Saturday, September 21, 2019

Beechcraft V35 Bonanza, N5438U: Fatal accident occurred September 18, 2019 near Madison County Airport (KUYF), London, Ohio

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

Additional Participating Entity:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Columbus, Ohio

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: London, OH
Accident Number: CEN19FA323
Date & Time: 09/18/2019, 0731 EDT
Registration: N5438U
Aircraft: Beech V35TC
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On September 18, 2019, at 0731 eastern daylight time, a Beech V35TC, N5438U, impacted terrain about 1/4-mile short of runway 09 at Madison County Airport (UYF), London, Ohio. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was destroyed by impact forces and post-impact fire. The airplane was registered to and operated by the pilot under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions existed at the accident site and at the time of the accident. No flight plan had been filed. The flight originated from Apple Airstrip (0OH7), Piqua, Ohio, about 0715 and was destined for UFY.

A dash camera video from a passing motorist captured the accident and showed the airplane turning from left base to final approach and descending to the ground. Examination of the wreckage disclosed the flaps were set at 20° and the landing gear was extended. Flight control continuity was confirmed. One propeller blade bore signatures of power being developed.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Beech
Registration: N5438U
Model/Series: V35TC
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site:
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: UYF, 1081 ft msl
Observation Time:  EDT
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 13°C / 12°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 10°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.15 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Piqua, OH (0OH7)
Destination: London, OH (UYF)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 39.932778, -83.461944 (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 

Before May 2018, pilots were required to be evaluated every two years by an FAA-licensed physician. Many pilots considered the process burdensome. Under the FAA’s more-recent BasicMed program, pilots have the option to be seen every four years by any licensed physician. Donald Apple, a 79-year-old pilot killed in a crash in Madison County this month, had neither certification.

Aviation experts want to know why an experienced recreational pilot would let his medical certification lapse and whether doing so was related to his death in a crash this month at Madison County Airport.

“For somebody who loved to fly, why would he do that? Why would you risk your own safety,” said Richard G. McSpadden Jr., executive director of the Air Safety Institute, a branch of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association.

The 52-year-old Beechcraft Bonanza being flown by Donald Apple, 79, was seen banking sharply before it crashed about 7:30 a.m. Sept. 18 in a soybean field short of the airport runway. It erupted in flames, forcing back motorists who stopped to help.

Apple had left the airstrip in the backyard of his Miami County farm near Piqua north of Dayton for a flight of about 20 minutes to London to visit Ohio State University’s annual Farm Science Review.

His wife, Sally, said it was a trip he’d taken every year for decades.

“This was a piece of cake,” she said. “When he went out the back door, I said, ‘Have fun.’”

The tragedy has raised questions about pilot age, medical clearances to fly and recent Federal Aviation Administration standards that make it easier for all private and recreational pilots to remain airborne.

Before May 2018, pilots were required to be evaluated every two years by an FAA-licensed physician. Many pilots considered the process burdensome.

Under the FAA’s more-recent BasicMed program, pilots have the option to be seen every four years by any licensed physician. Some doctors, fearing liability, balked at the new leniency.

One doctor, quoted in an article in General Aviation News this year, said: “If you have a physician like that, go to another doctor.”

The article advised, “If you run into several doctors who say no, just keep looking for one who will say yes.”

Apple had neither medical certification. His third-class medical certification was last updated in September 2016 and expired on Sept. 30, 2018.

“I can’t believe he missed it,” Sally Apple said of her husband not obtaining medical certification to fly through one of the procedures. She said her husband had no known physical limitations other than prescription eyeglasses, which was indicated on his expired medical certification records with the FAA.

The freedom of the open sky has a strong pull on older pilots who want to remain behind the controls. Hours after Apple’s crash, several older pilots — one of them age 83 — waited for the airport to reopen.

McSpadden, of the Air Safety Institute, said there is no data to indicate that geriatric pilots are less safe than younger ones.

“I’ve seen 93-year-old pilots that are incredibly sharp, and there’d be no reason to take away their licenses,” he said.

Courtney Chapman, 89, who gave up flying in the 1980s due to a vascular condition, said he misses it every day.

Chapman, who has been a flight instructor and FAA examiner, said pilots should know their limitations.

“If you want to know what real freedom is, fly,” he said. “The call of freedom is very strong.”

“But you have to stop and look at yourself honestly ... that we’re getting older and slower.”

Robert Katz, a Texas-based commercial pilot and certified flight instructor, monitors news coverage of crashes and then checks the medical credentials of pilots involved. He said he wants to send a message of aviation safety and personal responsibility.

“There comes a point when you have to give this up, just like our parents have to give up driving,” Katz said. “You do something stupid with an airplane, you’re not going to get slightly killed.”

Sally Apple found notes that her husband left behind, one directing that his ashes be placed at the end of his airstrip, “where all of his flights originated.”

Donald E. Apple
April 19th, 1940 - September 18th, 2019
Born in Piqua, Ohio
Resided in Piqua, Ohio

Donald E. Apple, 79, of Piqua died unexpectedly while flying his plane at 7:37 am Wednesday, September 18th, 2019 at the Madison County Airport. He was born April 19, 1940 in Piqua to the late Forrest and Treva (Warner) Apple. He married Sally K. Copsey June 10, 1961 in Piqua and she survives.

Other survivors include two daughters, Donna (Mark) Kinsella of Newburgh, Indiana, Sandy (Alan) Wilson of Norton Shores, Michigan; one son, Dan (Kelsey) Apple of Dublin; six grandchildren, Austin Apple, Cade Apple, Riley Kinsella, Wesley Wilson, Max Wilson, Sydney Wilson; and one sister, Dolores Morris of Columbus.

Mr. Apple was a 1958 graduate of Piqua Central High School and attended Ohio State University, studying agricultural engineering. Don was a farmer for over 60 years and truly enjoyed his work. He was a member of Westminster Presbyterian Church. He was active with the International Flying Farmers, Ohio Flying Farmers, Piqua Rotary Club, Noon Optimist, FFA, and 4-H where he received national honors. 

Don enjoyed flying over our beautiful nation and in May of 2018 was honored with the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award for 50 years of safe flying. He had a great love for the beauty of the earth from above and loved seeing what God had created below. 

Don loved to fly and had flown our great nation from all corners in his many trips. He enjoyed traveling around the country and internationally with his beloved wife where they have been blessed to visit all 50 states, over 60 countries and 6 continents, always enjoying what God created. He also enjoyed their winters in Florida. 

Don was a lifelong learner who believed in education and donated to a half dozen college scholarships. Above all, he loved his wife, children and grandchildren. He did his best to know he left this earth better than he found it.

Funeral arrangements are currently pending at this time. More details will follow at a later date. Funeral arrangements are being provided to the family through the Jamieson & Yannucci Funeral Home. Memorial contributions are suggested to be made to the Piqua Community Foundation, P.O. Box 226, Piqua, OH 45356. Guestbook condolences and expressions of sympathy, to be provided to the family, may be expressed through

Federal investigators are scheduled to be back out in a Madison County farm field on Thursday to tie up the loose ends of a fatal plane crash.

Lt. Robert Curry with the Ohio State Highway Patrol’s West Jefferson Post said 79-year-old Donald Apple from Piqua was killed when the single-engine plane he was piloting crashed into a field just west of the Madison County Airport on Ohio 40 in Somerford Twp

The pilot was pronounced deceased at the scene by the Madison County Coroner.

Curry said he believes Apple was flying into the airport for the Farm Science Review happening across the road. The three day event is held at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center and attracts about 140,000 visitors from the U.S. and Canada who come to learn about the latest agricultural products.

During the Farm Science Review, the airport does see an increased amount of air traffic.

Curry said Apple’s plane was flying from west to east and was trying to make a landing at the airport just after 7:30 a.m. A witness to the crash said the plane just seemed to lose control and go down.

“No distress calls or anything of that nature that we’ve been able to identify,” Curry said. “We’re investigating currently to see if we can get any information as to the flight pattern or itinerary of the aircraft.”

The weather was favorable on Wednesday — sunny with some wind picking up into the afternoon. Curry said the sun was low at the time of the crash, but it’s unclear whether weather played a factor.

The runway at the Madison County Airport was closed for several hours after the crash, but reopened to pilots in the afternoon.

Curry said the investigation was turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol was assisted on scene by the Madison County Sheriff’s Office, Madison County EMS, London Fire Department, Central Township Fire, the FAA and the NTSB.

Original article ➤

1 comment:

  1. Such a sad crash it looks like we have lost a kind and caring soul who loved flying.