Saturday, February 08, 2020

Cessna 501 Citation I/SP, N501RG: Fatal accident occurred February 08, 2020 in Fairmount, Gordon County, Georgia

Federal Aviation Administration / Flight Standards District Office; Atlanta, Georgia

Aircraft crashed under unknown circumstances in a creek.

Remonia Air LLC

Date: 08-FEB-20

Time: 16:16:00Z
Regis#: N501RG
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: 501
Event Type: ACCIDENT
Highest Injury: FATAL
Aircraft Missing: No
Activity: PERSONAL
Flight Phase: EN ROUTE (ENR)
Operation: 91

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

Roy George Charles Smith, 68, of Fayetteville, Georgia passed away on Saturday February 8, 2020 in Gordon County, Georgia during an airplane accident. He was born in Hounslow, England to the late Rose Marie and Ronald Smith of Hounslow England.

Roy was an entrepreneur that started several successful businesses during his lifetime. His biggest success was his 6 children, Emily, Michael, Morgen, Brandon, Savannah and Blaine. He is also survived by his wife, Fiona Sharon Baynham Smith, and two grandchildren along with other family members. He loved flying his airplanes and visiting with family and friends. Another love he had was motorbike riding with his sons. Roy was a loving husband, father, and friend.

There will be a memorial service for Roy on Thursday February 20, 2020 at 2 p.m. at Carl J. Mowell Funeral and Cremation Service. The family will receive friends just before the service.

Raymond Michael Sluk
May 14, 1956 - February 8, 2020

Raymond Michael Sluk, 63, of Senoia passed away on February 8, 2020. He was born on May 14, 1956, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to the late Peter and Catherine Sluk. Raymond retired as Vice President of FedEx and as the President from Falcon Aviation Academy.

Raymond is survived by his wife, Deanna Sluk; daughters, Tiffany Ferencz (Brett), Jennifer Hughey (Clint), Linsey Butler (Tyler); grandchildren, Abby, Sydney, Kaija, Aliz, Nora, Emmett, Micah, B. Matthew, and Jonah; one brother, one sister; and nieces and nephews.

Ray Sluk was a man who loved the Lord and dedicated his life to serving others. He always sought the best in people and encouraged everyone to be their very best self. Dedicated to leadership development, Ray spent over 25 years with FedEx, over 15 years in aviation, and a lifetime in ministry. His four main loves included: Jesus, his family, flying, and serving others. He knew life was short, so he lived each day as if he were living on borrowed time. He will be missed by many, but we know that on Saturday he heard the words: “well done, my good and faithful servant.”

A memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, February 15, 2020 at Dogwood Church, Tyrone. The family will receive friends from 5:00 – 8:00 PM on Friday, February 14, 2020, at Mowell Funeral Home, Fayetteville.

In lieu of flowers the family request donations be made to Ray’s ministries: B. Kelly Eickenberg with Remember Nhu, Dogwood Church, Tyrone, Russia Missions, and AlongSideAsia.

Mowell Funeral Home & Cremation Service, Fayetteville, 770.461.7641 –

March 2014: Falcon Flight Academy valuable asset for China 

As China continues to reign supreme as the world's top exporter, the “Made in China” label has become a begrudgingly accepted fact of life in the world of business.

However, one entrepreneur with a location in Coweta County has quietly turned the tables and now has become one of China’s most valuable assets.

As president of Falcon Flight Academy, Ray Sluk has spearheaded the small flight academy into a destination point for future pilots from around the world. Falcon has schools in small Georgia airports, including Peachtree City, Athens and the Newnan-Coweta Airport — Whitlock Field.

Sluk originally left Peachtree City for China in 1991 and spent the next 12 years overseas as FedEx Vice President for China, Japan and Central America before returning home in 2003.

“I walked into Falcon Flight Academy in September 2004 and asked about learning to fly,” Sluk said. “The instructor said he could take me up tomorrow.”

However, Sluk didn’t feel like waiting.

“It was 4 in the afternoon so I looked outside at the planes and asked him, ‘Can we go today?’ and he said, ‘Sure, let’s go.’”

From that point forward, Sluk has never looked back — acquiring his private license by that December, his instrument rating the following March, and then his commercial license.

Sluk then invested in the Falcon Aviation Academy, purchasing a 20 percent stake in their stock.

As he became further involved with the company, he suggested that the academy could become an international flight school through the use of the contacts he had made over the years. The company allowed Sluk to spearhead the expansion, and, in 2006, they received their first students from India. Two years later, China followed.

“The FAA certifies us as a 141 flight school,” Sluk said. “There are about 3,000 flight schools in the U.S. and 10 percent are TSA SEVIS (Student and Exchange Visitor Information System) certified. Now, out of those, there are only 10 that are Chinese CAAC (Civil Aviation Administration of China) 141 certified. We’re the only one in Georgia.”

Once Falcon acquired their Chinese certification in December 2008, their first students finally arrived the following November.

“The CAAC limited the amount of students we had at first,” Sluk said. “The CAAC has taken our quota from 30 to 60 to now 120 students and I’m about to make a trip to China this week with a request to go to 150 students and should happen by June or July. However, we’ll have to cap out at 150 due to constraints of the airport.”

So why China? It comes down to supply and demand.

“There is a huge need for pilots. When I left in 2000, FedEx had 660 aircraft in its fleet. That was more than all the aircraft combined in China at that time,” Sluk said. “Today, there are around 5,000 aircraft and they demand 10 -12 pilots per plane.”

However, training in their home country is problematic for the students. Since the Chinese military controls the airspace, students can expect less than one hour of training per day, per plane because of the airspace.

And there aren’t a lot of good flying days because of the air pollution, according to Sluk.

“If you look at the total student base, they make up about 40 percent,” Sluk said. “Most of the domestic students are part-time and are only here a few days a week. The Chinese are here all day, five days a week because it’s a 12-month program. We have approximately 60 instructors and the Chinese require a 2 to 1 ratio for a full-time instructor.”

There are four certified flying schools in China and only 20 approved flight schools outside of China. The majority of training is done outside of the country in places like the United States, Canada, Australia, Spain, France and New Zealand due to the restrictions they face back home and the road to becoming approved by the Chinese government in a long one.

“They want to see prior records and then start with your 141 certification,” Sluk said. “There were 32 foreign schools at one point but it has shrunk to 20. Some schools have up to 360 Chinese students. The smaller ones are around 30-60. Right now, we don’t want to get much bigger.”

So what is the financial impact of the program in terms of the local economy?

Each student ultimately ends up bringing more than $100,000 dollars to the area and that’s a conservative figure, according to Sluk.

“The contract we have with them includes two meals a day, transportation and flight training, which includes books, headsets and uniforms. Then they need TSA approval approximately three times and it costs $130 each time,” said Sluk. “It’s pretty expensive.”

All the Chinese students are recruited by airlines after completion of two years of undergraduate studies. The airlines require a 99-year commitment. The student then signs with the airline that will fund the majority of the training.

And with 110 of their students currently residing in more than 20 multi-room apartments at the Columns at White Oak, they’ll be expanding on that in June.

“They do a good job for the local economy. White Oak likes it, the restaurants like it and these guys shop like crazy,” Sluk laughed. “It’s a big boom for local industry. The flight school employs mechanics and instructors so our total number of employees is currently around 100.”

Students come in at different times of the year and the academy currently has 10 different Chinese airlines that are represented, including China Eastern — one of the largest three airlines in China.

However, one of the largest challenges the Academy faces is recruiting and maintaining quality instructors on staff.

Matt Bowley was hired by Falcon Aviation Academy in September as head of sales and marketing, in an effort to help advance recruitment.

“The U.S. passed a regulation last August that requires first officers to have 1,500 hours of flight time. The instructor can work here and gain 100 a month, so 12 months later, you do the math,” Bowley said. “In such a short amount of time, an instructor can have the required number of hours to go to an airline. Most other schools can’t offer 100 hours a month. That’s what’s exciting about what we’re doing. It’s a fast track.”

“Most want to go to the airlines,” Sluk said. “We’ve been talking about a pilot shortage for 10 years now. Six years ago, regulation was passed that took the retirement age from 60 to 65. Now, that time frame has passed so all the baby boomers are retiring out.”

“It used to be a glamorous thing, being a pilot, but now people question spending all this money to go to flight school, only going to work at an airline for three years at minimum wage before they can see any kind of bump,” Sluk said.

Starting salary for a commercial airline pilot is between $20,000 to $24,000 for their initial three years, according to Sluk.

“It doesn’t pay well at first so you’ll have major student loans looming,” said Sluk. “If you’re going to a four-year program, you’ll have six figures worth of debt. However, we can do the same thing for less than half that.”

“China is like we were 50 years ago,” Sluk said. “Guys that leave here and go back to fly in China are making more money in China than our instructors can make at a regional airline in the U.S., and that’s in an economy where the average wage is one-tenth of the salary.”

The Chinese pilots are now in a position where they can change their entire family’s income.

“Some of these guys are coming from absolutely nothing,” Bowley said. “When a  pilot walks down a hallway in China, everyone moves. That’s how much respect is given to them in their homeland.”

While the surge for Chinese pilots has proven to be a lucrative stream of revenue for Falcon Flight Academy, Sluk is looking to build and diversify.

“The current pilot shortage in China should last another 10 years. But we would like to make it so when the boom is over, we’ll have other things to replace it with,” Sluk said. “We’re looking into domestic, European and South American markets.”

Falcon has also recently hired a new financial analyst and is currently focusing on restructuring.

“We’re going from one chief flight instructor to setting up an assistant chief for every 20 students,” said Sluk. “Once we get that in place, we can then expand the market once we have the infrastructure.”

With the purchase our their second King Air twin-turboprop aircraft just a few weeks ago, it would appear that the sky is the proverbial limit for Falcon Aviation.

Kathryn's Report:

Heidi Kemner, Air Safety Investigator
National Transportation Safety Board

The four victims in Saturday’s Gordon County plane crash have been identified. 

Pilot: Roy Smith, 68, of Fayetteville.

His son, Morgen Smith, 25, Atlanta.
Morgen’s girlfriend, Savannah Sims, 23, of Atlanta.
Co-pilot Raymond Sulk, 63, of Senoia.

All were pronounced dead from “multiple blunt force trauma”. 

Authorities have confirmed that four people were killed in a plane crash in Fairmount over the weekend.

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the Cessna 501 Citation I/SP left Falcon Field in Peachtree City at around 9:45 a.m. en route to Nashville, Tennessee.   The plane went down around 30 minutes later in a wooded area off Mauldin Road in Fairmount. 

The identities of the victims have yet to be released but authorities said that they were three men and a woman.

Officials are looking into air traffic control records, weather information, and maintenance records to help determine the cause of the crash.

A report is expected within the next 10 days.

Original article can be found here ➤

Christy Nicholson, Deputy Coroner
Gordon County, Georgia

GORDON COUNTY, Georgia — Officials have identified four people killed in a Cessna 501 Citation I/SP crash in Gordon County Saturday as a young Atlanta couple, a father and pilot and another man.

Savannah Sims, 23, was killed alongside her boyfriend, 25-year-old Morgen Smith, Smith’s father Roy Smith, 68, who was piloting the plane and 63-year-old Raymond Sluk of Senoia.

Sims and Morgen Smith were from Atlanta. Roy Smith was from Fayetteville.

The Cessna 501 Citation I/SP disappeared from radar Saturday morning during heavy snow. The wreckage was found hours later in a wooded area of Gordon County that emergency crews were only able to reach on foot.

It’s unclear if weather was a factor in the crash. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

Heidi Kemner, an air safety investigator for the NTSB, said the Cessna 501 Citation I/SP took off from Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field in Peachtree City around 9:45 a.m. and was headed to Nashville.

Original article can be found here ➤

 Sheriff Mitch Ralston
 Gordon County, Georgia

Authorities have released the identities of four people who died on board a Cessna 501 Citation I/SP that crashed in the north Georgia mountains en route to Nashville over the weekend.

Gordon County Deputy Coroner Christy Nicholson identified the victims as pilot Roy Smith, 68, of Fayetteville; his 25-year-old son, Morgen Smith of Atlanta and 23-year-old Savannah Sims of Atlanta.

Nicholson identified the fourth victim as the plane's co-pilot,  Raymond Sluk, 63, of Senoia. 

Federal investigators said the Cessna 501 Citation I/SP crashed shortly after 10 a.m. Saturday in a remote part of Gordon County, northwest of Atlanta, authorities said.

Weather conditions are among many factors that will be investigated in coming days and weeks, said Heidi Kemner, an air safety investigator with the National Transportation Safety Board.

The plane went missing from radar shortly after takeoff from an airport in the Atlanta suburb of Peachtree City. Snow was reported in the Atlanta area around the time the plane took off.

The plane disappeared from radar around about 50 miles north of Atlanta after departing, authorities said. It was en route to Nashville, Tennessee, FAA spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said Sunday.

Original article can be found here ➤

Christy Nicholson, Deputy Coroner
Gordon County, Georgia
Heidi Kemner, Air Safety Investigator
National Transportation Safety Board

A metro Atlanta pilot and his adult son were among the four killed when their Cessna 501 Citation I/SP crashed in Gordon County shortly after taking off Saturday morning.

Their identities were confirmed Tuesday by Gordon County Deputy Coroner Christy Nicholson, Channel 2 Action News reported. They are pilot Roy Smith, 68, of Fayetteville, his son, 25-year-old Morgen Smith of Atlanta, the son’s girlfriend, 23-year-old Savannah Sims of Atlanta, and 63-year-old Raymond Sluk of Senoia. 

They were the only ones aboard the Cessna 501 Citation I/SP, which disappeared from radar about 10:10 a.m. and was later found in a remote area of Gordon County. 

After hours of searching, the plane was discovered in a hilly area that is accessible only by foot, Gordon County Chief Deputy Robert Paris previously told Authorities used four-wheel drive vehicles and ATVs to navigate the terrain to the crash site, which Paris called treacherous. 

At a news conference Sunday, Heidi Kemner, an air safety investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the Cessna 501 Citation I/SP departed from Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field in Peachtree City about 9:45 a.m. and was headed for Nashville. It was snowing at the time, but it’s unclear if the weather was a factor in the crash.

“We will perform a formal weather study, and that will definitely be something we look into in this investigation,” Kemner said.

Investigators are expected to continue examining the wreckage and gathering information at their office in Washington. It could be up to 18 months before a factual report is ready and a determination on cause is made, she said.

Original article can be found here ➤

 Sheriff Mitch Ralston
 Gordon County, Georgia

GORDON COUNTY, Georgia (CBS46) -- The Gordon County coroner's office has released the identities of four people killed in a plane crash on Saturday.

The victims have been identified as Morgen Smith, 25 and Savannah Sims, 23, both of Atlanta, Roy Smith, 68, of Fayetteville and Raymond Sluk, 63, of Senoia. Roy Smith was the pilot of the aircraft and father of Morgen Smith. Sulk was the co-pilot.

The Cessna 501 Citation I/SP took off from Atlanta Regional Airport-Falcon Field in Peachtree City shortly before 10 a.m. Saturday and disappeared from radar in the vicinity of Cherokee County about 10 minutes later. It was headed to Nashville, Tennessee.

Investigators told CBS46 that the plane then went down in a wooded area about three and a half miles from Mauldin Road in Gordon County. 

Original article can be found here ➤



    The flight track for this flight was never under control. Airspeed and course were constantly changing. Altitude was more stable. For 20 minutes this flight struggled.

  2. air traffic control transmission captured by contains a radio call from 'one romeo gulf' reporting problems with the left hand attitude indicator. The autopilot was disconnected and the aircraft was then flown manually from the right-hand seat. Apparently into area of heavy snowfall.

    1. A pilot forum discussion seemed to believe it was single pilot, having to look across to use right side instrument and hand fly. Did the archive ATC recording actually include a statement that puts a person in the right seat?

    2. Link to LiveAtc ?

    3. Liveatc user rules do not permit direct linking, but if you access thru their site, the file on the system is KGVL1-ZTL38-Feb-08-2020-1500Z.mp3 under katl archives.

    4. FYI: The news media have recordings and transcripts of radio conversations.

    5. From listening to the LiveATC recording, I came up with this transcript. The recording doesn't capture ATC's transmissions, only the various flight crews on frequency.

      Approximately 8:55 minutes in:

      "And Atlanta Center five oh one romeo golf with you eleven point five climbing thirteen thousand (unintelligible)"

      "Up to sixteen thousand, three zero (unintelligible, baro. setting?) for one romeo golf."

      "Hey uh one romeo golf, we were having problems with the uh the uh left hand side ah attitude indicator which is operating off the autopilot we had to disconnect it, fly off the right side."

      "Uh did you copy that last transmission, five - one romeo golf?"

      "Now direct ---- five oh one romeo golf."

      At roughly ~13:14 minutes in, ATC must have queried Delta 2566 about N501RG. The reply from Delta 2566:

      "Uh well yeah we're totally IMC at this point, 2566. There's nothing on TCAS."

    6. One thing to go back and listen for is the very end of "...we had to disconnect it, fly off the right side."

      Instead of "side", there seems to be two words uttered after "right". The two utterances sound like "front end". The hard "eye" sound in side is not there. We don't have to agree, but compare to the sound of his use of "side" earlier in that transmission if you re-listen and still think "side" is the last utterance there.

  3. Photo from 2015:

  4. Another Citation crash not too far from this one a few years ago.

  5. Some dealer photos and info from past listing this airframe:

    1. The first photo in that listing is not the correct aircraft - shows a 650, N800GM. Smaller photo on last page looks correct. Panel and interior is from sometime around 2012 or so, if correct.

  6. Forgive me but could this aircraft still have a functional ALT Hold and HDG, even with an attitude indicator problem? Are there two separate, and redundant systems driving left and right side?

    1. No, a hard failure of the VG14 Vertical Gyro will dump the SP200 Autopilot. Standard EQ at the time was 4 or 5 inch Sperry (Honeywell) Flight Director Capt side with 3 inch air driven Attitude Gyro FO side. Unless Dual Flight Director Equipped, no xfer to FO side except for NAV/HSI functions, but Capt VG must be alive for Flight Director and Autopilot, thus HDG and ALT.

    2. Thanks for the explanation. God please bring peace to their families and friends. So sad to see the weather chew up another general aviation plane. That was a substantial winter storm with some pockets of extreme precip embedded in snow/ice.

    3. With no ATT REV to swap the Right seat VG to Left seat VG, one would think if no other back up is accessible, why wouldn't you declare an emergency and get your self out of IMC as soon as possible? Flight aware shows a flight from Falcon Field to Falcon field the Wed. prior to this flight. I wonder if this was a test flight? Not much history

  7. Why would you risk flying IFR without a portable GPS table etc that shows attitude, gps altitude, and gps speed , and nzvigation which is totally independent of the aircraft systems and could save your life ?

  8. I agree that when operating an older gen corporate aircraft ( or any older aircraft lacking AHRS) the pilot should have a backup AHRS based attitude indicator, even if it is as simple as an iPad with a portable device.










    The last two radar hits, if correct, show the aircraft heading down in a hurry. That, added to the fact that the photos show it to have impacted inverted but relatively intact, make me believe that the pilot lost control and never recovered.

  11. Tragic, especially for the young couple on board, but concerned this is another instance of inadequate partial panel IFR skills if right side 3 inch air driven Attitude Gyro as mentioned above and shown in panel picture was indeed operative. In the 2017 crash also mentioned, the pilot couldn't fly that airplane without the autopilot which became inoperative when he also could not reprogram his Garmin on route.

    1. This flight had two pilots to share workload, both held Instrument ratings and Mr. Sluk has C/CE-500 Type Rating along with substantial experience.

      Unlike the rash of recent single pilot IMC crashes, there is no reason to presume that the two men sharing the workload with full instruments in front of the right seat did not stay focused on them or lacked ability to meet the workload and counteract the vestibular illusion effects.

    2. That's good to know, there's never been an IMC accident with two pilots flying, both experienced and instrument rated, in a partial panel emergency. So no way the pilot flying could have stalled the aircraft and the pilot monitoring could not have recovered it?

    3. There's never been a winter IMC accident where accretion/contamination in similar conditions contributed to stalling and/or loss of control?

    4. The pilots may have struggled with each other for the controls when panic set in. God only knows.

  12. FAA Airmen:
    Roy G. C. Smith
    Medical Class: Third Medical Date: 1/2019
    Certificate: PRIVATE PILOT
    Date of Issue: 10/16/2012

    Raymond M. Sluk
    Medical Class: Second Medical Date: 12/2019
    Certificate: COMMERCIAL PILOT
    Date of Issue: 5/6/2015

    Type Ratings:

    Certificate: FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR
    Date of Issue: 6/10/2019

    1. Sounds like a multi engine + turbine training flight for Roy, with a couple in back too.

  13. It will be interesting to see if the right seater was anything more than a 'warm body' for the appearance of 'two pilots'.

    Without training in the plane and training in crew coordination he was just along for the ride.

    Sadly, more and more, pilots are betting their lives that the autopilot will not fail ... The longer bet is attitude indicator and autopilot.

    FAR 134.5 operation?

    RIP all.

    1. No. They were both well known pilots.

    2. Interesting 2014 writeup on Falcon School. Co-pilot's experience in aviation has business-side focus. Logbook review will answer the question of total hours, hours in type, recent flown, recent IMC flown and overall currency. Was not a pilot before getting involved with Falcon school.

  14. I was shocked when I learned this was a 2 pilot operation. How could this happen?

    1. Repeated icing encounters could do it. Look at the speed fluctuations. Deicing boots can only do so much. That plus confusion of captain's attitude indicator failure. I'm thinking that icing raised the stall speed significantly.

    2. N610ED provides an example with partial panel flying in icing conditions. NTSB mentioned rapidly accumulating structural icing in that accident. That one was single pilot with several instrument issues and improper wing repairs. Very much Darwin award qualifying, but interesting read, all the same.

    3. Northwest Airlines 255, Delta Airlines 1141, Eastern Airlines 401, Air France 447, Comair 5191, Atlas Air 3591... there are others and sadly will probably be more.

  15. CASA Safety Video Spatial Disorientation -

  16. Buy a Dynon Pocketpanel D3 for about $900, mount it in front of you and practice flying off it. If this was a loss of control because of instruments, it could have been prevented by this wonderful little device.

  17. By the looks of the wreckage, I wonder if the aircraft entered a flat spin or perhaps an inverted flat spin which was unrecoverable. Sad, RIP to those that died.

    1. Only one photo, but remarkably intact, as if it was an inverted "falling leaf" type of descent. Certainly does not look the way you would expect if there was much forward speed at contact with the trees.

  18. All of you are forgetting the most important fact: New pilot who had just purchased the plane. WSB-TV interviewed the attorney that handled the sale and said he never met the buyer. The aircraft had been in storage at Falcon Field and just went through a overhaul and test flight three weeks before the crash. It was the very first flight with that aircraft for both.

    1. Do you have a link? Found WSB's clip that includes general comments from an Atlanta aviation attorney (link below, go to 1:27 mark) but nothing was said about aircraft purchase or history.