Friday, November 22, 2019

Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, N88855: Fatal accident occurred November 20, 2019 near San Marcos Regional Airport (KHYI), Caldwell County, Texas

Craig Hatch, Investigator In Charge (IIC)
 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; San Antonio, Texas
Continental Engines; Mobile, Alabama

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: San Marcos, TX
Accident Number: CEN20FA019
Date & Time: 11/20/2019, 0600 CST
Registration: N88855
Aircraft: RAYTHEON A36
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Business 

On November 20, 2019, about 0600 central standard time, a Raytheon (Beechcraft) A36 airplane, N88855, collided with terrain shortly after takeoff from San Marcos Municipal Airport (HYI), San Marcos, Texas. The pilot, sole occupant, was fatally injured and the airplane was destroyed. The airplane was registered to and operated by Caroline Aviation, LLC, under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as a business flight. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed and an IFR flight plan was filed. The flight was originating at the time of the accident and was destined for Odessa Airport-Schlemeyer Field (ODO), Odessa, Texas.

The airplane was observed on radar shortly after departure, before it disappeared from radar; an ALNOT (alert notification) was issued. A preliminary review of air traffic control services revealed the pilot received his IFR clearance to ODO, with a void departure time. There was no further communication with the pilot, nor was a distress call received.

The airplane was wreckage was located about one half-mile northeast of HYI's runway 8.

At 0556 the automated weather facility located at HYI, recorded wind from 179 degrees at 4 knots, one half-mile visibility in fog, an overcast sky at 300 ft, a temperature of 63° F and a dew point of 63° F. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: RAYTHEON
Registration: N88855
Model/Series: A36
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Caroline Aviation Llc
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Instrument Conditions
Condition of Light:
Observation Facility, Elevation: KHYI
Observation Time: 0556 CST
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 17°C
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 4 knots / , 170°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 300 ft agl
Visibility:  0.5 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.97 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: IFR
Departure Point: San Marcos, TX (KHYI)
Destination: Odessa, TX (KODO)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude:  29.900000, -97.852500

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 

Robb Stuart Van Eman 
FEBRUARY 5, 1971 – NOVEMBER 20, 2019

Robb Stuart Van Eman, beloved father, husband, son, uncle, friend to many, and accomplished pilot with a passion for flying, went to join his heavenly father in peaceful skies doing what he loved on November 20, 2019.

His greatest gift in life was parenting his two brilliant and amazing boys, Brooks and Knox, with his beautiful, dedicated, and loyal wife, Teal Johnson, but he managed to generously give to his family and countless friends and children through Boy Scouts of America, camping adventures, pinewood derby contests, sailing, boating, wakeboarding, travel, and any outdoor activities. Robb’s infectious and playful personality, commitment to those he loved, quick-wit, powerful smile, intelligence, gigantic heart of compassion, and joyful spirit drew people in effortlessly.

Born in Houston, Texas on February 5, 1971 to Marlene and Stuart, he was the younger brother to Currin, and although he was quiet as a child, his intelligence and perseverance guided him to many successes throughout his life. As a child, Robb spent countless weekends with Grandmother Katie in Galveston Bay, where he cultivated his love for the water, outdoors, sailing, and he earned his nickname, “Captain Robb”.

So enamored with his Italian roots, Robb, at the young age of 14, escorted his grandmother to Italy to travel and visit family overseas. It was a tradition he shared with the love of his life, Teal. Traveling to Italy shortly before starting their precious family, the two met in classic Robb fashion, during a blind, group date on his boat. One year later, Robb and Teal celebrated their engagement in New Orleans, and were married April 29, 2005. Grandmother Katie attended the wedding at the age of 97, and after waiting for that divine celebration, she went to heaven happily knowing her 13th and “favorite” grandchild married his perfect match. Robb and Teal’s honeymoon in the British Virgin Islands was again spent on a boat named “Sunny Days”, and they returned to celebrate with friends and family. Their sons were a blissful addition to their family a few short years later.

Always a Longhorn fan, Robb graduated from the University of Texas of Austin with a communications degree, and he was a proud member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. Somehow, he managed to get his Masters of Business Administration at the University of Denver, while prioritizing snow skiing, ski instruction, and being a concierge at a ski resort in Beaver Creek. Known as a handyman, “Mr. Fix-It”, and a “Host with the Most Joyful Hospitality”, friends are wondering who they will call on now that Robb is in heaven.

After college, Robb settled in Austin and began a successful career in software and trading technologies with various top tier companies. After years of pursuing his ultimate career goal, Robb was well on his way to become a commercial pilot, having finished his intense and lengthy flight training almost a decade ago, and having accomplished his ultimate goal of reaching commercial status. As dear friend, Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo, formerly chief of Austin police, eloquently said, “Only Robb would care enough to give us a departing gift during his transition from the flesh to the spirit in his eternal place of rest, by leaving us while piloting an airplane, the thing he liked to do the most, second only to being with family and friends.”

Robb Stuart Van Eman is survived by his loving wife Italia Teal Johnson Van Eman, two sons: Brooks Emmite Van Eman, 12, Knox Joseph Van Eman, 10, parents: Marlene Genitempo Van Eman and Stuart Currin Van Eman, brother: Currin James Van Eman, nephew: Houston Currin Van Eman, all of Austin, Texas, niece: Arden Michelle Johnson, brother-in-law: Terry Jordan Johnson Junior, mother-in-law: Talia Teas Lydick, all of Fort Worth, and countless cousins, extended family, and friends.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to your charity of choice in honor of Robb Van Eman.

Please join a Celebration of Life honoring Robb on Tuesday, November 26, 2019 at 11 a.m. at Riverbend Church in The Smith Family Chapel located at 4214 N. Capital of Texas Highway, Austin, Texas 78746.

Robb Stuart Van Eman 

SAN MARCOS, Texas - Authorities with the Texas Department of Public Safety have identified the man killed in the San Marcos plane crash as 48-year-old Robb Stuart Van Eman of West Lake Hills. The small passenger aircraft crashed just after departing from the San Marcos Regional Airport.

Investigators say the plane hit the ground nose-first in the ALERRT first responder training facility, but it did not catch fire, shortly before 6 a.m. on Wednesday, November 20. The weather was foggy with just a half-mile of visibility at the time so investigators will be looking into that as a cause, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). 

Authorities told FOX 7 Austin that the air traffic control towers were closed when the airplane departed. However, they expected the pilot to check in sometime after take-off, but he did not. This indicated something had gone wrong.

The NTSB said most of air travel fatalities last year were from general aviation or small planes.

Story and video ➤

SAN MARCOS, Texas (KXAN) — The National Transportation Safety Board has now taken over the investigation of a small passenger plane crash in San Marcos from early Wednesday morning.

According to a press release from the City of San Marcos, the plane took off from the San Marcos Regional Airport around 5:54 a.m. The release states the plane lost contact with air traffic control a minute later.

The aircraft was found at 8:03 a.m. on the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center property near Maxwell Texas.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigator arrived at the scene Wednesday afternoon, and spoke with KXAN.

“It appears to have come down near vertical and impacted the ground,” said Craig Hatch, Air Safety Investigator. “There was no post-crash fire.”

According to the website FlightAware, the plane was expected to fly from San Marcos to Odessa.

It would make stops in Fort Worth and Austin, before returning to San Marcos Regional Airport.

The 1999 single-engine aircraft is registered to Caroline Aviation LLC.

KXAN spoke with the plane’s owners who called what happened “tragic” and “horribly sad.”

The National Transportation Safety Board investigators say they’re hoping to remove the wreckage on Thursday or Friday.

A preliminary report on the investigation is likely to come out in about a week.

Story and video ➤

SAN MARCOS, Texas — The Texas Department of Public Safety identified the name of the person killed in a deadly small passenger plane crash in San Marcos Wednesday morning.

According to DPS, 48-year-old Robb Stewart Van Eman from West Lake Hills took off from the San Marcos Regional Airport around 5:54 a.m.

The aircraft was found at 8:03 a.m. on the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center property near Maxwell Texas. Eman was the only passenger on the plane.


  1. Eerie = Counted five GA pilots on VanEman's FB that have been killed in aircraft accidents, and two are recent. So sad. :(
    May they rest in peace.

  2. Any mode of transportation has accidents and fatalities. From cars, motorcycles, boats, trains to even bicycles. The only way to prevent accidents in any of these completely, is to stop using them entirely. To say that most fatalities in aviation happen in general aviation shouldn't be shocking or unexpected, it is normal. As it is in any mode of travel. This shouldn't cast a dark light on GA. It is what it is, a mixture of levels of experience, skills, decision making, aircraft maintenance and proficiency. Very different than what it is at the Airline level.

  3. I see 4 pilots/aircraft owners that are listed as Robbs' Facebook friends that are now deceased ... all were the result of plane crashes. 2, possibly 3, this year alone.

  4. There’s a reason they publish take off minimums on the 10-9B pages in Jepps or the NOS equivalent.
    Placing too much faith in a GA autopilot at low altitude is a recipe for disaster.
    But what do I know, 4,500 hrs single pilot night freight in the NE corridor, half of that w/out a functioning

  5. First off. My sincerest condolences to the family. Especially at this time of the year. I have lost close friends to aviation and been acquainted with many aviators who have bought the farm.

    I noticed he soloed first in 2010. So he would have been about 40 or so years of age. Does anyone think learning to fly later in life is a factor that affects all aspects of airmanship?

    I have a different perspective on this as some of my first memories are of flying with my dad. I was probably 2. He was a fighter pilot at that time. My grandfather (his dad) was a WWII fighter pilot and my dad flew with him as early as 2 years old as well. We have a farm that has had an airstrip on it since 1952. I've been flying out of that 1200' strip my whole life. I grew-up with flying, so I may have a bias toward starting late in life. I'm not trying to discourage anyone from learning to fly. Thoughts?

  6. I think age has nothing to do with it but there are catastrophic factors to consider, and probably most pilots have never experienced a real emergency until one happened, and then all training and experience goes out the window, young or old.
    The only factor important for handling emergencies is having been through a few minor ones and understand how to manage them.
    For example someone who has never been in a real engine failure will never grasp the delay, fear and tunnel thinking one has to fight compared to the mild one in training where the instructor pulls the throttle.
    There will be grinding noises, smells of oil., shaking and the feeling of losing control, besides a "this can't be happening" moment that lasts forever.
    Yep I had one like that. And managed to do a deadstick landing. Every takeoff after that I was expecting the engine to always quit.

  7. Another sad but predictable low weather crash. Doesn't matter whether it was a failure of the pilot or the plane, that weather wasn't forgiving and it was still dark at that hour. Look at those WX observations below.
    That's when you sit back, have another cup of coffee and wait an hour or two to see what the weather will do. You don't "have to" get there by plane. Those kids need their daddy more than than you need to fly somewhere. We can all do better.

    Time interval: from 11/20/2019 11:00 to 11/20/2019 13:59 UTC
    KHYI, San Marcos, San Marcos Municipal Airport (United States).

    METAR KHYI 201356Z 14004KT 1/4SM FG OVC003 17/17 A2999 RMK

    METAR KHYI 201256Z 12003KT 1/4SM FG OVC003 17/ A2998 RMK

    SPECI KHYI 201234Z AUTO 13004KT 1/2SM FG OVC003 17/17 A2997

    SPECI KHYI 201207Z AUTO 14004KT 1/4SM FG OVC003 17/17 A2996

    METAR KHYI 201156Z AUTO 17004KT 1/2SM FG OVC003 17/17 A2997

    SPECI KHYI 201121Z AUTO 14004KT 1/2SM FG OVC003 17/17 A2996

    SPECI KHYI 201109Z AUTO 14004KT 3/4SM BR OVC003 17/17 A2996

    SPECI KHYI 201105Z AUTO 15004KT 1 1/4SM BR OVC003 17/17 A2996

  8. Flying is risky no matter age or experience. While one can reduce the risks for sure, one can never eliminate them. The best pilot I ever knew crashed into a mountain 2 miles from his home, while giving instruction to an ATP student. Scott Crossfield was not too shabby of pilot either. The best one can do is be aware of the risks, reduce them to an acceptable level for the pilot, and be sure any passengers are aware of the risks. Thank God he was alone and did not expose others that might not have been aware of the risks he was accepting. Any person that feels it could not happen to them is an inexperienced pilot. My prayers are with his family as they get thru the this tragedy, May they become stronger and appreciate what a great gift and responsibility we have for the freedoms we enjoy in this country.

  9. I'm sorry, but the suggestion that this had anything to do with "when a pilot learned to fly" is absolutely offensive, particularly when it comes from someone with extensive experience in the other direction. In other words, just because many pilots who ran around with plastic wings flapping at 6 months old have NOT had fatal accidents has no bearing on why ONE pilot who learned when older did.

    While I'm sure his life experiences with flying have been enriching, to automatically draw a circle around oneself and say "and I'm safer because of it!" smacks of self-involvement, and not objective thinking.

  10. Live Flight Tracker (N88855)
    Flight ✈ N88855 ✈ 20-Nov-2019 ✈ KHYI - KODO
    Time (EST) Latitude Longitude Course kts mph feet Rate Reporting Facility
    Wed 06:53:00 Departure (KHYI) @ Wednesday 05:53:00 CST FlightAware
    Wed 06:54:13 29.8971 -97.8539 ↗ 32° 100 115 1,100 Level FlightAware ADS-B (KAUS)
    Wed 06:55:23 29.9164 -97.8417 ↗ 32° 79 91 1,100 Level Houston Center
    Wed 06:57:37 29.9789 -97.9227 ← 312°

  11. Appears PIC departed Rwy 8, captured on FlighAware course heading 32 degrees, 100 kts; accident site approx 1 mile NE at ALERRT Training Facility 1285 William Pettus Road Maxwell, TX 78656. He did have the option of Rwy 35 or Rwy 31 to his NW destination Odessa, TX

    "AUSTIN, TX (CON’T) SAN MARCOS RGNL (HYI) TAKEOFF MINIMUMS AND (OBSTACLE) DEPARTURE PROCEDURES AMDT 2B 17229 (FAA) DEPARTURE PROCEDURE: Rwy 31, climb heading 306° to 1500 before turning right. Rwy 35, climb heading 006° to 2500 before turning left.”

  12. Looking at one of the pictures .... Bottom of LH elevator ... Trim tab appears to have significant nose up trim.



  13. Here in Canada IFR take off minima is generally 1/2 statute mile, unless other conditions. But that means you cannot even see if there is a deer standing down the runway. I have always used the minimums for the best available non-precision IFR approach to the field. That means usually 500 ft. and 2 miles.

  14. While age may have had nothing to do with it, experience over a lifetime is invaluable in decision making. Making the go/no go decision in this case turned out to be critical. This will most likely be attributed to pilot error/loss of control.

  15. @ ColinB

    Very wise practice that you are using. One that I adhere to in light aircraft and teach/advocate to my students in light aircraft.

    We have a few things in our regs that while 'legal', may not always be the best practice for everyone.


  16. RIP and condolences. Ask yourself...the visibility on departure is about 1/2 mile. It's have a catastrophic engine failure...just what is it you are going to do other than crash land in the blind? And how is this going to possibly end well? This baby will take us anywhere...signed...Harry Bliss.

  17. crashed only half a mile from airport vertically on his nose. Looks like a panic pull and stall to me.

  18. Get-there-itis - the corny term for the personality trait that kills more pilots than all other causes combined.

  19. I learned to fly later, at the age of 34. If anything it's made me a better pilot. I don't do dumb things like take of into a 300-foot overcast in the dark in a single-engine airplane. Legal isn't always safe. (My 86-year old instructor says that all the time)

  20. I have no dog in the hunt, but I’ve seen studies that seem to show that if you have two pilots of similar age and experience(PIC hours), the pilot that started younger had a better risk profile. On the other hand, recent experience does matter, compared to someone who had a long lay off and started flying again recently. The study I remember also applied to motorcycle enthusiasts. In general, I’ve noticed that those people that learned any skill at a young age, especially at the knee of their father/mother, had a big advantage over those that learned that skill later. I also have seen people with outstanding skill, but lack judgement due to their outstanding skill. As far as I can tell, aircraft insurance companies seem to stress recent experience. especially with older pilots. Although I’ve flown since I was 17(1963), many years I flew less than 50hrs/yr. Now that I’m 72, I plan on quitting when I start to fly under 100hrs/yr. I might of been able to retain my skills with only 50/yr when younger, but not now that I’m older. I’ve seen too many older pilots try to retain their skills when their hours slipped to under 25. “Been there done that” is a dangerous attitude without puttting in the recent hours. I am not inferring any of the above as regards to this tragic accident, only applying these thoughts to myself.