43FD Airplane LLC, which was owned by two persons, one of whom was the pilot. The personal cross country flight was operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the accident site about the time of the accident, and a flight plan was filed for the flight. The flight originated from the South Valley Regional Airport (U42) Salt Lake City, Utah about 0900 mountain daylight time.

According to the preliminary information from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the pilot contacted the CMA air traffic control tower (ATCT) local controller (LC) when the airplane was about 5 miles north of CMA, and advised the LC that he was inbound for landing. The pilot was instructed by the LC to fly a right traffic pattern for runway 26. Soon thereafter, the ATCT ground controller (GC) observed the airplane on a 2-mile final. Subsequently, the LC reported a dust cloud from the crashed airplane.

A flight instructor and his student were hovering about 10 feet above the CMA pavement in a helicopter, and both witnessed the accident. The instructor saw the airplane when it was on final approach, close to the runway. When the airplane was about 40 feet above the ground, the airplane entered into an "aerodynamic stall" and then impacted the ground. The student pilot stated that the airplane pitched up and then entered a downward right bank and impacted the ground.

The airplane impacted the ground about 750 feet short of the runway. The debris field was approximately 130 feet long and aligned towards the northwest. The first identified point of contact with the ground was ground scarring and contained multiple fragments from the composite right wing tip. The main wreckage consisted of the fuselage, empennage, engine, and both wings.

The wreckage was recovered and transported to a secure facility for further investigation.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Wheeler 
Registration: N43FD
Model/Series: EXPRESS SERIES 2000 No Series
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
Operator: N43FD Airplane LLC.
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:Visual  Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCMA, 65 ft msl
Observation Time: 2055 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 16°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:Clear 
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction:9 knots / , 240°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.95 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: VFR
Departure Point: Tonopah, NV (TPH)
Destination: Camarillo, CA (CMA) 

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion:None 
Total Injuries: 2 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 34.213889, -119.070833 (est)

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 

Tara (Francyk) Wells & John "Bret" Wells
August 7, 2019

We are deeply sad to announce the sudden passing of John Bret Wells, and Tara Francyk Wells on Wednesday August 7th, 2019. They are remembered, loved, and mourned by their daughter, Emily Wells, their dogs Mo and Bailey, Bret's siblings Sam Wells, Victor Wells, Sally Wells Burns, Tara's brothers Peter Francyk, David Francyk and Tara's mother Joni Phillipp. Their life is celebrated by everyone who knew them. Tara was an incredible speech pathologist and dedicated her life to helping children with special needs. Bret was an accomplished electrical engineer for Hill Air Force Base. Both Tara and Bret loved being parents to their daughter Emily Wells; she was the light of their lives. Tara loved to paint, read, play games and travel - especially to Hawaii. Bret loved to brew his own beer, build planes and fly them.

Flying was Bret's passion, he often said "If I get reincarnated, I hope I get to be a bald eagle". They had both recently retired and planned to spend the rest of their days travelling together. Together, Tara and Bret built an exemplary life. They raised a remarkable daughter. Their hearts and their home were always open to family and friends. Their enthusiasm and joy for living was infectious, and a gift to those of us lucky enough to be included in their lives. There will be a family and friends' get-together this Sunday, August 18th, 2019 at Bell Canyon Park, 5:30-8pm to remember and celebrate this beautiful couple who touched so many people's lives. Family and friends are looking forward to celebrating the many accomplishments of Bret and Tara come springtime.

 A tentative date for this celebration is May 29th, 2020. For all who knew and loved them, their life is remembered and celebrated for their inspiration as parents, partners, family and community members, dedicated to the love of life and living.

COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS, Utah – A Cottonwood Heights couple is being remembered as “probably the best parents that have ever existed” the day after they died in a plane crash.

John Brent Wells and Tara Wells died Wednesday when the plane they were in crashed on approach to Camarillo Airport in Southern California. The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash.

Their daughter, 26-year-old Emily Taylor Wells, told KSL her father was a longtime pilot. She said he had worked as an electrical engineer at Hill Air Force Base and her mother was a speech therapist in local schools. They retired last year and planned to enjoy as many experiences as they could.

“He was never wasting a moment. He always was on to the next adventure, whether it was snowshoeing or skiing. My mom too. The minute she retired, she was so good at making friends,” she said.

Emily said aviation had always been her father’s passion. He had built another airplane, an F-1 Rocket, and they had flown together.

“I flew with him in that plane back and forth to Idaho a couple of times. It was really something special,” she said. “I’ve never seen my dad so happy. Sharing flying with other people is what made my dad feel on top of the world. I think when it was me that he could share it with, it was really special,”

Emily said her mother was passionate about helping children in the schools where she worked.

“It really made a big difference for a lot of people and she just devoted her whole life to it,” she said. “She really enjoyed her job. Not everybody can say they enjoy their job,”

Emily said her parents had a way of putting things into perspective.

“I had a talk with my dad right before he passed away and he just said how he wished people would stop worrying so much about everything else that doesn’t really matter and just actually spend time living their life and doing things that make life worth living,” Emily said.

She said they left a lasting impression on countless people in the community and that she could not have asked for better parents.

“They’re just some of the most genuine and kind people. I feel really lucky that they were my parents because not everybody gets to have parents like I had,” she said.

SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake City couple died Wednesday after their plane crashed in Camarillo, California, according to officials.

John Wells, 60, and his wife, Tara Wells, 56, died in the crash, an official with the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office said Thursday. The couple’s cause of death was accidental and from multiple blunt force injuries, the official said.

The plane was a single-engine, homebuilt Express Series 2000 that crashed under unknown circumstances about 1,000 feet short of Runway 26 at Camarillo Airport around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Ian Gregor with Federal Aviation Administration confirmed to

"These are my favorite people in the whole wide world,” said the couple’s daughter, Emily Taylor Wells.

She said her parents had just retired together last year — Tara Wells was a speech therapist for local schools and John, who went by his middle name Bret, worked as an electrical engineer at Hill Air Force Base.

They were flying to a family wedding when the plane crashed. Emily Wells said her parents were one-of-a-kind.

“I feel really lucky that they were my parents because not everybody gets to have parents like I had,” she said Thursday.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash, Gregor said.

Officials presumed John Wells was flying the plane, considering he had a pilot’s license, James Baroni, with the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office, told VC Star, but Baroni said that information had not yet been verified by investigators.

The plane was registered to a limited-liability corporation in Taylorsville, the FAA told VC Star.

“They just loved living," Emily Taylor Wells said. "They loved seeing things. They loved exploring. They loved being together and you would definitely feel that.”

Story and video ➤

Authorities have identified the man and woman killed when a small plane crashed at the Camarillo Airport on Wednesday afternoon.

John Wells, 60, and his wife, Tara Wells, 56, were both from Salt Lake City, said James Baroni, an investigator with the Ventura County Medical Examiner’s Office. The cause of death had not yet been determined as of Thursday afternoon, he said. John Wells had a pilot’s license and is presumed to have been flying, Baroni said, but added that information has not yet been verified by aviation authorities investigating the incident.

The crash took place around 1:30 p.m. Wednesday when the plane was reportedly coming in to land, according to airport officials. The plane’s two occupants were pronounced dead at the scene. The airport is at 555 Airport Way.

The plane was an experimental Express Series 2000, according to aviation investigators. Records on file with the Federal Aviation Administration indicate it was an amateur-built craft made in 2002 from a Wheeler Aircraft Co. kit.

The plane came down about 1,000 feet short of the airport’s eastern runway, FAA officials said. The facility’s two runways and surrounding infrastructure form a long rectangle along the south side of Ventura Boulevard, stretching west from Las Posas Road past commercial and agricultural properties to the north.

Crash debris was visible from Ventura Boulevard east of Springville Drive, where chain-link fences surround the airport and aviation enthusiasts sometimes watch goings-on. A crowd had gathered along the fence line Wednesday as fire, ambulance and police personnel worked the scene. There was no fire at the crash site, firefighters said.

The incident is being investigated by the National Transportation Safety Board.

NTSB investigators are currently in the fact-gathering stage and no additional details were available Thursday, an agency spokesman said. 

Investigators typically release preliminary findings a week to 10 days after an accident, he said. The agency’s full report will likely be complete about a year or a year-and-a-half from now, he said.

Original article can be found here ➤

1 comment:

  1. I'll preface my statement. I have been flying into KCMA for many years and I am only speculating because the facts are still being investigated. Not trying to judge the fellow pilot's actions.
    Listened to the ATC recordings for KCMA tower on LiveATC. This is a busy airport. The pilot seemed a little flustered even referring to the tower as "Camarillo Traffic" on his initial call. When approaching from the north, it's not uncommon for tower to ask you to identify the landmark "Saticoy Bridge". The pilot being unfamiliar to the area didn't know this landmark so tower had to give him an alternate way to identify being several miles out. Tower then points out traffic targets and he was cleared to land number 2 or 3. The pilot had a little nervous laugh when he said he was looking for traffic. There were no distress calls.
    He was flying a plane with pretty slick wings. The runway has an unusually long displaced threshold (Rwy 26) and can create the illusion that the touchdown zone is closer than it really is. It's very easy for an unfamiliar pilot to get behind the power curve and drag the plane in over the threshold as they get closer and realize they're still a few hundred feet shy of the touchdown. Even easier to get slow when you're following a slow plane or two on final. We've all been there.
    I'm only speculating but maybe he was preoccupied with the busy, unfamiliar airport and traffic and simply let the plane get a little too slow. We'll know more but initially this accident seems like something that could happen to anyone. We all know it only takes a moment on short final. Sincere condolences to their family.