Thursday, October 31, 2019

Van's RV-4, N425JW: Fatal accident occurred October 31, 2019 in Middleburg, Clay County, Florida

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

Additional Participating Entities:
Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Orlando, Florida
Lycoming; Atlanta, Georgia

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Middleburg, FL
Accident Number: ERA20FA025
Date & Time: 10/31/2019, 1730 EDT
Registration: N425JW
Aircraft: Vans RV 4
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal

On October 31, 2019, at 1730 eastern daylight time, an experimental, amateur-built Vans RV-4, N425JW, was destroyed after it impacted power lines near Middleburg, Florida. The private pilot was fatally injured. 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. Day visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight, which originated from Haller Airpark (7FL4), Green Cove Springs, Florida, at 1715.

The airplane was located in a construction clearing in a heavily wooded area. Power lines were observed on the ground near the wreckage. The wreckage path began where the power lines had been located and continued for about 450 ft on a 270° course. A post-accident fire consumed the airplane. The wreckage was inverted and oriented about a 320° heading. The wings were separated from the fuselage, and only about 4 feet of the wing tips remained. The wooden propeller was fragmented, and power line impression marks were found on the propeller blades. The vertical stabilizer was located about 230 ft from the main wreckage. Parts from the engine cowling, rudder and canopy were found scattered in the wreckage path. The cockpit, instrument panel, and firewall were all destroyed by the fire.

The engine accessory case was consumed by fire; the magnetos, fuel pump, vacuum pump, and oil filter were destroyed. The engine crankcase and cylinders were intact. The top spark plugs were removed and a lighted borescope was used to examine the cylinder walls, valves and piston heads. No anomalies were noted. The propeller was rotated by hand and thumb compression was established on all cylinders. Valve train continuity was established throughout the engine by observing movement of the rocker arms and rear accessory case gears. The carburetor was removed and disassembled with no anomalies noted.

According to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airman records, the pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land and airplane multi-engine land. The pilot was issued an FAA basic medical certificate on March 26, 2019. He reported 17,868 hours of total flight experience at that time.

According to FAA airworthiness records, the two-seat, single-engine, low-wing airplane was manufactured in 1993. It was powered by a Lycoming O-320-A1A, 180-horsepower engine. The airplane was registered to the pilot in July 2010. According to the maintenance records, the most recent condition inspection was completed on January 9, 2019. At that time, the airframe had accrued 835.7 hours since new and the engine had 835.7 hours since major overhaul.

The 1735 recorded weather observation at Palatka Municipal Airport (28J), Palatka, Florida, which was located about 23 miles east of the accident site, included wind 250° at 3 knots, broken skies at 4,100 ft, and visibility 10 statute miles. The temperature was 29° C, the dew point was 22° C; and the altimeter setting was 29.97 inches of mercury.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Vans
Registration: N425JW
Model/Series: RV 4 Undesignated
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: Yes
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: K28J, 10 ft msl
Observation Time: 2135 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 23 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 29°C / 22°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 8 knots / , 250°
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 4100 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.97 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Green Cove Springs, FL (7FL4)
Destination: Green Cove Springs, FL (7FL4)

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: 30.012500, -81.780000 (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 

Tim O'Laughlin 

GREEN COVE SPRINGS, Florida  - A pilot who was killed in a Thursday evening plane crash that knocked out power to parts of Clay County would have turned 73 Friday.

While investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Florida Highway Patrol have not identified the pilot, friends told News4Jax his name was Tim O'Laughlin. He was the only person in the two-seat plane at the time. 

State troopers said the single-engine plane took off from Haller Airpark in Green Cove Springs about 5:15 p.m. Thursday and crashed miles away in the woods off County Road 218 in Middleburg.

Close friends described O'Laughlin as a well-liked and experienced pilot who was respected in the community. He learned to fly in the Navy and then flew commercially for various airline companies, including Northwest Airlines and Delta, according to his LinkedIn profile. 

He served in the Navy as an aviator from 1968 to 1997, retiring as a captain. 

"He had a great sense of humor and lots of skills," said Pat Lee, a fellow pilot and friend from Haller Airpark.

Lee said O'Laughlin loved his family and aviation. He frequently flew with a group of Clay County pilots.

"Tim was one of our wingmen, and a really good friend and a great loss," Lee said. "He was a really great neighbor. He was a great pilot and it's shocking to all of us because we have no idea."

State troopers and the NTSB are investigating the cause of the fiery crash. The investigation could take a year. A wrecker removed the plane Friday and took it to a storage facility. A medical examiner would make positive identification of the body, according to FHP Sgt. Dylan Bryan.

There were no witnesses apparently, so no one reported the plane crash at the time. However, it took down power lines in a field off C.R. 218 and that knocked out electricity for a lot of people in the area. When utility crews with Clay Electric came to find out why, they made the discovery.

The military veteran leaves behind a wife and a son, as well as many friends, who are now left wondering why this happened.

"As far as I know he was in great health," Lee noted. "Tim took really good care of his airplane. It was a beautiful airplane."

He flew a homebuilt single-engine, 2-seater RV-4 plane. Lee said O'Laughlin did not build the aircraft, but maintained it meticulously. He was also an avid camper with his motor home.  

"Every day you try to minimize the risks," Lee remarked. "It's what we've been doing all our lives. We're not daredevils. We're not test pilots. We fly really safe procedures and airplanes."

Friends said O'Laughlin spent his free time doing flyovers and memorials for veterans and pilots who passed away. It's now time for his fellow airmen to remember him.

Friends and fellow pilots said they are planning a memorial service and flyover in his honor. They have not yet set a date because they want to make sure it works for his family members. 

Story and video ➤

Tim O'Laughlin 

CLAY COUNTY, Florida - Thousands of homes were without power in Clay County after an experimental aircraft crashed into electrical equipment on Thursday night, according to Clay County Fire Rescue.

The Florida Highway Patrol said one person was on board and that person died in the crash. The scene was on County Road 218 near Shadowlawn Elementary School.

Fire Rescue said the Van's RV-4 hit a transmission line and caught fire. The plane went down in a dense wooded area.

The victim was not immediately identified.

According to the Clay Electric, about 6,000 homes were affected at the height of the outage. By 8:30 p.m., the utility's outage map showed power had been restored.

It's unclear what led to the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤

The pilot of an experimental aircraft is dead after crashing into a power line in Clay County Thursday, according to the Florida Highway patrol.

FHP said the single occupant of the Van's RV-4 died after the plane crashed in a densely wooded area off of County Road 218 and Henley Road.

Over 6,000 customers were without power in Clay County when the crash happened, according to Clay Electric.

Clay County Fire Rescue said the Van's RV-4 crashed approximately a mile into the woods off of County Road 218 between Green Cove Springs and Lake Asbury. 

The plane hit a transmission line and caught fire, firefighters said.

The Clay County Sheriff's Office said the plane crash was reported near 2943 County Road 218 in Lake Ashbury and the Shadowlawn area. Deputies were on the scene investigating the incident.

Florida Highway Patrol is the primary agency investigating the incident, according to the sheriff's office.

Please avoid the area as they investigate.

Original article can be found here ➤


  1. Must of been a problem prior to hitting the lines, why would he be that low and not around an airport?

  2. The pilot was a high-hour, experienced former military and commercial jumbo jet flyer. Meticulously maintained his aircraft. I am thinking major medical issue. Rest in peace and thank you for all your service to this country!