Thursday, September 12, 2019

Ercoupe 415-C, N3816H: Accident occurred September 10, 2019 at Ak-Chin Regional Airport (A39), Maricopa, Pinal County, Arizona

The National Transportation Safety Board did not travel to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Scottsdale, Arizona

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Maricopa, AZ
Accident Number: WPR19LA253
Date & Time: 09/10/2019, 0830 MST
Registration: N3816H
Aircraft: Ercoupe 415
Injuries: 2 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional

On September 10, 2019, about 0830 mountain standard time, an Ercoupe 415-C, airplane, N3816H, impacted a building during departure from Ak-Chin Regional Airport (A39), Maricopa, Arizona. The pilot receiving instruction and the flight instructor were seriously injured. The airplane sustained substantial damage. The airplane was registered and operated by the Desert Aero Club LLC under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a local instructional flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the flight and a flight plan was not filed for the flight.

According to an eyewitness, the airplane was heard traveling down the runway during departure and the engine sounded normal. The airplane departed from runway 22, and as the airplane was climbing out, it veered left, pitched up slightly and rolled left, putting the airplane in a nose down descent, impacting the roof of the A39 administrative building. The eyewitness who was also the first responder stated that the pilot and flight instructor exited the airplane and one of the occupants jumped to the stairwell below. They were both transported to the hospital.

The airplane entered the top of the two-story building and was lodged in the outside wall and roof. The airplane was visible from the ground below and sustained substantial damage to the fuselage and wings. The wreckage was recovered to a secure facility for further examination.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Ercoupe
Registration: N3816H
Model/Series: 415 C
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Desert Aero Club LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KCGZ, 1462 ft msl
Observation Time: 1456 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 8 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 19°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 6500 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 10 knots / , 190°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.89 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Maricopa, AZ (A39)
Destination: Maricopa, AZ (A39)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 2 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 32.990556, -111.917222

MARICOPA, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- A small plane crashed into a building at the Ak-Chin Regional Airport Tuesday morning.

A pilot instructor and student were on board.

The Ak-Chin Fire Department tells Arizona's Family that the plane crashed into the flight operations building at the airport.

[WATCH: Aviation community reacts to plane crashing into building near Maricopa]

The Federal Aviation Administration said a Ercoupe 415-C crashed under "unknown circumstances" after taking off around 8:30 a.m. 

Fire officials say one staff member was inside the building at the time of the crash, but was not hurt.

Desert Rat Aviation tells Arizona's Family that the plane belonged to them.

Both the pilot instructor and student were taken to Chandler Regional Hospital and are expected to be OK.

"It's a little bit astonishing to see the airplane actually sticking out of the building," said Les Crawford, a pilot. "Another 20 feet this way, they would've crashed straight into the ground with the way it looked. So they probably wouldn't be here today if that had happened." 

Photos from the scene show how the small plane sliced right into the top of the building. You can also see the plane's tail sticking out of the top of the crash site.

It was those pictures and video that triggered horrifying memories for Phoenix resident Sam Moeller, who survived a plane crash near Wickenburg last year.

"When I saw that picture I couldn't believe those two people survived," he said. "It always brings up memories when I see other plane crashes."

Moeller's near-death experience left more than just physical scars said Moeller. He told Arizona's Family that the survivors of Tuesday's crash -- a pilot instructor and a student -- will likely face turmoil similar to what he's been though.

"Emotionally, they're going to have bad dreams," he explained. "There's a whole lot [of times] I remember waking up, many times in cold sweat thinking about that -- that day. It's not going anywhere." 

Moeller said he still has issues today, more than a year after his plane went down.   "I still to this day, I personally don't feel comfortable going up in a single-engine airplane," he said. "That's a scary, scary feeling."

The plane was removed from the building at about 4 p.m. by Air Transport. 

"When an accident like this happens, we're contacted either by the insurance company or the NTSB and we respond to the scene and they are all like this--in rivers, in mountains, in buildings and in the desert," said Reed Jarman, the owner of Air Transport. 

The plane will now be taken to his storage property where investigators will be reconstruct it and try to figure out what happened. 

The airport that was the site of Tuesday morning's crash is owned by the Ak-Chin Indian Community. The FAA and NTSB will investigate the incident. 

The airport is located about 8 miles southeast of Maricopa, and about 44 miles southeast of Phoenix.

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