Friday, January 10, 2020

North American T-28B Trojan, N5440F and Cessna 152, N48962: Fatal accident occurred March 13, 2019 at Compton-Woodley Airport (KCPM), Los Angeles County, California



Pilot Who Survived Fiery Plane Crash That Killed Friend Files Lawsuit

Ryan Davis, Flight Instructor
The Davis Family


Lukas Michael Swidinski, Student Pilot




A man who spent weeks in a coma before recovering from injuries in a fiery plane crash that killed his student and friend has filed a lawsuit saying the crash could have been prevented.

Pilot and flight instructor Ryan Davis said he's filing a lawsuit over a crash that happened last March at the Compton Woodley Airport, leaving the student pilot dead and him in a coma.

"My face was burnt, my arms are burnt, my legs are burnt," Davis said.

Just before 7 p.m. Davis was in the passenger seat of a Cessna airplane, his student pilot at the controls, when he says the pair announced they were coming in for a landing. They found an open runway and touched down safely.

"He did everything perfect," Davis said of his student pilot who has not been publicly named.

But then another plane unexpectedly landed behind them, hitting their aircraft.

"I don't remember the impact," Davis said. "The propeller came in, hit the left fuel tank and blew up the airplane."

Davis says the 84-year old pilot in a military training plane did not check to see if the runway was clear and never let anyone know he was landing.

The communication lapse is documented in an incident report from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department obtained by the NBC4 I-Team.

The report states the pilot told an investigator he had not used the airport's frequency, saying, "He had not because the radio is so low on the panel and the small numbers are difficult for him to read …"

Airports such as Compton Woodley do not have a control tower. A Federal Aviation Administration advisory says pilots should communicate with each other directly by radio. The pilot of the military plane, Ross Diehl, is now charged with involuntary manslaughter and careless and reckless operation of aircraft.

Davis is now also suing Diehl, accusing him of negligence.

"He violated a lot of very standard rules and he killed a man," said Dave Ring, Davis' attorney. "And he seriously hurt Ryan Davis because of outrageously reckless actions."

Diehl's attorney declined to comment about the case, but said in a statement that, "This tragic accident is under investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board which has yet to determine the probable cause.

"This matter is also the subject of litigation and it would be inappropriate and premature to comment on as-yet unproven allegations."

Also named in Davis' lawsuit are the military plane's owner, LA County, and the City of Compton, all of whom did not respond to requests seeking comment.

Davis hopes the tragedy will lead to better communication between pilots at small airports.

"I'm hoping that there can be a change that prevents this," he said. "Or at least reduces the chances of this happening again."

Davis said recovery has been difficult. The young father tries to find moments of relief in his painful recovery by enjoying the times he can sit at the piano with his baby girl. He hopes to eventually get back to his passion and his livelihood.

"Every time I think about it, I get chills," he said.

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


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

Additional Participating Entity: 

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Los Angeles, California

N5440F  Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf


https://registry.faa.gov/N5440F

Location: Compton, CA
Accident Number: WPR19FA095A
Date & Time: 03/13/2019, 1855 PDT
Registration: N5440F
Aircraft: North American T28
Injuries: 1 None
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Personal 



On March 13, 2019, about 1855 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 152 airplane, N48962, and a North American T-28 Trojan, N5440F, collided while landing on runway 25L at the Compton/Woodley Airport, Compton, California. The student onboard the Cessna was fatally injured and the flight instructor sustained serious injuries; the Cessna was destroyed after being consumed by fire. The Airline Transport Pilot onboard the T-28 was not injured; the T-28 sustained minor damage. The T-28 was operated by Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum and the Cessna was operated by the Long Beach Flying Club. Both airplanes were being operated under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as personal flights. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for either flight. The Cessna departed for a local instructional flight from the Long Beach Airport, Long Beach, California at an unknown time. The T-28 departed for a local personal flight from Whiteman Airport, Los Angeles, California about 1830 with a planned destination of Compton.


There were multiple video recordings that captured the accident. A review of the footage revealed that the Cessna touched down and continued on the landing roll out. The T-28 crossed over the runway threshold bar about 10 seconds after the Cessna and subsequently touched down. On the landing roll, adjacent to the "1/2" sign (indicates half of the runway remains), the T-28 impacted the Cessna resulting in an explosion.


The T-28 pilot stated that as he turned the airplane left from the base leg to final approach in the traffic pattern for runway 25L, he noticed a layer of haze on the horizon. The bright sun and the haze created a glare on the windscreen that obscured his forward vision making it difficult for him to see directly ahead. As he descended toward the runway, the glare became worse and he realized he was in between runway 25L and 25R. He side-stepped to runway 25L and the airplane touched down on the runway surface. Several seconds later, the pilot observed the Cessna on the runway ahead of him. He felt the impact with the other airplane and resulting explosion immediately thereafter. The T-28 continued about 1,000 ft before coming to rest off the right side of 25L (see figure 01).



Figure 01: Wreckage Distribution

Utilizing the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sunrise/sunset calculator and solar position calculator, the time of sunset was 1859:24. The sun's azimuth at the time of the accident was 267° (see figure 02) and the elevation was 0.50° (about 90 ft above the horizon).

Figure 02: Solar Position 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information


Aircraft Make: North American

Registration: N5440F
Model/Series: T28 B
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator:
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan


Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions

Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KHHR, 63 ft msl
Observation Time: 0153 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 0°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 11 knots / 16 knots, 270°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.02 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Los Angeles, CA (WHP)
Destination: Compton, CA (CPM)

Wreckage and Impact Information


Crew Injuries: 1 None

Aircraft Damage: Minor
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: None
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries: 1 None
Latitude, Longitude: 33.889444, -118.240833


N48962 Aviation Accident Preliminary Report - National Transportation Safety Board:  https://app.ntsb.gov/pdf

https://registry.faa.gov/N48962

Location: Compton, CA
Accident Number: WPR19FA095B
Date & Time: 03/13/2019, 1855 PDT
Registration: N48962
Aircraft: Cessna 152
Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Instructional 

On March 13, 2019, about 1855 Pacific daylight time, a Cessna 152 airplane, N48962, and a North American T-28 Trojan, N5440F, collided while landing on runway 25L at the Compton/Woodley Airport, Compton, California. The student onboard the Cessna was fatally injured and the flight instructor sustained serious injuries; the Cessna was destroyed after being consumed by fire. The Airline Transport Pilot onboard the T-28 was not injured; the T-28 sustained minor damage. The T-28 was operated by Tomorrow's Aeronautical Museum and the Cessna was operated by the Long Beach Flying Club. Both airplanes were being operated under Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as personal flights. Visual meteorological conditions prevailed, and no flight plan was filed for either flight. The Cessna departed for a local instructional flight from the Long Beach Airport, Long Beach, California at an unknown time. The T-28 departed for a local personal flight from Whiteman Airport, Los Angeles, California about 1830 with a planned destination of Compton.

There were multiple video recordings that captured the accident. A review of the footage revealed that the Cessna touched down and continued on the landing roll out. The T-28 crossed over the runway threshold bar about 10 seconds after the Cessna and subsequently touched down. On the landing roll, adjacent to the "1/2" sign (indicates half of the runway remains), the T-28 impacted the Cessna resulting in an explosion.

The T-28 pilot stated that as he turned the airplane left from the base leg to final approach in the traffic pattern for runway 25L, he noticed a layer of haze on the horizon. The bright sun and the haze created a glare on the windscreen that obscured his forward vision making it difficult for him to see directly ahead. As he descended toward the runway, the glare became worse and he realized he was in between runway 25L and 25R. He side-stepped to runway 25L and the airplane touched down on the runway surface. Several seconds later, the pilot observed the Cessna on the runway ahead of him. He felt the impact with the other airplane and resulting explosion immediately thereafter. The T-28 continued about 1,000 ft before coming to rest off the right side of 25L (see figure 01).


Figure 01: Wreckage Distribution

Utilizing the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sunrise/sunset calculator and solar position calculator, the time of sunset was 1859:24. The sun's azimuth at the time of the accident was 267° (see figure 02) and the elevation was 0.50° (about 90 ft above the horizon).

Figure 02: Solar Position 

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Cessna

Registration: N48962
Model/Series: 152 No Series
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No
Operator: Long Beach Flying Club
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan


Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions

Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: KHHR, 63 ft msl
Observation Time: 0153 UTC
Distance from Accident Site: 5 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 17°C / 0°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Clear
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 11 knots / 16 knots, 270°
Lowest Ceiling: None
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 30.02 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Long Beach, CA (LGB)
Destination:  Long Beach, CA (LGB)

Wreckage and Impact Information


Crew Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious

Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: N/A
Aircraft Explosion: On-Ground
Total Injuries: 1 Fatal, 1 Serious
Latitude, Longitude: 33.889444, -118.240833

24 comments:

  1. Unbelievable. Old dude shouldn't have been flying at all. Reminds me of the crazed idiot who killed 10 people on the Santa Monica pier. I hope his estates and personal belongings are all taken to the cleaners. And I hope the estates if the deceased also sue his sorry ass. I am against most litigation in GA which is really frivolous at times but this is fully justified and even necessary in the face of such egregarious idiocy.

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  2. I totally agree with the above comments. Couldn't have said it better myself.

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  3. Looking beyond simple thoughts of vengeance, a lesson from this for all pilots is that corrective lenses for near vision are limited in effective range of usable distance. When instrument or control markings are too far away to see with your near vision lenses, it is time to either change the panel configuration to bring them within range or decline to be PIC.

    Adding to the bad judgement of flying the T-28 without ability to see/operate radio settings is the time period of the flight from KWHP to KCPM. Setting sun from 267°and elevation of 0.50° was not a good choice of time period for landing to a runway 25 heading. (See video below)

    https://youtu.be/T8NAfY-IcvA

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    1. These days most people get "progressive" lenses that can focus at any distance between close and infinity. Bi- and tri-focals are history

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    2. I use specialized eyeglasses just for flying my airplane - so I can see the instrument panel. They are completely different than my progressives.

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    3. Same here .... Much better than progressive and worth the money.

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  4. As stated above, the pilot of the Trojan is just too old to be piloting a aircraft of any type. He has admitted he couldn't see his instruments. He has the same mindset of older people (whom I am one) who can't give up their car keys. They are a hazard to other aircraft and drivers. What a tragedy for the deceased, and his family.

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  5. My late WWII vet grandfather nearly got violent when we as family members took his keys and sold his truck. He went out and bought another behind our back and guess what happened weeks later: he turned left at a traffic light because the sun was in his eyes and he thought he saw it was green. The stubborn need to be respected but also put out to pasture when the time comes. This old stubborn mule should have had others look out for him and monitor him closely and to never, EVER have set foot in a cockpit again. Or vehicle for that matter. Far too often families and friends are too afraid to speak up and take action. Far too often we read about accidents like this. The cycle will never end and I'm afraid as the Baby Boomers age, we will see a lot more of these unnecessary accidents in the future (land and air).

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  6. Compton Aviation was my Flight school back in '77-80,... we had the same accident with no one injured at that time, SAME THING ! ,...Except it was a 40year Old A/A Capt. flying his AT6 and landed on a 150, tires on the AT6 hit the 150 prop , said he felt something and landed with a FLAT tire.. no injuries but close....somebody missed something ... ... This should not have happened !.. they could make 25R landings only, 25L Take Offs.... IF pilots would stay inside the Wash and not Square off the pattern others might be more able to see each other, FLY the published pattern !...... I stopped flying last year at 70, just because.

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  7. I'm mid 60's and not as sharp as I was at one time.

    I have cut back to just gliders. I have been blessed to have many years flying safely ... Single through FMJ's ... Recipes, turbo-props, and jets. I love it but I don't want to die doing it and certainly don't want to injure or kill someone else.

    At a certain point you need to do a self evaluation. Unfortunately more than a few have the mental facilities for self evaluation.

    YMMV

    Not a fan of litigation but then again sometimes you just have to ....

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  8. A lot of age based discrimination here...some 84 year olds are rock solid, some are pretty much done. None of you commenters knows where this guy fit in the spectrum. Plus there's some guys that never were any good and still aren't at 84, and those that lived flight their entire life and even at 60% in their later years are better than most. To any of you guys commenting that are actually pilots, I suggest a little introspection...do you actually believe you couldn't make a similar mistake? Maybe tune 122.9 instead of 122.8? Headset cord unplugged? Squelch turned up too high? Think you're all alone in the circuit...until you're not? My point is accidents can happen to any one, there is always a chain of causality, and just because the dude is 84 doesn't imply he is unfit to fly. Bad decision to operate without the radio (and we all make bad decisions) but I bet nordo ops are perfectly legal at that airport and probably happen with regularity...any J3's in the pattern? Taylorcrafts? It's an accident, plain and simple, leave the age out of it. And yes I've been there, had a head to head collision on a runway with two taildraggers (both nordo). I was 29....

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    1. 30-year pilot here. I cannot understand why, in 2020, nordo ops are still legal. Radio equipment is lightweight, portable, and inexpensive.

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    2. We don't know where he fits into the spectrum, but what we DO know is that he couldn't see his panel well enough to be bothered to use the radios.

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    3. Uhm, the fact he said the instruments were too small to read was all we need to know. It was not a mistake dial up. He couldn't SEE. And HE admitted it so it's not just our conjecture.

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    4. You're basically saying this could have happened to anyone. Yes, anyone who can't be bothered to use the radio and lands into the sun, even though they are blinded by it. I inquired about why they didn't land the other direction and was told the rules required them to land toward the west. I'm new to aviation and am struck with how cavalier the FAA is toward accidents.

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    5. Good objective comment - unlike most of those who lack life experience and objectivity on here.

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    6. Landing RW25 instead of RW7 was not arbitrary rules.
      "Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: 11 knots / 16 knots, 270°"
      Since the accident pilot took to the sky at 6:30 PM, he should have anticipated the "sun in the eye" landing based on destination wind direction and planned time of arrival.

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  9. Bad deal. When you can no longer see the panel, changes must be made. He will lose the law suit.

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  10. At some point I would expect a suit against the museum ... they had control over who they allowed to fly the plane.

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    Replies
    1. Based on these types of accidents, museums should set some must-do/don't-do boundaries. Suggestions for all museum flights would include not having our aircraft in the air at sunset/after dark and no PIC piloting permitted if you can't see every control/indicator on the panel.

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  11. I'm 70 + (a little) and fly a complex high performance single. I'm already looking at a step down to something slower with less moving parts. But, at some point we need to realize when any machine has passed us by. My first cross-country, the instructor gave me an Esso (pre-Exxon for many of you) road map and told me to always have that in addition to the Sectional. If someone had come in the hanger (we didn't have flight schools then) and told us about a Garmin 1000 we would have shipped them off to the looney bin.

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    Replies
    1. Esso truly had the best charts ... I mean road maps ... back in the day, as they say.

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  12. Tragic. And could have been avoided so easily by making better decisions (time of landing, place/direction, not on frequency).
    As to the age and the added risk, there is an easy solution for everyone, be it added risk due to age or other factors (rusty, inexperienced, etc): Take an instructor with you! Or at the very least another pilot as safety. I'm sure it would not have been hard to find someone at the airport to fly with. Wouldn't even have to be someone rated/current. Just another set of eyes that would have seen the radio if nothing else, and possibly the other plane. And another brain to question the decision to land into the setting sun.

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  13. Exactly, I usually hate aviation lawsuits, because most are just cash grabs that hurt the GA community. But this is something else " Pilot stated to investigators, that he didn't make any calls on Airport frequency because the numbers on the radio were to hard to read because of the location of the radio!" WTF,then move the radio to a new location, it's an experimental category plane so it shouldn't be to hard. This guy shouldn't have been flying, because of age, and if he could not see the numbers on the radio, so sad someone died because of his carelessness.

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