Friday, January 18, 2019

Beechcraft C35 Bonanza, N2025D: Fatal accident occurred January 14, 2016 in Meeker, Rio Blanco County, Colorado

William Ray Hiler 
January 3, 1954 ~ January 14, 2016 (age 62)

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

Aviation Accident Final Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board: https://dms.ntsb.gov/pubdms

http://registry.faa.govN2025D


Location: Meeker, CO
Accident Number: CEN16FA086
Date & Time: 01/14/2016, 0045 UTC
Registration: N2025D
Aircraft: BEECH C35
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Defining Event: Loss of control in flight
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

Analysis 

The noninstrument-rated private pilot was conducting a night cross-country flight in the piston-engine-powered, unpressurized airplane. According to the radar track data and ATC transcript, the pilot flew between about 14,000 ft and 18,000 ft for about the last 40 minutes of the flight. Review of weather information indicated that the airplane was likely operating in instrument meteorological conditions for most of the flight, with icing possible below 14,000 ft. About 10 minutes before the accident, the air traffic controller observed the airplane had climbed through 18,000 ft. The air traffic controller subsequently informed the pilot that he would require an instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance to fly at that altitude and asked the pilot if he wanted to file IFR. The pilot responded, "that would be great, I just want to get over [this] so I can get back down." The controller also asked the pilot if the airplane was IFR-equipped and -capable, to which the pilot responded that he was IFR-equipped.

During subsequent communications with air traffic control, the pilot's communications became inconsistent and the airplane began flying erratically with changes in direction and altitude during the final minutes of flight. The airplane entered a series of descending turns before experiencing an in-flight break-up. Examination of the wreckage revealed no preimpact mechanical malfunctions or anomalies that would have precluded normal operation. Although the airplane was equipped with a home-built system of medical-grade oxygen onboard, the valves on the bottles were found in the off positions; since the valves were inaccessible from the cockpit, was not possible for the pilot to have used oxygen during the flight.

As altitude increases, the partial pressure of oxygen in the air decreases, leading to hypoxia. The FAA Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) notes that hypoxia is a "state of oxygen deficiency in the body sufficient to impair functions of the brain," and "the effects of hypoxia are usually quite difficult to recognize, especially when they occur gradually." The AIM also states that between 12,000 and 15,000 ft "judgment, memory, alertness, coordination and ability to make calculations are impaired, and headache, drowsiness, dizziness and either a sense of well-being (euphoria) or belligerence occur." It also states "pilot performance can seriously deteriorate within 15 minutes at 15,000 ft. FAA regulations (14 CFR 91.211) require a pilot to use supplemental oxygen when operating above 12,500 ft in excess of 30 minutes and during the entire flight time when operating above FL140. The pilot's inconsistent communications and erratic flight track was characteristic of a state of hypoxia, and hypoxia likely resulted in the pilot's inability to maintain control of the airplane.

Toxicological testing of the pilot revealed the presence of multiple central nervous depressants and a total of 6 psychoactive substances in his system (diazepam, nordiazepam, hydrocodone, dihydrocodeine, norcyclobenzaprine, and zolpidem). While there is no direct conversion between the liver and kidney levels and blood or serum levels of these drugs, the presences of even lesser amounts of all 6 substances in combination strongly suggests the pilot was influenced by the effects of the multiple medications he was using. It is likely that the combined effects of the 6 impairing substances he was using contributed to his unsafe decision making, which led to him to initiate the flight in the dark, over mountainous terrain, in instrument meteorological conditions, and without ensuring ready access to his oxygen system.

Probable Cause and Findings

The National Transportation Safety Board determines the probable cause(s) of this accident to be:
The non-instrument-rated pilot's decision to fly the airplane in instrument meteorological conditions at high altitude for greater than 30 minutes without the use of supplemental oxygen which resulted in hypoxia, and a subsequent loss of control. Contributing to the accident was the pilot's use of multiple impairing medications.

Findings

Personnel issues
Hypoxia/anoxia - Pilot (Cause)
Decision making/judgment - Pilot (Cause)
Aircraft control - Pilot (Cause)
Prescription medication - Pilot (Factor)
Total instrument experience - Pilot

Environmental issues
Conditions/weather/phenomena - Decision related to condition (Cause)

HISTORY OF FLIGHT

On January 14, 2016 about 1745 mountain standard time (MST), a Beech C-35 single-engine airplane, N2025D, was destroyed when it impacted terrain near Meeker, Colorado. The private pilot was fatally injured. The airplane was privately owned and operated by the pilot under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. Instrument meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the personal flight, which departed Provo Municipal Airport (PVU), Provo, Utah, about 1620, with an intended destination of Granby-Grand County Airport (GNB), Granby, Colorado.

Radar data indicated that, after departure, the airplane circled and climbed to an altitude about 12,000 ft mean sea level (msl) in the general area of PVU before turning east toward mountainous terrain. [Note: All radar and/or air traffic control data is reference in ft msl in this report.] The airplane continued to climb as it traveled east, reaching about 14,500 ft about 1641. The airplane maintained between about 14,000 ft and 14,500 ft until about 1653, when it descended to just below 13,000 ft. The pilot contacted air traffic control at 1704, traveling east-southeast, and was issued the current altimeter setting. The airplane continued in the same direction after initial check-in and began a climb again, the airplane had climbed above 18,000 ft by about 1736. At 1736, the controller confirmed the airplane's altitude, advised the pilot he would require an instrument flight rules (IFR) clearance to fly above 18,000 ft, and asked the pilot if he wanted to file IFR. The pilot responded, "that would be great, I just want to get over (unintelligible) so I can get back down." The controller then asked if the airplane was IFR -equipped and -capable, to which the pilot responded that he was IFR-equipped. The controller subsequently cleared the flight direct to GNB and issued a block altitude between 17,000 ft and 19,000 ft.

Just after the pilot received the block altitude, the accident airplane stopped climbing about 18,400 ft; the controller subsequently asked the pilot if he could maintain 19,000 ft. The pilot responded that he was in the clouds, and the controller again asked if he could maintain 19,000 ft; the pilot responded, "we're getting there." The controller then instructed the pilot to maintain 19,000 ft.

Radar data indicated that, after reaching about 18,700 ft, the airplane abruptly descended to about 17,400 ft, turned to the north, and climbed back up to about 18,500 ft. The controller advised the pilot he observed him turning north asked the pilot if he was okay, to which the pilot responded, "a little bit." Radar data indicated that the accident airplane then turned to the west, descending more rapidly as the airplane entered a right spiral. At the onset of this change in direction and descent, the controller advised the pilot that he observed him in a turn and descending and asked if he was in control, to which the pilot responded, "uh yes."

The controller then advised the accident pilot not to descend lower than 11,000 ft and cleared him to descend and maintain 11,000 ft. The controller advised "that's lowest I can get you." The pilot responded "alright (unintelligible) clear there." The controller advised he did not have any [weather] reports for that area and asked if he was planning to head back to the west, to which the pilot responded, "I'm at seventeen now".

The controller then advised the pilot he observed him doing some "S turns" and asked if he was proceeding to Grandby or heading back to the west. There was no response from the pilot. After two more attempts by the controller to reach the pilot, the pilot responded, "I hear you fine (unintelligible)." About 1744, the controller advised the accident pilot that Meeker airport was at his 3 o'clock and 17 miles, and there was an unintelligible response. There were no further recorded transmissions from the accident pilot.

The last radar target correlated with the accident aircraft was at 1743:33 and about 14,100 ft; however, OpsVue track data continued to record, showing the airplane in a continued descent until 1744:13 and about 10,300 ft before track data terminated. OpsVue is a commercially available web-based flight tracking program. The track is derived from a combination of several surveillance sources that are combined and a "mosaic" type of flight track is produced.

PERSONNEL INFORMATION

The pilot, age 62, held a private pilot certificate with a rating for airplane single-engine land. The pilot did not have an instrument rating. No pilot logbooks were available for review. On his most recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) third-class medical certificate application, dated November 6, 2015, the pilot reported about 600 total hours of flight experience, with 20 hours in the previous six months. The medical certificate was issued with a limitation that he: must have available glasses for near vision.

AIRCRAFT INFORMATION

Review of preaccident photographs of the airplane showed the airplane was equipped with a homebuilt oxygen system consisting of two oxygen tanks, two vinyl oxygen masks, and the associated vinyl oxygen supply tubing. The two oxygen tanks were attached to the fuselage wall behind the bulkhead on the left side of the airplane. The oxygen supply tubing attached to each tank and ran forward toward the cockpit area. The valves on the tanks were not able to be accessed to start or stop the flow of oxygen from the cockpit.

The airplane model has a service ceiling of 18,500 feet MSL.

METEOROLOGICAL INFORMATION

Although the pilot checked weather information prior to flight with Lockheed Martin Flight Service (LMFS), the data and weather information discussed was not able to be retrieved for this investigation. There was no indication that the pilot received any additional weather briefing information before the flight.

At the time and location of the accident, AIRMETs were active for IFR conditions, mountain obscuration, moderate icing below 12,000 ft, and moderate icing between the freezing level and 17,000 ft. The Area Forecast valid at the time of the accident predicted an overcast ceiling at 10,000 ft with layered clouds to 25,000 ft. Visibility of 3 miles, mist, and light snow were forecast through 1700 with visibility increasing to 5 miles with mist after 1700.

Meeker Coulter Field Airport (EEO), Meeker, Colorado, was located about 18 miles east of the accident site, at an elevation of 6,415 ft. The 1653 observation included calm wind, 9 miles visibility, light snow, an overcast ceiling at 3,900 ft agl, temperature -2°C, dew point of -8°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.89 inches of mercury. Remarks included: station with a precipitation discriminator, snow began at 1648, sea level pressure 1018.0 hPa, 1-hour precipitation trace, 6-hour precipitation trace, temperature -2.2°C, dew point -7.8°C, 6-hour maximum temperature of -0.6°C, 6-hour minimum temperature of -6.7°C, and 3-hour pressure increase of 1.0 hPa.

The 1753 observation included calm wind, 10 miles visibility, an overcast ceiling at 4,300 ft agl, temperature -2°C, dew point temperature -7°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.89 inches of mercury. Remarks included: station with a precipitation discriminator, snow ended at 1658, sea level pressure 1017.1 hPa, 1-hour precipitation trace, temperature -2.2°C, dew point temperature -6.7°C.

A North American Mesoscale (NAM) model sounding was created for the accident site for 1700. The sounding indicated a relatively moist vertical environment from 9,000 ft through 15,000 ft. This environment would have been conducive to cloud formation between 9,000 ft and 15,000 ft. The cloud tops likely extended higher, up to 19,000 ft according to satellite imagery and weather radar data. Icing (clear, rime, and mixed) was indicated between 9,000 ft and 14,000 ft. The 1700 MST NAM sounding was also close to saturation between -8°C and -15°C (between 9,000 and 14,000 ft) which is considered a temperature range supportive of the growth of super cooled liquid water droplets.

A more detailed description of the weather in the area of the accident site is available in the Meteorology - Group Chairman's Weather Study Report in the public docket.



WRECKAGE AND IMPACT INFORMATION

The airplane was located in tree- and sagebrush-covered, mountainous terrain about 19.5 miles west of Meeker, Colorado. The terrain elevation in the area varied from 6,200 to 6,400 ft msl. The main wreckage included the fuselage, left wing, engine, and propeller hub. The remaining wreckage was scattered over an area about 0.3 mile north-south by 0.4 mile east-west and was distributed in a manner consistent with an in-flight breakup. The wreckage was examined during recovery and later at a secure storage facility.

Airframe

Control continuity was established from the control yokes through the fuselage to the aft side of the center section rear spar. The right aileron cables fractured from the bell-crank in the right wing and the left aileron cables were cut during recovery. The ruddervator control and autopilot cables remained attached to the ruddervator differential mechanism in the tail and were cut at the forward end of the empennage during recovery. The ruddervator trim cables exhibited a splayed appearance consistent with tension overload. Continuity of the cables from the empennage to the rear spar could not be established because the cables were cut and removed during recovery.

The inboard portion of the right wing was deformed upward and there was diagonal wrinkling of the upper and lower wing skins. All 4 wing attach tension bolts were intact and installed through portions of the bathtub fittings. The fractures at the right wing separation point all exhibited a dull, grainy appearance consistent with overload. The left wing was located with the main wreckage and was partially attached to the fuselage.

The right stabilizer was found about 890 ft northwest of the main wreckage. The right stabilizer and ruddervator were mostly intact with little damage. The right stabilizer spars were fractured through the outboard attach bolt holes with upward deformation on the upper portions of the spars. The right upper stabilizer skin had a cable tear, and there was upward deformation of the leading edge cuff on the fuselage. The inboard half of the left ruddervator, located about 1,695 ft north-northeast from the main wreckage, was separated and recovered in several pieces. The left stabilizer was found about 1,430 feet north of the main wreckage. He left stabilizer had an area of impact damage with missing paint, metal transfer, red paint transfer, scraping and scoring. The left stabilizer forward spar had no obvious deformation, but the rear spar was buckled and deformed aft. There was a cable tear in the root rib in a forward direction and the leading edge cuff was undamaged.

Engine

The engine case was fractured, exposing the internal mechanisms of the engine. The crankcase was impact-damaged, and much of the crankcase structure was not recovered. Several pieces of the left and right crankcase halves remained attached to individual cylinder bases at the cylinder attach points. The crankshaft was bent to the right just forward of the main bearing saddle No. 3. The crankshaft was bent to the left at cylinder No. 5 rod attach point due to impact forces. The accessory case located on the rear of the engine case was not located. The camshaft gear, starter gear and magneto gears were exposed.

The right and left magnetos separated from the engine, but were recovered. It was not possible to identify the orientation of each magneto prior to separation. The magnetos would not rotate manually, so a teardown was performed. All internal components were accounted for. The plastic timing gears were intact, as were coils and point sets.

The left exhaust collector was heavily impact damaged and remained attached to cylinder Nos. 2 and 4 at the cylinder exhaust ports. The collector from cylinder No. 6 separated.

The right exhaust collector separated but was recovered. The collector received heavy impact damage. The exhaust muffler separated from the right exhaust collector and received crushing impact damage. The muffler remained open on both ends and no flame cone was present. The muffler cover was removed and inspected. No cracking or visible leakage was noted between the muffler and cover.



Propellers

Both propeller blades separated during the accident sequence. There was no obvious damage to the leading edges or blade faces. The retention nuts and counterweights remained installed on the blades. There was similar damage to the retention nut and hub threads on both sides, including fractured threads, smeared threads, and flattened areas.

Oxygen System

Two aluminum medical-grade oxygen bottles were found in the wreckage, each with a capacity of 24 cubic feet at 2015 psi. The bottles were removed and the valves on both bottles were found closed. The pressure on one bottle was 600 psi and the other was 1,200 psi.

A more detailed description of the wreckage is available in the Airworthiness Group Factual Report in the public docket.

MEDICAL AND PATHOLOGICAL INFORMATION

Pathology Group, P.C., Grand Junction, Colorado, performed an autopsy of the pilot. The cause of death was multiple blunt force injuries. A focal area of 50% stenosis was found in the mid-left anterior descending coronary artery, but the remainder of the examination of the heart and other organs did not identify any natural disease.

The FAA's Bioaeronautical Sciences Research Laboratory, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, performed toxicology testing on specimens of the pilot. The testing identified diazepam and its active metabolite nordiazepam; hydrocodone and its active metabolite dihydrocodeine; norcyclobenzaprine; and zolpidem in liver and kidney. No blood or urine specimens were available for testing. Diazepam, hydrocodone, cyclobenzaprine, and zolpidem are all potentially impairing medications, and each carried performance warnings about their use, particularly in combination.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Aeronautical Information Manual, Chapter 8-1-2, "Effects of Altitude:"

a. Hypoxia.

1. Hypoxia is a state of oxygen deficiency in the body sufficient to impair functions of the brain and other organs. Hypoxia from exposure to altitude is due only to the reduced barometric pressures encountered at altitude, for the concentration of oxygen in the atmosphere remains about 21 percent from the ground out to space.

2. Although a deterioration in night vision occurs at a cabin pressure altitude as low as 5,000 ft, other significant effects of altitude hypoxia usually do not occur in the normal healthy pilot below 12,000 ft. From 12,000 to 15,000 ft of altitude, judgment, memory, alertness, coordination and ability to make calculations are impaired, and headache, drowsiness, dizziness and either a sense of well-being (euphoria) or belligerence occur. The effects appear following increasingly shorter periods of exposure to increasing altitude. In fact, pilot performance can seriously deteriorate within 15 minutes at 15,000 ft.

3. At cabin pressure altitudes above 15,000 ft, the periphery of the visual field grays out to a point where only central vision remains (tunnel vision). A blue coloration (cyanosis) of the fingernails and lips develops. The ability to take corrective and protective action is lost in 20 to 30 minutes at 18,000 ft and 5 to 12 minutes at 20,000 ft, followed soon thereafter by unconsciousness.

4. The altitude at which significant effects of hypoxia occur can be lowered by a number of factors. Carbon monoxide inhaled in smoking or from exhaust fumes, lowered hemoglobin (anemia), and certain medications can reduce the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood to the degree that the amount of oxygen provided to body tissues will already be equivalent to the oxygen provided to the tissues when exposed to a cabin pressure altitude of several thousand feet. Small amounts of alcohol and low doses of certain drugs, such as antihistamines, tranquilizers, sedatives and analgesics can, through their depressant action, render the brain much more susceptible to hypoxia. Extreme heat and cold, fever, and anxiety increase the body's demand for oxygen, and hence its susceptibility to hypoxia.

5. The effects of hypoxia are usually quite difficult to recognize, especially when they occur gradually.

6. Hypoxia is prevented by heeding factors that reduce tolerance to altitude, by enriching the inspired air with oxygen from an appropriate oxygen system, and by maintaining a comfortable, safe cabin pressure altitude. For optimum protection, pilots are encouraged to use supplemental oxygen above 10,000 ft during the day, and above 5,000 ft at night. The CFRs require that at the minimum, flight crew be provided with and use supplemental oxygen after 30 minutes of exposure to cabin pressure altitudes between 12,500 and 14,000 ft and immediately on exposure to cabin pressure altitudes above 14,000 ft. Every occupant of the aircraft must be provided with supplemental oxygen at cabin pressure altitudes above 15,000 ft.

Pilot Information

Certificate: Private
Age: 62, Male
Airplane Rating(s): Single-engine Land
Seat Occupied: Left
Other Aircraft Rating(s): None
Restraint Used: Unknown
Instrument Rating(s): None
Second Pilot Present: No
Instructor Rating(s): None
Toxicology Performed: Yes
Medical Certification: Class 3 With Waivers/Limitations
Last FAA Medical Exam: 11/06/2015
Occupational Pilot: No
Last Flight Review or Equivalent:
Flight Time: 600 hours (Total, all aircraft) 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: BEECH
Registration: N2025D
Model/Series: C35 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Year of Manufacture: 1952
Amateur Built: No
Airworthiness Certificate: Normal
Serial Number: D-3376
Landing Gear Type: Retractable - Tricycle
Seats:
Date/Type of Last Inspection:
Certified Max Gross Wt.: 2703 lbs
Time Since Last Inspection:
Engines: 2 Reciprocating
Airframe Total Time:
Engine Manufacturer: CONT MOTOR
ELT:
Engine Model/Series: E185 SERIES
Registered Owner: On file
Rated Power: 185 hp
Operator: On file
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Night
Observation Facility, Elevation: KEEO, 6366 ft msl
Distance from Accident Site:  18 Nautical Miles
Observation Time: 0053 UTC
Direction from Accident Site: 91°
Lowest Cloud Condition:
Visibility: 10 Miles
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 4300 ft agl
Visibility (RVR):
Wind Speed/Gusts: Calm /
Turbulence Type Forecast/Actual: /
Wind Direction:
Turbulence Severity Forecast/Actual: /
Altimeter Setting: 29.89 inches Hg
Temperature/Dew Point: -2°C / -7°C
Precipitation and Obscuration: No Obscuration; No Precipitation
Departure Point: PROVO, UT (PVU)
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Destination: GRANBY, CO (GNB)
Type of Clearance: None
Departure Time:
Type of Airspace:

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: 40.052222, -108.278611






NTSB Identification: CEN16FA086 
14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Thursday, January 14, 2016 in Meeker, CO
Aircraft: BEECH C35, registration: N2025D
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators either traveled in support of this investigation or conducted a significant amount of investigative work without any travel, and used data obtained from various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On January 14, 2016 about 1745 central standard time (CST), a Beechcraft C-35, N2025D, was destroyed when it impacted terrain near Meeker, Colorado. The airplane departed from Provo Municipal Airport (KPVU), Provo, Utah, enroute to Granby-Grand County Airport (KGNB), Granby, Colorado. The private pilot, the sole occupant, was fatally injured. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed for the personal flight that was conducted under the provisions of 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91. No instrument flight plan had been filed. 

According to preliminary information provided by the Federal Aviation Administration, while enroute during the accident flight, the pilot requested flight following from air traffic and requested clearance to fly a higher altitude to stay clear of clouds. After receiving flight following, air traffic control queried the pilot on his change of route and altitude before noticing the airplane descend and losing radar and radio contact. A search and rescue effort was activated and the airplane was found early the following morning in mountainous terrain.

Contour Airlines To Offer Jet Service At Tupelo Regional Airport (KTUP)



TUPELO, MISSISSIPPI (WCBI) – Jet service is coming to the Tupelo Regional Airport this spring.  That announcement was made by Contour Airlines, which has provided commercial air service to the All America City for nearly three years.

Beginning April 1st, Contour Airline passengers will upgrade from 15 seat turboprops, to a 30 seat jet.

“Even I am surprised we have gotten here as fast as we have,” said Contour CEO Matt Chaifetz.

When Contour Airlines made its pitch to provide air service to Tupelo, the public was skeptical.  Two previous airlines were plagued with late or cancelled flights.  But since April of 2016 when Contour began flying out of the Tupelo Regional Airport, the airline has become known for its low fares and on time performance.  And for the first time in nine years, the airport has recorded 10,000 boardings.

The 30 seat ERJ model, means Contour will decrease its weekly flights from 30 to 18.  Contour is subsidized by the Alternate Essential Air Service Program.  That Department of Transportation program pays Contour $4.2 million a year to serve the Tupelo market.


“Our service in Tupelo has been so successful that we are willing to operate the 18 frequencies a week, with the ERJ, with the same level of annual subsidy as what we were receiving with the 30 flights a week on the Jetstream.  While there will be less flights per week, the actual capacity on a weekly basis is going up,” Chaifetz said.

Contour Airlines success over the past few years means the Tupelo Regional Airport will be able to make some upgrades of its own.

“Reaching 10,000 , the airport becomes a primary airport, receives a full share of entitlement funds, that money is used to help maintain and keep airfield, safety of airfields, upkeep of it,” said Tupelo Regional Airport Director Cliff Nash.

Tupelo was Contour’s first city for commercial service.  The airline now serves sixteen communities nationwide.

Contour’s CEO says the airline will not only continue to offer low fares, but will also , from time to time, offer $19 super saver seats on some flights.

Story and video ➤ https://www.wcbi.com

Piper PA-23-250 Aztec E, N14372: Fatal accident occurred January 17, 2019 near Bowers Field Airport (KELN), Ellensburg, Kittitas County, Washington

https://registry.faa.gov/N14372

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.



Dr. Frank Smith died Thursday when his Piper PA-23-250 Aztec E crashed shortly after takeoff from Ellensburg.



A pilot who died in a small plane crash two miles south of Ellensburg on Thursday was a surgeon at Kittitas Valley Healthcare who lived in the lower Yakima Valley.

Dr. Frank L. Smith, 75, of Wapato was the only person on board the Piper PA-23-250 Aztec E when it crashed.

Smith grew up in the San Fernando Valley in California and moved to Toppenish in 2001 to work at the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, and bought a home and orchard in Wapato, according to a biography on Kittitas Valley Healthcare website. He went to work at KVH in Ellensburg in 2010.

“Frank was a gifted surgeon, but moreover a gracious and gentle man,” Dr. Kevin Martin, KVH Chief Medical Officer, said in a statement. “Over and over I’ve heard people say that you always knew where you stood with Frank, and that he ended every conversation with ‘I love you.’ We all felt we stood in that warm heart. He leaves us better for that and we can only hope he knew he was just as loved.”

Smith was a graduate of Harvard Medical School and did his residency at the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital (now Brigham and Women’s Hospital) in Boston. He was a civil rights activist in college, participated in the march from Selma and the March on Washington in 1963, and served in the U.S. Air Force, according to the biography.

Investigators believe Smith was on his way to Yakima when the plane crashed, according to a news release from the sheriff’s office.

A farmer reported the downed aircraft in his field at 5 p.m. Thursday. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

The Sheriff’s Office said Smith appropriately communicated his take-off and direction from Bowers Field in Ellensburg a few minutes before the crash.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.yakimaherald.com

Piper PA-24-250 Comanche, N6497P: Accident occurred January 18, 2019 in Beechwood, Sheboygan County, Wisconsin

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

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


https://registry.faa.gov/N6497P

Location: Beechwood, WI
Accident Number: CEN19LA071
Date & Time: 01/18/2019, 1520 CST
Registration: N6497P
Aircraft: Piper PA24
Injuries: 1 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On January 18, 2019, about 1520 central standard time, a Piper PA24, N6497P, registered to a private individual, sustained substantial damage during a forced landing after a partial loss of engine power near Beechwood, Wisconsin. The private pilot, who was the sole occupant, sustained minor injuries. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed and a flight plan was not filed. The personal flight was being conducted under the provisions of Federal Code of Regulations Part 91. The flight originated at 1430 from the Burlington Municipal Airport (BUU), Burlington, Wisconsin, and its destination was the J Douglas Bake Municipal Airport (OCQ), Oconto, Wisconsin.

Before takeoff from BUU, the pilot fueled the airplane with 24 gallons in the left tank, and 12 gallons in the right tank. After a pre-flight and runup, the pilot took off for the flight to OCQ. The pilot was cruising at 3,000 feet MSL when he noticed the carburetor temperature gauge moving through the yellow arc (cooling) toward the red arc (getting colder). About the same time, the engine was beginning to loose power and RPM's were dropping. The pilot pushed the mixture to 'Full Rich', pulled the carburetor heat 'ON', switched fuel tanks, and switched magnetos. After the application of carburetor heat, the engine roughness became worse. The pilot then turned off the carburetor heat and the engine seemed to run smoother, but was still losing power and dropping RPM's. The pilot pulled the carburetor heat 'ON' again and the roughness returned, so he turned off the carburetor heat. At this point, the airplane had descended down to 1,200 feet. With only partial engine power, the pilot selected a filed for a gear-up forced landing. During the landing the airplane sustained substantial damage to the forward part of the fuselage and the pilot exited with minor injuries.

The airplane wreckage was transported to a local facility.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Piper
Registration: N6497P
Model/Series: PA24 250
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
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: SBM, 755 ft msl
Observation Time: 1453 CST
Distance from Accident Site: 10 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: -7°C / -14°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 5 knots / , 30°
Lowest Ceiling: Overcast / 7500 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.22 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Burlington, WI (BUU)
Destination: Oconto, WI (OCQ)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Damage: Substantial
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: Unknown
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: Unknown
Total Injuries: 1 Minor
Latitude, Longitude: 45.606389, -88.109167 (est)



TOWN OF SCOTT - Police have released the name of the pilot injured when a single-passenger plane made an emergency hard landing Friday afternoon in Sheboygan County. 

Michael Kruswick, 64, of Algoma was the pilot and only occupant of the aircraft.

Kruswick sustained non-incapacitating injuries, according to a press release from the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Office.  

The reason for the crash is still not known and remains under investigation by the sheriff's office and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Sheboygan County Emergency Communications Center received a 911 call about 3:20 p.m. on Friday about a plane that had an emergency hard landing in the area of County S and Ida Lane in the town of Scott, according to the Sheboygan County Sheriff's Office.

The pilot told 911 operators he lost power and tried an emergency landing, according to authorities. The aircraft sustained damage upon landing and the pilot was injured and taken to a nearby hospital.

The aircraft involved was a Piper PA-24-250 Comanche. 

In addition to the sheriff's office, Beechwood Fire Department, Town of Scott First Responders, Random Lake Fire Department and Orange Cross Ambulance also responded to the scene.

Original article ➤ https://www.sheboyganpress.com









SHEBOYGAN COUNTY — Sheboygan County officials tell FOX6 News a pilot was injured after making an emergency landing in a small plane near Ida Lane and County Road S in the Town of Scott. The crash happened on Friday afternoon, Jan. 18.

The Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office says they received a 911 call from the pilot around 3:22 p.m., explaining he lost power in his  Piper PA-24-250 Comanche and attempted an emergency landing.

Officials say the pilot was injured upon landing and the aircraft was damaged.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating the crash along with the Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://fox6now.com

Employee Furloughs Virtually Shut Down Accident Inquiries and Other Work at National Transportation Safety Board: More than 90% of the safety board’s staff remains off the job due to partial government shutdown


The Wall Street Journal
By Andy Pasztor
January 18, 2019 6:51 p.m. ET

Employee furloughs have forced the National Transportation Safety Board to suspend practically all accident investigations and continue to prevent officials from even determining whether future probes of specific crashes may be warranted, according to information released by the agency Friday.

Roughly 93% of the NTSB’s 397 employees are off the job as a result of the partial government shutdown, the data indicate, with a total of more than a dozen small plane crashes and railroad accidents left untouched that otherwise would have prompted on-site visits by NTSB staff.

The only exceptions to the investigative freeze are four board experts helping download and analyze the cockpit-voice recorder recovered from the Lion Air passenger jet that crashed in Indonesia at the end of October. Also, a single NTSB staffer is helping Korean investigators delve into an engine problem on a Korean Airlines aircraft.

The agency, which isn’t part of any federal department and has independent authority to investigate accidents and recommend safety enhancements, said all five of its board members plus 21 staffers have been exempt from furloughs since the partial shutdown kicked in last month. The summary released Friday didn’t specify whether those personnel are being paid.

Many air-safety regulators at the Federal Aviation Administration were called back to work recently to continue monitoring airline operations and conduct other essential work, without being paid. The NTSB likely won’t engage in such recalls, according to government and industry officials. That is because the safety board would have to demonstrate that the work slated to be done couldn’t be delayed without a significant negative impact on human life.

Since many of the accidents affected so far are fatal private plane crashes that typically don’t involve the public or have broad safety ramifications, the agency hasn’t been able to meet that bar for launching investigations.

In the case of airliner crashes or major pipeline, train or marine accidents, the NTSB has more leeway and a stronger legal basis to call investigators back to work, according to industry and labor officials.

The NTSB’s situation is likely to prompt escalating criticism from Democratic lawmakers if the current funding impasse drags on longer.

Overall, the agency said it has refrained from any action to look into some 70 accidents nationwide—ranging from plane crashes to highway accidents to a train derailment—most of which would have entailed collecting data but stopped short of sending investigators into the field.

In addition, the agency said it has had to delay rolling out its annual list of highest-priority safety improvements, and pushed back a public hearing on a charter jet carrying the University of Michigan’s men’s basketball team that ran off the end of a runway in Ypsilanti, Mich., in gusty winds nearly two years ago.

The agency plans to respond to crashes on a case-by-case basis, even as numerous internal meetings to discuss safety matters have been canceled or delayed.

Original article can be found here ➤  https://www.wsj.com

Beech A36 Bonanza, owned by and operated by Big Fuga LLC, N2021T: Fatal accident occurred January 17, 2019 near Gillespie County Airport (T82), Fredericksburg, Texas

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

Additional Participating Entity: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; San Antonio, Texas

Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board: https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

https://registry.faa.gov/N2021T 


Location: Fredericksburg, TX
Accident Number: CEN19LA055
Date & Time: 01/17/2019, 1650 CST
Registration: N2021T
Aircraft: Beech 36
Injuries: 1 Fatal
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 

On January 17, 2019, about 1650 central standard time, a Beech A-36 airplane, N2021T, impacted terrain 1 mile north of the Gillespie County Airport (T82), Fredericksburg, Texas. The pilot was fatally injured, and the airplane was destroyed by a post-crash fire. The airplane was owned by and operated by Big Fuga, LLC as a Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 personal flight. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for the local flight that originated at Bulverde Airpark (1T8), San Antonio, Texas.

An aircraft in the area of T82 advised Houston Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC) they heard a "Mayday" call from a Bonanza whose engine was on fire.

At 1655, the weather conditions at T82 was wind 120°at 3 kts., visibility 10 statute miles, clear skies, temperature 59°F, dew point 43°F and altimeter 30.11 inches of Mercury. 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information


Aircraft Make: Beech
Registration: N2021T
Model/Series: 36 NO SERIES
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Big Fuga LLC
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan


Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: T82, 1695 ft msl
Observation Time: 2255 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 3°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.11 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: San Antonio, TX (1T8)
Destination: San Antonio, TX (1T8) 

Wreckage and Impact Information


Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: In-Flight and On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal
Latitude, Longitude: 30.260556, -98.906944 (est)

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov.


Ronald L. Bowers
August 5, 1968 - January 17, 2019 
San Antonio, Texas

On Thursday, January 17, 2019 Ronald L. Bowers, loving husband, father, and son passed away at the age of 50 years. Ron will forever be lovingly remembered by his wife, Patricia; daughters, Alexa and Marisa; parents, Joan and Lenn Gilbert; parents-in-law, Mike and Maria Brady; his step-brother, Philip Gilbert; sister and, brother-in-law, Barbara Brady and Tolga Erdogus; niece and nephew, Lara and Adrian Erdogus-Brady, Uncle Ron Halat, Aunt Bettie Holmes, and dearest friends, Paul and Kim Plascjak. He will also be forever remembered by his extended family, friends, and colleagues.

Ron was born in Baltimore, MD and spent most of his childhood in Walnut Creek, CA. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in San Antonio in 1986. He served his country as an Army Ranger and as a physical therapist in the Army Reserves from 1993-2008. He graduated from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio with his Master of Physical Therapy in 1999. He worked as a physical therapist and business owner in San Antonio for 20 years.

Ron was a devoted husband and father and his favorite way to spend his time was with his family. He had an amazing ability to live every moment of life to its fullest and brought joy and laughter to all those around him. He had a passion for flying airplanes, was an avid athlete, loved spending time outdoors, and fly fishing.

A Memorial Service will be held in Ron's honor at St. Thomas Episcopal Church,1416 North Loop 1604 E, San Antonio, TX, 78232, on Saturday, January 26th at 4:30pm.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Pilots N Paws at www.pilotsnpaws.org.

http://porterloring.tributes.com






FREDRICKSBURG, Texas (KXAN) — A San Antonio man died when his Beechcraft Bonanza crashed and caught fire near Kerr Road in Fredericksburg late Thursday evening.

According to Texas Department of Public Safety Sgt. Orlando Moreno, the Beechcraft Bonanza crash occurred at 4:50 p.m. and only one man — the pilot — was aboard. He was declared dead on arrival of first responders. 

The Federal Aviation Administration began an investigation Friday and while the cause of the plane crash are unclear, the Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed that the pilot issued a mayday call right before. The Federal Aviation Administration also learned that the man, whose identity has not been released, was an experienced pilot who was out on a leisure flight to take advantage of the nice weather Thursday. A Houston pilot reported hearing the mayday call and relaying the message to the local Federal Aviation Administration office.

The Federal Aviation Administration also indicated that the government shutdown has impacted the investigation and response time, as ordinarily the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration would send an investigator right away, however, due to the shutdown, the Federal Aviation Administration had to send for a furloughed representative. The representative is performing his job for both organizations.

Additionally, the Federal Aviation Administration reports that while there is no tower at the Gillespie County Airport, staffing it would also have been affected by the shutdown.

The Federal Aviation Administration says nothing about the crash looks out of the ordinary but the government shutdown is affecting initial inspection of the plane, which takes place in Dallas. The plane is stuck in Fredericksburg for the time being, and while such investigations can take up to a year, the shutdown could prolong this investigation even further.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.kxan.com

Cessna 310R, N71NC: Incident occurred January 17, 2019 at Gaylord Regional Airport (KGLR), Otsego County, Michigan

Ascension Aviation LLC

https://registry.faa.gov/N71NC




OTSEGO COUNTY, Mich - Michigan State Police said a Cessna 310R was forced to make an emergency landing at Gaylord Regional Airport on Thursday afternoon.

This happened around 4:20 p.m. after the pilot learned the front landing gear wouldn’t deploy.

State Police said the pilot was the only one aboard, and was unharmed, but the plane suffered some damage.

Story and video ➤ https://wsmh.com



No one was hurt after a Cessna 310R was forced to make an emergency landing at Gaylord Regional Airport on Thursday.

It happened at around 4:20 p.m. after the pilot learned the front landing gear wouldn’t deploy.

The pilot was the only one on board, and is OK. The plane was damaged, and the Federal Aviation Administration has been contacted.

Story and video ➤ https://www.wnem.com




OTSEGO COUNTY, Michigan, (WPBN/WGTU) -- A mechanical problem caused an emergency landing at the Gaylord Regional Airport.

The front landing gear wasn't going down, forcing a pilot to make an emergency landing Thursday afternoon, according to the airport director.

The pilot did a couple flyovers to confirm the problem with his landing gear.

He burned off some fuel and was able to land using his back landing gear, the director said.

The nose went down into the pavement.

Emergency equipment and responders were on the scene to help before the plane landed.

The pilot was the only person on board and no injuries were reported, the director said.

The airport director said everyone did a fantastic job on the ground and the pilot did a great job as well.

The aircraft is based in Gaylord. 

Original article can be found here ➤ https://upnorthlive.com