Friday, November 29, 2019

Van's RV-6A, N451JP: Fatal accident occurred October 09, 2018 at Cape Girardeau Regional Airport (KCGI), Missouri

Jack Mehner

"Good evening, Lord."

Those were the words Jack Mehner spoke during his invocation at the Cape Chamber's annual dinner. It stuck with me, partly because you hear so few people begin prayer this way. But if you know Mehner and what he endured 13 months ago, it makes perfect sense. Prayer has been his source of strength.

Mehner, 84, and fellow aviator Lowell Peterson worked on planes together over the years, and on October 9th, 2018, on a windy, but otherwise sunny day the two men flipped a private aircraft at the Cape Girardeau Regional Airport.

Peterson, who was the pilot that day, died. Mehner suffered from a broken neck and a head injury. A faint scar on the right side of his forehead is a permanent reminder.

"It was a little windy. [It] wasn't too bad when we took off," Mehner told me Monday afternoon. "We flew around for awhile and by the time we got ready to leave the wind was like 26, 25 knots crosswind -- which is not good. But Lowell had done that before and landed in crosswinds. [He was] a good pilot. So I had no reason to be concerned."

The plane descended in what Mehner called a "critical landing." It hit the runway hard, bounced, then blew into the grass where it flipped, he recalled.

Mehner was unable to get Peterson out of the plane. He used a handkerchief to stop the bleeding from his own head, crawled out of the plane and called 911.

Peterson, he learned later, died of a heart attack when the plane landed.

"It wasn't anything he did wrong," Mehner said. "He just had a heart attack."

Over the coming weeks Mehner spent time in an intensive care unit recovering from his broken neck followed by several weeks of rehabilitation at Chateau Girardeau. Because of radiation from previous vocal cord cancer, medical staff struggled to insert a breathing tube which ultimately led to swallowing difficulty.

Even after being discharged to go home, Mehner struggled with swallowing. A feeding tube was his source of nutrition. But one night while meeting friends for dinner, he tried a small amount of chicken noodle soup. With a little work, he was able to swallow. Now, he can eat most anything he wants.

Mehner said his wife, Sherri, was a big help in the recovery. He received numerous visitors and cards. Even a marquee on Independence Street read, "Pray for Jack."

"[There were] so many prayers, people saying they prayed for me, that I can't begin to count them," Mehner said.

Faith has always been a source of strength for Mehner. But like many who have walked through the valley of the shadow of death, as Scripture says, Mehner found hope through his relationship with Jesus.

"There's nothing like a problem to bring you closer to God," he said. "I've been close to God for years ... I don't even remember the first time I went to church. But it does get your attention," he said of the crash.

Mehner said he's been blessed with a full recovery, eating and doing most anything he did before -- including his workouts at the gym and playing pickleball.

But most of all, Mehner's passion for ministry lives on. He leads a small group through LaCroix Church, attends another Bible study and is involved in a ministry with the Charleston prison.

About a half dozen individuals go to the prison each week. Some of the ministries include recording the inmates reading a children's' book. The recording is sent to their children or grandchildren.

They also assist with broadcasting the Global Leadership Summit to the prison and work with the inmates to pack meals through Feed My Starving Children. Mehner estimated the prison has helped pack 200,000 to 300,000 meals.

"It's amazing to me how guys can leave the backgrounds that they've had and through whatever -- through some of their own efforts, hopefully through some of our efforts as far as bringing Bible messages to them -- they've become such strong Christian guys. It's amazing to me," he said, adding the inmates have been a blessing to him.

On this Thanksgiving weekend, Jack Mehner is the epitome of gratefulness. Grateful to be alive. Grateful to serve. From surviving a horrific plane crash to living a life of purpose and helping others, he's certainly an inspiration.

Original article can be found here ➤

Lowell Charles Peterson

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

Additional Participating Entity: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; St. Louis, Missouri

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Cape Girardeau, MO
Accident Number: WPR19LA006
Date & Time: 10/09/2018, 1050 CDT
Registration: N451JP
Aircraft: Vans RV6
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under:  Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On October 9, 2018, about 1050 central daylight time, an experimental amateur-built Vans Aircraft Inc., RV-6A airplane, N451JP, veered off the side of the runway and nosed over during landing at Cape Girardeau Regional Airport (CGI), Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The private pilot was fatally injured and the passenger was seriously injured. The airplane was substantially damaged. 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. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that departed at an unknown time.

According to witnesses located at the airport, the pilot lost control of the airplane during a crosswind landing and veered off the side of the runway and nosed over. The airplane came to rest about 1,750 ft from the approach end of runway 20 and about 25 ft off to the right side of the runway edge.

The airplane was recovered to a secure location.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Vans
Registration: N451JP
Model/Series: RV6 A
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: CGI, 341 ft msl
Observation Time: 1553 UTC
Distance from Accident Site:
Temperature/Dew Point: 28°C / 19°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Scattered / 3100 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 12 knots / , 150°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.98 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Cape Girardeau, MO (CGI)
Destination: Cape Girardeau, MO (CGI)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: Unknown
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 37.225278, -89.570833 (est)

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